Tranent Bowling Club stars Jim Bonner and Brian ‘Sconie’ Young did East Lothian proud by capturing the Scottish Gents Pairs title in the finals of the Bowls Scotland Championships that reached its climax at Ayr Northfield last Sunday.
It was a truly memorable family affair with 51 year old Young skipping his 62 year old father-in-law Bonner to the title with a battling 18-14 win over Brian Kyle and Alan Hainey of West End Stranraer. The Tranent pairing raced into 10-2 with a scorching run of 5, 2, (2), 2, 1 but then were asked serious questions at 11-10 however Young was confidence personified and highlighted his highly skilled contributions with an inch perfect chap and lie for a three shot reward on end 16 to lead 18-12 going into the last. “That was the big moment for me as up until then the build up to the heads had been ding-dong and the match scales could have tipped either way”. “Etching our names on the trophy is a very emotional moment for both of us and extra special to me as it is my sixth appearance in these championships but my first title celebration” said Young who is a stalwart figure and ex-captain of the East Lothian Hamilton Trophy team. The Tranent trophy cabinet at their Polson Park base is no stranger to housing national championship silverware as Graham Robertson (1987), John McCrorie (2000) and Dee Hoggan (2009) have all captured national crowns; but this latest triumph is a first in the Pairs.
Hopes of another national title coming to East Lothian were dashed in the final of the Mixed Pairs with the talented niece/uncle partnership of Dee Hoggan and John McCrorie of Tranent Bowling Club losing out 20-11 to Alastair Nimmo and Ruth Stewart of Cupar in Fife. “We were delighted to reach the final and we looked in total control of the game when we led 11-3 but a change of jack length knocked us completely off our stride and we failed to score again, which was disappointing”, said McCrorie afterwards.
In the gents singles Billy Mellors of West Barns was a 21-16 victim of Scott Mackintosh of London Road Foundry in his first round clash while the EL-Coop triple of Craig Cochrane, Duncan Hogg and Gordon Pryde also fell foul at the opening hurdle in the gent’s triples when they made a 19-12 exit Oldmeldrum. In the gents junior singles Ross Thomson of EL-Coop delivered a good 21-10 win over Douglas Balfour of Giffnock in his first round encounter but then came up against a very impressive display from Christopher Stein of Markinch and lost 21-5. The West Barns rink of Kevin Thomson, Chris O’Brien, Gary Landells and Alister Kennedy opened impressively in the gent’s fours with a 16-11 win over Thornton but then fell by the wayside in round two as they lost 17-12 against Bainfield. Sandy Plenderleith of Gifford launched his bid in the gent’s senior singles with a thrilling 21-20 win over John Nicol of Rothienorman but then ran out of steam in his next match and bowed out, 21-14, to a strong finish from his Rothesay opponent Donald McKellar. The Cockenzie & Port Seton rink of Willie Doran, Sinclair Thomson, Kenny Morgan and Alex Jamieson made a decent start in their opening gents senior fours match but then the roof caved in and they collapsed to a heavy 22-6 defeat from Winchburgh. In the ladies events the Longniddry pairing of Mary Talbot and Reva Campbell made a first round exit in the pairs as they lost 22-8 to Bonnybridge while in the triples the North Berwick trio of Margaret Nisbet, Maureen Lorimer and Irene Robertson were also opening round casualties as they crashed to a 21-7 loss against Hillside. Sadly Leanne Baillie and her Cockenzie & Port Seton rink failed to spark in the fours and made a 25-7 first round exit to a highly impressive Zetland rink who went on to win the title. Castlepark star Janet Fairnie is a talented campaigner of note but she failed to deliver in both the ladies singles and ladies senior singles, losing out in both disciplines in the opening rounds.
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 West Fife by a well-deserved 13 shot margin (61-48) at away venue Lumphinnans BC in the Inter-County Senior League Cup for the Matt Purdie Trophy. It’s a result the moves the garden county ‘auld yins’ to the top of the table of the East section although equal on points with both Edinburgh & Leith and West Lothian, East Lothian have a reasonable degree of protection from the healthiest shot margin bank but they finish against West Lothian and could still be vulnerable if they suffer a defeat. Team manager Andy Burt was delighted again at the winning away performances on the rinks skipped by Alan Morgan (+7), Tommy Young (+3) and George Cowan (+3) while the rink skipped by Alex Jamieson suffered a late collapse but held on for a draw. “We once again played some great bowls on what looked like a cracking playing surface. We always appeared in command but a couple of loose ends in the final phase of the match gave West Fife some encouragement but we held firm under the pressure and kicked on again in the final few ends”, said Andy Burt.
The side will qualify to the knockout semi-finals if they don’t lose to West Lothian in the top of the table clash at Dunbar BC this coming Monday (12 noon). Alex Jamieson is unavailable leading to team manager Andy Burt recalling Duncan Hogg while there is also a positional change. George Smith skips in place of Jamieson while Hogg will play at third. The team reads:- B.Scott (Mac), J.Holmes (ELLC), D.Kennedy (W/B), G.Cowan (E/L) skip J.P.Hamilton (W/B), G.Gray (ELLC), G.Blyth (ELLC), A.Morgan (C&PS) skip B.Brunton (Dun), S.Delaney (Hadd), D.Hogg (ELCO), G.Smith (ELCO) skip P.Fallen (Elph), W.Fotheringham (Long), R.Strang (Elph), T.Young (Dun) skip Reserve pool: – J.Smith (ELLC), M.Hunter (Giff),
K.Morgan (C&PS), K.Boyd (ELCO), T.Morrison (Dun), A.Jamieson (C&PS)
All players to report at Dunbar BC by 11.20am and anyone selected who is unable to play is requested to contact Andy Burt immediately on 07783 323079.
Following a week’s break in action due to last weekend’s Bowls Scotland national finals the race for the prestigious Division 1 title in the East Coast Carpets sponsored East Lothian Leagues gets back on track tonight (Friday) as the campaign enters the home straight. Tranent hold a healthy looking 8 point lead over chief rivals Haddington but their title credentials faces another stern examination when they visit Castlepark. Second placed Haddington also don’t have it easy and face what should be a testing trip to West Barns but are buoyed by the news that icon figures Scott Kennedy and Billy Mellors are absentees for the home side. A severely out of form Gifford side entertain relegation zoned Castlepark A and a home win would ease the lingering relegation fears hanging over them but a win for the visitors would certainly put the cat among the pigeons in the battle to beat the drop. East Linton could still be dragged into the relegation dog fight so it’s imperative they make home advantage count tonight when they host EL-Coop. Cockenzie & Port Seton will be expected to do well when there on home soil against foot of the table Dunbar. The seasiders will be without the services of top skip Derek Oliver as he is on Scotland duty this weekend competing in the prestigious Whitehall Pairs tournament in Aberdeen.
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.
There is a busy day of bowling action around the county tomorrow (Saturday) as the ELBA Brown Trophy and East Lothian News Trophy tournaments reach their conclusions at Cockenzie & Port Seton BC and Aberlady BC respectively. Play at both tournaments gets underway at 12.30pm with the semi-final action and both finals are expected to commence around 3pm.
Meanwhile Cockenzie & Port Seton Bowling Club are also staging an Open Pairs tournament on Saturday 15th 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.
Gifford Bowling & Sports Club is staging a Senior Open Triples tournament on Wednesday 26th August with entries now being accepted and should be submitted to Brian Bissett on 07903 541373 before Monday 17th August.