Monthly Archives: August 2019

Season’s End

Just as we near the end of the season the sun comes out and players start to complain about feeling uncomfortable in the heat – about as inconsistent and frustrating as the England cricket team.  With just one outstanding league game to come next week in the Collins and Shipley, this is the time to wrap up our summaries with a review of several successful matches in the last couple of weeks.

In the Nines league we played a double-header at Forest Hall, with two games of nine ends each.  These games aren’t entirely satisfactory, but things had reached the point where everyone was glad to have just one evening out instead of two.  For most of the season we have relied on the pairs and triples for points, but on this occasion (or if we maintain the fiction of two matches, these occasions) the formula didn’t work – so much so that the pairs and triples both switched team positions for the second game.

Even these changes didn’t make a lot of difference.  The pairs had won the first game 9-7 thanks to a three on the ninth (last) end; but despite scoring well in the ends that they won in the second game they just managed a 10-10 draw.  The triples meanwhile lost the first session 5-11, even with a four on the last end, but did then improve considerably to win the second half by a relatively resounding 8-7.  This left the fours as the star performers of the night, winning 13-3 and 11-2.  The result of all this in terms of league standings was that we won the first game 6-2 on points, and the second one 7-1.  Considering that the pairs and triples finished 32-35 down on shots for the night, this was a spectacular heist.  It also propelled us into second place in the Nines league – unheard of in recent years – although we shall certainly slip to third when New Delaval finally play the three games they have in hand.  However, third is a nice place to be after a long, hard season.

On Saturday of last week we played the West Tyne Cup Final against Hexham House B at Haltwhistle after the Prudhoe green had turned out to be unplayable earlier in the week.  It was a bright day with a really strong crosswind that made the draw shot rather unpredictable on one side of the rink, but obviously it was the same for both sides, and we went into a big lead on all three rinks, thanks to two of our rinks scoring a six on their seventh ends.  Hexham House came back strongly on Malcolm’s rink, but his team held on for a 16-12 win, while the rinks skipped by Trevor and Philip won by eight and eighteen shots respectively.  Of course, this competition is decided simply on rinks, so the score is recorded as 3-0, but it was a satisfyingly large margin on the day.

It was perhaps as well that the previous night our Nines game with Hexham House had been rained off, as we would also meet them in the West Tyne Gala Day hosted at our club on Sunday.   It was a really successful day, with a lot of close games in the round-robin format, but at the end of the day, in which we somehow escaped a whole heap of heavy showers along the valley, Elvaston emerged on top with four wins out of five.  Genuinely no one had seen this coming, and (if anything) getting a thumping from Haltwhistle in the middle game of the five had led us to think we had no real chance.  Other results went our way, however, and it was great to win a second trophy in two days – actually, the first time we have won the Gala Day since 1998.

A good way to finish the season, then.  The statistics provided by WordPress tell me that this is the one hundredth post since the “Green Green Grass” started growing.  With that century achieved, it’s definitely time to take a breather, before (maybe) taking a fresh guard for next season.  As ever, thanks for reading.

Holding Operation

The season is coming to a close – every year there is the same surprised disappointment – and the last few matches are being played in cup and league competitions.  Last week was good for us, but with various other events going on away from the bowling green there was no real time to give a proper summary.  It’s neatest, then, to wait a couple of days and sum up all recent activity in one final post for the 2019 season.  The usual Saturday deadline (24 August).

“Are we nearly there yet?”

With the end of the season now in sight some of our regular players might be excused a certain weariness, and it was certainly difficult to keep up the momentum of last week, especially after the ladies’ triumph at the Gosforth Centenary event.  That turned out to be the Lord Mayor’s show compared to what happened at Bedlington in the league on Wednesday, as we went down to a 0-12 defeat with nothing to email home about.

On the same evening we took on Haltwhistle in a re-arranged West Tyne match, and things were hardly better.  A very convincing win for Keith Woods’ rink (23-6)  was more than offset by near-identical defeats (8-24 and 7-22) on two other rinks, which left our fourth rink in no position to be aiming for the bonus points.  As it was, Richard, Terry and Mike did very well to come back from 5-10, to not only level but then go into the lead (13-12) with one end to go – at which point the visitors really put the squeeze on and picked up a five to win.

That 6-1 points win for Haltwhistle put them within one good win of clinching the league, which they duly did the next night at Prudhoe. Meanwhile, we were engaged in a “playing for pride” exercise against Hexham House A, and at least it turned out to be the best result of the week.  Mark’s rink were up against a strong HHA side, and found themselves 12-4 ahead before the ultimate score of 15-12 probably made it look closer than it had been all through.  The same could be said of Trevor’s rink, where a dropped five on the last end (when caution could safely be thrown to the wind) led to a 28-15 score.  Steve Bennett’s team were in no mood for festival shots, however, and indeed scored a five themselves on the last to record a 32-7 win.  So at least if we disappointed with an aggregate 51-69 against the champions we could be very satisfied with an aggregate 88-50 against the team likely to finish third.

