The final days play in the Weslo Housing Management sponsored WLBA Seniors Open was a splendid occasion with Armadale star Bob Mackay in sparkling form to capture the title with wins over Jack McLaren of Glenmavis and Norrie Alexander of Ratho.Read More
Mackay was the form horse in the Last Four line up having recently reached the semi final stage of the Johnston Oils WL Masters event then emerging the conquering hero to capture the WL Seniors Champion of Champions title. However ‘the form book’ was given a tough examination in Mackay’s semi final with host club challenger Jack McLaren taking the favourite right down to the wire in a 21-20 thriller that lasted an epic 25-ends. McLaren made a good start and excited his support with counts of 2 and 3 that edged him into an 11-9 lead after 12-ends; but that triggered a purple patch response of 1, 2, 4, (1), 2, 1 that accelerated Mackay firmly into the driving seat at 19-12. Mackay didn’t deliver a follow on killer punch, and it was he that was rocked back onto his heels as McLaren raised the match temperature with a sizzling 2, 3 fight back to 19-17. End 21 saw Mackay edge a single to 20 but the sweat came onto his brow as McLaren showed the fighting qualities of a tiger to register a hat trick of singles that put the outcome on a knife-edge at 20-20. It was a winner takes all situation entering the 25th end and the unfolding drama of a gripping climax saw Mackay clinch his place in the final with a hard-earned single.
The other semi final featured a rerun of the 2015 final and it was revenge time for Norrie Alexander of Ratho as he triumphed 21-10 to end the reign of his club mate Stuart Smith. Alexander held his own in the opening stages to stand peels at 7-7 after 10 ends then gave a warning signal of what lay ahead when conjuring up a magic full-house count of 4 to 11. The final countdown still looked a long way away at 13-10; but occupancy of the dreaded graveyard figure held no fears for Alexander as he ably demonstrated with a sensational finishing run of 1, 3, 2, 1, 1 to clinch victory in 19-ends.
The Final opened in cagey style reflected by a 4-4 share after five ends however the first sign of supremacy was shown by Mackay in the shape of a powerful six end run that accelerated him to 14 with counts of 1, 1, 2, 3, 2, 1. Alexander was floored by Mackay’s attack but showing admirable resilience bounced off the canvas to land a counter-punch combination of 3, 1, 3 that brought his stunned opponent under pressure at 14-11. Mackay took his punishment on the chin, but remained strong in spirit and summoning up a refreshed impetus produced a grandstand run of 1, 2, 2, 2 that swept him to a title winning, 21-11, victory in 18-ends, “I am as happy as Larry and on cloud nine but pretty well frazzled by my exertions in the WL Masters, The Seniors Champion of Champions, and The Seniors Open”, summed up the bowler known as The Real Mackay.
East Calder is the centre of the universe for West Lothian bowlers this weekend with the showpiece WLBA Champion of Champions event set to bring the curtain down on the 2016 outdoor season. The field is 29 strong and an epic occasion is in prospect with numerous high profile stars of the sport set to parade their skills in the hope that the coveted Burnside Trophy will end up being held aloft by them.
Record four times winner Ewan Shearer of Bo’ness is back on the title trail and others to have etched their name on the silverware are Sandy Bryant, then of Kinneil in 1991, now of Bridgeness; Robert Hilson, then of Blackburn in 2010, now of Bathgate High, and Walter McDougall (2013) of Glenmavis. Peter Lynch, the reigning District champion, and past WL Master, representing the Whitburn banner reached the finals of 2001 and 2006 while other high profile Singles experts include George Sneddon (Broxburn), Richard Mark (Uphall Station), Gary Orr (Linlithgow) and Andy Dunnett of South Queensferry.
Bob Mackay of Armadale is also back in the limelight bidding to add to his Seniors Open and Seniors Champion of Champions triumphs while the host club banner is carried by first time champion Ian McGill. Play commences on Saturday at 10am with follow on sessions at 12noon, 2pm and 4pm while the Sunday schedule is Quarterfinals at 11am, Semi finals at 1-30pm, and Final at 4pm.
The final of the WLBA Seniors Top Ten featuring Linlithgow versus Kirkliston is down for decision this afternoon (Thur) at Blackburn.