Tag Archives: Hexham House

Wins all round

Waterlogged LyndhurstIn this driest of summers we looked forward to a friendly at Lyndhurst on Monday. We left Hexham under grey skies, but as we passed the Metro Centre the heavens opened, and we got to Gateshead just in time for that downpour to catch up with us.  Within minutes the green was flooded, and it took only a few minutes more to call the match off.

It was even stranger to get back to Hexham and find the roads dry, while at Gosforth Blanche Adamson and her playing partner from the Gosforth club also had a fine afternoon, made all the finer by winning the County Over-55 Pairs competition.  Their opponents in the final were Susan and Shelagh from our own club, so we can be proud of our prominence in the ladies’ game.

Through the rest of the week it was back to the normal routine of regular games in men’s, ladies’ and mixed leagues.  The Nines team played at Collingwood (North Shields) on a green that was extremely similar to our own in terms of brown, parched grass and occasional bumps.  We were reduced to eight players just as we about to leave Hexham, following a bizarre mix-up that had nothing to do with bowls, so the fours played as three, facing the loss of a quarter of their score.

This seemed not to trouble them at all, as they were soon 12-0 ahead, and even when you took that penalty into account 9-0 still sounded pretty good.  Collingwood then came back into the game, basically sharing the shots, so that after 16 ends the score was a gross 22-8 in our favour.  That was not the time to lose a count, but in an eerie echo of the Cramlington match back in June, we dropped a five on the penultimate end, to make the score 22-13, or (in net terms) 16.5-13.   It would have been hairy if that half-point had been needed, but in the event we conceded just a single on the last end, for a win that was much narrower than had seemed likely.

The pairs were also ahead throughout, extending an early four-shot lead to seven or eight for much of the game – at the end the scoreboard read exactly the same as the fours, 22-14, but this time we got the full benefit.  Having said that, Collingwood made a spirited recovery at various points, pinning us back to just a couple of shots early in the second half and causing some furrowed brows on the part of Brian and Darren.

The triples really looked to be too strong for the opposition on paper, especially taking into account the fact that the Collingwood second had been playing bowls only for a couple of months.  The trouble was, he hadn’t read the script, and also had a background in archery, so that his ability to see the right line was phenomenal for someone new to the game. Allied to that, the skip was extremely good, and managed to cut down our potential shots on several ends – a quick calculation suggested it was well into double figures.

So it was a game of attrition, just having to be satisfied with single shots, of which there were plenty – from 4-4 after five ends the score plodded to 17-5 after fifteen.   Still Collingwood didn’t give up, and after yet another corking bowl from their skip to turn a two-shot deficit into three for them on the last end, it finished 17-10.  By that time most of the home team had gone home, probably dispirited after yet another defeat.  It was still a good win for ourselves, even if a clean sweep against a team that hasn’t notched up a single point since May won’t gain us too much ground in the league.

The ladies got back to winning ways in the Collins & Shipley league – by coincidence they too were playing the bottom team in the league.  The strong start to the season had tailed off in recent weeks with three defeats, but against Seaton Delaval the engine sparked back into life.  Betty’s rink took a few ends to get the better of the opposition but from about the mid-point pulled away to win just about every end for a 19-7 win.

The other rinks were closer for most of the match, but at least that solid victory on the first rink meant that the bonus points were all but assured.  Blanche’s rink had trailed consistently for the first half of the game, but a four with just two ends to go established a clear lead for the first time, so that from 11-10 with three ends left they took the match  16-11. The third rink were actually lying two shots on the last end for a tied score, but the opposition skip trailed the jack to earn Seaton Delaval one shot on the end and a 17-14 win.  The overall result was therefore two rinks to one in our favour.  With ten points this week and another nine guaranteed next Wednesday because Seaton Sluice have conceded the game, the points tally is suddenly looking a lot healthier.

