So, the old year spluttered to a halt with the resigned exasperation of Gordon Lavender when confronted with a mole hill on rink 4 and the rain cast a veil of tears for the virgin’s (n.b. a biblical term which, like ‘wise men’, is an archaism in 21st century Harefield) birth for the 237th day in succession starting with the opening of the 2012 bowls season. In fact, it has been raining so long that Eddie Parsons has released a specially trained Raven from the clubhouse roof which, if a cash and carry still exists on dry land anywhere so that the bar can be stocked, has been trained to return with a can of Strongbow in its beak. It is understood he has named the Raven “Mylo”, for sentimental reasons. Despite the expiration of the Mayan long calendar signifying the end of the world, the Vice-Captain remains untroubled and serene as though unaware of developments since 3114 BC in the fields of electricity, modern plumbing, gas central heating and the boiler and their impact on today’s society. There is, of course, a reason for this. The rest of us paddle on into an uncertain 2013 season with the knowledge that, if all else fails, it can only get drier....unless you have engaged the VC to do out your bathroom that is, in which a reprise of the entire 2012 season’s deluge and evolving webbed feet are probably on the cards....
...and talking of Cards brings us back to the 2012 finals weekend on September 8th and 9th and Richard’s full house. Richard proved a Jack of All Trades as he came up trumps in all five of the finals he contested. This started on Saturday morning in the President’s trophy in which Nigel gained an early lead. However, Richard came back to 11-11 and then two successive counts of three opened the decisive gap, running out a 21-14 winner. Also on the Saturday morning was the Ladies Two Wood final, the first of Maureen R’s three games which was very well contested with Karen retaining her title in the end. Saturday afternoon was a truly fascinating afternoon’s bowling in front of a large crowd with all games going down to the wire. Richard followed up his win in the morning by beating Jim in the Alf Green 101 shots but not before the game had see sawed back and forth a number of times. Both players had periods of dominance picking up 20 – 30 shots in a handful of ends before being pegged back. It all came down to an incredibly tight conclusion in which Jim was just edged out and Richard claimed his second trophy. The Gents final between Nigel and Paul D was high on drama if dreadfully low on quality. Neither player came to terms with a very difficult rink 4 and it did seem that if a 6 year old child had been passing they could have joined in and won with one, or possibly both, hands tied behind their back. Nevertheless, Paul coped better and opened out a 17-4 lead. Nigel actually got one within two yards of the kitty and scored, a minor miracle. At 19-6 it seemed all over but what happened next can probably only be explained by the owners of Betfair or a proponent of quantum physics. Although the general standard of play was still dire, Nigel’s bowls began to be slightly less far away from the kitty than Paul’s. The score crept up to 19-11, 19-14. Paul then scored a single, 20-14 and now surely it was all over. He then dropped a four!! Two nerve racked ends from both players later Nigel won 21-20. Probably one of the worst, but also (for other reasons) one of the more memorable finals seen at Harefield in recent years. But there was more....Michael Moore. The Handicap competition had worked out as hoped, matching top of the handicap Myles (giving away 6 shots) with Michael. However, Michael was also giving no ground. In a high quality encounter he matched Myles shot for shot and Myles found it difficult to gain any inroads into the handicap. Michael led 10-6 at midway. He still led 19-16. However, he couldn’t quite get over the finishing line and Myles won 21-19, the handicap having unwound almost exactly. Three great finals which all came down to the last end and last wood.
Sunday kicked off with a renewal of hostilities between Nigel and Richard in the John Cawood (three sets of 7).again, Nigel got off to a good start taking the first set 7-3. He also held the advantage in the second set which Richard cunningly obviated by playing off the short wood into the kitty, something he had clearly been working on as he did it again in the third set, winning 3-7, 7-5, 7-4. Karen and Beryl engaged in a battle royal in the Ladies singles with Karen recovering from a half time deficit to power home in the end in a match that was a credit to both players. Another major tussle in the Jack Bell where Dave was pushed all the way by Maureen R in a fabulous game. Dave just got over the finish line to win 21-19 to claim his first singles title with the result in doubt right to the last end. Richard completed a four of the hand of fives by beating Myles in the two woods and he and Beryl were always in control of the Round Robin against John and Sheila. Proceedings were concluded when Nigel and Sue Eden took an early lead in the pairs against Paul and Maureen R and maintained it throughout to win 27-22. Two excellent days bowling with very exciting matches, congratulations to the winners and runners up and thanks to the organisers, facilitators and spectators and especially Paul who produced the first finals programme we have had.
