SUMMER’S END AT BORSTAL

Our outdoor matches summer, at least, ended at Borstal, but after so many baking hot days the overcast skies were a real surprise and a few souls decided it was sensible to don an extra layer of clothing. I can certainly understand how Pat, Jean, Christine and Ev preferred to watch from inside the pavilion, just Chris sitting in splendid isolation outside. (Perhaps he did not realise they were inside!)

On rink 4 Penny was not playing at quite the same level as the previous day and Peter B was a bit ring rusty, only his fourth(?) summer outing, but they still produced some decent woods. They would accept that Hans was the triple’s best player on the day, and how well he did play, though a 3-22 reverse would not seem to suggest that. But Rose and Eddy were very decent players for Borstal and skip Kevin was in spectacular form. Let’s illustrate by looking at the final end. We had just increased our score by 150% in the penultimate end from 2 to 3. Penny set the jack and she and Peter had done a great job in handing over a three shot lead to Hans. He added two so we held five as Kevin played the final wood of the match. Had he played with weight anything could have happened, he could not have moved all our woods, he might have sent the jack flying anywhere, he could not see it and could only have squeezed it out – what he did was find the only tiny gap to ease through and rest, with perfect weight, alongside the jack to take the end. Visions of a still big defeat at 21-8 receded, 22-3 it was, but what a great time was had by all. Rose had said to me a few ends earlier ‘I think everyone’s enjoying today, aren’t they?’ and indeed they were.

Julie and Mark on rink 2, both relatively new to bowling, were just experiencing a little difficulty in finding the length; after a dry and hard surface on our rollup the previous day the superb Borstal green was a little damp and heavy after watering. They still put in some decent woods for Maurice to build on. And Maurice continues in great form, and has been playing on some different surfaces, and RBBG were leading 6-4 as we approached half way. Then Keith, Jill and Rose took eight shots in the next two ends to lead 12-6 and won every end thereafter, but only by a single shot each time. That does not tell the full story. Any one of those last ends could have gone the other way, indeed the one blemish on Maurice’s day was when it was he who moved us off shot! But his tussle with Rose was spectacular ant she needed all her experience and best shot making to preserve those single shot wins and 18-6 to Borstal.

I saw little of Barbara, David and Mick’s game on rink 1 but I remember enough of Nicky, Mayna and Peter to know it would have been played in great spirit – I remember vividly Mayna last year cheering RBBG shots, a very unusual feature, even for RBBG matches! At 18-13 it was reasonably close on the scoreboard, with Borstal always in charge once they took five shots in the third end. Difficult to make up that sort of damage, and actually the difference in the final scores.

But to make up a loss of five shots in one end is what RBBG did on rink 5! Roger, Doreen and Mo for Borstal moved into an early lead at 5-1 after four ends, then Marian, Tom and Geoff took nine unanswered shots to lead 10-5 before our hosts scored five shots in the tenth end to level the match at 10-10. It progressed to 12-12, 13-13 before Borstal took the penultimate end to lead 14-13 and they were holding in the final end with a lot of woods in a congested head. Geoff’s next to last wood was played with weight, but he got his line wrong and it ran outside the head at around twenty-nine yards and down close to the other end. His final wood, and the final wood of the match, managed to find its way through to the jack and carry it three or four yards. That wood was, of course, shot but the quality of the head was such that very other wood was clustered around the original jack position. Geoff’s earlier wood, the one that failed to do what he achieved so perfectly with his last, was actually second wood and those two shots gave RBBG the win at 15-14! What a grandstand finish and spectacular rink honours for the day to Marian, Tom and Geoff.

We relaxed with a leisurely tea (and our thanks to Rose in particular for her baking). It really was a great end to our match season and we thank the Borstal club for the perfect atmosphere in the perfect setting.