Fifty years ago this week Britain switched its old Whitsun holiday for a late Spring Bank Holiday. And of course, that year it turned out to be not only a dreadful May but also a particularly wet and windy Monday on 29 May – prompting “I told you so” complaints and a bad reputation for the new holiday. It so happens that the weather in that back end of May has been rather poor over all the years since, so it really shouldn’t have surprised us that a long spell of hot, dry weather turned damp and chilly for our Queens Cup event, quite recently moved to the Bank Holiday Monday, and falling this year on the fateful 29th.
The grey weather was at least improved by the traditional red, white and blue outfits worn by participants. For a while even that colour was covered up by rainproofs, but thankfully it eased after an hour or so, and seven teams of three enjoyed a round-robin event which was decided only in the final round. All teams won at least two and lost at least two of the six rounds, so the combination of chosen skips and teams drawn at random worked out well. The winners were Norman Lees, David Boaden and (skip) Mark Terry.
Other winners were the MacMillan cancer care charity, as we started the day with a special spider, with proceeds going to MacMillan. Thanks are due to Keith Woods for donating a bottle of whisky as the prize – this was won by Betty Boaden, who also won the prize for the best outfit. And of course, everyone won with the splendid catering, with everyone providing their own favourite – how about this massive gateau?
It isn’t usual, I know, to spend time writing about internal club competitions, but somehow it seemed essential this week as we could at least record a victory! Most of our other matches ended in defeat, and if we were a football club the manager might be getting a bit nervous.
In fairness, our Nines game with Hirst Park had been postponed at their request, while the ladies had a scheduled bye in the Collins and Shipley league, so we had just the one league match. This was against Haltwhistle. Unbeaten this season, they still have a plaque on the clubhouse wall recording their eleven consecutive West Tyne titles from 2001 to 2011, and there have been more since. Put in that context, our 2-5 defeat, (59-67 on shots) was not at all bad.
Our first rink got off to a flyer, going 7-1 up in four ends, but from then on it was a very tight game (16 shots on the next 13 ends) as Haltwhistle fought back to make it 12-12 with one end to go. At this point our lead John McArdle put a bowl right on the jack at the start, and the rest of the end was spent defending or shielding that precious shot: with some relief we got a 13-12 win without needing the last bowl of the match. David Ashworth’s rink had an excellent win, by some 13 shots, and put us in with a good chance of a surprise result. Blanche skipped an all-female team – Haltwhistle have no ladies in their team – which did very well to limit defeat to just six shots, including a five on one end. Unfortunately, however, our fourth rink lost by 16 shots, so that the overall shots balance was negative (59-67).
In the West Tyne singles, Trevor played the Hexham House champion, Willy Dunn, in a two-leg match. In the first leg, at Elvaston, he scored three threes late in the match to win 20-10 and establish a comfortable-looking cushion for the return. However, Willy had rescued several ends with his final bowl, and that feature of his game came to the fore in the second leg. From 3-3 he went to 11-3 with two consecutive fours, each of them clinched with the final bowl when Trevor had been lying at least two shots himself.
The margin remained at around ten throughout the match, until a four for Trevor on the fifteenth end of eighteen made it 12-18, an aggregate lead of 32-28. On the next end he was lying three, effectively match shot, only for the last bowl to “do” him again, and with that boost Willy won the next two ends with some excellent bowls, and won overall by two shots. These were two really good games, even if the result was not the one we wanted. In the first leg the home player won 12 of the 18 ends, winning 20-10; in the second the home player also won 12 ends, with exactly the same ratio of shots (24-12). It could hardly have been closer – but it was still another negative balance!
Our second senior fours team lost heavily at home to Ponteland on a day when nothing went right. So it was down to the standard issue fours team to provide some positive news, and they duly did so, against Rockcliffe. After eight ends it was 4-4, at which point the visitors pulled ahead so that we were 5-8 down, but then our four (David Boaden, Brian, Keith and Darren) took control, with at least one of the first three bowling a very good bowl each end. In fact they didn’t lose another point, and Rockcliffe conceded after 19 ends, with the score 21-8 in our favour. An actual win – some of that bunting from the Queens Cup day would have come in handy!