Tag Archives: Alston

Just win the ones that count

With the men having the first of three consecutive byes in the Nines league there was a chance to fill in the West Tyne schedule by playing the postponed match against Allen Valley.  As ever, the game was played in a friendly atmosphere, though the air temperature by the end of the evening was much less warm, with an icy wind totally at odds with the hot sunshine of the morning.

Elvaston won three of the four rinks, with two of the wins being by 18 or 19 shots, so that the final shots total was 79-47, translating into 6-1 on league points.    Our one losing rink ran into an onslaught from the Allen Valley team: after leading 8-6 after ten ends the Elvaston team conceded nine shots without reply in the next five ends, and then lost the last three by a margin of 2-5, so that the final score of 10-20 was quite a turn around.

There was another West Tyne match on Thursday, away to Alston, but thankfully without the cold wind.  The match was reduced to 16 ends because of the late arrival of one of our cars, and of course we are grateful to Alston for being so accommodating.  It also should be said that the Alston green is much improved from last year.

Here too the match went three rinks to one in our favour, with an aggregate shots total of 69-45.  This was pretty consistent across the board – indeed, after ten ends the total was as close as could be to half of the final result (34-22).  This time it was our turn to have one rink run away with things between ends 10 and 15, going from a precarious 6-5 through to 18-6.   We did lose one rink, so once again it was a 6-1 win on points.   With three wins by that margin this season, the whitewash against Prudhoe looks especially disappointing – but next week’s game against Haltwhistle will be a major test, and will have a big influence on our hopes in the league this year.

The ladies, meanwhile, go from strength to strength in the Collins and Shipley league. They won their third match on the bounce, taking all three rinks against Forest Hall, including a 20-shot win for Shelagh’s rink and a 57-28 win on shots.  Since league leaders Chirton also won with maximum points this week, this 12-0 victory puts the ladies in second place; and with Chirton having won all four of their opening matches with 45 points out of 48 it becomes easier to understand our setback in the opening match.  To put it another way, Chirton have dropped only three points and we were responsible for two of them!

After all this there was a defeat coming, but at least it was at Portland, in a men’s friendly that was enjoyed by all  – good company, the usual fast green, a fine buffet and even some sunshine towards the end.

For the record we lost on all four rinks, and David Ashworth was the only skip who ever led (1-0, and with one end to play, 16-15) but at that point the team had an attack of vertigo and lost by two shots. Brian Norman’s rink also lost by two, in a game with violent swings: 0-7 after four ends, they levelled at 8-8 before immediately losing a six and even then coming back to finish 14-16 having won ten of the 18 ends. Ken Hurst’s rink finished just six shots down – not bad considering they won only five ends!


We must be mad…

Albert Einstein is widely (and wrongly, it seems) credited with the remark that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, while expecting different results.  He – or whoever did coin the phrase – would have seen clear evidence of insanity at Alston in this week’s West Tyne Cup Final, as player after player tried to make bowls bend on a green which was clearly not going to allow any such fancy notions.  Indeed, if you caught the wrong edge of the slight slope the bowl would go right against the bias and end up in more danger of finishing on the rink string than on the jack.

It was disappointing to see how much we struggled with that situation, especially as we had had a practice session in the league fixture.  Having said that, the Alston players were also struggling to make bowls obey instructions, and the basic point was that once a lead or second had put an early bowl in close it was highly unlikely that anybody would move or replace it.  And despite the effects of the straight hand, firing was not an option because the slope and bumps meant that any slight deviation was magnified – a lunar probe heading off into a distant galaxy simply because of a slight miscalculation early on.

Do you get the impression we lost?  Yes, of course we did.  We were well beaten, with two rinks losing and the third salvaging a draw on the last end; and we should have played (or rather, thought things out) better.  Alston had already seen off Hexham House in an earlier round and will be delighted to lift the Cup.  There is a good tradition in bowls that one doesn’t criticise other greens, and of course we shall respect that tradition.  The point remains that in a game of line, length and luck, we all accept the luck element, but usually in the sense of rubs or wicks – there shouldn’t be any luck involved as to whether a bowl continues on its chosen line or reaches the target area.

We certainly had no luck in the Nines this week, as the game was postponed after about 48 hours of non-stop rain – nothing very heavy, but persistent and showing no signs of improvement on the afternoon of the game.  So yet another game is added to the backlog, and we now have four Nines matches on four consecutive evenings starting 17 August.  The match reports for that week may seem a bit repetitive.

