Wednesday 10 June may have been just about the best day of the year so far for weather, but it certainly didn’t have matching success on the green. At least the men looked the part for the Bell Cup, held at Alnwick, but the smiles in the photo reflected our only win of the day, before lunch.
After that it was all downhill, and for yet another year we finished bottom of the pile on qualifying day. We really must do better next time. Four games of 11 elevens for each of the two rinks, and although we weren’t outclassed in the various games there were too many big scores against us, and in this round robin format that’s fatal. But the weather and the food were great, so as Ken said, if you leave aside the bowls, getting two out of three wasn’t bad.
The ladies were meanwhile at Bedlington Dr Pit in the Collins and Shipley, and even if they had got two rinks out of three they might not have won the points, since one rink went down 7-26. The other two rinks finished one shot up and one shot down, showing that the ladies aren’t out of their depth in this league, but such a heavy defeat is almost bound to sink the ship. It was another 2-10 defeat overall, but in fairness that was against the team who were in second position, so depending on other results it needn’t be seen as a great setback.
The previous night the Nines nine had gone to Heaton Victoria sitting top of the table but knowing that the Heaton team always give us a very close game. On a lovely evening it was nice to see club shirts still visible during the second half of the game rather than being submerged in thick layers.
The playing surface was flat and green, but in other terms it was a disappointment, with straight runs on all the rinks. More than one of our players could be heard complaining that this was more like skittles than bowls. It didn’t matter how much bias your bowls normally took, on these rinks one hand would be uniformly straight, and once there were a couple of bricks in the wall in front of the jack the only way to shift things was with a direct hit.
The fours found the way to deal with it early on, and after a couple of big scores were home and hosed by about the tenth end – the final margin was 23-12. The pairs also won, albeit much more closely and with a chance that it might all go wrong on the last end if the Heaton skip had made the right connection; 13-9 showed how close the game was. The triples really struggled, never once in the lead and watching end after end disappear with ones or twos, so that the final score of 8-19 was disappointing but not unfair. Anyway, apart from the minor detail of a 44-40 win on shots, that meant a 6-2 win on points, consolidating top position after a tricky night out.
Thursday saw the West Tyne team turn out at Allendale, where the green has been hugely improved over recent years. On yet another calm, fine night we were playing alternate ends directly into the setting sun, which a few players found tricky – especially if they hadn’t taken a hat – but overall it was a comfortable win, with three rinks ahead and one losing after dropping two consecutive fives just before the end. This came about largely as a result of a firing lead, and clearly requires some tactical thinking before we go back there next Thursday for a Cup semi-final! And this time we’ll all take hats…
(Next post due: 21 June)