Monthly Archives: May 2017


The hottest week of the year forced us to use quite a bit of water on the green, but plenty of cold water was poured on our league teams too.  The Nines side went to Backworth more in hope than expectation, and although the pairs came to within three shots (15-18) the triples and fours lost by an aggregate 33 shots.  The overall result, therefore, was a 0-8 loss, which it has to be said is par for the course at Backworth but not exactly great for morale either.

The ladies, meanwhile, travelled to Alnwick with rather more cause for confidence after recent performances.  Once again, though, each rink fell short, by small but crucial margins, and the result this time was 0-12.

That left hopes for positive news pinned firmly on the West Tyne match with Prudhoe House, but on Wednesday evening, 24 hours before the game, Prudhoe announced that their club has folded and that our fixture was obviously cancelled.   Although we knew that at least one of their earlier matches had been postponed because of low numbers this was nevertheless a shock.  It also guaranteed a further fixture with no points!

It would be nice to report that we had at least won a friendly, but in a most enjoyable game at Portland on Friday afternoon, in full, hot sunshine. we lost overall by nine shots (62-71).  Playing four rinks of triples we lost three of them, with a large win on the fourth thanks to the consistency of Brian Norman and John Lambert, who managed to dishearten the opposition with their nagging consistency, all the while reducing their own skip’s role to one of centring the jack and marking the card.

Portland, of course, represent the Gold Standard in post-match teas, so any disappointment at the result lasted for about the time it took to get to the bar.   But it will still be good to get some points, rather than pints, next week.

Varying Degrees of Success

After getting little reward for their efforts in previous matches, the ladies kept things tight and made the most of a small shots advantage against Ponteland in the Collins & Shipley league.

The one losing rink limited the defeat to five shots, while the others picked up wins by margins of ten (21-11) and two (20-18), so the overall margin of shots was 55-48, easily enough to secure the bonus points, and a 10-2 win.

There was only one other league game for the club this week, as Benfield pulled out of the scheduled Nines fixture, unable to field a team.  As this was just the second game of the season it does put their future participation in doubt, and we shall just have to wait for news.

The news from the West Tyne game wasn’t good, for sure.  In an away match against Hexham House B we slumped to a 1-6 defeat.  David Ashworth’s winning rink was comfortably ahead throughout, finishing nine shots ahead and basically cancelling out two House wins by eight and one shots: in these defeats, Steve Benson’s rink almost pulled back after being 11-15 down with three ends to go, while Darren Cooper’s rink ended up being stuck with the 1-9 deficit that was showing after five ends.  Malcolm Cooper’s rink was just 4-9 down after ten ends, but the gap widened from that point, to end as 8-26.   This was nothing like as one-sided as it might sound, as the Hexham House tally included two fours and a five, all of these scores coming after the jack had been moved significantly.

No doubt we shall soon get an official update on league placings, but at least it looks as if some odd results elsewhere mean we are still in (an increasingly distant) second position.  Meanwhile, in the Collins & Shipley the ladies are third from bottom, but with the comfort that they have played the top two teams.

It was good to resume friendly action too, with a game against Gosforth West Avenue which illustrated that odd way in which friendly matches, with team selection for both clubs based on availability, inclination and other random factors, can sometimes result in the tightest of contests.  In this case, Gosforth won one rink by ten shots, but the margins (one way or the other) on other rinks were six, five, four and two ones.  As it happened, we lost the two rinks that were decided by a single shot, and lost the whole match 87-92 after leading overall until at least the fifteenth end, but when it’s as well matched as that no one is caring.  Or at least, shouldn’t be caring!



Taking it Seriously

IMAG3874The picture was taken on Opening Day at the Dunbar Club in Vancouver, a really friendly and welcoming club where despite the rule for whites on Sundays the atmosphere is very relaxed – so much so that the club doesn’t play in any leagues, and has just one friendly each year.  (As you will see, in common with most other clubs in Vancouver they use fabric mats to protect the green, whatever the weather.)

Quite how our own members would manage without the extra edge from league and cup fixtures, and with such a high degree of internal competition, is a matter for some conjecture.  However, at the start of the week we were maybe not so keen on league activity ourselves, as early results were disappointing.  In fact, the Nines came very close to a win in their opening fixture, against Ponteland.  The pairs had an excellent win (27-4 shots), while the fours went down by 6-24. However, in the Nines league shots don’t count, so although the triples came within two shots of a win (19-21), thus ensuring a 52-49 lead on overall shots, the fact that we had lost two rinks meant that we took only two points from the night.  This was still a very good performance with a couple of regulars missing.

Despite having a second consecutive home game, against Whitley & Monkseaton, the ladies ended up with a rather similar scores profile, losing two rinks to one.  The trouble was that in the Collins & Shipley league six of the 12 points are decided by aggregate shots, and whereas our one winning rink led by seven (19-12) one of the others went down by 11-28;  although the third rink came very, very close (14-15) even a narrow win wouldn’t have been enough to earn the bonus points.

After those two setbacks it was important not to slip up in the West Tyne league against Allen Valley, especially as league leaders Haltwhistle are making such a strong start to the season.  In the event, the match was close enough: none of our three winning rinks was hugely ahead and we lost one rink by three shots, finishing with an aggregate win by 76-56.  At the same time Haltwhistle were racking up another 40+ margin, with maximum points, so we need to do all we can to stay within touching distance at the top of the table.   After all, we want to be a competitive club…


Results can Mislead

With hardly a cloud in the sky the ladies’ Collins and Shipley team welcomed serial title-winners Burradon on Wednesday.   There couldn’t have been many tougher games to open the season (apart from an away fixture to the same opponents), and in the circumstances the 0-12 points defeat was not as much of a trouncing as might appear.

The bulk of the 26 shots margin (33-59) came on one rink, with the other three rinks losing by an aggregate total of just seven.  Clearly, even a narrow defeat for that fourth rink would have made no difference to the outcome, so there is no issue there.  It really is a question of taking the positives from a match in which any points at all would have been a bonus; and the close nature of three rinks should be a genuine source of encouragement.

Your correspondent is currently in Canada, where a recent football report on the local team referred to “a resounding 2-1 victory”.  Maybe that is the first time such a phrase has ever been used in football terms, but the word “resounding” was justified in this week’s 7-0 West Tyne win over Alston.  Perhaps Alston thought it was a football match, as they turned up with just eleven players, which of course meant that one of their rinks had an advantage on the green, playing three bowls each to our two – but once the one-third shots deduction had been applied at the end this rink produced a double-digit (17-6) win for Elvaston.  Since the other rinks won by 10, 16 and 19 shots, it was a massive 87-31 win on shots.  However, with the opposition struggling to field a team, and with Alston always being slow starters in the league season, this outing should be regarded as good practice rather than a reliable guide to our chances this year.

Two results, then, that in their different ways should be treated with caution – or at least cautious optimism…