The 2016 season has got off to a slow start – not least because of the weather, which has limited play and caused the postponement of the first West Tyne match, due to be played on Thursday (28 April) but now delayed until probably mid-May.
The first Collins & Shipley game for the ladies will take place next Wednesday, so for now the only news is of our first game back in Division 1 of the Nines league, on Tuesday.
Any thoughts we might have had of “doing a Leicester” and upsetting the odds were dispelled pretty quickly when we saw the Gosforth team arrive. Not only were they last year’s Nines champions, but of course had also won an all-England title last summer. With their Pairs, for example, comprising a full international plus the captain of the England under-25 squad it is fair to say that the opposition was a little above the standard we might normally expect.
You know where this is going, don’t you? Well, up to a point. In fact, the match wasn’t as one-sided as might appear. The Fours were level or thereabouts for the first half, and at the half-way point (nine ends) were actually leading 8-7; from then on in the greater experience of the Gosforth team told, and any luck we had had early on deserted us. A 10-19 defeat wasn’t a disaster.
The Triples did even better, and were agonisingly close to a win. With just one bowl left we were three shots down on the scoreboard but lying four on that last end. In other words, just the situation that calls for a calm head from the skip, and former Elvaston member Craig Cooper showed how calm he could be by drawing close enough to promote a Gosforth bowl for the shot and a narrow victory. That’s what skips are for, of course!
As noted earlier, the Gosforth pairs line-up was particularly strong, and despite very good play by our own pair the bottom half of the scoreboard kept turning over ominously early on. After the half-way point it was rather more even, but the early damage was crucial and the result was another defeat.
So far from doing a Leicester we rather echoed a famously bad Sunderland result (0-8)! Of course, the scoring system of these sports is very different, so this was no disaster against the reigning champions – the first real test will be against Cramlington next week.