Tag Archives: Haltwhistle

A Week to Forget

Perhaps the fact that this post is written a few days later than normal gives the game away: it was not a great start to August!  In truth,  other events have delayed the regular update, but if you were waiting for stirring tales of glorious wins you had better find some other reading material.

The ladies had two games in the Collins and Shipley league, one of them a re-arranged fixture against Burradon and the other a standard issue visit to Chirton.  The latter was a 0-12 wipeout, but at least we managed two points against the stronger Burradon team, albeit with a one-shot win!  Next up are league leaders Bedlington Dr Pit – a home visit by the Dr, as it were – on Friday.  It has been a long, hard slog this season, but with several new members things should be rather easier next year.

In the West Tyne league it was another case of playing the league leaders as Haltwhistle came to us needing only a point or two to seal the title.  In the event they won by a whopping margin (51-83) and took 6.5 of the 7 points on offer: nothing like doing it in style.  In fact we started very well, and just after halfway (on ten ends) three of our rinks were winning, and we were 37-33 up.  This was despite Trevor’s rink being ten shots down after trailing 0-12 after seven ends, with one rink seven shots up and another leading by six.

From then on it got worse – much worse.  After 15 ends it was 48-68, with three rinks now trailing, and after 18 ends the deficit was 32, with our all-female rink (Susan, Sylvia and Blanche) getting a 17-17 draw amid much excitement.  They were a whisker away from winning the game, which would have been a good reward for efforts even if it wouldn’t have spared us a big defeat overall.  To have lost 14-50 on the last eight ends across all rinks was pretty bad, and losing one rink by 19 shots made the overall result a formality. But the Haltwhistle men wouldn’t be where they are in the league without being very good, and the way they stuck in after that slow start was very impressive.

We go to Alston this week for the last game of the season, needing maximum points to be sure of runner-up spot in the league.  A large improvement is required…


A win, at last

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.

20170529_180039Other 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!


Taking it Seriously

IMAG3874The picture was taken on Opening Day at the Dunbar Club in Vancouver, a really friendly and welcoming club where despite the rule for whites on Sundays the atmosphere is very relaxed – so much so that the club doesn’t play in any leagues, and has just one friendly each year.  (As you will see, in common with most other clubs in Vancouver they use fabric mats to protect the green, whatever the weather.)

Quite how our own members would manage without the extra edge from league and cup fixtures, and with such a high degree of internal competition, is a matter for some conjecture.  However, at the start of the week we were maybe not so keen on league activity ourselves, as early results were disappointing.  In fact, the Nines came very close to a win in their opening fixture, against Ponteland.  The pairs had an excellent win (27-4 shots), while the fours went down by 6-24. However, in the Nines league shots don’t count, so although the triples came within two shots of a win (19-21), thus ensuring a 52-49 lead on overall shots, the fact that we had lost two rinks meant that we took only two points from the night.  This was still a very good performance with a couple of regulars missing.

Despite having a second consecutive home game, against Whitley & Monkseaton, the ladies ended up with a rather similar scores profile, losing two rinks to one.  The trouble was that in the Collins & Shipley league six of the 12 points are decided by aggregate shots, and whereas our one winning rink led by seven (19-12) one of the others went down by 11-28;  although the third rink came very, very close (14-15) even a narrow win wouldn’t have been enough to earn the bonus points.

After those two setbacks it was important not to slip up in the West Tyne league against Allen Valley, especially as league leaders Haltwhistle are making such a strong start to the season.  In the event, the match was close enough: none of our three winning rinks was hugely ahead and we lost one rink by three shots, finishing with an aggregate win by 76-56.  At the same time Haltwhistle were racking up another 40+ margin, with maximum points, so we need to do all we can to stay within touching distance at the top of the table.   After all, we want to be a competitive club…



After so many consecutive byes we had to remind ourselves of the rules in the Nines competition – one shot on each of the first two ends – as we played our last scheduled match, against Hexham House.   This home game was a repeat of last year’s final fixture, and once again it ended in near darkness despite the 18.30 start.

