East Lothian bowlers enjoyed not one, not two, not three but an amazing FOUR title successes at the Bowls Scotland National Championships played at Ayr Northfield during the course of last week.
The climax to the championships was dominated by garden county stars parading their exciting range of skills in four of the mainstream disciplines leading to their capture of national crowns in the gent’s singles, both the gents and ladies junior singles and the mixed pairs. The latest names to be written into the rich folklore of county with proud heritage are Derek Oliver, Gordon White, Megan Kivlin, Dee Hoggan and John McCrorie.Read More
The gent’s singles crown is the holy grail prize of the annual championships so pride and place goes to 32-year-old Derek Oliver of Cockenzie & Port Seton who delivered that dream to an East Lothian camp that last celebrated that honour when John McCrorie etched his name on the coveted silverware back in 2000. Oliver romped to the 2016 title in almost effortless style as it only took him a super quick 15 ends to polish off John Strachan of Houldsworth, in the final, winning 21-3. “This is my first visit to Ayr in the singles so I am elated at etching my name on this most coveted trophy of the Nationals and joining a long list of famous names”, said the eight times club champion of his club. Oliver’s walk in the park was in direct contrast to his semi-final battle where he was in great danger of defeat at 17-14 down to Grahame McDougall of Mount Vernon but escaped from jail with a determined finish of 1, 1, 1, 1, 3.
A second East Lothian success followed when Gordon White of Aberlady won the gents junior singles. White had impressed in the semi-final where the 25-year old answered testing pressure at 16-12 down to Gary Malcolmson of Polmaise with a mentally strong run of 3, 1, (1), 1, (2), 2, 2 to win 21-19 then in the final against Jack Harkness of Annan he raced into a 10-1 lead after seven ends. Thoughts that it was all over bar the shouting at 16-4 up were soon put on ice as Harkness battled back into the picture at 16-18 then he held two for peels at the next before White moved to 20 with a brilliant last bowl conversion. Harkness was now playing great stuff – both were – and carded 1, 1, 2 to peels at 20 then the melting pot sizzled with nail biting exchanges before White delivered yet another brilliant effort that converted for the title winning single.
A super Sunday for the garden county was completed when Megan Kivlin triggered a mighty roar that hailed the magnificent hat trick of titles with the 15-year-old from EL-Coop blazing a 19-7 trail in exciting fashion then staying cool calm and collected to clinch a 21-16 win over Claire Walker of Whitefield. The spectacular achievements last Sunday followed hard on the heels of John McCrorie of Tranent skipping his young niece Dee Hoggan to the Mixed Pairs title earlier in the week.
Meanwhile Jim Bonner and Brian Young hopes of making a successful defence of their gent’s pair crown were dashed in the opening round when they were taken to extra-end climax by Polmuir who edged the 21-20 nail biter. In the gents triples the EL-Coop trio of Craig Cochrane, Duncan Hogg and Gordon Pryde produced two sparkling performances to reach the quarter-finals before being losing 18-11 to a Troon Portland triple skipped by world stage star Paul Foster MBE. It was the same scenario in the gent’s fours with the Cockenzie & Port Seton rink of Tommy Thomson, Gordon Baillie, Steven Thomson and Craig Valentine delivering two great wins before making an 18-12 last eight exit to Westhill. In the gent’s senior singles, Davie Arnott of EL-Coop was a 21-13 victim of Wellington Park while in the senior fours the Dunbar rink of John McKellar, Tom Morrison, Jim Murray and Bobby Brunton departed the scene at the first hurdle, losing 13-12 to Earlston. In the ladies events, there was great pain in the ladies pairs with four time’s national champions Leanne and Lauren Baillie of Cockenzie & Port Seton losing 19-10 to Auchinleck. In the singles, Louise Morgan of Cockenzie & Port Seton delivered a nail biting 21-20 win over Leigh McPartland of Northwest in her first round encounter but then came up against a very impressive display from Kirsty Ann Rowatt of Motherwell Miners and lost 21-10. Elsewhere there was disappointing first round exits for Castlepark’s Jean Russell, Margaret Thomson and Janet Fairnie in the triples; Hazel Fender, Any Newlands, Jennifer Newlands and Dawn Murdoch of East Linton in the fours; Margaret Thomson of Castlepark in the senior singles and Irene Cunningham, Susan Crooks, Alicia Irvine and June Rutherford of Gullane in the senior fours.
West Barns progressed through the quarter-final of the Inter-County Top 5 singles following a commanding 4-1 victory over Glasgow champions Cardonald in last Sunday’s first round action. The 2014 champions now face a home clash with Dumfries & Galloway champions Stranraer in the quarter-final on a date still to be confirmed.
The East Lothian senior side recent revival continued on Monday when they produced a solid team performance and led from start to finish to beat Stirling East by a well-deserved 9 shot margin (73-64) at Dunbar in the Inter-County Senior League Cup for the Matt Purdie Trophy. The positive result keeps the garden county ‘auld yins’ in contention of winning the section with two games still to play. Wins on the rinks skipped by team captain Tom Young (+9), Jim Murray (+9) and George Cowan (+3) carried the day for East Lothian and covered the setbacks sustained by Alastair Russell (-2) and Alan Morgan (-10). “We were in total control of the match and after 10 ends played we led by nearly 28 shots, however we let things dip a little in the closing ends but held on to win”, commented team convenor Andy Burt. The side is back in action on Monday at West Barns and they tackle table toppers West Fife in a make or break fixture. At the time of this report going to print no team news had been announced.
Following a week’s break in action due last weekend’s national championships the race for the coveted Division 1 title in the East Coast Carpets sponsored East Lothian Leagues gets back on track tomorrow (Friday) evening as the campaign enters the home straight. Titleholders and current leaders Tranent have a three-point lead over chief rivals EL-Coop and they will be confident of keeping the advantage intact when they visit a Gifford side who are in free fall and in deep relegation trouble. EL-Coop’s title credentials face a stern examination when they make the trip up the A1 to tackle Haddington. The Cockenzie & Port Seton camp still harbour hopes of title success but cannot afford any further slip-ups and that will not be easy when they face an away assignment against a Prestongrange fighting for their lives to avoid an immediate return to Division 2. Foot of the table Elphinstone need to try to make home advantage count when they entertain Castlepark while fellow relegation threatened West Barns make the short trip to tackle East Linton. All clubs are reminded that the final four fixtures must all commence at the earlier start time of 6.30pm.
Just a reminder that all club secretaries are requested to ensure that all league and cup results, including shots aggregate score, are phoned into ELBA Match Secretary Keith Fender on 01620 860217 or via text message 07786 110416 immediately after each match.
The most prestigious domestic cup competition of the domestic outdoor calendar will reach its climax on Saturday as Macmerry and Haddington host the ELBA Top Ten Championship (Jubilee Cup) finals day. The line-up in the semi-finals is Dunbar or Haddington against EL-Coop at Macmerry while at Haddington, Gifford tackle East Linton, with both ties commencing at 12 noon. The final will be staged at Haddington at approximately 3pm with the eventual winners going onto represent East Lothian in the national equivalent next season.
Meanwhile there is also a busy day of bowling action around the county on Sunday as the ELBA Brown Trophy and East Lothian News tournaments reach their conclusions at Tranent (Polson Park) and Elphinstone respectively. Play at both tournaments gets underway at 12.30pm with the semi-final action and both finals are expected to commence around 3pm.
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