It wasnt all wine and roses for the garden county challenge in the national championships climax at Aberdeen but the champagne corks did pop in celebration of a title winning performance from East Lothians vintage trio of Mark Johnston, Willie Wood MBE, and Derek Oliver in the gents Triples.Read More
Ace performances from three players of international status delivered wins, albeit nail-biting in nature, over Balbardie and Garioch that were hailed by a far travelled support as a memorable fifth capture of the Scottish Triples Crown.
The semi final action featured Oliver and Co against the Balbardie trio of Andrew Jenkins, Kenny Martin, and Ewan Shearer who were considered the underdogs yet made the stronger start and led 9-6 after nine ends. The picture changed complexion with a rapid run of 2, 2, 2 that thrust East Lothian into a 12-9 advantage but that landscape was transformed by a 5, 2 counterstroke that saw Balbardie regain a 16-12 supremacy. The prospect of a shock upset was intensified with East Lothian still being forced to operate on the back foot at 18-15 down and fast approaching the finishing line with just two ends to play. The outcome of the penultimate end was going to be crucial and it was a temperature raising moment when Oliver and his front two carded a sizzling count of three that resulted in the master scoreboard flashing a match score signal of 18-18.
Setting the scene for a thrilling climax and last end drama that set pulse rates racing before culminating in a knife-edge single that triggered a passionate rejoicing in the East Lothian camp in contrast to the blanket of desolation that engulfed Balbardie. The final pitched East Lothian against a Garioch opposition of Colin Banks, Brian Reid, and Jason Banks that was geed up by a commanding 16-6 win over Inverclyde in their semi final.
East Lothian hopes of title glory soared with an encouraging 3, 3 opening but failure of the star trio to cash in and stamp their authority over the next 12 ends saw the garden county trio come under intense pressure at 17-11 down. The predicament of adversity had been amplified by the dramatic loss of 5, 2 but good fortune favours the bold and the combined experience of 120 caps plus other national title triumphs inspired a magical fight back of 3, 1, 1, 2 that triggered an emotional 18-17 title winning salute. Oliver and Johnston were joined by Stevie Thomson at second and Jamie Higgins at third in the East Lothian rink bidding to capture the Fours title and a strong semi final show saw them stay in the driving seat from start to finish against Martin McCalley, David Taylor, John McHutchison, and Gary Hutchison of Falkirk. EL included a mighty 5 at the fifth in a 13-3 lead after nine and rising pressure at 17-12 was answered by a hat trick of singles to win 20-12.
The final against the strongly formed Blantyre rink of Craig Irvine, Greg McLaughlin, Iain McLean, and Stewart Anderson ended in anti climax for Oliver and Co who faced a mountain to climb at 18-7 down after 13 ends. EL staged a storming finish in the whirlwind like style of 4, 1, 2, (3), 4, 1 but conceding that three at the third last sentenced them to a frustrating 22-20 defeat. Dean Riva contested the Under 18 Mixed Singles but the budding star from the garden county lost a 21-17 semi final thriller against Carla Banks of Garioch who then beat Robert Hunter of Alloa, 21-15 in the final.