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!