Win or Lose – For Linlithgow based Bellsburn Bowling Club tomorrows final days play in The Co-operative Funeralcare sponsored Inter County Top Ten Tournament is the biggest occasion of the clubs relative short history.Read more
The Inter County version of the Top Ten is in its 34th year and universally acclaimed to be the major club championship in Scotland embracing the 25 County champions nationwide. Eddlewood BC in Hamilton is the early morning destination for a Bellsburn challenge headed by Scott Middlemisss in the Singles and supported by Sam Gray and Craig Yeaman (Pairs), Stuart Mackay, Jack and Alan Murphy (Triples), Gordon Snedden, Dave McQueen, Eddie Caulfield and Simon Lamb (Fours). Founded in 1982 and built on the site of a former Explosive Works the 33-year old club is young in relation to its distinguished uptown neighbour Linlithgow BC who this year celebrate its 150th Anniversary.
Funded by West Lothian Council and a Sports Club Trust Fund the Bellsburn complex was opened by then Council leader Dominic McCauley and comprised one bowling green, four tennis courts, and two squash courts. Present day Top Ten stars Sam Gray (72) and Eddie Caulfield (63) are original members of the club whilst the youngest player in this weekends line up is 18-year old Gordon Snedden.
Bellsburn represent the West Lothian banner as the County’s 2014 champions and having reeled off a hat trick of wins in the national event are just two more triumphs away from being crowned The Champions of Scotland. Although defeating record four times national champions Kirkliston – fair and square – in last years County final the result was a major upset therefore thrusting Bellsburn into the big time cast in the image of minnows. “I must say that making a play on our origins we were dynamite against ‘The Cheesetown Boys’ in the final and our hope is that we can deliver two more explosive performances this weekend”, said spokesman Eddie Caulfield. “Capturing the scalp of a star studded Kirkliston was akin to us sleighing a giant of the Top Ten format both local and national and it was the first high prestige title to come our way bringing with it the bonus of making our debut at national level” he added.
Minnows at national level perhaps but Rookies no as there is lots of competitive experience within the ranks including spearhead figure Scott Middlemiss (44) and Eddie Caulfield reaching the national semi final of the Scottish Fours in 1993. Craig Yeaman (40) – who in the real world is an investment director with Saracen Fund Managers – is a District Junior Singles champion of 1996 and his take on ‘The Eddlewood Experience’ is that it is “A great thrill to be part of a big occasion”. Simon Lamb (36) has given Bellsburn its strongest individual stamp as the 1998 WLBA Champion of Champions and finalist in the 2003 West Lothian Masters. But in terms of starring in Big Time Occasions how about 63 year old Dave McQueen who in 1978 scored the winning Junior Cup Final goal for Bonnyrigg Rose.
Bellsburn – captained by Caulfield – were handed a tough debut at national level being drawn away to their Wigtownshire counterparts – and four times qualifiers – Stranraer West End in the prelim round. Excited enthusiasm wiped out the fatigue of a long journey South and the travellers turned in a strong performance to win 6-2 then albeit with home advantage were considered to be the underdogs against Castle Douglas of The Stewartry.
Castle Douglas reached the final in 1998 and were semi finalists on three other occasions so represented real danger however Bellsburn rose to the occasion and delivered a magnificent 7-1 victory.
The Kintyre peninsula beckoned next and a dauntingly long trip to experienced Top Ten campaigners Campbeltown BC of Argyll & Bute but the early risers coped with all challenges and swept into the semi final stage with a 6-2 victory.
The immediate challenge in tomorrow’s semi finals looks a tough one in the shape of four times Lanarkshire champions Burnbank who are Hamilton based so will immediately feel at home playing on their neighbours green.
The other semi final features three times Fife champions Strathmiglo – who lost the 2011 final to Kirkliston – and three times Dumfriesshire champions Kirkconnel who have reached the last four stage for a second time.
The team bus travelling to Eddlewood will have a very distinguished passenger on it in the shape of Gary Clelland but the moment he alights at the venue the Bellsburn member has to become neutral in his role of President of The Scottish Inter County Top Ten Association.
Clelland’s contribution to the Bellsburn Story includes that last season he became the inaugural Disabled Singles Champion of Scotland while in 1984 he was the youngest Umpire at World Bowls Aberdeen.