Tag Archives: Alnwick

Turning the Tables

After a mere two-day gap between the two previous posts, it’s been almost two weeks since the last one – fancy real life getting in the way of bowls, eh?  Rafa Benítez has apparently described football as “the most important of the least important things in life” – maybe he hasn’t heard of bowls…

Last week’s West Tyne league fixture survived the weather, although there had been fears of a postponement for a while with really heavy showers late afternoon.  Two of our players played the entire game with full waterproofs on, although in reality it didn’t rain once the match had started and after a few ends it wasn’t even necessary to dry the woods. However, with the moisture in the air the appearance of the Allendale midgies was even more predictable than normal!

Steve had a fairly comfortable win, leading throughout and finishing 18-12 up. David Boaden relied on a late charge, winning 27-15 after leading just 9-8 after eight ends. Richard Hart-Jackson’s rink came back from 4-10 down to 10-all, then led 12-10 but lost 7 shots on the final 3 ends to go down 12-17. The sub-plot here was that they were lying six shots on the 17th end until the Allen Valley skip moved the jack and scored three.

The fourth rink was even closer at the end, after being tight all the way, with seldom more than a couple of shots in it.  Elvaston led 11-10 with two ends to go. On the last-but-one Allen Valley skip George Little took the shot wood out with his last bowl to claim a three and go 13-11 up. On the final end, Allen Valley were lying shot but had no back woods. David Ashworth moved the jack back with his second wood and George’s final wood stopped short. So we got a three in return to steal it 14-13 with no need for the final bowl. The overall result was therefore a 6-1 win (71-57 on shots).

This week’s Cup semi-final at Haltwhistle went less well.  Cup matches are decided on rinks won, not shots, and our line-ups were strong enough to give us hope of nicking at least two rinks.  However, Malcolm’s rink were behind for most of the match, losing by eight shots; Trevor’s rink started well but failed to recover from a dropped five, losing 12-17; and Darren also lost a count towards the end, losing 13-16.   Three single-digit defeats tell a consistent story, and we have to admit that Haltwhistle were just too accurate for us when it mattered.  As ever, it was a fixture which was both competitive and friendly – and at least the rain held off until we were in having a cup of tea.

This week we heard that Hirst Park have dropped out of the Nines league, thus reducing the original eight teams to just six.  Hirst Park were on our list of re-arranged fixtures, so that reduces the congestion but it is still a disappointment – and even more of a disappointment for those clubs who have already played Hirst Park, and now lose any points earned.  At least we had no points to start with, not having played them, but of course we were still bottom of the table going into our game with table-toppers Backworth.

It’s possible that Backworth were just a bit complacent  – who knows? – but for whatever reason all our rinks started well.  The pairs were soon 10-2 up, and the triples picked up a seven – almost unheard of, even against lesser teams – so that with everything going right for the fours we were leading on all three rinks after 14 ends.  From here on things became quite tense – though not for the fours, who took full advantage of what even they admitted were a couple of lucky breaks to build up a nine-shot lead with two ends to go, then added another two to hold an unbeatable lead going into the last end, achieving a final score of 19-9 .

The pairs had inched ahead in a low-scoring match, increasing their lead from one, to two, to four shots by the fifteenth end before losing a four that made the score 12-12 with two to go; but they then won both of those ends to make it 15-12 and seal the overall match result.  The triples were also pegged back to equality (16-16) with four ends to play, before each side scored two to reach 18-18 and then a single shot each for a 19-19 draw. So overall it was a 7-1 win, a result that would have fetched long odds at the bookies’, but which confirmed our earlier contention that form and teamwork have improved a lot over recent weeks.  We’ll still be bottom of the table, for sure, but not by very much, and now with some momentum to take us into a busy period of re-arranged matches.

The day after this upset, Alnwick were the visitors in a Collins and Shipley league game.  Here too our ladies were bottom of the league while Alnwick were top – by only one point, and maybe thanks to a lot of home games, but top none the less. So here was another challenge.

