Last week’s win for the Ladies over league leaders Whitley Bay & Monkseaton put them in third position in the table, just behind Seaton Sluice. And by a quirk of the fixture list the very next game was against Seaton Sluice, away. A tough one? You wouldn’t think so, looking at the score. One of our rinks lost by two shots, but the others won by margins of seven and 25. Blanche’s rink showed the benefit of having a really strong front end in these games, and the 30-5 scoreline would have made sure of the bonus points almost irrespective of the results elsewhere. So that takes the Ladies just five points behind the second team, with a game in hand. Having won three of the four games against the two top teams this season, this is a great position to be in.
Thanks goodness the ladies are performing so well. Considering that we regard ourselves as quite a prominent club, this year has really been a shocker. From last year’s euphoria of finishing third in the Nines league and winning the West Tyne league and cup double, we have slumped to near the foot of the table both in the Nines and the West Tyne league. At least there’s no relegation in the latter, and this week’s win over Allen Valley at least took us a little closer to the most realistic aim now, that of finishing in fourth place out of six teams – not exactly an elevated ambition…
Allen Valley came to play us on the back of their first win of the season, but on the night there was only one team in it and we won by 50 shots overall. It has to be said that one rink in particular had some outrageous luck, but even so a margin of 30-3 can’t be down to luck alone. One rink lost a four on the last end to lose the game, but the overall win was very comfortable – almost a pity, as Allen Valley are just about the friendliest bowlers you will ever meet.
It was a different atmosphere altogether in the Nines match against Hirst Park. We went into this home match with plenty of confidence – after all, they were not far above us in the table, and eight points here would put us in a good position. But it all went pear-shaped from the start, with the triples rapidly 1-9 down. Although they came back to reach 13-17 the final score of 13-19 left no real room for doubt. Meanwhile the only doubt in the fours’ match was caused by the opponents’ kindness in not keeping the board up to date in the middle, so that what appeared to be 7-7 was actually 7-16 in Hirst Park’s favour. They certainly showed no kindness on the green, and we lost 11-29, in what amounted to a lesson in accurate bowling.
The pairs got off to a good start to lead 6-0, but once the visitors caught the pace of the green the game was very even. On the penultimate end we unfortunately turned in a Hirst Park bowl to lose the shot by an inch, which left us two down with one end to play; then on that last end we were lying three with one Hirst Park bowl to come, but two of ours were touching and the skip managed a plant to take them both out – and the single shot meant we lost 16-17. After the 12-13 loss at Ponteland two games ago that was a real downer.
Overall it was another 0-8 thumping, and more a case of “Are you beaten comfortably?” Barring a turn-round to match Sunderland’s Great Escape in the Premier League last season, we are looking at Division 2 matches next year. It might be true, in the words of Boris Becker, that “nobody died”, but it rather felt like it! Let’s just hope that promotion for the Ladies will soften the blow.