With various call-offs because of injury, illness or (shame!) holidays, we really struggled to make up the numbers for the Edwardson Cup match on Thursday. It was against Health and Security, rather aptly based at the Blue Flames sports ground, and we were certainly cooking on gas early on, with two of the three rinks 5-0 up after three ends. At this point there was what you might call a power cut and by the half-way point (9 ends) we were eight shots down overall, in a match decided on aggregate shots.
After 13 ends there was still an eight-shot difference (35-27 to the hosts) and after 16 ends the margin was still six. However, on the seventeenth end David Ashworth’s rink picked up a four and Bob Turner played the shot of the night, trailing the jack to turn a deficit into three shots: suddenly we were level with one end to play. We had the momentum now, and all three rinks won their final end, to finish with a 50-43 win.
In fact, because the rinks played at different speeds, the neatness of the cards wasn’t reflected on the green, where Bob’s rink was left to see out the final end knowing that anything better than losing a five would do. They duly wrapped it up, but after such a late turn-round it was still exciting.
This wasn’t the only last-end triumph of the week for David Ashworth. On Tuesday we went to Hirst Park, braving bad weather and unruly teenagers on or around the green to play a Nines match. (“You should have seen ’em last night – throwing stones and bottles at the players, they were!”) Welcome to Ashington…
For a long time it looked as if we might have to pack in early, but after about the twelfth end the rain stopped, as did the rumbles of thunder and the teen scene. By this stage the pairs and triples were beyond all hope, the pairs in particular undone by some wonderfully accurate bowling by the home team in difficult conditions. The fours, who had been only 4-5 down after nine ends, remained in contention but seemed then to have blown it by going 9-12 down with only two ends to go. Would their single shot on the next end be enough? You bet – they may not have nailed the jack in the last end, but the home team seemed to crumble with the pressure and David’s rink picked up a four to go ahead for the first, last and only time in the match. Always a good time to take the lead.
The ladies had a good result too in the Collins and Shipley, with one winning rink, one drawn and one lost in the game against Seaton Sluice. Crucially, in a format where the side with the higher aggregate shots get six bonus points, we won the shots count and therefore got a 9-3 points win that went some way to restoring confidence after last week’s opening defeat.
The only downside to our involvement with teams in and around Newcastle is the amount of travelling. After the men’s two evening matches, 40 and 30 miles away, we had a mixed friendly today at Gosforth – only 25 miles this time. It was a lovely afternoon, with good company, a well-used green running several yards faster than our own (about ten yards faster than Blue Flames!) and a brilliant tea. Because no one likes to mention scores let’s just say we ended up with two big rink wins and a small one against Gosforth’s one big win and two small ones. Ok, and it was a margin of twenty! At least this was no last-gasp affair – though we were all gasping for a cup of tea by the time it finished.