East Lothian bowlers produced another battling performance against Dumfriesshire to regain the Andrew Hamilton Trophy for a seventh time in the Scottish Counties Championship final played at Blackhall BC in Glasgow last Saturday.Read More
The victory capped a memorable first season for new team manager Stewart Johnston and saw the 24 strong side, captained by Scotland cap Scott Kennedy, etch the East Lothian name on the prestigious trophy again with a nail biting 110-109 triumph. Winning performances on the rinks skipped by Glenn Blair, Scott Kennedy and Brian Young kept East Lothian in the driving seat although Alex Marshall MBE, John McCrorie and Billy Mellors suffered setbacks. “Great resilience and fighting spirit has been the order of the day all season and true to form the lads highlighted a nail biting finish with a 26-21 score in the closing stages”, reflected a delighted Stewart Johnston.
A high standard of play on an excellent playing surface was maintained throughout a cracking final and it was only in the last few ends that the game swung in East Lothian’s favour. After five ends Dumfriesshire held a 31-21 lead but by the time 10 ends were called the garden county had fought back to move 52-51 ahead. At 15 ends East Lothian’s lead was increased to 79-76 but at 18 ends Dumfriesshire had turned things around to go in front as the master scoreboard read 92-90 in their favour. But there was to be a magic moment that eventually tipped the scales back in East Lothian favour and it was conjured up by the rink skipped by Alex Marshall MBE and in the shape of a super 6 on end 19. On the same end, a treble for McCrorie and doubles each for Blair and Mellors plus a single from Kennedy contributed to a 14-1 count across the green and dramatically restored East Lothian back into the driving seat and they never looked back. Player of the series Blair made a major contribution to the garden county side morale in the early stages as he burst out the traps to lead 11-4 after 9 ends then traded comfortably on that cushion before going on to skip Ross Thomson, Davie Whitson and Tom Young to a 21-10 win over Robert Graham. Team captain Kennedy was involved in a pressure keg climax at 15-15 with three to play against Martyn Rice but clinched an 18-15 win by skipping Chris Johnston, Marc McCormack and Jamie Higgins to a 1, 1, 1 finish. Young enjoyed the highlight of a super 6 on end seven before going on to skip Matt Osborne, Billy Cormack and Billy Dunleavey to a 21-19 win over Gary Adamson. Marshall will be remembered for spicing up the East Lothian fight back with his timely 6 that saw him skip Stewart Thomson, Craig McLeod and Alister Kennedy into a 19-18 lead but they eventually lost 22-19 to Davie Jess. McCrorie and his front three of Gordon White, Jamie Gordon and Willie Wood MBE were peels at 17 playing the last against Scott Lowther but conceded a 4 to lose 21-17 while Joe Mower, Gordon Pryde, Craig Valentine and Mellors 10-9 up to a 22-14 defeat from Andy Coltart.
A great weekend for the local bowling community was completed when the youth brigade from East Lothian booked their place in the national finals day for the prestigious Andy Houston Trophy after seeing off the challenges of Midlothian, Edinburgh East and Edinburgh West in the regional qualifiers held at EL-Coop BC last Saturday. The finals will be staged in early September at a venue still to be confirmed.