The rain had not been bad enough to stop the last remaining Triples team from playing a West Tyne semi-final at Hexham House on Monday.  Trevor, Keith and Brian played a team including Shaun and Richard Blaylock and despite losing a five quite early on managed to keep the scores close enough before securing a six and an overall lead of four with just three ends to go.  Shaun was left with the last bowl to score four to draw, but despite his “hit and hope” finale the bowls were so well spread and mixed up that only a burned end would have done.  He scored a one.

The ladies were at Benfield in the Collins & Shipley, playing their nearest rivals in the race to avoid relegation.  Calling it a must-win game would perhaps make it sound too pressured, but a win would nevertheless have been very handy.  In the event only one rink won and the whole match was lost by six shots on aggregate, so that it finished 10-2 to Benfield, who overtook us in the league.  We are now below the dotted line again, albeit with a game in hand on one of the two teams above us.  To make matters worse, Amble pulled off a spectacular 12-0 win against league leaders Bedlington, while Cowpen & Crofton beat Ponteland 11-1: the latter result in particular sent them way ahead of us in the table.  With four home games now to come the challenge clearly is to perform like those home teams at Amble and Blyth – you don’t have to be Albert Einstein to know that anyone can be beaten on the day.

All-round Disappointment

Shell-shocked.  That was the mood after Thursday’s total hammering at the hands of our friends and enemies at Hexham House.  We had needed to win the match to have our chances of winning the West Tyne League in our own hands, though maybe a 2-5 defeat would have been enough to give us a chance.  All such calculations were rendered futile, however, as we lost 0-7, giving Hexham House a six-point lead at the top of the table with just two matches to play.

If we were searching for some crumbs of comfort it might be said that after 15 ends two of our rinks were each behind by only one shot (11-12 and 10-11).  Indeed, Keith’s rink was only 12-13 down going into the very last end, then lying one for a draw until Elvaston alumnus Clive Knott played one of the many bowls of his life to remove our shot bowl and claim two for the home side. But however close these rinks were, the other two both lost 11-22 – a comprehensive going-over which leaves us in a position where only a mathematician would say we could reclaim the title.

It wouldn’t need a mathematician to work out the total number of league points gained from that match and the ladies’ efforts at Ponteland the day before.  They lost all three rinks to go down 0-12 on points, bringing a sad end to a run of six consecutive away matches.  Let’s hope they recognise the Elvaston green when they finally get a home game next week.  Is it tempting fate to say that this is against Forest Hall, the bottom team in the league and without a win this season?  Ok, we shan’t say it.

One defeat which was not totally bad was Trevor Field’s 13-15 defeat by Jimmy Adams of Alston in the West Tyne Singles.  As noted last week, Trevor had won 15-9 in the first leg, so although a win would have been a bonus, the priority was not allowing Jimmy to make up his deficit; in the event, the home lead never went beyond four, but since that figure was reached after only three ends there was a need to settle down quickly.   The final is against Steve Doneathy of Prudhoe, also to be played at Alston.

So did we win anything?  Yes!  Jean Allen and Betty Boaden won the Northumberland section of the EWBA over-55 Pairs, and go down to Leamington Spa to represent the county.  Jean will also be in action in the Singles, having got to the County Final with a brilliant win against Rachel Proctor; in the Final on the weekend of 25-27 July Jean plays Pat Browne, with both players eligible to play in the National finals.  News of exact timings will be posted in the clubhouse and also on the website.  Well done Jean for taking the “dis” out of this week’s disappointments.

Wins All Round

The ladies travelled to Cowpen and Crofton for the start of the second half of the season, and despite a small scare on the way as the coach driver got lost they didn’t lose their way in the match. In this second week of Wimbledon we won by two “sets” to one, with two of them close (five shots up; two shots down), but the third rink won by a thumping margin of 27-10 for an overall shots margin of 54-34.   The bus driver would have noticed a much greater volume of noise on the way home, and shouldn’t have been surprised if he’d seen scarves waving out of the windows.

It was good to see a new bowler like Susan MacDonald making an impact on the top rink – and also impressive to see that she rushed home after the match in order to get down to the club for a mixed pairs tie in the rain!   Once the bowling bug gets you, you’ve had it…

Bowling Green at Alston

Bare necessities

With no Nines league match this week league interest was firmly on the West Tyne match at Alston.  This was like Wimbledon as well – that is, the rinks resembled the central area of the baseline at the tennis, with large bare patches that were apparently burned in the dry spring. In fairness, they didn’t affect the run of the bowls as much as seemed likely, and the groundsman has done a great job over the last couple of seasons – but all in all the surface was considerably less flat than SW19.

