After the 1983 semi-final, Cumbria disappointed in the Middleton Cup and The Alsop side also failed to impress.

Cumbria’s better players were doing reasonably well in the county competitions and also at Worthing in the National finals and the Northern County Championships.

John Bell won the National singles in 1983, and Ron Gass in 1985 and David Taylor in 1986 were finalists.

Ron Gass also failed at the final hurdle of the triples when partnerning Ron Baxter and John Bell, but they did have the consolation of winning the Northern Counties in 1985.

As the 1980s progressed, there were some surprises and one has to wonder if the ever-increasing number of entries played its part, as any player having a good run in more than one county competition was heavily involved.

The month of May was particularly busy, 93 fours ties, 49 triples ties, 145 pairs ties, 205 singles ties, The Roland Starkie Fours and a County trial game, as well as playing for your club in league games. Not a lot of time to spare!

There were still lots of anticipated wins but here are some of the wins which many could not have predicted and also a mention of those who were qualifying for the first time.

Tom Armstrong had left Cumbria in 1984 but Castle Park had the pairs winners again in 1986 through Clive Atkinson and George Hetherington who were surprise winners, so too, the Vulcan Park duo who were the finalists that year, Bert Fagan and John Brew.

Andrew Kirkpatrick, Ken Johnston, Jeff Brown and Thomson Bowerbank were finalists in the County Fours in 1985, losing to Courtfield’s Fred Butler, Joe Henderson, Jim Watson and Jim Aitken but the Stanwix four went one better next year when they defeated Alan Best, Gordon Smith, Tucker Peacock and Frank Thompson of Dalston in the fours final.

In view of the Stanwix players' improved performance, it was perhaps not unexpected when they won the County Cup for the first time in 1985 and did it for a second time in 1988.

Stan Laybourne had a rather quiet spell in the early 80s but was back up-and-running later when he reached the final of the county singles in 1987 and 1988. Unfortunately, he lost on both occasions.

Stan also went on to win the triples and the fours in 1988 when joined by John Holliday and a new face George Grearson in the triples and the county fours was a first qualifier for David Gregory.

In 1987, Mike Wilson and Bob Holmes won the pairs and, in 1988, it was the turn of Ray Moore and Alan Robinson. Both of these wins were for outsiders.

The Aspatria duo defeated Ron Gass and John Bell while the Subscription pair defeated George Renwick and Tony Smith. John Robertson, of Courtfield, won his first county title in the triples with Fred Butler and Jim Aitken when defeating the 1986 champions Peter Towers Jnr, Ron Green and Peter Towers Snr.

David Gregory had qualified for Worthing in 1988 but, in 1989, he improved on that when beating Ron Gass in the county singles final.

In the pairs, there was a real shock when 15-year-old Neil Karge partnered by Ron Little defeated Gass and Bell in the final. The Subscription pair were certainly not overawed when making the trip to Worthing, scoring a comfortable first-round win before going on to much better things when beating internationals Ron Keating and David Cutler in the second round.

They gave another good account in round three and were two up after 20 ends, only to lose a three on the final end.

In 1985, John Wills was a little known Port Carlisle player but, having won the club championship, he showed that there were better things ahead when playing in the Champion of Champions.

John Bell had started as favourite, looking for a fourth success in just seven years but Wills won the game in an exciting finish and won his semi-final before losing to Ron Gass in the final. The promise Wills showed here was fulfilled just three years later when he defeated David Gregory to win the Champion of Champions, a second success for Port Carlisle following Frank Hudson’s which had come 20 years earlier.

Frank Hudson was an amazingly good player, bearing in mind he had an artificial leg. He was beaten in the Two Wood Singles final in 1970 but went on to win it in 1975. County secretary Charlie Graham maintained Frank had an advantage in that he had to be perfectly balanced before he delivered his bowl or he would fall off the mat. I could see Charlie’s logic but I could never agree it was an advantage.

Another new name to appear on the County winners list was Joe Akitt who had lost in the Two Wood Singles final to Anthony Little but he went one better in 1985 when beating his then club-mate Stan Laybourne. In the 1986 Two Wood Singles, there were two more new names as Silloth’s Graeme Baty defeated his club-mate Peck Orchard in the final.

Baty repeated the success in 1988 but Peck Orchard had to wait until 2012 when playing for Aspatria before he got his hands on the trophy for the first time.

In 1985, there was a new name in the County winners list, a name which was to appear many time after. I refer of course to Stuart Airey, of Workington, who won the Under-18 Singles, beating Malcolm Irving of Kirkbride.

Airey built-up a big lead but Irving battled back extremely well before Airey managed to get the last few wining shots. In 1986, Airey won the title for a second time when beating David Baxter but he failed to complete the hat-trick in 1987 when coming up against another very good youngster from Wigton, Stephen Farish. Airey had his revenge in the Under-25 Singles in 1994 the only time that Farish managed to reach this final.

Harris Park is not a prolific winner in county competitions but, in the 80s, they did have some success.

In 1983, they qualified in the fours when John Beck, Tom Winter, Jack Moore and Jim Corlett lost to Castle Park’s strong four skipped by Tom Armstrong. In 1984, Harris Park again qualified, this time in the triples through John Tickle Les Holmes and Roger Hannah. The club also reached the final of the 1982 County Cup, losing to Workington and, in 1985, were beaten finalists again, this time to Stanwix and had to wait another six years for their first win in this competition, a win which was repeated in 2003. And in 1985, the club had its only Junior Singles victory when Peter Thompson beat Peter Cork of Courtfield.

In the Champion of Champions, Richard Strong made it to the final in 1989 and, six years later, he won the title when beating Des Adair of Wigton Park.

Wigton Throstle Nest was a founder member but there are few records available. The green was laid in 1876 and survived until the early 60s. It was at one time a thriving club and provided the third county president JM Aird. This gentleman’s grandson, Jim M Aird, was also county president when a member of Silloth Bowls Club in 1988.

Throstle Nest club was forced to move to Wigton Park and had some success there. John Bell qualified in the county singles in 1966 and his father Jack likewise in 1970 both of them losing to Tom Armstrong.

By 1971, Throstle Nest was history as Wigton Bowls Club came into being. Wigton Park ceased its affiliation and all county entries from Wigton were now classed as Wigton Bowls Club.