Stacey Laidlaw was in the last chance saloon bidding for the ladies junior singles title in the finals of the indoor bowls Scottish Championships at Fraserburgh, and the 25 year old thrilled her Midlothian support in particular by capturing the coveted crown in great style.
“It was now or never for me in the junior disciplines of the sport so that was a strong driver for me and having threatened to knock on the door back in the 2012 season I was determined to deliver on this occasion”.Laidlaw travelled north with good form and high hopes stoking her confidence levels but in the knowledge that the other three challengers in the shape of Emma Brown (East Lothian), Michelle Keenan (Dumbarton), and Claire Walker (Blantyre) represented strong opposition.Her impressive CV to date of 6 full and 12 junior caps was bettered by the 12 and 17 figures achieved by Brown while Keenan and Walker boasted 10 and 9 junior caps respectively.The Midlothian challenger had lost to Keenan at the semi final stage of the 2012 championships but had also gained mega experience of the strains and stresses of the big occasion when reaching the final of the Singles proper at the age of 21.“I lost to Lynn Stein of East Fife in the final but beating Julie Forrest the defending and five times champion in the quarterfinals was a real feather in my cap and a tremendous boost to my self belief”, reflected Laidlaw. Laidlaw lined up against Walker in her semi final and although carding three singles to lead 3-0 the early battle for supremacy became balanced on a knife-edge at 5-5 after eight ends and 8-8 after 11.It was Walker that broke the deadlock and impressively so with a purple-patch run of 1, 1, 1, 2, 1 that accelerated her into a 14-8 lead and although Laidlaw arrested her slide with a couple of singles she remained in bother at 15-10 down after 19-ends.End 20 sparked a revival by Laidlaw and it was an encouraging one with a five end run of 1, 1, 1, 2, 1 edging her into a 16-15 lead however Walker retaliated with a couple of singles to regain the driving seat at 17-16 after 25-ends.However the sight of the saloon door about to close on her saw Laidlaw answer that threat with a magical 3, 2 finish to clinch a 21-17 victory in 27-ends.
Meanwhile the unfolding drama in the other semi final saw Brown come under early pressure to trail 13-5 and the East Lothian champion slipped to a 21-11 defeat from Keenan in 19-ends.So the final was a rerun of the 2012 semi final and revenge for Laidlaw did look on the cards when she made a bright start that threatened to have her Dumbarton opponent rocking at 11-6 down.But the match temperature was about to soar and it was Keenan generating the heat with a sizzling run of 3, 2, 1 that pushed her into a 12-11 lead after 15-ends then singles were exchanged to 13-12Peels were called at 13-13 then end 19 produced a moment of major drama with Keenan holding two shots but losing a 4 to a brilliant jack-turning conversion from Laidlaw who extended her spell of magic with a 2, 1 that stretched her to 20.Laidlaw conceded a two on end 22 but triggered the title-winning salute with a single at the next to triumph 21-15. It was the Midlothian stars second national title having captured the 4Bowl Pairs crown in 2012 with Carol Ashby.It is testament to the tenacity and mental toughness of Laidlaw that she had bounced back from a major setback earlier in the day when in company with fellow cap Sandra McLeish they had let the 2Bowl Pairs title slip from their grasp.The Midlothian partnership having answered the dramatic 7-6 loss of the first set against Leanne Furye and Caroline Ruxton of Arbroath in the final with a runaway 10-1 capture of the second then leading the deciding set 6-1 before slipping to a cruel 8-6 defeat.“Arbroath did ask us tough questions by producing a very strong finish and we didn’t come up with the right answers”, said McLeish.