After those two matches against teams that were bottom of the league we were able to send out a West Tyne team that was top of the league before playing Hexham House B at the Abbey green. The green posed some interesting challenges, with bowls occasionally running against the bias and some doing an elegant little slalom. On one rink a slight depression meant that well-weighted bowls speeded up in the last yard of their journey to travel at least another yard past the jack – a novel twist to the game.

Of course, these conditions applied to both teams, and once we had worked out the vagaries of the runs it was quite straightforward (with the emphasis on straight). Three rinks won quite well, with Darren’s rink progressing consistently from a lead of four (after five ends) to eight (ten ends) and sixteen by the end (a score of 24-8). Keith’s rink also finished well ahead (21-9), after being just 8-6 up at the half-way point. Trevor’s rink looked to be on track for a big win too (15-5 after 14 ends), but then lost five shots on two ends before finishing 18-10 ahead. Meanwhile the two Steves and Blanche played really well, even leading after ten ends, but were unfortunate to come up against skip Mike McDonnell in awesome form: the loss of a late five made the score (11-20) look far worse than the performance had been.

This meant a 6-1 win on league points, which in the light of other results means we are now three points clear at the top of the table with one game to go. Five points against Haltwhistle next week would guarantee the title, and although four might be enough with our current shots advantage that is an unusual points score to achieve as it means winning only one rink while also winning overall on shots. At least, as the football managers say, it’s in our own hands.  And by the end of the week, unlike our experience at Lyndhurst, we could be home and dry.

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One Shot is Enough

arizona asphalt beautiful blue sky

Photo by Nextvoyage on Pexels.com

This report (totally reliant on details provided by roving reporter Brian Norman) is sent from British Columbia, just after reading a report on the Vancouver Whitecaps’ recent “road game” in Texas.  Texas?  Road game!  I mean, the nearest big city from Vancouver is Seattle, in the States, only 140 miles but two and a half hours by road, so quite how that expression comes from is a mystery.  Anyway (or “anyways” as they say here), Heaton Victoria in the Nines definitely is a “road game”.

After last week’s 100% record in competition the chances of a repeat this week were a little less than 100%, but the Nines made a good start. The triples had a sense of being hard done by early on, as the Heaton skip kept nicking the shot so that we were 1-7 down after six ends. However, the next six went 17-2 in our favour, to give us an 18-9 lead, and from there it was easy to see the game out at 20-12.  The fours were equally, or even more, impressive.  Here the score was 3-3 after five ends but 17-3 after fourteen! The final score was 20-7.  So the match was won, and the question was, by how many points.  The pairs had led 3-1 after four ends, then slipped behind at 4-11 before fighting back to 12-all with three ends to go. They then dropped a one and a three so were 12-16 down going into the last end. They managed just a three to lose 15-16.

So one more shot could have made it 7-1 on points, but in the light of early defeats, and several defeats at Heaton over the years, the 6-2 was very acceptable. The overall shots score was 55-35, which is pretty good for a road game!

The West Tyne match was a top-of-the-table game against Hexham House B.  Each side won two rinks, but in this league shots count for a lot.  Our two defeats were by seven and ten shots, though it must be said that the seven margin was a great effort after the rink went 0-9 down after just five ends.

Our first win was a tight (indeed, miserly) match, with five shots scored on the first five ends, 12 in total after ten, and ourselves in the lead 10-8 after fifteen ends.  True to form, only three shots came on the last three ends, and we won 12-9.   This low score was the main reason why this fixture had the second-lowest shots total of the season so far in the West Tyne league.

The last rink also saw a tight match: we were leading 3-2 after five ends and then just one shot down (7-8) after ten; at 17-12 after fifteen ends it looked like a case of “job done” but Hexham House came back and we were probably relieved the game finished after 18 ends with a one-shot win (18-17).   But that was enough to give us a rink point, and make it 2-5 in league points on the night.  At least that meant that Hexham House are now ahead of us only on shots.