Dark it may have been, but our mood was considerably lighter.  We started the night six points ahead of Hirst Park, who lay bottom of the division, and badly needed another win to stay ahead of them whatever they achieved against Cramlington.  If that match was a near-derby our own game was very much one, and as ever the rivalry was intense but the general spirit very positive and friendly.

It didn’t look as if we were going to do very well at the outset: the pairs were soon 0-5 down while the triples let a 5-0 lead evaporate to fall behind; on a middle rink between the others the fours were 1-8 down after five ends, so all in all the scoreboards  were looking bottom-heavy.

The pairs gradually pulled back, however, and took charge between the tenth and fifteenth ends, moving into a lead of five. As the light faded Darren and Keith got stronger, and with two ends left they led 15-11, such that they were quite happy to accept the loss of a single on the penultimate end – not only was it the safe option, but it also gave Darren the last bowl, if needed.  In fact, it wasn’t, as we scored two and despite Clive Knott’s great efforts to shift the jack towards his back bowls the result was ours 17-11.

The fours had meanwhile gone down by more than 20 shots in a game where very little went right.   A visitor from another planet might deduce that to have four Davids in one team is not a good omen!  In fact, of course, they all tried as hard as they could, but it didn’t work on the night and that’s all there is to it.

After the triples lost their early lead they really struggled for several ends, but managed to keep the deficits down on each end, so that when – out of the blue – they bagged a six it took the score to 13-10 in our favour.  From this point it was again nip and tuck, although we did have a potential five snuffed out by Norman Brotherton’s excellent saver, which even earned him the shot.  By the same token, we went into the last end 17-13 ahead only to find ourselves four down as the skips went to bowl.  By a mixture of luck and judgment our final “pressure bowls” produced the right result and we were also happy to drop just one shot on that last end.

The result was therefore two rinks to one in our favour.  Under the scoring system used in the West Tyne or Collins and Shipley leagues we would have lost the game as a result of a bad result on one rink, but the Nines go on rinks won and that’s all that counts.  One oddity about the result was that whereas in the game at Hexham House (21 June) our pairs and triples lost narrowly while the fours won well (17-4), tonight was exactly the opposite – so in each fixture the home team won 6-2 on points despite losing on overall shots because of a large defeat for the fours.

The ladies had played their last (rearranged) match in the Collins and Shipley on the same day, but there was no need for any maths on the shots as all three rinks lost.  With promotion assured it was maybe a case of being mentally “on the beach” as the footballers say, but for whatever reason Seaton Delaval ensured that they exacted full revenge for the 12-0 score we enjoyed back in June.  You could have got good odds on a home win: before the game we were second in the league, with plus 118 shots; Seaton Delaval were second bottom with minus 116.  This symmetry of shots and league position was maintained after the result.  Thankfully the ladies won the games that really mattered, most notably against Morpeth, and they can now start preparing for life back in Division 1. Pre-season training starts on 1 March…

A further bit of symmetry involved the coincidence of our two winning skips in the Nines playing one another in the final of the men’s singles.  This was arranged at the last minute, so that even Jeremy Corbyn could have found a seat, but on a calm, sunny evening the few spectators saw Trevor beat Darren 21-13, having never been behind.  Darren did score two consecutive threes to bring the score to 11-10 against, but from then on he was restricted to singles. After a good deal of use for various competitions in recent days the green was running very well – a little ironic with the season about to end, but a credit to all David Ashworth’s unseen work.

With Trevor and Darren’s winning rinks each having scored 17 shots on Tuesday it was mildly intriguing that the pair then scored a total of 34 shots in their singles final.  But that number was due to reappear, as we played a friendly at Haltwhistle on a night that could have offered a definition of the word murky.  Only one of our four sets of triples won (making David Ashworth feel a lot better!), and indeed it was the only team to make double figures. Such was the struggle that we totalled only 34 shots across the four rinks – the trouble being that Haltwhistle scored 34 on rinks one and two, and exactly 34 more on the other two. Well, they are the league champions, cup holders and Gala Day winners, after all!  Just wait till next season…

OK in the KO

With byes in both the Nines and the West Tyne schedules, and with the ladies waiting for their one last rearranged match, there was little action last week.

