Tag Archives: Prudhoe


The hottest week of the year forced us to use quite a bit of water on the green, but plenty of cold water was poured on our league teams too.  The Nines side went to Backworth more in hope than expectation, and although the pairs came to within three shots (15-18) the triples and fours lost by an aggregate 33 shots.  The overall result, therefore, was a 0-8 loss, which it has to be said is par for the course at Backworth but not exactly great for morale either.

The ladies, meanwhile, travelled to Alnwick with rather more cause for confidence after recent performances.  Once again, though, each rink fell short, by small but crucial margins, and the result this time was 0-12.

That left hopes for positive news pinned firmly on the West Tyne match with Prudhoe House, but on Wednesday evening, 24 hours before the game, Prudhoe announced that their club has folded and that our fixture was obviously cancelled.   Although we knew that at least one of their earlier matches had been postponed because of low numbers this was nevertheless a shock.  It also guaranteed a further fixture with no points!

It would be nice to report that we had at least won a friendly, but in a most enjoyable game at Portland on Friday afternoon, in full, hot sunshine. we lost overall by nine shots (62-71).  Playing four rinks of triples we lost three of them, with a large win on the fourth thanks to the consistency of Brian Norman and John Lambert, who managed to dishearten the opposition with their nagging consistency, all the while reducing their own skip’s role to one of centring the jack and marking the card.

Portland, of course, represent the Gold Standard in post-match teas, so any disappointment at the result lasted for about the time it took to get to the bar.   But it will still be good to get some points, rather than pints, next week.

Then you win some more!

The friendly against Hexham House was played on a cloudy but bright day with more than the usual number of interested tourists and visitors sitting in the park.  The House green was a bit erratic on some greens – the same could have been said of ours last Thursday, of course – but was running very well in the sense of being fast – indeed, at a certain point heading north the bowls tended to accelerate past the jack.  It really was quite unusual to be needing such little effort to bowl a full length this early in the season.

Six full rinks made for a good spectacle but by the end the scoreboards were less of a good sight.  Two of our rinks had good wins (22-10; 21-10) but two others went down badly (8-25 and 9-25), so although the other two rinks were really close we finished 14 down on the day (88-102).  President Jean Allen played as if her life depended on it, earning the shot end after end and leaving her skip with nothing much to do. Keith Woods’ rink played with such great teamwork that they even shrugged off the temporary absence of a team member who had to rescue (his or) her car from a timed car park.  The narrow loss by four shots on David Ashworth’s rink was almost a win, as Elvaston were lying five shots on the last end until the last bowl won it for the home team.  Meanwhile, Brian Elstob’s rink found themselves level at 3-3, 10-10, 13-13 and then on 16-16 at the finish after winning the last two ends.

All in all, then, well enough matched over six rinks.  That was the first leg of the Courant Vase competition, and although 14 shots is a lot to make up in September it’s not beyond the realms.  In fact, perhaps we shouldn’t make too much of that Vase element, and simply agree with Jean as she thanked Hexham House for a splendid tea and commented that the score wasn’t important.

Where it was important was in the Nines match on Tuesday against Backworth.  Over the years this match has been a foregone conclusion, but our performance against Gosforth in the opening match had been so encouraging that the sight of the famous blue and yellow shirts didn’t seem so worrying – especially as there were only eight of them!  Having established that the ninth was still sitting at home, Backworth had to play with three men on the fours rink, losing a quarter of their final score.

This turned out to be vital.  The score was close enough for most of the game, but we did make a few mistakes, notably trying to win a couple of  ends when accepting a one-shot loss would have been safer (read, mark, learn…), and although we won nine of the first 17 ends we still trailed 12-18 going into the last.  Backworth were then lying the shot, almost touching the jack, when the skips went to bowl.  Since they would lose a quarter of 18 we knew that a two would win the match, and that’s exactly what happened when Trevor ditched the jack with his first bowl.  A win by half a shot!.

The triples had been level or just ahead all the way, and with Matthew Sinclair back in the team and playing as if he had never been away they were always in a good position with bowls in the head.  This time it was Backworth who needed a two on the last end just to draw, but Philip made sure we had several seconds and the single shot meant we had won that one too, by the relatively big margin of one shot.  In fact, that word “one” is the key to the whole win: in a game where the two teams shared the 18 ends, six of our nine ends were won by one, while for Backworth it was seven out of nine – keeping the score down can be as important as scoring a lot yourself.

Compared to this the pairs had a total landslide, 17-12, but the game was notable for having no score above a two, except for the six which put Keith and Darren 7-2 ahead. This came from a situation where Backworth were lying shot but we had five seconds – it was one thing for Darren to see the possibility of removing the shot bowl by promoting another one of ours, and quite another to play it!  From there on it was absolutely level (this game also finished nine-apiece in terms of ends), but with some excellent game management the pair were able to hold off any revival by the visitors.

