Parkside have captured the blue riband Division 1 title of The Alpha Trophies sponsored Edinburgh Bowling League for a third time in the 18 year history of the event and The Splashers from next door to The Royal Commonwealth Pool made strong waves with 13 wins from their 14 match campaign.
“I don’t know about being splashers but our 16 strong team were certainly smashers as having led the field from a long way out we kept our nerve when faced with intense pressure on our last match visit away to our chief rivals Queensberry” said spokesman Robert Donaldson. Queensberry were expected to make life difficult for their visitors and did put up a bold show but wins on the rinks skipped by Neil Watson and Donaldson delivered the coveted silverware into the hands of Parkside’s playing President, Andy Hargan.
Parkside have finished in the top two in nine of the past 10 seasons which is strong testament to their amazing consistency so with a 5.5 point lead over Queensberry the Division 1 leaders were good favourites not to toss the honours away. “We knew Queensberry at home would be well fired up to have a go at us so we were far from complacent but it was only going to take one of our four rinks to win and ward off their challenge so that was the single focus of our game plan” added Donaldson.
“The situation of a top two clash also changed the tactical dynamics for us as the normal team unison approach was replaced by each rink being advised to focus entirely on the single target of achieving the one win that would trigger our title celebrations” he added.
Queensberry needed an 8-1 result at least for them to win their first ever top echelon EBL title and the home support were ecstatic when Scott Walker blazed an inspirational 16-0 trail after six ends, skipping Ryan Gardner, Mick Imrie Snr, and Alan Watson to counts of 3, 5, 2, 1, 4, 1 against Paul Veitch. Walker and Co went on to register a 21-10 win over Graeme Fraser, Ewan Diven, Brian Salvona, and Veitch.
The home support cheered a second win; but in nail-biting circumstances with John Kidd skipping Paul Manson, Pau Dickson, and Mick Imrie Jnr to an 11-10 success having tipped the scales with a single at the last against Craig Bryce, Willie Watson, Kevin Boyd, and Derek Smith. And there was a glimmer of hope that the underdogs would snatch a third win with Frank O’Reilly and his rink of Colin Jones, Brian Larkin, and Jordan Davidson in touch at three down playing the last against Donaldson.
Donaldson is the icon figure at Parkside being a National Junior Singles and Tait Trophy champion and he delivered the goods for the champions elect by rising above the pressures to card a magic three and skip Ian Fleming, Dave Sherriffs, and Danny Jackson to a 19-13 win. Parkside did however have another ace in the pack in the shape of 22-year old junior cap Neil Watson who became well set to cover his three other skip colleagues when exploding into a 17-6 lead over Chris Conway Jnr, Jimmy McDougall, Paul Kirkland, and Brian Pollard.
Watson had set the pulse rates beating faster in the Parkside camp from 9-6 by skipping Steven Rennie, Davy Moran, and Andy Hargan on a run of 1, 3, 2, 2 and come what may elsewhere their final 19-12 victory was always going to save the day for ‘The Splashers’. “To be part of a great team triumph in the top Division of the EBL as a player and club president is a fantastic thrill and a dream come true’ said 55 year old Andy Hargan who added “ Queensberry made the final fixture a great spectacle of an occasion and their sportsmanship in defeat was first class”.
Colinton’s best days lie much further back than the recent past but their pre- season decision to join the highly successful Edinburgh Bowling League has brought a fresh zest and sharper focus to their competitive instincts resulting in the exiting reward of promotion.
Carrick Knowe have not unexpectedly won the title honours in Division 5 but Colinton winning the race to finish second ahead of Bainfield is a surprise based upon the Water of Leith League history of the three clubs. There could have been a last match slip up on Colinton’s part but with home environment advantage and a perkier and more positive attitude they delivered 7-2 victory over Portobello that kept them five points clear of Bainfield.
Bainfield’s 9-0 win at home to Trinity was a flying finish but to no avail and unless there is re-construction down the line the former WOL giants are sentenced to spending next season in the lowest division of the EBL. The hero figures for Colinton against Portobello were Brian Davies, Alan Milne, and Greg Smith who skipped their respective rinks to handsome wins. Davies was the highest flyer with his take-off exciting in the shape of 5, 2, 4, 3. (2), 6 run that rocketed him towards skipping Stewart Douglas, George Byrers, and Cammy Cairns ti a 34-6 victory. Milne defeated Jimmy Swan, 27-12, and Smith beat Brian Thom, 16-11. David Fisher lost 16-14 to the Porto rink skipped by H Haig and including 12 –year old Euan Gray.
Wardie host the semi final finals of the E&L Tait Trophy tonight (6-30) and the line up reads,
George Kyle of London Road Foundry versus Mal Higgenbotham of Tanfield; and Neil Watson of Parkside against Graeme McIntosh of Maitland.