Tuesday’s Nines game at Benfield was called off late in the afternoon because of a waterlogged green, and the home match this coming week is also off, as Collingwood cannot raise a team and have conceded.  All this is frustrating in a league which has such a helter-skelter of fixtures early in the season – one of those, against Hexham House, will be played this coming Friday, if the rain ever stops.  With a Cup Final against Hexham House B tomorrow (Monday) and games against HHA and HHB at various points in next Sunday’s Gala Day we’ll be seeing plenty of our neighbours this week…



A Frantic Week

A late posting this week, not least because of the number and extent of fixtures. It’s been the busiest week of the summer and a bit of a blur, so where to begin? Ok, let’s start with the worst bit.

The trip to Centurion Park on Wednesday for the Clegg was definitely one to forget. The home team could manage only 10 players, which was a bit ironical in view of the lengths we went to in order to get a full team, so two of our triples played against pairs. This isn’t an excuse for a poor showing on the night, as one of those unbalanced rinks won, but it was somehow typical of a dispiriting evening. We lost quite heavily on two rinks, so that even with the penalty of one third of their shots on two rinks Centurion Park still won by some 18 shots overall, and we brought home just two league points. It’s quite a pity that the bad weather which caused postponement of the ladies’ Collins & Shipley game earlier in the day didn’t reach Wallsend too!

The absence of key players not just for that game but for the Challenge Cup on Saturday was regrettable, but in fact the performance of the deputies in the latter event was really impressive. In a four-club round robin we looked to have run out of energy and enthusiasm just before the lunch break, with both of our sides losing to Forest Hall; but then after lunch both sides really took off, reversing the form and results of the very first games and ensuring two wins. In the end we came second, losing out by seven shots to Forest Hall. Of course, at that point it’s always easy to isolate one bad end in an “if only” scenario, but actually there’s usually more to it than that – and for us the crucial thing is that it was a great learning experience for our newer players and a really enjoyable event on our own green.

Eight men were unavailable for the West Tyne game at Haltwhistle on Thursday night because of another event, and although this game was also – as always – enjoyable in sporting terms, the result was a disappointing 0-7, with a shots margin of 44-77 showing a large disparity. At least our team gave it their all, with some good individual performances, but Haltwhistle are clearly determined to win back the title this year and didn’t let amiable chat and banter get in the way of a solid win. Considering that we won the league last year, our current position of sixth in a table of seven clubs is quite the downfall: all we can hope for now is a positive shots difference!

The rest of the week was rather dominated by the word Gosforth. We started with a Nines game at home, where the champions and league leaders brought a very strong team, only one or two off their first pick. Craig and Steve were in no way overawed by playing against current and recent County singles champions, and raced into a 14-6 lead by half-way. Indeed, after the first two ends they only bothered with singles on two of their eight scoring ends while at the same time restricting their opponents to singles on five of their eight ends, so that the result was an impressive 23-12.

The triples were also up against three County players in a match that was a good deal tighter. The first time that Gosforth edged ahead (6-7) was on the tenth end, and even then we then made it 11-7 (the biggest margin in the whole match) before they came back strongly with a three and a four to make it 11-14 against us with just two ends to play. One shot on the next end didn’t seem to be enough, but – somewhat against the odds – the Gosforth skip narrowly missed his target three times on the last end, leaving three of our bowls sitting there for a one-shot win that ensured the bonus points.

A points score of 6-2 was already good, and in the excitement nobody had noticed what was happening over on the far side of the green, where the fours fought back from an early deficit of 1-8 (and 7-15 with five ends to go) to reach 15-15 going into the last end. This was a fabulous effort, and there was every chance of a famous maximum point haul until the Gosforth lead put in a front toucher that no one could dislodge, but despite the two-shot defeat this was a great performance.

Two days later we faced Gosforth again, this time in the round-robin format of the Bell Cup – like the Challenge Cup, two rinks for each club, with the scores aggregated. This proved to be quite an incentive, in that our A team lost by seven shots to Ponteland in the morning before a post-lunch revival saw the B team simply swat the Ponteland A team aside to win 18-3 and seal the win. The same effect applied in reverse against Gosforth: our B team had started badly in the first game of the day, conceding two fours on the first two ends and eventually losing by ten. However, in the final game of the day our A team ran riot, taking a 10-shot lead immediately and going on to lead by 12 with two ends to go. Sadly, Gosforth then scored a two and a one to reduce the deficit to nine shots, and therefore a one-shot win over the two matches. Another case of “if only”, especially as Gosforth emerged as winners on the day, with ourselves tied in second place, albeit finishing third on shots. It was, none the less, our best showing in the Bell Cup for many years.

“Best showing”…, “Gosforth”… – ah yes, where were we? Back at West Avenue, for the Centenary Invitation event organised each year by the Gosforth club, and where the ladies had two rinks of round-robin format just like those described above. This competition goes beyond the county, with Lyndhurst and Sunderland among the entrants. With three of our regular players away in Leamington it was a challenge but to the great credit of all involved the two rinks rose to the occasion, making clever tactical choices on things like jack length and carrying off the trophy for the first time in five years. It is fair to say they were all very happy, and so they should be. The week wasn’t all gloom and doom…

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