Often enough in the past we’ve had cause to lament the way that the league points system produces a fruitless evening despite a good performance and a close game.    Tonight it worked in our favour, for sure, as a margin of just 6.5 shots across three rinks gave us an 8-0 win.   We may not be able to do a Leicester this year, but there was another football analogy this weekend as Swansea beat West Ham in London for the first time since 1956: yes, it did feel that good!

We said last week that the ladies were slow starters in the league.  They proved the point by getting up to speed at Gosforth on a fast green: the changes that were made to the teams were largely in terms of position, but they certainly seemed to improve the teamwork.  Two rinks won well, 16-8 and 18-8, and although Betty’s rink were pegged back to 12-12 with one end to play they then put the match to bed by winning a four on that last end.  So overall it was 50-28 and a whitewash in terms of league points, 12-0, a complete reversal of last week’s defeat.   Put that score alongside the men’s 8-0 the night before and it really did start to look like a good week.

This game does come  back to bite you, though, as they say.  The warning signs were there in the men’s friendly against Lyndhurst, where we won 66-64 overall, but thanks only to a big win on David Ashworth’s rink (the other three lost).  It was a lovely sunny afternoon, with good company, and of course the result in these things is a bit of a footnote.

However, the next night, in the West Tyne league, we came up against a determined Prudhoe side with several new recruits in an all-male team.  We have always regarded this league as a mixed league, and shall continue that policy.  The green wasn’t the easiest to play on, and certainly favoured the front-end players as there was no predictable bend for those playing later, but we could hardly blame the green as we were ahead on aggregate for all the first seven ends.   However, after that we found it hard to keep up.  The overall match was even tighter than the referendum polls – three of the rinks split the ends nine-each, while the fourth lost only 8-10 on ends.  But it’s shots that count, and while our own scores were remarkably similar (12,13,14,14) the Prudhoe rinks scored more on every occasion, even though none of them reached 20. Christina had a brilliant game and certainly didn’t deserve to be on the rink with the heaviest defeat.  Shelagh’s rink came closest to a win, going into the last end two ahead but then losing a three, but overall no one could argue with the result.  Defeat by 16 shots and a painful 0-7 in league points wasn’t the ideal end to the competitive week but we won’t be the only team to struggle at Prudhoe this year.



“And in second place…”

This week saw two finals in the West Tyne League, as well as the final league fixture and – on Sunday – the Gala Day.

In the Singles final, Trevor Field played Steve Doneathy of Prudhoe, with the final for the first time being played as one match rather than over two legs. Rather oddly, the format whereby the two legs were each of 18 ends was maintained for this match in favour of the traditional 21-up, but once that was clarified the game got under way and threatened to be over in record time as Steve found line and length immediately to go 9-2 ahead.

Trevor eventually woke up from his early afternoon nap, and a four squared the match at 9-9.  From that point on it was very even (12-12 soon followed by 14-14).  On the seventeenth end Trevor drew what had seemed an impossible bowl to win the end with his last wood and go ahead 15-14.  However, this was not the first time he had had to do something special to foil an excellent opponent, and in the last end Steve again put two bowls close, forcing a departure from the steady draw that had served Trevor so well, and when the attempted trail missed Steve was the winner by a single shot.

Two nights later Trevor was joined by Keith Woods and Brian Norman for the Triples final against Haltwhistle (David Lee, Micky Rogan and Frank Robson), at Allendale.  They got off to a Doneathyesque start, going 8-1 ahead after five ends, but then disaster struck as they conceded 14 shots on the next five, including a seven, so that after ten ends they were 8-15 down.  Against such good opponents this was always going to be very hard, and although the shots after that point were shared (at least until the last end, when caution was abandoned as we went for a seven!) the game was up.  Keith was as solid and dependable as ever, but over the piece our line and length were not up to normal standard, and the Haltwhistle trio deserved to edge it – crucially David Lee was able to cut down several promising heads to a single shot whereas the Haltwhistle counts … counted.  So Elvaston finished runners-up in the two knock-out trophies.

After Hexham House’s result last week at Alston we were playing for second place in the league as well this week, needing just a point against Prudhoe to overtake Haltwhistle.  It turned out to be a very close match, and with 14 ends gone it could have still been a result to cause blushes.  However, David Ashworth made sure Steve Doneathy’s week was not one of total contentment with a 17-12 rink win; Brian Elstob returned from holiday with his understated skip’s style and also steered his rink to a five-shot win (16-11); while Darren’s rink made the most dramatic story, winning only one of the first eleven ends but still managing to come back from 4-13 to win 17-15.  Blanche’s rink, having rolled and coasted through the evening, lost a four on the last end to lose 15-19, but thanks to the vagaries of the league scoring system our eight-shot aggregate win translated into a 6-1 points win.  (The final league table will be on our website until the New Year.)  This made us runners-up to three different West Tyne clubs in one week.

Of course, a few weeks ago we lost the Cup Final to Alston,so that was a fourth runner-up spot.  There was therefor something inevitable about the Gala Day, held at Alston on the League Chairman’s green.  This was the usual relaxed affair, albeit with everyone trying to win, and at the end of five rounds and some rapid calculations it emerged that Haltwhistle had won the event with four wins out of five while we came second – of course – with three wins.  All other teams had two wins on the day.  It was certainly a good way to end the season, even if our record of finishing second in five competitions may take some beating!

