High standards are par for course as the curtain comes on a stellar year at Potters

Potters bowls - fully functioning on Sunday afternoon.

Potters bowls - fully functioning on Sunday afternoon. - Credit: Archant

After the Lord Mayor's Show! Potters Resort had been buzzing for 19 days, while it played host to the world's best bowlers.

Residents and day visitors had packed the International Arena, and pictures had been beamed by BBC TV, and streamed on You Tube all over the world.

For nearly three weeks, the village of Hopton-on-Sea, between Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth, was the proud epicentre of the sport of lawn bowls – or, to be more accurate, the indoor version – played on a blue carpet. Potters is proud to host the only sporting world championship to be staged in East Anglia.

Paul Foster had just won the major title – the Just World Indoor Open Singles – for the fifth time. But now, on Sunday night, it was all over, and the trappings of the Greatest Bowls Show on Earth were being dismantled, and packed away ready for the next time.

Would you believe that the removal men move in as soon as the last bowl comes to rest? And that the main stand in the spectators' gallery that accommodated 858 supporters every session, was being disassembled like a boy's Meccano set while the first course of the Gala Dinner was being served.

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The portable rink, with its playing surface, underlay, and pallets that form a solid superstructure go back to Boston in Lincolnshire, where they will be stored until the next big event, while the several miles of scaffolding and platforms that support the spectators' seating are sent to Coventry.

It takes 10 men two days to set-up the portable rink and 10 men five hours to uninstall it. Underneath the TV rink you will find six club rinks of international standard, and they are protected by 920 interlocking sheets of chipboard that belong at Potters.

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Approximately 5,040 minutes of bowls was played during the 17 days of spectacular action, 14,800 bowls were delivered, and jack length was called by the officials 1008 times.

At Potters, a five-star resort, around 47,600 cups of tea were drunk, 12,500 lunches were served, and around 22,000 alcoholic drinks were consumed over 17 hectic days.

2017 is the 19th year that Potters has hosted the world indoor championships, which were kickstarted in Coatbridge in Scotland in 1979. Next year will for several hours each day mark 40 years of the Championships and 20 years of Potters hosting it.

As time has moved on, the World Bowls Tour (WBT) has modernised its approach to the game, one of the earliest changes being the introduction of sets play to replace the traditional 21-up format.

Everyone is aware that the last week of the championships is covered by BBC TV, with the action being transmitted for several hours each day – and viewing figures are high, reflecting the enduring popularity of Drake's ancient sport.

Over the last few years, the WBT has introduced a live streaming service that is accessible on You Tube, so that no-one need miss a bowl for the entire championships. During the 17 days of the championships, from January 13-29, there were 180 hours of bowls streamed to a computer near you.

Richard Mddieson, the CEO of the World Bowls Tour, said: 'We have proved that streaming works, and it has become very popular. Interestingly, we get an amazing number of viewers from overseas. The next stage is to make it a commercial success.'

So, what about the bowls? The general consensus is that the standard of play is improving year-on-year. Foster hit the heights in the singles, while England won the women's Matchplay singles title, thanks to the skill of 21-year-old Ipswich ace Katherine Rednall.

An unpredictable Anglo-Welsh combination – Les Gillett and Jason Greenslade – won the pairs, and an Anglo-Scottish duo – Claire Johnston and Nick Brett – struck gold in the mixed pairs, while the Under 25 championship, in its second year, was won by Australia's Ellen Ryan.

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