Rather like the men in the Nines, the ladies seemed to be encouraged, rather than put off, by the quality of the opposition.  After about ten ends, one of our rinks was 5-10 down and another was losing by three, with the third rink ahead by seven.  From that point on the various scores changed quite a bit, but the overall closeness hardly changed until the last end. Blanche’s rink were reeled in but still won by two shots, while our second rink came back to be close to a draw until our final bowl gave the shot to Alnwick, who declined to bowl their last one and took a one-shot win.  With Elvaston therefore winning by one shot on the two completed games, all eyes turned to Betty’s rink.  Having already come from 5-10 down to move to 15-10 ahead, they would clinch the match by avoiding a six on the last end – but when the Alnwick third trailed the jack to give them a very solid four, with two bowls still to come, things started to look ominous.  Betty’s first bowl was caught up in the traffic, but her second was perfectly judged, hitting her first full-on and promoting it not just to save a count but actually to get the shot.  To win this match 10-2 on league points was a major achievement – and there would certainly be no point in trying to persuade the ladies that this was one of the “least important things in life”…

 

 

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Whitewash

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.

Some Optimism

The week had a full variety of matches, ranging from friendlies through league matches to a Cup semi-final, and in all 30 members had at least one game.

Five triples turned out for the friendly at Consett on Sunday. This was our second visit to Sherburn Park, and the welcome and hospitality were as warm and fulsome as on the inaugural match two years ago.   The sides were extremely well matched, and by about halfway it was becoming obvious that there would be one rink well ahead for each club, with the other three pretty close.  So it proved, and not only that but the shots ended 78-all, which for a friendly really couldn’t be better.  The supply of cakes and sandwiches and pies and tarts and marshmallows seemed to go on for ever, and when all that was finished there was a very generous raffle.  The only thing which some of us might have changed (given that it was a friendly) would be to have the usual 18 ends with one shot on the first two ends, instead of 16 with a couple of trials – but this was no big deal.

By Friday it was time for a longer trip, to Alnwick, where the tea was also fulsome and the hospitality excellent; even the weather was brighter than it was in Hexham.  The only thing wrong with the day was the eventual score (as if that matters in a friendly), but at least one of our new members, John McArdle, finished on our top rink on his début.  And on a day when four of our new members played in the match (whenever could we last say that?) we received two more application forms: things are looking up.

They were already looking up after the West Tyne Cup semi-finals on Thursday.   Hexham House were playing over at Alston, and despite winning one rink 32-13 they lost the other two, so that Alston made it to the final.  Whether they would play ourselves or Allen Valley was in doubt until the last few minutes of our match at Allendale.  Ken’s rink was well ahead early on, and then maintained that advantage to win by six shots; but Trevor’s Trio did the reverse, falling well behind in the early stages and just failing to catch up, losing by three.  It’s just as well that David Ashworth, Blanche and Alan stuck in after losing an early five, coming back to win by just one.   Because of our overall shots advantage Allen Valley needed a five on the last end here, but managed just a three – altogether too close for comfort!   The final will be played on the Chairman’s green, as always, and that gives Alston home advantage – it’s a good job we have a league game there before that to get a bit of practice.

In the Nines we stayed top of the table with a good win over Wallsend Park B.  The match had some pretty ridiculous scores.  Darren and Peter lost the first two ends, and after five ends were 2-4 down, but at this point they stopped dealing in singles, losing only two more ends to finish 31-8 ahead with the final 16 shots unanswered.  They polished off the match several ends before the other two rinks, both of which finished with a scoreline of 26-6 – but unfortunately only one of them (the triples) was in our favour, with the fours winning only four ends, including a three on the last.  The Wallsend skip in the fours said that the last time he was here, in a National competition, the present clubhouse wasn’t even there – but he and his team played as if they were regular visitors.

The ladies had a heavy defeat at Burradon in the Collins and Shipley (no details are available, but let’s just say that we failed to trouble the scorers); however, other results meant that their mid-table position is still secure, and once this run of difficult away matches is over there should be an easier run-in with four home games at the end.  That’s the thing about bowls – there’s always a reason to be optimistic, somewhere…