The rest of the 2012 season was notable for the retention of the Chiltern & Thames triples trophy by Karen, Nigel and Myles becoming the first team to win this in successive years. The pub league day was won eventually by the Summerhouse with skipper Martin Stan delivering his bowls from almost an horizontal position and defying gravity (both temporal and original) just by staying on his feet (perhaps a discrete veil should be drawn over the events when the Captain and the VC actually attended the Summerhouse itself to present the trophy later in the Autumn). Pub league winners were Harefield BC’s own Ken Edwards Bar. In an ironic comment on the whole season the President v Captain’s day was rained off but the President’s team claimed the spoils in the darts, the quiz and probably the drinking as well. A positive AGM in November saw the appointment of Ted Gray as the chairman and Roy Stevens joining the committee and probably the most important issue was to congratulate once again the grounds committee of Ron Eden, John B , Karen and Phyllis and all the other members who contributed their time and effort to ensure the successful conclusion of the facilities improvement project. 2012 concluded with another highly enjoyable dinner dance at which Alan Kempster carolled his way through some vintage tunes and the VC managed not to electrocute himself on the Christmas tree lights.
Only one word required for the 2013 season so far – cold. The Harefield teams thus far have generally resembled the 1924 Everest expedition by the 15th end. However, a brief summary is that in the Three Counties League Harefield got off to a very poor start going down 2-10 at High Wycombe, 5-7 at Bassetsbury and a whopping 0-12 and 112 shots at Chess Vale. However, good wins away at Chalfont by 9-3 and Amersham by the same score were followed by a 10-2 success in the Amersham return game at home. Still considerably off the pace Harefield will need some big wins in the string of upcoming home fixtures to join the title race but it’s certainly not out of their grasp. Better news from the Chiltern and Thames league where the first game against Swakeleys, played in truly atrocious conditions, was won 8-2 and the Middlesex Mens league where Harefield opened with a 7-3 victory. The external competitions are just starting to get going but the Ladies double four has already reached the quarter final of the Middlesex County beating Cockfosters with a stonking 41-9 win away and gaining a fine result against an experienced Wealdstone team in which the home rink excelled by beating very strong opposition. Fassnidge up next in early July. Both Mens and Ladies top club teams lost in the first round of the competition. The Mens game at Uxbridge was very tight with Richard winning the two woods and Paul, Ted and Mick coming through the triples on the extra end. The other two disciplines were lost meaning it came down to the final game in the fours in which Harefield were ahead for long periods. An end where the kitty ended up on the edge of the green turned the game and they lost by two shots. Big mention for Bernie Houchen who had a fine game in his debut in competition matches. The Ladies put up a great fight at Bush Hill Park with Sheila edged out of a 28 end singles game by 21-18 and Karen and Phyllis going toe to toe with the opposition in a high quality pairs. Sadly, the fours ran into a skip who could have thrown them backwards and got a result and had no luck throughout while the triples fought back to be on terms at halfway but ultimately were defeated by the control of the jack. It was a really brave club effort and congratulations to all involved. Update on the Ladies league to follow next time round.
So, more or less, that brings us up to date – in much the same way that fitting wheels to Kevin, the small donkey would bring him up to date. Further progress on the modernisation front has been made by Paul Darius to whom many thanks go for the updated website and maintenance of the results records. We intend going forward to establish a ‘rolling news’ facility which will be shorter and snappier and updated regularly although the Captain’s logs will continue to appear from time to time. We are also hoping to increase the entertainment element of the site by including photos of events and the like, so that at least it looks like we are enjoying ourselves. After all, what’s the use in having it if you’re not flaunting it, as ‘Bad’ Bob Lisamore remarked to the actress in certain defined circumstances.