Monthly Archives: September 2016

Home by one shot

The return (home) leg of our two-leg contest with Hexham House for the Courant Vase trophy took place on Friday 9 September.  We don’t usually cover friendlies in any great detail, but this one is a little special not only in having an actual prize, but for being the last of the season.  It was also exciting enough to merit a little description.

The match started at 5.30 pm, with a threat of rain and a thoroughly grey sky.  Right from the start it was obvious that we had made the right choice in bringing the start forward from 6 pm, as it’s now getting dark early on the best of nights, and this wasn’t one of them.

The game, reduced to six rinks of triples, started with our club fourteen shots down after the earlier match at Hexham House.  If we were hoping to make rapid inroads into the deficit we were disappointed: not least because of the usual rule about one shot on the first two ends we were just 24-22 ahead after five ends.  By the tenth end, however, this lead had increased to 63-54, the sort of lead which a Sky Sports graphic would have shown to be on target for finishing in front.  But bowls rarely works like that, and after another four ends the position had changed entirely, so that we found ourselves 82-83 down over the six rinks.  Fifteen shots down with four ends to go – a tall order now.

Several good ends followed.  Steve Benson’s rink won the last four ends, picking up eight shots, while Shelagh Carter’s rink scored 3,2,4 on the last three ends. The result of this – and all the other activity – was that after 17 ends we were ahead 104-93, therefore needing to win the last end by a total of four shots to win the whole match.  Some won, some didn’t, but apart from Shelagh’s obtaining a most spectacular draw (19-19 after having been 1-9 down after a handful of ends) it all came down to Steve Benson’s rink, still playing the last end after everyone else had left the green.  They were leading by two shots going into the last end but with the other five results showing us only 11 ahead on the night they still needed one more for an overall draw. This didn’t look likely when the Hexham House second put a bowl on the jack, but Betty launched a brilliant Exocet that took out the bowl and moved the jack into an even darker area of the green.  Thankfully Steve could still see this, and he bowled two of his three woods to count, and produce a 20-16 win that gave us a win by fifteen shots.  There was at least one recount in the pavilion, but once the various scores had been confirmed it became clear that we had won 112-97, and by one shot over the two legs.

Whose shot had done it?   A silly question, of course, in bowls, especially when you think that over two legs 3,672 bowls had been delivered!  But whether it was John Lambert and Jean ensuring a 14-shot win on their rink, or the two rinks which each won by one shot, or Shelagh’s late comeback or Steve’s “shot in the dark” – or even the fact that our one losing rink kept the game so close – it was a great team effort that showed how exciting bowls can be when played as a team game across several rinks.

All in all, as a semi-competitive match (half-friendly, half-trophy) it was a very fitting end to the external season.  Our own internal season ended the next day with a Gentlemen vs Ladies match which – it was later tactfully agreed – the ladies allowed the men to win, and which was followed by a meal and then the Presentation of Prizes for the year.   There’s no need for a report on this game, of course, and match reports are now over until 2017.  Thanks for reading.

One Week to go…

Considering the amount of effort and expectation that goes into the outdoor bowls season, it’s remarkable how soon it’s all over.  I remember once watching bowls on TV from Australia, and as one of our home countries received a thumping the commentator said: “Well, these northern hemisphere guys only have a five-month season”.  If that, he might have added.  It’s astonishing what we pack in, given the constraints of weather.

All of which was illustrated this week, as we prepare for the start of the indoor season… tomorrow, as this is written!  On Monday, we held the postponed Glenwright competition, a singles event based on three sets with each set being on a “first to seven shots” system.  This might seem unlikely, because after all a set could be won in two ends, but in practice it works out very well, and very few sets finish in fewer than five ends, with some going to eight or nine.

It was a lovely sunny Bank Holiday Monday for the event, with ten entrants.  The early rounds produced some notable results, with Susan MacDonald coming from a set down to beat Jean Allen, while Mark Terry, also in his first full season, progressed to the semi-final stage, losing only after a terrific match with Keith Woods.  Note: Mark was in the finals of the men’s pairs (losing by just one shot on the last bowl of the last end), and has just won the Inch Trophy, beating David Boaden 21-18 after being 13-18 down.  Having also been in the final of the Monday Shield, he is clearly taking his new sport very seriously indeed!

Last year’s Glenwright winner, Brian Norman, had come from a set down to win the title in 2015, and this time he had to repeat the trick in the semi against Susan after losing the first set 1-7.  In the final, against Keith, he seemed to be in an even bigger hole, one set down and then 2-5 down, at which point several spectators got up to leave.  Indeed, some did.  They missed a great comeback, as Brian not only won the second set 7-5 but then claimed the third and deciding set as well.  So it’s a second year on the trot – can anyone prevent the hat-trick?

There was due to be another postponed trophy event played on Saturday, but the rain – though nothing like as bad as the downpours promised in forecasts – was enough to cause us to call the Hunter Triples off a few hours before it was due to start.  With just a week of our five-month season left it may be too late to re-schedule, though with temperatures due to be in the 20s next week it would be a little ironical if we couldn’t play this.  The trouble is, quite a few people are committed to starting indoor bowls, and for some the idea of mixing indoor and outdoor is like mixing oil and water.

After that wet Saturday there was a gloomy start to Sunday too, but it improved in the course of the day as Trevor took part in the Oubridge Cup, held at Amble this year and contested by the singles winners of the eleven private clubs in Northumberland.  In the quarter-final he beat George Batey of Alnwick in a match which went on longer than any of the others because neither player seemed to want to win it.  Eventually a running shot to take the jack through for a four took the score to 19-12 in Trevor’s favour, but he still made a meal of finishing the game.

He could only improve in the semi-final, against Simon Richardson of Gosforth.  This was a stern test, and giving away a three early on (just as in the previous match) was the last thing he wanted.  At 4-9 and 8-15 the outlook was bleak, but as the sun came out things got better – more precisely, moving the mat about three yards up the green worked very well, and after a few more ends it was 15-16, with all to play for.  At this point, however, Trevor played a clutch of bowls that were either too tentative or too aggressive, and lost a two and a three to bow out in anti-climactic fashion. Overall there were far too many threes conceded in the day, and after getting away with it in the morning the lesson should have been learned.  Handling pressure – that’s what it’s all about, and Simon did it better.

There should be a few more matches to report next week, but after that we shall be in hibernation.  April seems like just yesterday…