Last year we had to cancel our Victoria Park fixture ahead of torrential downpours. This year our hosts ordered the weather especially for us – after two months of extreme heat, and temperatures in the 30s on the two preceding days, we stepped onto a green in incredible condition. With a little cloud cover early in the match several actually put on an extra layer, it was so fresh, but not for long as blue skies returned and most of the match was played in warm, but not ferociously hot conditions.

On rink three Bella was keen to play once more at Victoria Park (VP), where she has played every year since 1992 unless she was in hospital, before another hospital visit which she hopes will allow her to play the full match next year! She comfortably managed her half, loving every minute of the affectionate ribbing she was getting from VP’s Alan and Steve – and I am sure she was giving plenty back. Julie came on for the second half and bowled very well in just her second match, under the watchful eye of daughter Sue, taking over the marking duties to allow David and Hans to enjoy their game. Which they did, despite VP, skip Bernie playing with Alan and Steve, running out clear winners. RBBG lost four shots to VP in end six and six shots in end ten, those ends contributing most of the difference in the scores.

Rink four saw a thrilling match, neither side getting away from the other as they stood on the mat for the final end tied 11-11. Jim, George and Hilary proceeded to lie six shots over Barbara and Tom till Tom came in to take shot for RBBG – but then Marian took Tom’s wood out to reinstate VP’s six shots, the margin of VP’s final victory. An exciting end to a great match.

Which meant rink honours to Penny, Mark plus honorary RBBG member for the day Chris, on rink two. Penny and Mark played well, but neither will begrudge praise for Chris, who kept contributing to RBBG’s score against the excellent play of Norman, Viv and Jan. VP trailed 1-7 after six ends before taking five shots in the seventh and levelling the match at 7-7 in the eighth. The sides were again tied, at 9-9 before five shots to RBBG opened up a nice lead at 14-9 with three ends to play. Two shots in each of the next two ends to VP and it was 14-13 to RBBG with one end to play. The proximity of delivery of our fish and chips was ignored, no one was leaving the green with unfinished business. It was two shots to VP, therefore also the match at 15-14 as Chris played her next to last wood, taking second and potentially levelling the match at 14-14. With the final wood of the match she took out the shot wood to give RBBG victory by 15-13; as the last rink on the green there were players from the other rinks and further VP members all watching this grandstand finish, with cheers and laughter all around.

So overall match victory to our hosts but a great time enjoyed on all three rinks, spectacular finishes on two of them. And the slight delay on the fish and chip delivery gave us all chance to calm down and enjoy the meal even more. Afterwards Hans led a singsong for the traditional end to another wonderful Victoria Park day. Our thanks to Captain Pat, the VP players and the other VP members who had turned up to help out or just watch and extend that special Victoria park welcome.

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