East Lothian’s bid to capture the gents indoor bowls Scottish Cup for a record extending seventh time remains a serious one but only just having been taken right down to the wire by Cumbernauld in their quarterfinal clash at Falkirk
The outcome of a tension filled climax was an 81-79 victory for a hugely relieved East Lothian team that had trailed by 20 shots at one stage of the match and were flirting with the exit door until producing a last gasp escape to victory. The league based formbook suggested it would be no contest between one of the giants of the premier league and a Cumbernauld side whose mediocre form in their Division 2 campaign saw them finish fourth of six. But cup games have a romance of their own and in the case of Cumbernauld their admirable progress into the last eight stage had included taking the notable scalps of Division 1 club Balbardie and Bainfield of the premier league. “We new we were on a hiding to nothing and expected a be given a tough time by Cumbernauld but suffering the fright of our lives probably wasn’t on our agenda given the notional gulf in class between us and the strong motivation driving us towards etching the East Lothian name on the Cup for a seventh time”. The words of team captain Mark Johnston whose day had started with the late-late withdrawal of ace skip Scott Kennedy due to car troubles en route leading to Stewart Thomson being promoted to skip and the call up of reserve Brian Galloway.
“The pre-match drama surrounding Scott did put us on tenterhooks for a time and for whatever reason once the match got underway we failed to stamp any authority or pressure of any kind on the opposition and we almost paid the ultimate price for that”, reflected Johnston. Wins for the rinks skipped by Billy Mellors and Stewart Thomson were sufficient to drag East Lothian over the line with Derek Oliver salvaging a peel and Jamie Higgins suffering a serious defeat. Mellors is in fine form these days and the recently crowned national singles champion skipped Dougie Berwick, Andy Burt, and Andrew Jeffrey to 13 shot victory over Gary Wilson that proved to worth its weight in gold. Support for Mellors and Co came from Thomson who answered the pressure challenge of his last minute promotion by skipping Lessel Middler, Brian Galloway, and Gray Darling to a battling three shot win over Frank Hills. Oliver and his rink of Ewan Fallen, John Robertson, and Graham Robertson were against the collar at four shots down with three ends to play but made a valuable contribution to the cause with a stirring fight back to grab a peel. Higgins and his front-three of Johnston, Calum Darling, and Willie Wood MBE found opposition icon figure Jim Byron a very hot handful and they paid the price in the shape of a 14 shot defeat. The late drama though did feature Higgins in a heroic role as he carded two vital shots on his final end to square the match overall and that allowed Oliver follow on and bask in the glory of carding the match-winning two shots.
Meanwhile, West Lothian beat Stirling 79-68 in their quarter-final clash at Fintry and were joined in the semi finals by Blantyre who beat Lanarkshire 87-70 at Coatbridge.