Gravesham Cup


Maurice took back home the Gravesham Cup he had polished the night before, retaining the cup after a thrilling final. He had appeared to be very calm and focussed during the day but as he left the green he told us how this had been for Christine. She would have been very proud of his win in a final where both players performed at a very high level.

On a brutally hot day Geoff Dutton, the tournament organiser, made the eminently sensible announcement that matches would be reduced from the usual twelve ends to ten, the final from fourteen to twelve. And this is an appropriate moment to praise his work and the commitment of the markers, from the host Woodlands Park Club, who performed brilliantly, efficiently with good humour, throughout a most testing day. Credit also to the clubhouse team who kept the refreshments supplied, and ran the raffle. Special mention also to Ray, the greenkeeper, for a beautiful, true and fast surface that got faster as the sun baked it!

All our players won their first match. Geoff had to wait the longest of our party for a green for his first match. Only once against Alex from Bexley was more than a single shot scored in an end, and that was in the eighth end where Alex scored two shots to get back to 3-6 down. Geoff promoted her into shot in the next for 4-6, only missing a second on the narrowest margins on the measure. Geoff produced three good woods in the last end, with Alex final wood shading them for shot, but she had needed two to tie, so Geoff won 6-5.

His reward was to play Alison for a place in the semi final! Alison had always been in charge in her first match (she, too, had a long wait for a free green) against Uman, I believe she led 8-1 at one stage, but I was on the rink with Geoff. After three ends Alison and Geoff were tied 2-2. Alison held three in the fourth, Geoff then coming into second, and she took another in the fifth to lead 4-2. Alison bowled to six inches in the sixth, but Geoff took shot at two inches. Alison’s final wood even managed to flip Geoff’s shot wood over with a tiny wick, but not out of shot, and with Geoff taking the seventh they were all square again at 4-4.

On a long jack in the eighth all six woods were close, but on a measure it was three to Alison for 7-4, but then it was Geoff on the jack and two to be just one behind playing the last end. And it was Geoff fractionally closer for 7-7 and a sudden death end. This was probably the loosest end they played – the tension?- but Alison actually had three, though one shot was all it needed to go through to the semi final.

In her first match Marian beat the winner four years ago, Richard from Bexley by 10-6, and in her next she played Bill from Enfield. I was another green till the end of the eighth end in this match, with the players tied. Marian was very close to the jack in the ninth, but Bill had two even closer, really impressive bowling, so Marian needed two in the last end to tie. Again, she had two very good woods but again, Bill got one a fraction closer and even just that three shot win for Bill did not reflect how close Marian came.

Hans began his day with a 10-3 win against Sue from Woodlands Park, a lovely lady and an old friend from our first visit to this tournament. He was always in charge, indeed, he gave Sue her first point by promoting her. His next match was against Paul from Enfield. This match was always close; when Hans took two shots in the fourth to go 5-2 up, that was the biggest margin there was at anytime, and Paul took a shot in each of the next three ends for the players to be all square at 5-5. In the eighth it was Paul on a measure to lead 6-5, but then Hans took back the lead with two shots for 7-6 as they played the final end. Paul clearly preferred short jacks, having set the previous four ends at or around twenty-five yards, so I thought Hans had missed a trick by setting the jack at that distance, but he played three decent woods to two loose ones from Paul. But Paul’s last shaded it for shot and at 7-7 it was sudden death. Both players failed to set a valid jack, it was set at thirty yards, and Paul got one good wood in for shat, Hans lying second and third. Hans’ last wood was a perfect line but was just short, so it was Paul who went through.

Maurice had beaten John from Enfield comfortably in the first match, and he took an 8-0 lead over James from Enfield in his next but James is always a doughty fighter, and a previous winner, and he came strongly, but Maurice had done enough to keep ahead. He was now to play Paul, who had just beaten Hans on short jacks, in the semi final Maurice likes long jacks. Might Tom have alerted Maurice to Paul’s game? Tom was watching them all carefully. Whatever the reason, Maurice was straight into long jacks, three shots to Maurice in the first, three, then two to lead 8-0 after three ends. Paul then managed to get some decent long woods to keep the score down, but it was 10-1 to Maurice after seven ends and Paul had to concede in the eighth. Maurice was through to the final.

In the other semi final Alison was to play Bill, who had just beaten Marian. There were many decent woods played, the measure was frequently in action, but the measure kept coming down in Bill’s favour. Another good quality match, but if Alison had to lose, Tom had at least gleaned that whilst Bill was hugely accurate at any distance up to thirty and just beyond, which was where Alison had played most of the match, Bill was not so reliable at the very long jacks. This information was passed to Maurice, and with Maurice’s love of long jacks, a strategy was set for the final between Maurice and Bill.

Maurice made a good start with a longish jack to lead 2-0, but Bill got one back in the second and took a shot in the next two ends to lead 3-2 after four. In that fourth end Maurice was right on the jack, it could not have been more than a couple of inches off but Bill put his next wood right onto the jack. That could have been demoralising. Bill added two more in the next, Maurice got one back but Bill returned that favour and led 6-3 after seven ends. Still not much in it, still good quality bowls.

On a measure, Maurice took a shot in the eighth for 4-6, and set a thirty-six yard jack. Bill put his last wood into second so it was 5-6, and an exact repeat in the tenth saw the match tied at 6-6. But Maurice put the jack into the ditch in the penultimate end, so Bill brought the length back, but his rhythm had been upset and Maurice got shot to lead 7-6. He set the long jack he wanted, held two and with his last just tipped the jack between first two woods, so he held three and two of them no more than six inches from the jack. Bill would need an incredible wood to stop Maurice. It was nearly that, came on a wide arc but just cut him down to two on the end, and Maurice was home at 9-6 after a match worthy of a final.

The tournament began in 1980, so next year will be forty years. This was the fortieth playing. After no wins for the Medway group, RBBG have four of the last six. Well done to all our players, especially Maurice for his second win.

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