It was a punishing schedule for some, as the men had a friendly at Portland on Friday afternoon, with one of our triples (Brian, Mark and Keith) playing there in the evening as well in a County triples.  Naturally they made sure they played together in the afternoon and had a handy 21-6 win in a match that was reduced to fifteen ends because of a heavy and prolonged shower.  Steve Benson’s rink did even better, 28-6, against useful opposition, and it is fair to say that with a score of 72-33 after fifteen ends, there would have been no way back for Portland even if the rain had relented.

None of the Portland trio in the evening game had played in the friendly. Because everyone was on site the game started 45 minutes early, although this didn’t help our cause.  It had stopped raining but the green was still saturated – presumably because the green was so baked from recent good weather.  Our team got off to a terrible start and were 2-15 down around the half-way stage, but then fought back to 14-16 and were lying shot on the penultimate end until the Portland skip got the shot with his last wood to make it 14-17 rather than the rather more likely-looking 15-16. So we needed four on the final end.  After Brian and Mark had bowled we were indeed lying four as Mark neatly took their nearest wood out. This left the jack about an inch behind one of Brian’s woods and Portland had plenty of back woods. The skip could have drawn for third shot but decided to try to hit Brian’s wood and send the jack back. He missed.  Three times.  So we won 18-17: one shot is all you need.

Oh, and it was Portland, Newcastle, not Portland, Oregon.

road trip

The Prize is Right

On the day that the BBC came in for heavy criticism because only a third of its top earners were women, HEBC managed the same proportion in the West Tyne game with Hexham House: four of the 12 players were female, one on each rink.  At least all were on the same pay scale as their teammates.

One in particular deserved to be a top earner:  Christina played what she happily agreed was her best game ever, nailing the jack so often that we almost needed to send for extra supplies of chalk.  A few early ends went against us, so that after eight ends we were leading just 7-6, but once Christina started sending in her guided missiles we won all the next ten, scoring 20 shots for a 27-6 win.

David Ashworth’s rink had almost as big a win, also being 14 shots ahead after 15 ends, but this lead was pegged back a bit in the closing stages so that it finished 25-14.  Here too it was in the middle period that things clicked, with David Boaden getting the hang of his borrowed bowls:  the score went from 9-7 to 22-8 in the course of five ends.

The other rinks were much closer – in both cases the teams went into the last end level.  Brian Elstob’s welcome return to action had promised well (his was the only rink to be leading after five ends), but Hexham House caught up, and with the scores on 13-13 our rink was holding shot until the last bowl of the match, when Pat Thompson drew the shot.

Darren’s rink finished well after all others, partly because of some confusion about scores and measuring, not to mention a burnt end.  They were tied 13-13 after 15 ends, then 14-14 going into the last but after a relatively low-scoring match suddenly lost a four to make the defeat look bigger than it should have been.  However, with the overall aggregate safely in our favour it was a 5-2 win on the night against the only side now able to chase us for runner-up spot in the league.

The Friday night saw our Senior Fours play in the County semi-final against Portland, at Gosforth.  The forecast had been for gloomy and damp weather, but as the match started the sun came out, making life a bit tricky for anyone not wearing a cap, at least in one direction.  That problem was not as difficult as the rink – not because of any imperfection, but because of the extremely fast pace.  Portland, of course, play on a fast green themselves, and settled much quicker than our team.  The score was soon 1-12, but to the great credit of the HEBC four they came back to 10-14.  In the next ends a few crucial shots went against them, and the “run rate” went up until it meant getting a five on the last end simply to draw – and some well-placed bowls by Portland ruled that out.  It is fair to say that, on the night, the better team won, but reaching the inaugural Final of this competition was still a great achievement.

