Tranent Bowling Club signed off the end of their competitive 2017 outdoor season by capturing a mainstream national honour in the shape of the Andrew McKellar Inter County Top Five Singles Championship played at Edinburgh venue Sighthill BC last Sunday.
The final pitched the East Lothian champions against their Borders counterparts in the shape of Chirnside so the extra dimension of local rivalry set the scene for an epic encounter. Tranent emerged 3-2 winners from a melting pot situation that sizzled from start to finish and with temperatures reaching fever pitch the climax was a cauldron of excited anticipation in both camps. It was the ‘belters’ who claimed first blood with Adam Martin delivering at the 21-10 expense of Jamie Mitchell. Chirnside were brought into the picture through Gavin Douglas as he scored a 21-7 triumph over Matt Osborne. John McCrorie moved Tranent into a 2-1 lead with the former national singles champion finishing with a 4, 2 to beat Graeme Forsyth, 21-9. Chirnside kept their challenge alive with their icon figure Robert Patterson edging a 21-19 thriller in 21 ends over Kevin Jones. The final spotlight focused on Tranent’s new club champion Kevin Cunningham and opponent Graeme Turner and the capture of the national crown went right down to the wire. Cunningham looked in trouble at 20-19 down but treated the entire banking to a grandstand style finish of 1, 1 that swept him over the line to clinch game and title with a 21-20 win in 26 ends. “Great bowling skills from both clubs and the final was a sheer joy to watch”, was one of the comments on the ELBA Facebook page. The semi-final action saw Tranent edge another titanic battle against defending champions and West Lothian giants Kirkliston 3-2 while Chirnside beat Strathmiglo.
East Linton Bowling Club king pin Grant Thomson is the new ELBA Champion of Champions title holder with the 27-year-old etching his name on the coveted trophy for the first time having captured the 2017 crown at Haddington BC last Sunday.
Thomson was one of many high-profile club champions challenging for the prestigious end of season title but he was the one that shined brightest with a series of highly polished performances that climaxed with a thrilling 21-18 win over Gary Landells of West Barns in an epic 22 end final. It iced the cake on a great season for the former Scotland junior cap that saw him win the championship crown at his beloved East Linton for a fifth time.
“I’m thrilled to bits and over the moon to be finally crowned ELBA Champion of Champions but it was hard earned as Gary (Landells) played a blinder and I was glad to get over the line”, reflected Thomson afterwards. It was Thomson who made the better start to lead 5-0 after 3 ends but Landells responded in fine fashion with a 2, 4 to cross 6-5. Thomson answered the menace with a brilliant game changing reply of 2, 1, 1, (1), 3 that regained him initiative at 13-7. Thomson was the pressed by the loss of a double (13-9) but again responded superbly to score a 4, 1 over the next couple of ends to have Landells firmly in his 18-9 grip. End 17 saw Landells keep his hopes alive with a maximum count of 4 that closed the deficit to 18-15 but inspired by the sight of the winning line Thomson showed cool composure to turn the screw with a couple of singles to move 20-15 ahead. Landells was not going to go away without a fight and he hit back with a double then a single but his bold efforts ran out of opportunity when Thomson triggered the victory salute with a title clinching single to 21. The earlier semi-final action was also of an excellent standard with Thomson defeating Aberlady club champion Gordon White, 21-17, while Landells enjoyed a hard fought 21-15 win over Castlepark champion Jamie Frame.
On the international stage, Scotland’s junior bowlers splashed their way to glory in damp Mid Wales last weekend, when the gents Under 25 team achieved the sports version of rugby’s Triple Crown, beating England, Wales and Ireland to land the British Isles Junior Home International title. The triumphant Scottish team in Llandrindod Wells included Haddington ace Glenn Blair and he played his part in what was, based on recent results, a shock victory. Fully six years have passed since Scotland last won this title and, for the past two years, they have finished a disappointing third in the pecking order. Boosted by their opening 128-96 win over defending champions England, they edged home 122-120 against hosts Wales. Apart from a brief spell they were always in control against Ireland in the title decider, winning 116-110. Blair skipped his rink to a highly influential win over Wales but suffered narrow defeats against England and Ireland respectively.
The curtain falls on the ELBA competitive season on Saturday as four clubs battle it out for the final silverware of the outdoor season, as East Linton Bowling Club hosts the Courier Cup finals day. The end of season tournament will feature all the evening league champions namely, Cockenzie & Port Seton, Haddington A, Longniddry and Aberlady A. The semi-final action gets underway at 12.30pm and will feature Cockenzie & Port Seton against Longniddry while the other tie is Haddington A versus Aberlady A. The final is expected to commence at approximately 3pm.
Meanwhile its congratulations to the senior brigade at EL-Coop after they eased their way to the Division 1 title of the East Coast Carpet sponsored East Lothian Senior Leagues for a second consecutive year. Dunbar captured the honours in Division 2 while Newcraighall landed the spoils in Division 3.
Turning attention to the indoor season, East Lothian Indoor Bowling Club opens its doors for the new season on a full-time basis this coming Monday (September 18). The highly acclaimed Top Four tournament will kick off competitive proceedings on Monday evening while the Morning, Afternoon and Evening leagues are also scheduled to commence this coming week. Membership fees and rink fees remain the same at £58 and £3 (£4 non-members) respectively.
Draw for Elphinstone Bowling Club Open Pairs on Saturday is as follows:- 10am S.Clark, I.Thomson, D.Swinton, J.Bathgate, D.Stevenson, R.French, K.Reid, C.Glen, S.Mackie, B.Burnett, D.Hazard, N.Cochrane 10.45am R.French, R.Buchanan, C.McNeil, J.Cowan, S.Durham, J.Carpenter Jnr, G.Cowan, A.Osborne, R.Cowan, S.Elliot, D.French, R.Bonner 11.30am M.Riding, K.Glen, E.Leith, H.Ramsay