Several years ago we went to Gosforth to play the last Nines match of the season, in a game that would determine whether or not they won the league. We won the match; they lost out on the league.
The only reason for mentioning that is to cheer us up a bit after another ritual disembowelling by the top club in the area. They could probably beat most clubs with a second-string team out, but there were enough first-rank names in the squad on Tuesday to make it an uphill struggle all night for ourselves.
The pairs did at least come close, with Steve Bennett and Darren actually in the lead after five, ten and fifteen ends. However, those leads were either two or three shots, and from 11-9 with three ends to go we lost it 13-19, with Gosforth clearly scoring ten shots on two of those ends. Of course, when you pull off that sort of recovery you think you are brilliant, don’t you, with the victory totally deserved! But it was hard on our lads, you have to say.
The triples also fought hard all through, even though the deficit was growing slightly worse all the time. To be 1-5 down after five ends wasn’t silly, and the eventual 6-17 showed there was no major upset, just a steady accumulation of low scores by Gosforth. The fours were a more distant second all the way through, basically shipping eight shots every five ends and finishing some 20 shots behind. Our overall total of 24 shots on the night was our lowest for some considerable time, but in view of the calibre of the opposition we just have to take it on the chin and see it as a learning experience – albeit a chastening one!
By coincidence our game in the West Tyne league was also against last year’s champions. It was an away game at Haltwhistle, with the green like a carpet and getting a lot of admiration from our players. It obviously did our game good, too, especially Steve Bennett’s rink with a 30-7 win which included a sort of power-play, going from 5-1 after five ends to 17-2 after ten.
The other rinks won by six, five and three shots in games that were close throughout – two of them were level at the half-way point, and the other was 12-11 after fifteen ends – but the important thing was that we won all rinks, and therefore picked up seven points on the night. With Hexham House B losing, we established a clear lead at the top of the table with half the fixtures now played.