This week saw two finals in the West Tyne League, as well as the final league fixture and – on Sunday – the Gala Day.
In the Singles final, Trevor Field played Steve Doneathy of Prudhoe, with the final for the first time being played as one match rather than over two legs. Rather oddly, the format whereby the two legs were each of 18 ends was maintained for this match in favour of the traditional 21-up, but once that was clarified the game got under way and threatened to be over in record time as Steve found line and length immediately to go 9-2 ahead.
Trevor eventually woke up from his early afternoon nap, and a four squared the match at 9-9. From that point on it was very even (12-12 soon followed by 14-14). On the seventeenth end Trevor drew what had seemed an impossible bowl to win the end with his last wood and go ahead 15-14. However, this was not the first time he had had to do something special to foil an excellent opponent, and in the last end Steve again put two bowls close, forcing a departure from the steady draw that had served Trevor so well, and when the attempted trail missed Steve was the winner by a single shot.
Two nights later Trevor was joined by Keith Woods and Brian Norman for the Triples final against Haltwhistle (David Lee, Micky Rogan and Frank Robson), at Allendale. They got off to a Doneathyesque start, going 8-1 ahead after five ends, but then disaster struck as they conceded 14 shots on the next five, including a seven, so that after ten ends they were 8-15 down. Against such good opponents this was always going to be very hard, and although the shots after that point were shared (at least until the last end, when caution was abandoned as we went for a seven!) the game was up. Keith was as solid and dependable as ever, but over the piece our line and length were not up to normal standard, and the Haltwhistle trio deserved to edge it – crucially David Lee was able to cut down several promising heads to a single shot whereas the Haltwhistle counts … counted. So Elvaston finished runners-up in the two knock-out trophies.
After Hexham House’s result last week at Alston we were playing for second place in the league as well this week, needing just a point against Prudhoe to overtake Haltwhistle. It turned out to be a very close match, and with 14 ends gone it could have still been a result to cause blushes. However, David Ashworth made sure Steve Doneathy’s week was not one of total contentment with a 17-12 rink win; Brian Elstob returned from holiday with his understated skip’s style and also steered his rink to a five-shot win (16-11); while Darren’s rink made the most dramatic story, winning only one of the first eleven ends but still managing to come back from 4-13 to win 17-15. Blanche’s rink, having rolled and coasted through the evening, lost a four on the last end to lose 15-19, but thanks to the vagaries of the league scoring system our eight-shot aggregate win translated into a 6-1 points win. (The final league table will be on our website until the New Year.) This made us runners-up to three different West Tyne clubs in one week.
Of course, a few weeks ago we lost the Cup Final to Alston,so that was a fourth runner-up spot. There was therefor something inevitable about the Gala Day, held at Alston on the League Chairman’s green. This was the usual relaxed affair, albeit with everyone trying to win, and at the end of five rounds and some rapid calculations it emerged that Haltwhistle had won the event with four wins out of five while we came second – of course – with three wins. All other teams had two wins on the day. It was certainly a good way to end the season, even if our record of finishing second in five competitions may take some beating!