Brian and Keith were back for more on Sunday, at Alnwick, in the semi-final of the County fours with Darren and Malcolm.   In fact, they almost had a fruitless journey, as it was raining so hard on arrival that they had to shelter in the car for a while, and when play did start the conditions became bad enough for the players to come off the green. At that point our team were leading, but after the resumption they fell behind for the first time in the match (14-17).  At this point they scored a four, then added a few more over a couple of ends, so that their opponents from Morpeth needed a five on the last end to draw – a precise re-run of Friday’s finale, in reverse.  Not only did our team avoid the five, they scored one themselves for a 23-17 win.  This puts them in the final next weekend – Darren will be playing against his brother Craig – and it also guarantees a trip to Leamington Spa for the national finals.  Well done, all.

On an adjacent rink two of the winning Portland team from Friday were in a semi-final of the triples, and leading all the way through until they lost a seven – and the match – on the last end.   Well at least they’re already booked for Leamington…

While all this was going on we had a friendly at Consett, where the rain arrived rather later but allowed us – just – to finish the match.  Soaked as we were, it was an enjoyable game with a magnificent spread afterwards.  Our top rink comprised new member Isobel Adamson, Christina Auld (clearly unstoppable just now) and Richard Hart-Jackson, whose joke-telling at the après-match tea was as impressive as his bowling.  They each received a miniature bottle of wine for their efforts – so at least HEBC can say that our ladies get equal rewards for doing the same job!

Up for the Cup

With temperatures in the high 20s and bone-dry playing surfaces,this has been a brilliant spell of weather for bowls.  Unfortunately our performances haven’t been red-hot.

As it happens, several scheduled games were postponed or cancelled, so there hasn’t been too much action to report.  That explains the lack of match reports lately.  But in fact, it was just as well that the games were delayed, as several of us were suffering from bowls fatigue, with matches coming not just one per day but sometimes even more!

One such event came about after we received a request to supply some of our players to make up numbers in a special match on our green between the Friends of Bowls England and Bowls Northumberland.   Of course we had been delighted to host the event, and honoured to be asked, but the result of providing about five men in addition to several ladies who had already been due to play was that three of the nine men who played in the league on Tuesday night had already played 21 ends in the afternoon – not to mention rushing home without the après-match meal and then going in to Newcastle.  It was striking that Brian and Darren fell behind in the latter stages of the league game against Heaton, looking worn out in the heat, while the triples team (none of whom had played earlier) won handsomely.

The match against Heaton was as close (overall) as usual.  At about the half-way stage we led 9-3 on two rinks (pairs and triples) and were down 3-9 in the fours.  From that point the fours continued to fall behind to lose 9-21 while the triples exploited jack length very well to push home their advantage, winning 30-6.  The pairs saw their early lead pegged back, and despite all their efforts towards the end lost 11-17.

Only two league points from that match, and it was the same story – though for different reasons – next day for the ladies, who lost 2-10 at home to  Chirton, with just one of the three rinks winning.  And while that was happening, the two men’s rinks in the Bell Cup were proving to be the whipping boys once again, losing all five of their round-robin ties.  The day can be really punishing, especially when it is clear by lunchtime that you have no chance of winning the event: with a 10.30 start and the last match finishing around 18.00 it wasn’t good for morale.

We were quite relieved to hear that the West Tyne Cup game against Hexham House B, due on Thursday, was to be postponed until the following week.  The friendly against Alnwick was then cancelled as the visitors couldn’t field a team.

Perhaps if that event hadn’t been on the calendar fewer people would have ruled themselves out of a trip to Sunderland on Sunday for a friendly against Roker Marine: it certainly felt like a case of being “never knowingly underbowled”.  However, the match took place thanks to having the help of six good friends from other West Tyne clubs, plus half a dozen players from Roker Marine, who play only two friendlies each year and therefore have quite a lot of people eager to play whenever possible.  It was another glorious day in a beautiful park setting, and although Elvaston finished ahead on the scoreboard (just) we could hardly count it as a win in view of the number of guest players.  The other notable feature was the very generous prize of a half-bottle of whisky for each member of our top rink – the only one to have as many as three Elvaston members, so well done to Sheila, Jean and Sylvia.  And do you really want that whisky?

