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Sheriffhales Short Mat Indoor Bowling Club 


Our club meets on Monday evenings (excepting Bank Holidays) from 7:30pm to 9:30pm at the Village Hall.  New members - both young and old - are always welcome.

For more information, please contact Bryant Rudolph, Club Chairman, on 01952 460580 or

History of the sport:

Short mat bowling was bought across the water to England from Northern Ireland in 1967 by George Dix who had been sent to Ireland five years earlier by his company to establish a works factory. George was captivated by the game from his first experience and saw the potential of the game as an activity to be offered to members of sports and social clubs in England.  The word began to spread and George started to sell mats to local clubs. In 1969 a local league was formed in North Staffordshire and South Cheshire. In 1981 George heard that versions of short mat bowls were being played in Scotland and Wales where the visitors would play to the local rules.

From these humble beginnings the English Short Mat Bowling Association (ESMBA) was formed in 1984 after an inaugural meeting held on Saturday 10th March and the first actual meeting of the Association was held at the Rists Cable and Wireless Sports and Social Club, Lower Milehouse Lane, Newcastle-under-Lyme, Staffordshire on Sunday 29th April, 1984.

One of the biggest benefits of short mat bowling is its flexibility. The equipment is portable and only needs an area large enough to take a mat 6 feet wide and 45 feet long. It is played in village halls, community centres, social clubs and leisure centres. The game is played by all ages, sexes and abilities who can all compete together - a real family sport.

Rules of the game:

The game is played in broadly the same way, and provides the same enjoyment and has the same attractions as lawn bowls and indeed, many players participate in both games. The bowls themselves and the smooth soled heel less footwear are the same as those used outdoors.The object is for each player in a singles game or each team (in a pairs, triples or fours) to gain as many shots as possible by getting their bowls nearer to the jack than their opponents and so, outscore them.

The main differences in the playing conditions are the size of the playing area, the block that occupies the mid-position of the rink mat, and the ditch, which is actually a defined area of the mat surface. The intimidating presence of the block, which prevents players from playing with force directly towards an opponent's bowl to knock it out of a scoring position and the narrow playing area, requires players to develop skill in using the natural bias on the bowls to bowl round the block. Bowls that touch the block and those that come to rest in the dead area or in the ditch (other than those that touch the jack before going into the ditch) are declared "dead" and removed from the mat before the next bowl is delivered