Dreamtime enters its decisive moment at Ayr Northfield this week with champions from 32 bowling districts nationwide fired up by lifetime ambition to capture Scottish title glory in which ever of the eight disciplines they are competing in. The mainstream action of the championships swings into action today (Thursday) and capturing the opening spotlight is defending national gent’s pairs champions Jim Bonner and Brian Young. The Tranent duo is back in the limelight at 9am and begin their defence with an opening round clash against Polmuir. At 12 noon Leanne and Lauren Baillie enter the fray in the ladies pairs and the Cockenzie & Port Seton sister act are much fancied to trigger the title winning salute for a fifth time having done so in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013. They face what could potentially be a tough opening round assignment against Auchinleck. Entering the fray later on in the day is the Cockenzie & Port Seton rink of Tommy Thomson, Gordon Baillie, Steven Thomson and Craig Valentine and they face Stamperland at 5pm. At the same time in the ladies equivalent Hazel Fender, Amy Newlands, Jennifer Newland and Dawn Murdoch of East Linton are in first round action against Overtown & Waterloo. In tomorrow’s (Friday) action, the Castlepark trio of Jean Russell, Margaret Thomson and Janet Fairnie carry the local hopes in the ladies triples and open with a clash against Deans on the 9am session. The local challenge in the ladies singles lies in the hands of Cockenzie & Port Seton’s Louise Morgan and she takes to the green at 11am against Northwest. At 12 noon, the EL-Coop triple of Craig Cochrane, Duncan Hogg and Gordon Pryde represent the East Lothian banner in the gent’s triples for a second consecutive year and open this year’s title assault with a clash against Inverurie. Aberlady’s Gordon White is a strong hope to bring the gents junior singles crown back to the garden county and he opens at 1pm against Thornton. The garden county challenge is excitingly strong in the gent’s singles in the shape of Derek Oliver with the high profile Scotland cap deserving to be considered a front-rank contender. The champion of Cockenzie & Port Seton goes head to head with Coylton at 3pm. The battle for the ladies junior singles crown does not get underway until Saturday morning and includes a leading light from the East Lothian camp in the shape of EL-Coop’s Megan Kivlin and she faces an opening round clash against Anniesland at 9.30am.
There was to be no national title success for East Lothian in Monday’s Scottish Young Bowlers Association national finals at Ayr Northfield. The garden county challenge was a three-pronged attack by EL-Coop and in the triples Cameron Shaw, Robbie Shields and Robbie Buchanan reached the final but suffered heartache when they lost on an extra end to Dumfries. Megan Kivlin and Dean Riva but up a superb defence of their pair titles before losing out to eventual winners Dumfries in the semi-final. David Young was the representative in the blue riband singles event and he put up a tremendous effort winning three of his five qualifying games but unfortunately, it was not enough for him to progress through to the final stages.
Meanwhile, 2015 East Lothian champions West Barns is in quarter-final action in the 2016 Inter-County Top 5 singles on Sunday when they face an away test at Glasgow champions Cardonald (2pm). The talented mob of Calum Gordon, Kevin Thomson, Gary Landells, Ian Thorburn and Scott Thorburn are the players given the responsibility of trying to book a place in semi-final.
Leaders Tranent once again demonstrated the killer instinct that is required to become champions of Division 1 in the East Coast Carpets sponsored East Lothian Leagues following a hard fought 6-2 home win over Castlepark in last Friday night’s action. It was a fierce encounter that might well have gone in the visitor’s favour but not for the first time over the past couple of season’s the title holders showed a tremendous cutting edge to their play when it really mattered. Tranent’s lead at the top was cut to just three points over EL-Coop who kept the pressure on their neighbours by crushing visitors Gifford 7-1. Cockenzie & Port Seton, sit nine points off the pace in third and kept their slim title hopes alive with an 8-0 home win over East Linton. Haddington were expected to be very much in the frame entering the run to the line but the 2014 champions crashed to a shock 6-2 defeat at home to Prestongrange and are now 13 points adrift of the leaders. West Barns visited Elphinstone and their battling 5-3 win keeps them clear of the relegation zone but saw Elphinstone drop back to the foot of the table however, the battle for survival looks likely to go right down to the wire. The league action takes a break this week due to the national championships taking place at Ayr Northfield.
Cockenzie & Port Seton Bowling Club is staging an Open Pairs tournament on Saturday 13th August with a high-class field expected to challenge for the lucrative £400+ prize fund on offer in the Belhaven Brewery sponsored event. The tournament is a round robin event and entries are now being accepted and can be obtained by contacting club match secretary Steven Morgan on 01875 810481.
You can now keep up-to-date with all that is happening on the outdoor bowling scene in the garden county by following the website by East Lothian Bowling Association. All bowlers are urged to view by clicking on www.eastlothianbowls.com