On, then, to the delayed Cup match with Hexham House B, played tonight on their green. Malcolm and Darren Cooper each skipped a rink, and both found themselves level for at least half the match, before both of them drew ahead, with wins by 18-10 and 18-11 respectively.  This Cup competition is decided on rinks won, so the actual shots weren’t too important – and after those results, totally irrelevant.  However, if either had slipped up we would have been in trouble, as Trevor’s rink lost an early 12-3 advantage when the opposition lead shortened the length by taking the mat up, whereupon Hexham House won seven ends on the bounce, moving to 14-12.  Trevor then nicked the shot on each of the next two ends to make it all square going into the last end of an excellent match, but Hexham House got the winning shot for a 15-14 win.  However, we are now through to the semi-final, against Haltwhistle, and at last there was something to cheer about.  Just as well, as the next league game is a Nines match against Gosforth…

 

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!

 

Home by one shot

The return (home) leg of our two-leg contest with Hexham House for the Courant Vase trophy took place on Friday 9 September.  We don’t usually cover friendlies in any great detail, but this one is a little special not only in having an actual prize, but for being the last of the season.  It was also exciting enough to merit a little description.

The match started at 5.30 pm, with a threat of rain and a thoroughly grey sky.  Right from the start it was obvious that we had made the right choice in bringing the start forward from 6 pm, as it’s now getting dark early on the best of nights, and this wasn’t one of them.

The game, reduced to six rinks of triples, started with our club fourteen shots down after the earlier match at Hexham House.  If we were hoping to make rapid inroads into the deficit we were disappointed: not least because of the usual rule about one shot on the first two ends we were just 24-22 ahead after five ends.  By the tenth end, however, this lead had increased to 63-54, the sort of lead which a Sky Sports graphic would have shown to be on target for finishing in front.  But bowls rarely works like that, and after another four ends the position had changed entirely, so that we found ourselves 82-83 down over the six rinks.  Fifteen shots down with four ends to go – a tall order now.

Several good ends followed.  Steve Benson’s rink won the last four ends, picking up eight shots, while Shelagh Carter’s rink scored 3,2,4 on the last three ends. The result of this – and all the other activity – was that after 17 ends we were ahead 104-93, therefore needing to win the last end by a total of four shots to win the whole match.  Some won, some didn’t, but apart from Shelagh’s obtaining a most spectacular draw (19-19 after having been 1-9 down after a handful of ends) it all came down to Steve Benson’s rink, still playing the last end after everyone else had left the green.  They were leading by two shots going into the last end but with the other five results showing us only 11 ahead on the night they still needed one more for an overall draw. This didn’t look likely when the Hexham House second put a bowl on the jack, but Betty launched a brilliant Exocet that took out the bowl and moved the jack into an even darker area of the green.  Thankfully Steve could still see this, and he bowled two of his three woods to count, and produce a 20-16 win that gave us a win by fifteen shots.  There was at least one recount in the pavilion, but once the various scores had been confirmed it became clear that we had won 112-97, and by one shot over the two legs.

Whose shot had done it?   A silly question, of course, in bowls, especially when you think that over two legs 3,672 bowls had been delivered!  But whether it was John Lambert and Jean ensuring a 14-shot win on their rink, or the two rinks which each won by one shot, or Shelagh’s late comeback or Steve’s “shot in the dark” – or even the fact that our one losing rink kept the game so close – it was a great team effort that showed how exciting bowls can be when played as a team game across several rinks.

All in all, as a semi-competitive match (half-friendly, half-trophy) it was a very fitting end to the external season.  Our own internal season ended the next day with a Gentlemen vs Ladies match which – it was later tactfully agreed – the ladies allowed the men to win, and which was followed by a meal and then the Presentation of Prizes for the year.   There’s no need for a report on this game, of course, and match reports are now over until 2017.  Thanks for reading.

Symmetry

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…