V

MIDDLESEX FINISH MIDDLETON CAMPAIGN AS THEY STARTED – BEATEN!

 

Played 3, lost 3, all by 4 pts to 18 and each by an increasing deficit. Those are the cold hard facts as Middlesex finished their 2017 Middleton Cup campaign at Atherley BC against Hampshire BA on the 8th July.

 

The day had promised so much, glorious sunny weather beckoned as the side travelled south for this final game and despite more drop outs hopes were high that the squad could finish the campaign on a positive note.

 

 

 

Prior to the game, President Andy Docker, gathered the team together so that he could make a presentation to Ron LeLeux to mark his last Middleton game for Middlesex.

 

Once the 1st woods were bowled in anger, however, Middlesex’s positivity seemed to visible fade as Hampshire got off to a flying start. 18-30 down at 5 ends Middlesex led on only 2 rinks.

 

Both sides doubled their respective scores over the next 5 ends leaving Middlesex 36-60 behind at 10 ends. Only 1 rink remained in front with another level. At 15 ends the gap had stretched to 34, 61-95 and disappointingly the wheels had come right off of Ron LeLeux’s rink who were being run ragged in his last game. Not the way he would have wished to finish a sterling career for Middlesex in the Middleton Cup.

 

At 18 ends Middlesex had narrowed the gap slightly to 29, 80-109 but perhaps more importantly they now led on 3 rinks. This news was important as rumours were circulating as to the Buckinghamshire v Isle of Wight result being 20-2 in Buckinghamshire’s favour. This meant that Hampshire needed to better or match the result to stand any chance of progressing.

 

As the rinks began to finish the tension rose. Middlesex denied Hampshire 2 points as the rink of John Hooper (Holtwhites), Roger Watkinson (Broomfield), Chris Harris & Tony Waller (Ladygate) returned a 20-16 victory but everything else was either very close or already Hampshire’s.

 

Prior to the game Buckinghamshire had held a better shot difference over Hampshire of 20 shots so with a big victory banked over the Isle of Wight the feeling was that the 1 rink defeat would be enough to deny Hampshire progress. As it turned out Glen Adams (Hendon), Ray Fortune (Team Manager), Tommy Brooks and Chris Dunkley (all 3 Poplar) held off a fightback from Chris Daniels rink to win by 1, 16-15, gain Middlesex a further 2 points and ensure Buckinghamshire won the group.

 

The match eventually finished 92-127 to Hampshire.

 

So Buckinghamshire win the group with 43 points and progress to face Kent in the Quarter finals. Hampshire finish 2nd with 41 points, resurgent Isle Of Wight 3rd on 36 and Middlesex rock bottom with 12.

 

So the campaign is over and for Team Manager Ray and his selectors the de brief begins. Were there any positives? Well yes some. Nick Edwards (Bounds Green) had a good campaign at skip and his rink performed well in all 3 games. Craig Hill (Winnington) did well on his return and Dave Norton (Hendon) and Stuart McConnachie (Ashford) made their debuts.

 

The annual issue now is how do we progress things so that performances / results improve. How do we change peoples approach to these games? If the Home Counties League is the place to develop players, how do we address a 50% drop out rate? Do we need to penalise / drop people who don’t conform or show the right “attitude / approach? Do we need to blood different players? Do we need different selectors / Team Manager, do we need an alternate selection policy. Do we need to change rink make up etc etc etc, lots to consider at forthcoming meetings.

 

The countdown has begun with 10 months to the trial against Essex and 2018’s campaign starting with a trip to Buckinghamshire on June 2nd.