As often happens on bowling greens the rinks all seemed to have one dead-straight hand and one that bent like a wall of death, but once we all got used to it things improved. Apart from dropping one league point after losing a four on the last end of one rink it was a good night, with a 77-48 win on shots, and the one-shot lead over Hexham House at the top of the table maintained.

Trevor Field found his first trip to Alston of special interest as he has to go back there next week for the second leg of a West Tyne Singles tie against the Alston men’s champion of 2015.  Trevor won the first leg (over 18 ends) by a 15-9 margin.  Jimmy Adams played a great last bowl on the last end to turn a likely four into a mere one for Trevor, who will wish that the “handicap” on the Alston green had been rather more than six.

The triples team of Field, Woods and Norman (a pity his name wasn’t Flowers) reached the semi-final of the West Tyne Triples with an away victory at Hexham House.  It was close for the first 12 ends, with both sides struggling to cope with what even the home side were calling a “terrible” rink, but from that point on the Elvaston team took charge, going from 10-7 to 23-7 and finishing in style with a six.  The match was unusual in that there was an audience – not Wimbledon numbers, granted, but at least there were more spectators than players, which at our level of bowls is saying something. The reward for this win is a semi played either at Hexham House or Alston.  “You cannot be serious…”

These reports normally concentrate on league or cup matches, as opposed to club competitions, but a special mention has to go to David Ashworth and David Robertson for their two-wood contest. Their high-noon bowlathon lasted 32 ends, which surprised not only the players but also Jean Allen, who had agreed to mark it at the last minute and was left wondering if there were extra supplies of scorecards.  After ten ends it was 8-8; after fifteen it was 11-11; after 27 ends it was 18-18, at which point David A went ahead for the first time in the match.  Like tennis players in a long tie-break the pair traded shots (all but one of the last fifteen ends were singles) to reach 20-20.  David A then put his opener jack-high and only a foot or so from the jack, and David R fell badly short.  In went a second counter, and David Robertson had one last effort.  “Don’t be short!” he said, and promptly made a direct hit to trail the jack, stay with it, and win 21-20.  Game, set and match!

(Next post: on or around 19 July)

A Good Week in the Leagues

The week started well, with a big win for the Nines team at Throckley.  The results for this league are so slow in being posted that the league tables are indicative only, but it would seem that whatever happened this week we would (at worst) still be a close second in the table with a game in hand. All three rinks won, with scores of 32-10 (pairs), 22-8 (triples) and 24-10 (fours).  Clearly it was pretty well one-way traffic, and Darren’s scorecard looked more like a scorer’s record of Ben Stokes’s innings against New Zealand, with a succession of big hits, hardly any singles and not a lot of dot balls either.

One notable feature (again, like that cricket match) was the sporting nature of the contest: although Throckley were on the wrong side of a big defeat they were totally pleasant company throughout – you have to admit that it isn’t always the case.

The Ladies went into the game against Benfield as usual with a different line-up from the previous week’s winning formula, but this seemed to make no difference as they came out with a 10-2 points win to add to the precious twelve points of last week.  Blanche’s rink won by one shot, with a deflection off the last bowl of the match, and the others were quite evenly poised, with Shelagh’s rink losing and Pat’s rink winning by a similar margin. However close it was on shots, the scoring system gave us the big points win for aggregate shots – and no one would be complaining.

The West Tyne team was missing five or six regulars, and was grateful to those who were willing to stand in.  Here the rinks had to be moved around out of necessity, but the balance proved to be just right against Alston.  For the second day running Blanche’s rink won by one shot, despite or even because of a bizarre mix-up where the opposition skip completely misread the head on the last end and assumed he was five (not two) down.  Jean had an efficient four-shot win, while David Ashworth’s rink won 19-14 thanks simply to a five on the last end!  Finally, Brian Elstob’s rink won 23-6 after being tied 5-5 after nine ends, so we were definitely like those football teams that get stronger as the game goes on.

At the same time as that match was going on Darren and George were winning their National Pairs match 18-17 after 21 ends – once again the ability to hang on at the sharp end of the match was rewarded.  The only blot on this successful week, therefore, was the utter humbling at the hands of a strong Gosforth rink in the National fours.  Our only hope here was to get a good start.  We didn’t.  After four ends we were 0-6 down, and although we then scored a three we managed only one more single before we threw in the towel after just 14 ends, with the score at 4-25 and threatening to get a lot worse.   No excuses: we were outplayed.  At least it put the earlier wins into perspective…