The main competitive activity was in the West Tyne Triples tournament, where Trevor, Keith and Brian Norman played a semi-final against the Haltwhistle trio who did for us in the league game last week.  The match was played at Allendale, starting in bright conditions which soon became dull and then dark until the heavens opened and sent everyone diving for cover.  The dampness also brought out Allen Valley’s world-famous midgies, and of course because this was an afternoon fixture on a day that had been dry and sunny as we left Hexham, no one had thought of taking any spray.

However, there was plenty of spray on the green after the rain break, which came after 12 ends.  Prior to that Haltwhistle had started well, winning six of the first eight ends to go to 8-3, albeit aided by a couple of – how do we put this? – fortunate outcomes.  At this point David Boaden turned up as our sole supporter, and (just as had happened when he arrived at the first-round match at Hexham House) our fortunes changed.  In fact, they were totally transformed, as we won the next seven ends, scoring 13 shots in the process, so that we led 16-8 with three ends to go.

Mel Taylor then did draw a very good shot to get a single, but we played the last end with Haltwhistle needing a “hot shot” nine to win, and that was simply never going to happen. In a year when Haltwhistle have won the Cup and gone undefeated in the league it was satisfying to beat two of their triples teams in the last two rounds.

Last week Darren won the West Tyne singles title, the first time that our club has won it, and now we have a team in the triples final.  The same team lost the final last year, so there is an extra incentive to get that second trophy for the club.

I did say there wasn’t much to report…

A Quiet Week

The way the Nines schedule has worked out the men have three consecutive byes, and following the withdrawal of Fossway from the league it means there will be four Tuesdays on the trot without a game.  This Tuesday was the second such blank week, and as there were no other matches to re-arrange the evening remained blank.  However, with temperatures the way they have been lately not too many people were complaining.

The ladies continued their surge up the table with another 12-0 win against Seaton Delaval.  With this rich vein of form it’s doubly unfortunate that next week’s match against Ponteland has been postponed due to our agreeing to host the Bell Cup this year, following the late withdrawal of Morpeth St George’s.   But one week off shouldn’t hurt as much as the four weeks for the men.

The West Tyne match this week was an away game against league leaders Haltwhistle.  If you had to choose a match in which to lose half a dozen regular players this wouldn’t be it, but that shouldn’t take anything away from Haltwhistle, who have won all their other games this season.  They duly won this fixture 6-1: our only winning rink won by just two shots, and although one of our other rinks lost only by a single shot the overall.result was never in doubt.

The result on the “an” rink (two Brians and a Susan) was a remarkable affair, with the mere scorecard doing no justice to the way things went.  Elvaston got the one shot allowed on each of the first two ends to lead 2-0. We then dropped an amazing 19 shots over the next 5 ends (4,4,3,3,5).  When we then managed to get the shot on the eighth end the tactic was to try a longer jack, with a different mat placing also. This worked so well that our team won the next eight ends to go 21-19 up. At this point there was another very bad end –  six against -and although we won the final two ends the match was lost 25-26. There was no bonus for winning 12 of the 18 ends!

We referred at the start to the ladies having a game against Ponteland postponed next week; by concidence the men had their friendly with Ponteland cancelled at the last minute as the visitors could not raise a team.  That made for an even quieter week – though with the Bell Cup taking place at our club and the Challenge Cup being held on Saturday, next week looks like having plenty of activity.

Always Look on the Bright Side…

Some draws feel like defeats, while others can feel like a win.  It was definitely the latter on Tuesday, as we came from behind to grab a draw with Hexham House in the Nines and maintain our points lead over them in the table.

The pairs got off to a bad start, and ended up taking the sort of defeat they have been handing to others lately.  Down 1-17 after ten ends they did make it more respectable by coming back to 8-24, but the result was never in doubt.  There was plenty of doubt about the other rinks, however, with each of them behind at various points.  The fours were ahead early on, then found themselves 10-15 down around the half-way mark.  From here it was a struggle, but they narrowed the gap to one with a couple of ends to go, and finished up winning 19-18 – the first rink to actually finish and providing a boost for the triples, who still had two to play.

