Almost the Perfect Match

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Last Saturday I played in a match which almost produced the perfect result and has certainly been the most memorable I have played in this season for a number of reasons. It was a Huddersfield League Bamforth Cup match when I played for Grange Moor against Golcar Lib 'B' at Almondbury Lib. Let me share the story with you.

The weather was mild; the beer was cold; the ham sandwiches were a bargain and the on green activity was a joy to behold with the spirit between the teams was what bowling should all be about.

The teams started the day in the top two positions in the fourth level Bamforth Cup League with the Golcar team having a two-point lead over their opponents. Golcar started the stronger and won 3 of the first 4 games but were then pegged back as the 'Moor' won all four of the next round of games to take a 5-3 lead with the last two members of the 10-man teams entering the competition. The green had played it's part in the standard of bowling on display and I would expect the green marks to be high from both teams.

Both the final two matches were close with loud support each time a teammate struck a good run of form. The first one to finish saw the Golcar bowler win 21-15 to take the score to 5-4 to Grange Moor who also had a one-point aggregate lead at this point. Everything going down to the last pair on the green. Let's call them Billy (Golcar) and Russ (Grange Moor) because that is their names.

The bowlers who had already played were dotted around the green perimeter in support roles that would have delighted any team captain. More than this though they seemed to be paired up with representatives from the opposing team often in discussion about the progress of the match unfolding before them.

The players exchanged points as the scores crept up and eventually they got to All-But across with Billy holding the jack in the top left corner furthest away from the clubhouse. He sent a long mark only a yard off the gutter right in front of the clubhouse and both sets of players clustered around the barrier to witness the climax of the day's bowling. Billy's first wood was off a mark that was ever going to win the end and Russ planted one within 12" of the jack. An inspired Billy knocked that out of the way with his second wood and left his own within three inches of the jack.

If that was to be the winning wood then the scores would have been level 5-5 in games and the game points would also have been level at 171-171. That would have left a match score of the unusual total of 7-7. At that point, I thought that was a most satisfactory outcome to what had always been a very close encounter with some excellent bowling played in the best of spirits throughout. It would have been fitting conclusion to a really good day. However bowling is not always about satisfactory outcomes and certainly the drama was still to follow.

Russ delayed his final shot and we could all see that he was contemplating striking but eventually decided against it to replicate the shot that Billy had just bowled so well and produced the same result by inching Billy's leading wood out of the way and replacing it with his own wood. That left the game scores at 6-4 and the aggregate total at 172-170 with a final points total of 10-4 to Grange Moor which seemed the most improbable and in many ways the most unfair outcome of a wonderful afternoon of bowling.

I will remember the scoring and result for some time but I will remember for much longer the manner in which the Golcar team supported their bowlers and the good natured rivalry and respect that there was between the two teams all afternoon. What a game bowling is when played in this manner. The teams are scheduled to meet each other again in mid-August - can't wait!

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