Well done, Ladies!

Pride of place this week has to go to the Ladies’ team, who travelled to Forest Hall on the back of two 2-10 home defeats.  As reported last time, the defeat against Ponteland had been quite a close affair, despite the fact that Ponteland top the table after three matches.  The first way match of the season might have appeared a little daunting, but in the event all three rinks won, two of them very comfortably, and the 12-0 scoreline lifted us several places up the league.

With no Nines match this week, the only other league match was a West Tyne game against Prudhoe.  The Prudhoe green was running really fast, with very short grass – and slopes near the banks meant that anything past a full-length jack would almost certainly roll into the ditch.  However, all the rinks worked it out, some more quickly than others, and we were pleased with the outcome.

Both David Ashworth’s rink and George’s won just eight of the 18 ends, but whereas this resulted in a narrow loss (15-17) for George, David was helped enormously by a four and a six, to come home by 17-14   Since this rink had been leading 13-5 at the half-way mark it was as well the match finished when it did!

Darren’s rink took a while to get going, and indeed after 10 ends they were 6-8 down.  But from that point on they didn’t lose another end, and won 18-8.  By this stage the match points were already safe, thanks to the 26-9 on the fourth rink, where Pete Seago was Man of the Match with a brilliant display.  Drawing bowls in from all angles, he reduced the Prudhoe team and his own skip to the role of spectators. The win would have been even bigger but for our giving away a three and a four near the end.

Overall, then, it was another 6-1 win – not enough to keep up with Hexham House, but after last year’s travails a very encouraging start to the season.

It’s the time of year when various Bowls Northumberland knock-out competitions start.  In the Mixed Pairs Trevor and Jean renewed their partnership with a big (27-7) win at Gosforth.  In the Men’s Triples, Darren, Keith and Trevor played against a Hexham House trio led by Shaun Blaylock, who had an excellent game and secured several ends that had seemed cast-iron certs for ourselves. One shot in particular – stopping us from nailing a four – was crucial in that a possible 12-5 lead suddenly went back to 8-6, and the Hexham House team won five ends on the trot before we went ahead by one with one end to play.  Sadly we played a really bad final end, and the lights went out.

Two days later it was a similar story, as we played the round-robin Jubilee Cup qualifiers at Benfield.  Despite winning two matches very easily, including against Walker, the Nines champions of last year, we had a shocker against Seaton Sluice, losing 4-16 over nine ends, and so we finished second on shots.  That too was a very winnable situation, so it was a big disappointment.  Obviously we need some tuition from the ladies on how to win…


“Ever try.  Ever fail.  No matter.  Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.” 

Samuel Beckett was certainly thinking of more cosmic things than bowls when he wrote that terse summary of life’s aims, but the words were so apt for the Nines team this week. There have been some close defeats this season, but none more so than the game with Ponteland on a sunny but surprisingly fresh evening.  Even the Ponteland green seemed to have taken a chill, running much slower than in the sunshine two days earlier. Not that that explains the result, which was just one of those things.

As Luis Suárez was getting his teeth into a new challenge against Italy, so we showed, er, a bit more bite against a side that was riding high in the league.  The triples stayed close for a long time against a very strong Ponteland team, 9-9 after eleven ends before losing ten shots in the next five ends; even then they didn’t give up, scoring a six to make the last end more than academic, but it panned out as a five-shot win to Ponteland.  Meanwhile David Ashworth’s fours went ahead early and the only question all through was how big the win would be – in the event they won by seven shots,  Most important, they really looked like they were playing as a team.

Scoreboard showing close scores

Singles night at Ponteland!

So that was all square, with the pairs to decide it.The match had been close all through, 6-4 to Ponteland after ten ends, which must be on the way to some kind of record for single shots.  It was then 7-7 after 13 ends, and 10-10 after 16, when we were lying shot until the opposing skip burnt the end and we had to replay it – sadly we lost a three at this point, and could manage only two on the last end for 12-13  Trevor’s last bowl needed to stop just short of the ditched jack to earn a draw but it toppled apologetically into the ditch, taking our hopes with it. In fact, since we won the shots count 44-43, a draw there would have given us three more league points. Despite this huge disappointment this was a much more encouraging display than in recent weeks, and the return of Brian and Keith was clearly a huge boost.  Now for the second half of the season…


The West Tyne league is well into the second half already, but wins are still elusive, as shown by yet another draw ((59-59 on shots), this time against Prudhoe.   David Ashworth’s team had a great comeback after being at least 11 shots down, and finished just four behind.  One rink lost by 14, though, and this meant that Darren played his last bowls trying for a third shot to win the overall match.  None of them went in, and two shots on this final end meant the match was drawn.  It looks like Prudhoe and ourselves will be having a private duel for third place, and on this evidence it will be quite a tussle.