Pressure – What you feel when something presses on you, be it a physical force or a stressful situation.

In life there are those that thrive under “Pressure” and those who crumble, Hendon’s John Sweeney definitely falls into the former category. Having played Middleton Cup level bowls for over 30 years to say John is “experienced” is something of an understatement. There are few bowlers around who would positively thrive when in his situation in Saturday’s Home Counties League Game against Sussex.

Going into the last end of the match Middlesex were 1 down in the game and John’s rink were 2 behind.  With 12 bowls played John strode up the green to deliver his first bowl to an almost full length jack holding 1, enough to give Middlesex the tie. John played his 1st bowl backhand and drew to within 10 inches to lie 2. The Sussex skip drew the same side but came up 18 inches short. Stunningly John simply changed hands and unbelievably drew shot bowl on his forehand to lie 3 like it was something he casually did every day. 2 exemplary woods at such a vital stage. The Sussex skip delivered the last wood of the match and missed, Middlesex had won the match by 2 and taken the 2 points for John’s rink by 1. A stunning end to a game that had looked as good as lost 20 minutes earlier.

The game started under cloudy skies but it was warm and muggy with the threat of rain, fortunately as the game wore on the rain threat faded and the sun came out to provide lovely conditions to play in.

Middlesex started strongly and were 10 in front 32-22 at 5 ends, ahead on 4 rinks. Middlesex still held sway at 10 ends, 54-48 and were up on 3 rinks but the game was tightening. Over the next 5 ends Sussex seemed to take control moving ahead 72-78, they held that lead up to 18 ends 92-99 and at this stage Middlesex only had 2 winning rinks. Middlesex though put in a strong finish with Perry Cook’s rink turning a 3 shot deficit into a 2 shot win over the last 3 ends, David Pitt’s rink holding onto their 2 shot lead and Tony Waller’s rink winning the last 6 ends 12-2.

So the final score was 111-109 (18-4) to Middlesex, top rink was Ken Pheasant (Holtwhites), Stuart McConachie & Rob Hackwell (Ashford) and Tony Waller (Ladygate) who prevailed 28-14. Rob in particular had a very good game.

After the game Chris Dunkley (Poplar) received his full County Badge from the President.

In the days other games there was something of a shock in Kent as they lost a Home Counties League game, Surrey winning 116-112 and gaining 14 points to Kent’s 8. Berkshire though carried on their winning start beating Oxfordshire 132-93 (20-2).

Berkshire therefore lead the table with 58 points, from Surrey with 34 and Kent with 26, they have though played a game more and still have to meet both those sides. Middlesex lie 4th with 20 points and next up, on July 1st, face Buckinghamshire BA at Broomfield BC.