The triples had struggled early on, losing the first five ends but at least holding the score to 0-5. Then, with a six to help, they were ahead after ten and fifteen ends before losing two ends and going into the last end three down.  An adventurous bowl by Brian Norman gave the others something to aim for and with the last bowl of the night we secured the three shots which drew that rink and the whole match.  Considering the triples won only seven of the 18 ends it was a bit of a smash-and-grab raid, but as we all know these things happen.

They certainly didn’t happen for the ladies in their Collins and Shipley match at Amble.  Losses by 11, 12 and 15 shots on the three rinks sent them to their heaviest defeat of the season.  Last week we were seeing causes for optimism in the way matches are scheduled, but you would have to be an extreme optimist to find positives in this result.  As in, “at least it wasn’t 40 shots”…

Several of the ladies were in action again the next day, with Jean and Betty getting to the final of the County over-55’s by virtue of a great win over Norma Craig and Pat Brown at Burradon.  Ever eager to get on the green, Jean promptly turned out for the West Tyne match at Haltwhistle in the evening.  Somehow the threatened rain got no worse than a light drizzle all evening, and we got away not only with the weather but also with a really good result –  a win, a loss and two drawn rinks.  The two draws were a bit careless, as one came from a three given away on the last end, while the other came after dropping a five on the penultimate end.  Nevertheless, you would always settle for a 5-2 points win at Haltwhistle, and David Ashworth’s 27-8 defeat of David Lee’s rink is bound to be one of the stand-out results of the season.

It’s not all good news.  Jean and Trevor were knocked out in the quarter-finals of the County Mixed Pairs, well beaten by Liz Emerson and David Crozier of Ponteland.  Losing ten shots on the bounce to go 3-16 down was a bad start but it still left plenty of time, and with nine shots of our own it came back to 12-16, then 14-17.  Even with two ends to go it was just 18-22, but a good end for the Ponteland pair effectively sealed the deal and the last end was played in the vain hope of trying to burn it simply in order to earn another chance to score a seven!  What was that about extreme optimism?

Next week (beginning 29 June) there will be no competitive matches: not only do the ladies have a bye, but a number of the men are away with the Gosforth Tourists, so that the Nines and West Tyne games have been postponed.  The next match reports will be in two weeks, on or around 11 July.  

A Win, a Defeat, and a Draw

There are an awful lot of bowls bowled in the course of a league match: in the case of the Nines league there are precisely 900 in the evening.  It was remarkable, then, that on Tuesday the whole result boiled down to the fate of the 900th!  Let me explain.

Wallsend Park “A” were playing their first game of the season, after two byes, but they were certainly not rusty, going into a lead on two rinks before being pegged back.  Our fours repeated their first result of the season, coming from behind to win quite comfortably – scoring a six half-way through didn’t hamper the cause, and in fact counted as most of the eventual winning margin.  The pairs, meanwhile, also had a similar experience to the first week, making up a deficit and going into a good-looking lead before two bad ends (losing half a dozen shots) allowed Wallsend into the lead – all the more galling in that the visitors finally won by a single shot.

So that was one rink each.  The triples, meantime, had been in a tight game all night, with the margin between the teams never more than two shots until the sixteenth end, when it stretched to four (15-11) in our favour.  But the Wallsend skip had earlier predicted it would go to the last end, and so it proved.  On the last bowl of the penultimate end, with our team four ahead and lying one, he managed to send the jack right back to where their lead had put three dreadful bowls at the start of the end: three shots to them, and now only one in it.

On the last end another weighted shot gave Wallsend a winning position of three shots, but we cut it down to one and almost pinched the shot as Trevor’s second bowl stopped half a centimetre from the jack – unfortunately Wallsend had one literally touching it!.  And that’s where the 900th bowl became decisive – clipping either of the bowls on the jack would probably give us the match 6-2, but hitting them too hard might give away more than one shot and end up 2-6.  In fact, Trevor’s approach was just too careful, and fell short, which with everyone watching was a bit of an anti-climax!  Overall, it meant the points were shared 4-4, and on the night, you would have to say it was a fair result – even the ends were split 27-27.

