Writes Brian M
Until we played Prince Arthur the week before, Ashford had been our newest fixture, and it was only as we arrived that I realised that John and Peter had regularly missed both autumn and winter or spring dates, hitherto, as they clashed with their Blind Veteran visits to the south coast. But since the then fixture secretary, Erica, took the trouble to visit us and set up a match it has become a firm favourite, bookended with meals from Ashford’s caterers, Hunger’s End. Though Tom’s wish for Marian, Doreen and Bruce to enjoy a trip to the local outlet as a preliminary rather backfired, as they did not reach the main event till starting time, so we had a small delay!

As reigning Gravesham champion and with several recent RBBG trophies on his mantelpiece, Hans has been an outstanding performer for us, which shows that Ashford’s Tony. Peter and David must have been playing at a pretty decent level to beat Hans, with John and Geoff, on rink six, by 32-9. Seventeen shots in the last six ends for Ashford really took the game away from RBBG.

It was only one week earlier that Tom and Marian had had a fantastic day, against Prince Arthur and, along with David, they were 13-13, after eleven ends, another good result in the offing. But six shots in the twelfth (to Pat, Reg and Ray) was the killer and Ashford ended up 23-14 winners.

On rink three Trudy, Bruce and Penny were all square at halfway, 9-9, but in the second half Barbara, Chris and Ashford’s Captain, Graham, turned the screws, including five shots in the final end for a 21-11 win. Brian spent a lot of time on this rink and there was some good play by our new recruit, Bruce, and some very impressive backhands from both Trudy and Penny. All the Ashford bowlers played well, but worth a mention is the fact that Barbara (for the hosts) plays backhands, too – all the time and - with both her left and right hands. Within RBBG bowlers, Peter and Norman, have, on occasion, bowled with their left, ‘wrong’ arm, like Barbara, in response to an injury, but she has continued with it and it is serving her well. My Dad would have been impressed – he always said he would have given his right arm to be ambidextrous!

On rink two, Mary valiantly turned out for us, still suffering back and leg problems, and with husband Ralph and Pat C they were giving a good account of themselves, leading 13-10 when Mary had to call it a day and Brian took over – always bad news (he joked), when he has to play and, within three ends, Valerie, Nick and Barbara were leading, 18-13. Ralph and Pat managed to claw back a shot, in each of the next three ends, so at the official end of the match, it was 18-16 to Ashford. (As the match had finished well before the other rinks the players decided to continue, whereupon Ralph and Pat immediately took four shots. Unofficial extra time, strictly it does not count, but perhaps 20-18, yes, unofficially, offers a measure of consolation, and well played, anyway!)Rink one saw a remarkable finish.

Ashford’s Ronnie, Rose and Chris had inched their way to lead, 16-12, with two ends to play. Six shots, in the penultimate end, for Barbara, Pat S and Mick, then gave RBBG the lead at 18-16, as the last end was played. The jack had to be re-spotted for Mick’s final wood of the match, RBBG four shots down and the match hanging 20-18, in Ashford’s favour, but with that final wood, Mick converted - four down - to five up - and a win for RBBG at 23-16. They would have paid good money to show that, last week, on TV … and what a shame that the rest of us missed it! Top play, and RBBG rink honours to Barbara, Pat and, of course, Mick.

We all then enjoyed an excellent meal, together, taking the opportunity to congratulate Ray (from rink five) and his wife, Doreen, on 59 years of wedded bliss, that very day. It had been very enjoyable all together, and it was sealed as Shirley, the current fixture secretary, arranged our booking for next year, Thursday, February 15th. Put it in your diaries, now!