The final league game of the West Tyne season pitted us against Haltwhistle on an evening when warm sunshine turned to ragged grey rain clouds within minutes, and within minutes of the start. Haltwhistle were unbeaten in the league, and although there was now no way for us to win the title ourselves there was at least something to play for in wanting to be the first team to beat them this year.
It was a very tight game, and although there were some large fluctuations on a couple of rinks the overall balance was close. On David Ashworth’s rink there were all sorts of high numbers of shots, and having gone from 13-4 to 13-14 in the space of a few ends they came back to win by ten (26-16). At the opposite extreme, on Trevor’s rink the score was just 8-7 after 13 ends, and two ends later we were leading 10-9. Sadly at this point Trevor played a recovery shot which went wrong, leading to a loss of three shots, and this reverse was followed by an even worse outcome on the penultimate end, losing a four. The net result of this bad collapse at the end was a loss by seven shots, and that was the margin also on Brian Elstob’s rink.
This put us four shots behind overall, and heaped pressure on Darren’s rink, who were finishing well behind the others after a lot of inspections of the head. At 13-13 with three ends to go there was still a chance, but the Haltwhistle team played really disciplined bowls, with Micky Rogan drawing a brilliant final shot to scupper our chances on the sixteenth. This rink lost 13-16, so that we went down 62-69 on the night – not a disgrace, but less than we wanted. The fact that we had been ahead on overall shots all night until the fifteenth end (55-53 at that point) made the late loss of shots all the more disappointing.
If that was a case of “nearly did it”, the ladies certainly did do it the day before, beating Morpeth 67-22 and 12-0 on league points. This win ensured a second-place finish in the Collins and Shipley league (Div 2), so yet again we shall change divisions next year. Over the three rinks the opposition won only 13 ends of the 54, and our overall superiority was even greater than in the previous week’s match against Ponteland B (57-29). This week two rinks scored 22 shots and the third 23; the previous week two rinks each scored 21 shots, each limiting the opposition to single figures. This was a really strong finish to the season after a decided wobble in earlier weeks, and came in addition to the excellent performance of the ladies in the County finals on the previous weekend.
There is still one delayed match to be played, but the 12-0 win against Morpeth puts us beyond reach in second place – and too far behind leaders Chirton to create any pressure on the result.
The men had another blank week in the Nines. The previous week Gosforth called off with 24 hours’ notice, allegedly unable to field a team – this, from the largest and most prestigious club in the county. One can only suppose that “unable” equals “unwilling”. Considering the effort which Brian had put into eking out a team of our own this was a really disappointing outcome; we shall hope that the clubs are both willing and able to find a team when the game is eventually played.