The ladies played against Ponteland “A” the next day, and once again put up a good fight with the bare bones of a team.   Shelagh and Christine did really well at the back end on their rink and pulled off an excellent 17-10 win.  On the last few ends especially they frustrated the opposition by getting in for the shot when all seemed lost – on the fifteenth end Shelagh magicked two on the last bowl to make it 14-10, then two ends later Christine effectively won the game by stealing the shot when Ponteland were lying three good shots.

Blanche’s rink lost by six shots, with Thelma in great form as lead and Lesley Lofthouse making a very impressive début – it was great to see some coloured bowls on our side in a Collins and Shipley match!  Over those two rinks, then, we were just one ahead, and Betty’s rink had kept in touch so well that a three on the final end would actually have tied the scores.  The words “would have” give the story away, don’t they?  It didn’t happen, and it was another 2-10 defeat – but considering the number of County players in the Ponteland squad this was a good showing.

After last week’s West Tyne Cup win against Haltwhistle it was strange to see much the same people turning up again for the league match on Thursday.  Once again we had just managed to put together a team – but with so many new members this year (either new or experienced bowlers) it looks as if the days of scratching around for a team will soon be over.

As it happened, those who did play put in an even better performance than last week’s.  Last year Haltwhistle came to our green on the first night of the league and absolutely hammered us.  This time there was a notable turn-round, although as ever Haltwhistle gave us a really good game.  In fact, two rinks of the four were very close throughout: at the half-way mark the scores on these two were 8-7 and 7-6 in our favour, and one end later the scores were 8-11 (David Ashworth) and 7-9.(Darren).  From here Darren went on to win 16-14, while David just failed to make the comeback and lost 12-16.

On Trevor’s rink Christina Auld made her West Tyne début and had a super match as lead.  This rink struggled with the weighted shots played by Haltwhistle, and (like the other rinks noted earlier) it was close for a long time – at the half-way mark 9-7 and then 9-8 after ten ends.  However, once it got to 12-10 things really went our way: after sharing the first twelve ends equally we then won all the last six ends to win 24-10.  The scoreboard maybe wasn’t lying, but it was being economical with the truth.

George Rockett has brought great experience as well as skill since joining this year, and his rink was comfortable after gaining a 13-1 lead.  They may have won only ten of the 18 ends, but the numbers were consistently big, including an early six, and the final result was 24-12.  On this rink and on others everyone seemed to be playing in positions they liked, and that undoubtedly helped the result. The overall result for the match was 6-1, with a 76-52 shots margin – but that makes it sound a bigger win than it felt like (we won just 38 ends to Haltwhistle’s 34). Never mind: the memory of last year’s thumping was well and truly banished.

Out for the Count

Last week’s tale of woe centred on the way the club had lost a couple of games after giving away big(gish) scores and not keeping it tight.  So you’d think we might be able to do something about it, right? Wrong!

The Nines match was at home to champions Backworth Welfare, never easy at the best of times and a particular challenge this year with a couple of first-pick players still out with health problems.  Despite this, Darren’s triples were making a great game of it, leading 10-6 but then losing a six and a seven on consecutive ends to go 10-19 down with only two ends to play.  It was the biggest collapse since Rory McIlroy’s implosion at the US Masters in 2011.

Meanwhile, Trevor and Peter were making a decent fist of the game against Ian Brown and young star Josh Minto, recovering from 3-11 to win five ends on the trot and reach 10-11, when a single shot against was followed by a five.  Suddenly the score was 10-17 with only four ends to go, and the asking rate was too much on a night when two shots was the maximum we were going to get on any end against really consistent opponents.  A few weeks ago, at Wallsend Park, our pairs were slightly flattered by a 20-12 scoreline; this week, you have to say that it was the Backworth pair who were flattered by the same score, although in truth the pressure was quite relentless and – however hard it is to say – they deserved the win.

With the fours going down to an 8-21 defeat that was never in doubt, it was yet another 0-8 drubbing overall.  After the first four matches of the season produced scores comparable to last year, the next batch has been nothing like.  All we can do is rely on an improvement with a full-strength side in the second half of the year, and hope for favourable results from the other bottom clubs.

