The week had a full variety of matches, ranging from friendlies through league matches to a Cup semi-final, and in all 30 members had at least one game.
Five triples turned out for the friendly at Consett on Sunday. This was our second visit to Sherburn Park, and the welcome and hospitality were as warm and fulsome as on the inaugural match two years ago. The sides were extremely well matched, and by about halfway it was becoming obvious that there would be one rink well ahead for each club, with the other three pretty close. So it proved, and not only that but the shots ended 78-all, which for a friendly really couldn’t be better. The supply of cakes and sandwiches and pies and tarts and marshmallows seemed to go on for ever, and when all that was finished there was a very generous raffle. The only thing which some of us might have changed (given that it was a friendly) would be to have the usual 18 ends with one shot on the first two ends, instead of 16 with a couple of trials – but this was no big deal.
By Friday it was time for a longer trip, to Alnwick, where the tea was also fulsome and the hospitality excellent; even the weather was brighter than it was in Hexham. The only thing wrong with the day was the eventual score (as if that matters in a friendly), but at least one of our new members, John McArdle, finished on our top rink on his début. And on a day when four of our new members played in the match (whenever could we last say that?) we received two more application forms: things are looking up.
They were already looking up after the West Tyne Cup semi-finals on Thursday. Hexham House were playing over at Alston, and despite winning one rink 32-13 they lost the other two, so that Alston made it to the final. Whether they would play ourselves or Allen Valley was in doubt until the last few minutes of our match at Allendale. Ken’s rink was well ahead early on, and then maintained that advantage to win by six shots; but Trevor’s Trio did the reverse, falling well behind in the early stages and just failing to catch up, losing by three. It’s just as well that David Ashworth, Blanche and Alan stuck in after losing an early five, coming back to win by just one. Because of our overall shots advantage Allen Valley needed a five on the last end here, but managed just a three – altogether too close for comfort! The final will be played on the Chairman’s green, as always, and that gives Alston home advantage – it’s a good job we have a league game there before that to get a bit of practice.
In the Nines we stayed top of the table with a good win over Wallsend Park B. The match had some pretty ridiculous scores. Darren and Peter lost the first two ends, and after five ends were 2-4 down, but at this point they stopped dealing in singles, losing only two more ends to finish 31-8 ahead with the final 16 shots unanswered. They polished off the match several ends before the other two rinks, both of which finished with a scoreline of 26-6 – but unfortunately only one of them (the triples) was in our favour, with the fours winning only four ends, including a three on the last. The Wallsend skip in the fours said that the last time he was here, in a National competition, the present clubhouse wasn’t even there – but he and his team played as if they were regular visitors.
The ladies had a heavy defeat at Burradon in the Collins and Shipley (no details are available, but let’s just say that we failed to trouble the scorers); however, other results meant that their mid-table position is still secure, and once this run of difficult away matches is over there should be an easier run-in with four home games at the end. That’s the thing about bowls – there’s always a reason to be optimistic, somewhere…