Thursday night and the battleground bathed in glorious bright sunshine as we entered Dugdale bowling club. The green looking deceptively fast (it was not). Being the Infirmary Cup the match teams start with a handicap. Ours being -1 and Dugdale -3.

First four on the green Barbara, Ian, Mark M and Matt. All had interesting games and one had a ‘nutter’ who not only upset every other match but the crowd also. Never in all the years bowling has such behaviour been witnessed. Disgraceful and no doubt an embarrassment to all our friends at this great club. Barbara would lose to 12, Ian would win to 17, Mark M wins to 9 and Matt loses to 14. Couldn’t get any tighter: 2 across in games and no difference on the agg. All to play four as the next four took centre stage, Craig, Phil, Mark C and Brian.

First off after a crushing defeat was Phil who scored nearly as many points as Captain Reg who was sat on the bench! Ouch and 18 down on the agg. Phil’s opponent Dominic Grieves bowled extremely well and destroyed what so far is Phil’s best season.  Mark M, after a shaky start, took command and the game to 10, Craig won to 17 in another impressive display against Bradley Grieves so 4-3 to Railway and 3 down on the agg. Brian’s game against Bill Stemp was at 11-17 down after all the agg computations had been completed. Brian simply had to win to keep the dream alive. A quiet word from his Sister and bingo Brian hit a line and length that Bill struggled to beat. In a fantastic game of bowls, with all players and supporters watching, Brian pulled back to 15-17, then lost an end 15-18, won another three chalks to level the game at 18 across then 19-18 and 20-18 at which point Brian bowled another excellent lead only to see this beaten by a brilliant bowl from Bill. 19-20 and a change in compass saw Bill playing to his favourite mark on the green. Bill’s first wood online (not the internet) over by a yard. This end watched intently by Phil! Brian’s next wood was the best so far and ended up just in front of that shiny yellow orb. Bill’s last bowl unable to beat Brian’s brilliance 21-19 and the Final awaits. What an unbelievable result gracefully accepted by the seven players of Dugdale who on the night must have thought they were on their way to the final. [Note: the eighth player unworthy of recognition as part of a great up and coming bowling team – sorry guys you must sort him out].

Joyous relief for all the Railway players as by the narrowest of margins victory was snatched away from Dugdale. Awesome team effort. The victory was celebrated at the Railway, where Phil gracefully accepted his ‘punishment’. Cheers everyone.

The other semi-final saw Blackburn Subs beat Two Gates by the same score. Can’t believe they had the same great escape though.

Final is on 10th August starting 6.30 at The Alex. This year we will have a full squad from which to chose what we hope will be the winning eight. Fantastic, brilliant, exciting, thrilling… what a game and one last thanks to our opponents who offered their best wishes as we left the battlefield.