The West Tyne League was no better, especially as we lost a couple  of players on the eve of the match for non-bowling reasons.  Brian Norman had kindly offered to stand in “if you’re desperate”, and we were, so he made his comeback a bit earlier than intended.  The Haltwhistle match which opened the season was a real hammering, and this was not much better, with two rinks conceding over 20 shots while not making double figures.  A special word has to go to Bill Nicholson, making his competitive début having barely joined the club – Darren’s rink went 12-4 ahead before suffering from vertigo and going down 13-16.  Bob Turner’s rink had a handsome 25-16 win against a strong home team, so it wasn’t all gloom and doom even if the 1-6 points result put any chance of a title challenge in the same category as England’s World Cup hopes after their match against Uruguay on the same night.

At least the ladies won this week, with a 10-2 victory over Ponteland on a glorious afternoon where several players were seeking the shade even during the match.  (The men will need to remember that result when taking on Ponteland next week in the Nines.)  Little news was forthcoming about the match, so we shall merely add that in a very enjoyable friendly we recorded our first win over Alnwick for several years, with four of five rinks winning and a 105-69 margin. Sadly, as in our big win against Consett last Sunday, friendlies don’t count for trophies or league status – but in view of the recent run of bad results we need to cheer anything we can!

A Win, at last

The season so far has featured a number of games in which our teams have lost narrowly on shots, but found themselves on the wrong end of a big defeat because of the bonus points awarded either for the number of rinks won or for overall shots. This week was no exception – in fact, it produced some of the most frustrating results so far.

The ladies were over at Tynemouth for their Collins & Shipley match, and ended up losing 42-45 on shots – a crucial gap when this league gives six of the possible 12 points to the winners on shots. Eileen’s rink came back well from 5-8 down to win six ends on the trot and win 16-9, but the other two rinks were running second for most of the game and ended up that way too.  One of the messages that came out was the need to keep ends tight and to limit the damage on ends that are lost.   The Tynemouth rink which won 18-16, for example, won only 8 of the 18 ends, but four of these counted 5,3,3,3 – that trio of threes coming in the last six ends.   The overall result was a disappointing loss (2-10).

Of course, it’s easy to analyse such scores but harder to do anything about it  when the pressure is on.  The men found the same thing in a narrow loss at High Heaton – narrow on shots, that is, but the 8-0 points margin to the hosts would make it sound anything but. Our pairs lost 16-19 for the second away game in a row – a particularly careless defeat as we were leading 13-4 after ten ends and by 14-7 after twelve.  At that point a three and a four to the opposition brought the scores level, and the mood changed.  The moral here was that there are ends where you might as well accept that you have lost a one, rather than try to “open things up” too early.

The fours lost 12-13 after going into the last end level – Richard Marshall once again filled in admirably and Bob Turner almost brought the ship home.  The triples meanwhile lost a seven en route to a four-shot defeat, so that the overall aggregate loss by eight shots hardly reflected the balance of play. We are not playing badly at the moment – but we are giving away too many counts.

Having said that, our single point in the course of the Bell Cup  (at Gosforth on 11 June) did rather reflect on the performance. The solitary draw from four matches meant we finished in fifth position of five on the day, and even allowing for the natural loss of motivation when it becomes apparent that there is nothing left to play for, this was a disappointing effort. At least Bernard won a raffle prize!  There had been a much better showing in the Challenge Cup, held on our own green the previous weekend, when we finished second out of five, but well behind the excellent Cramlington team who duly qualified for the finals.

At least the week ended with some good news, as Bob Turner, Darren and Trevor wrapped up a comfortable win in the West Tyne Triples.  Playing at Haltwhistle in the preliminary round they adapted quickly to a tricky rink, and despite finding themselves 1-5 down after four ends proceeded to win nine ends on the bounce to go 13-5 ahead; even more importantly they then kept things really tight to end the match 17-8 up.  The next match is against the other Elvaston team – David Barker, David Ashworth and Shelagh Carter had an excellent win the other week against a strong Hexham House side – so there shouldn’t be too much trouble arranging dates or travel.  On second thoughts, with all the games still to come in June, perhaps it’s only the travel that will be easy…