It was The Rosebery Cup that gave birth to The Linlithgowshire Bowling Association in 1882 and one of the six founder clubs was Linlithgow, joined by Bo’ness, Queensferry, Kirkliston, Armadale, and Bathgate.
So, it was a dream come true for Linlithgow BC when their Top Sixteen team iced the cake of the clubs 150th Anniversary celebrations by capturing the iconic WLBA Trophy in Sundays final against Newbridge at Newbridge. Rosebery Finals are played over 21-ends, up from the 17 played in all the previous rounds, and the extended distance presents a challenging test of stamina, concentration, and skills, often under intense pressure.
The 2015 final developed into one of epic proportions having produced exciting drama with Newbridge dictating the pace to set up a winning position in the shape of a 12 shot lead (59-47) after 15-ends. Linlithgow kept their heartbeats pounding with a 6-0 warning bell to Newbridge on end 16 but a 7-4 reply allowed the homers to cross the early rounds winning line still occupying the driving seat at 66-57. End 18 kept Linlithgow in the picture with a count of 5-2 that reduced their deficit to six (68-62) then the pendulum swung with a vengeance on the 19th and its game-changing moment was triggered by a mighty count of 5 for Graeme Byrne against Thomas Mann. Gary Orr counted a 4 against Alec Allan and Gary Smith carded a 3 against Blair Mackie and although Greg Baldry prevent the clean-sweep with a single against Steven Fleming the aggregate across the green was a sensational 12-1 for Linlithgow.
The master scoreboard now showed Linlithgow in the lead by 5 shots (74-69) and with the bit between their teeth they added 4-1, and 3-2 to clinch a thrilling nine shot victory (81-72).
Graeme Byrne produced the inspirational result for Linlithgow having crossed from 11-14 to 25-14 with a run of 2, 4, 3, 5 then skipping Mark Mulholland, Gary Porteous, and Scott Murphy to a 26-15 win over Thomas Mann.
Steven Fleming finished 2, (1), 2, 2 to skip Andrew Grimshaw Jnr, Colin Stein, and Mark Graham to a 19-15 win over Greg Baldry.
Gary Or and his rink of Andrew Cruickshank, Fraser Simpson, and Ian McMahon went down to a 21-18 defeat from Alec Allan having made their mark with an early 6 and late counts of 4, 1.
Gary Smith and his front-three of Derek Cochrane, David Hamilton, and David Alexander lost 21-18 to Blair Mackie having carded a welcome 5 at the 13th and producing a valuable 3, 1 finish.
The Linlithgow history in The Rosebery wasn’t a particular strong one in numerical terms having won it on six occasions in comparison with Kirkliston’s 23 and Whitburn’s record of 27.
But ‘The Black Bitches” timed it right in 1890 with the first success coinciding with the 25th Anniversary and therefore raising present day hopes that the Rosebery would again become a special landmark in the history of the club.
Newbridge achieved their only Rosebery Cup triumph back in 1977 but hopes were high that their strongly formed present day outfit with 8 of their team in the current Hamilton Trophy squad could deliver win number two – especially as they had launched their campaign with an impressive win over holders, Kirkliston.
West Lothian raised their game against Glasgow West in their quarterfinal of The Hamilton Trophy and the improved form resulted in a commanding 38 shot victory (135-97) at Kilwinning over the West section runners up to progress the Cities and Counties Championship. Wins on five of the six rinks made it a strong team performance, to the satisfaction of team manager jimmy Mallon, with the triumphs achieved by Steven Fleming, Sandy McDougall, Neil Speirs, Raymond Logan, and Thomas Mann while Grant Logan setback was in single figures. The phase analysis shows West Lothian always in the ascendancy with am 18 shot supremacy (47-29) achieved over the first seven-end, built on with a 9 shot edge (40-31) on the second then rounded off with an 11 shot (48-37) dominance of the third.
Fleming highlighted his result with a late run of 2, 3, 1, 2, 2 as he skipped David Rodgers, Alec Allan, and Andy Dunnett to a 28-11 win over S Wilson. McDougall moved to 20-8 with a mighty 5 at end 17 and skipped John Black, Jamie Aitken, and Gary Orr to a 24-10 win over T McCartney. Speirs led 13-1 and skipped Ewan Shearer, Blair Mackie, and Mark Allison to a 23-16 win over S McWilliams while Logan (Ray) finisahed 1, 2, 2 to beat R Moles, 20-16; Mann held on from 19-12 to beat P Ward, 21-18. Logan (Grant) shaped up well to skip Drew Paterson, Connor McKendrick, and Calum Logan into a 17-11 lead but slipped to a 26-19 defeat from K Bain.
Stevie Fleming – last weekends top scoring skip – is a high profile absentee from the West Lothian team stepping up its challenge for The Hamilton Trophy against Wigtownshire at Cardonald in this weekend’s semi final of the Cities and Counties Championship. Team manager Jimmy Mallon recalls Stuart Johnston to fill the gap and hands the Bathgate star the responsibility of directly replacing Fleming at skip. Wigtownshire have an impressive formline having finished top of the South section – ahead of defending champions Lanarkshire South – and with six wins out of seven went on to defeat Northern Counties, 124-106, in the quarterfinals.Lanarkshire South play Renfrewshire West in the other semi final being played at Abbeyview (Dunfermline).
Meanwhile, Cameron Greer the 2013 winner from Batghate (High) has made a shock exit in the first round of the WLBA Junior Open for The Fred Meikle Trophy having lost 21-16 to S Mair of Armadale at Blackburn on Monday Night.