Tag Archives: Ashington

A Week Away

The Nines game this week was at Ashington, or to be more precise Hirst Park.  This was not a happy hunting ground for us last time (two years ago), and it wasn’t much better this time round.  In fact, it was their first full Nines game of the season, as the previous one had been called off because of snow, and the green was in poor condition, with daisies and  dandelions (some in flower).

The pairs started well (three-all after 5 ends) but six ends later it was 3-17 and the game was pretty well lost:  the final score was 7-22. Last week the big story was of how Darren had played a shot to turn a shot-against situation into a six for ourselves.  A similar scenario played out here, except that it went the other way!  He played his last wood to shift the jack and make a four, but unfortunately the jack flew off in the opposite direction and Hirst Park got a six. With the opposition pair both playing well, especially the skip, it was impossible to recover from that blow.

The fours also lost, and again there was a bad decline through to about the twelfth end. Although 2-0 up after two ends, our team was still stuck on 2 after 12 ends, by which time the score was 2-15. They then staged something of a comeback, to 9-18, but here too the result was never seriously in doubt.

This left the triples to salvage something from the evening.  This was a low-scoring match, with the score 5-4 in our favour after 9 ends before we pulled away to win 15-9.  The league points score of 2-6 meant that in our first four games we have scored 0,2,6 and 8 – almost the full set, though the chances of a 4 next time are pretty slim.

The chances of a win at Gosforth in the Edwardson Cup didn’t look a lot brighter when it became apparent that four of our regular starters in the Nines were unavailable and we raised the team of twelve men only after a lot of phone calls and kind cooperation from members.  And when roadworks meant that not all our team arrived on time it looked as though we might have to hand the game to Gosforth by default.  However, after doing our impression of the Manchester United team bus (albeit without any crowd trouble in Gosforth) we went out and surprised the hosts by taking an early lead on a couple of rinks, against strong opposition – more than half their team have played at County level or above.

The match was very even throughout, and by the sixteenth end the score was just 35-37 in favour of Gosforth – minimal in that Edwardson Cup games are decided on aggregate shots, not rinks.  Indeed, Brian Elstob’s rink had been leading 10-2 after ten ends, though Gosforth came back to manage a 14-14 draw.  Sadly, the other two rinks each lost a four in the course of the last two ends, and the overall result came out at 40-48, but in view of the opposition and the fact that several players were making their first appearance of the season in competitive bowls, this was a great result.  The Edwardson Cup always seems to cause us some hassle, including the postponement of a West Tyne match every year, and there has even been a suggestion that we should drop out of it, but then along comes a result like this and it all seems worthwhile again.

Within 18 hours of the end of the Cup match most of the men were back at Gosforth to take part in the annual mixed friendly.  This again turned out to be very close, which is great for friendlies – there are few things more embarrassing in bowls than a total mismatch.  In this case there was one drawn rink, we won three and Gosforth two; and only one rink had a winning margin in double figures (11).  The overall aggregate was 96-100, which in the context of six triples drawn from the overall membership of each club, is the perfect sort of margin.  As ever, the hospitality at Gosforth was excellent, and the day was enjoyed by all.

Quite apart from those Gosforth matches on consecutive days for some of the men, the ladies also had a long trip this week, for a league match at Seaton Sluice.  Quite how the first match of the season, at home to Chirton, was lost so heavily is still a mystery, as this time they won handsomely for the second week running, 10-2 on league points.  Other results are not yet known, but this win will definitely put us in the top three of the division, and possibly in the top two.

Four away matches, then, this week – we’d better get back to our green, or there might be buttercups and daisies there too.  (Sorry, David, only kidding!)


Last-gasp Wins

With various call-offs because of injury, illness or (shame!) holidays, we really struggled to make up the numbers for the Edwardson Cup match on Thursday.  It was against Health and Security, rather aptly based at the Blue Flames sports ground, and we were certainly cooking on gas early on, with two of the three rinks 5-0 up after three ends. At this point there was what you might call a power cut and by the half-way point (9 ends) we were eight shots down overall, in a match decided on aggregate shots.

After 13 ends there was still an eight-shot difference (35-27 to the hosts) and after 16 ends the margin was still six.  However, on the seventeenth end David Ashworth’s rink picked up a four and Bob Turner played the shot of the night, trailing the jack to turn a deficit into three shots: suddenly we were level with one end to play. We had the momentum now, and all three rinks won their final end, to finish with a 50-43 win.

In fact, because the rinks played at different speeds, the neatness of the cards wasn’t reflected on the green, where Bob’s rink was left to see out the final end knowing that anything better than losing a five would do.  They duly wrapped it up, but after such a late turn-round it was still exciting.

Picture of bowler

David on a sunnier night

This wasn’t the only last-end triumph of the week for David Ashworth.  On Tuesday we went to Hirst Park, braving bad weather and unruly teenagers on or around the green to play a Nines match.  (“You should have seen ’em last night – throwing stones and bottles at the players, they were!”)  Welcome to Ashington…

For a long time it looked as if we might have to pack in early, but after about the twelfth end the rain stopped, as did the rumbles of thunder and the teen scene.  By this stage the pairs and triples were beyond all hope, the pairs in particular undone by some wonderfully accurate bowling by the home team in difficult conditions. The fours, who had been only 4-5 down after nine ends, remained in contention but seemed then to have blown it by going 9-12 down with only two ends to go.  Would their single shot on the next end be enough?  You bet – they may not have nailed the jack in the last end, but the home team seemed to crumble with the pressure and David’s rink picked up a four to go ahead for the first, last and only time in the match. Always a good time to take the lead.

The ladies had a good result too in the Collins and Shipley, with one winning rink, one drawn and one lost in the game against Seaton Sluice.  Crucially, in a format where the side with the higher aggregate shots get six bonus points, we won the shots count and therefore got a 9-3 points win that went some way to restoring confidence after last week’s opening defeat.

The only downside to our involvement with teams in and around Newcastle is the amount of travelling.  After the men’s two evening matches, 40 and 30 miles away, we had a mixed friendly today at Gosforth – only 25 miles this time.  It was a lovely afternoon, with good company, a well-used green running several yards faster than our own (about ten yards faster than Blue Flames!) and a brilliant tea.  Because no one likes to mention scores let’s just say we ended up with two big rink wins and a small one against Gosforth’s one big win and two small ones. Ok, and it was a margin of twenty! At least this was no last-gasp affair – though we were all gasping for a cup of tea by the time it finished.