Bowls: Sport mourns loss of Gorebridge legend

Dick Bernard
Dick Bernard
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The passing of Dick Bernard of Gorebridge at 94 has robbed the bowls world in Scotland of one its major figures but his legacy will live on, emblazoned for ever on the pages of sporting history.

Dick played a leading role in the golden age when Scotland dominated the international bowls scene from 1965 to 1980 with his personal contribution embracing his debut, as a reserve in 1966, through to his retirement from that particular arena in 1980.

The terms, a King of Kings, and, a First Among Equals, are not too grand for a man of a quiet and dignified personality who was revered in his native Midlothian and reached deep into Edinburgh and East and West Lothian.

Dick is best remembered in the wider sphere as a member of “The Famous Five,” when, in 1972, he joined forces with fellow giants of the sport in Harry Reston (West Lothian), Rennie Logan (West Lothian), Jock McAtee (Ayrshire) and Alec McIntosh (Midlothian) to represent Scotland in the World Bowls Championship at Worthing.

The measure of Dick’s ranking in the sport at that time can be measured by the fact that he was chosen to spearhead the Scotland attack in the Singles and he justified that faith by returning home to Gorebridge with the silver medal. There should also have been a gold medal as Scotland won the Top Team award, hence The Famous Five, however, funding was so tight back then that it was only notional and despite later efforts to rectify that injustice nothing materialised.

Scotland won the Home International Championship title an incredible 12 times in a row from 1965 to 1977 (no play in 1976) then, unbelievably, lost on home soil at Uddingston in 1978 before adding two more in 1979 and 1980.

Bowls took Dick to Johannesburg in 1976 and he saw Commonwealth action in the 1978 Games at Edmonton in Canada.

He captured a record 15 singles championships at Gorebrdige – which included five in a row.

He also reached the final of the Scottish Singles Championship in 1966 but lost in the final, however, in 1970 he went all the way to beat a 32-year-old Willie Wood of Gifford in the final.

“Dick was outstanding and out -bowled me but he was the best singles player in the land at that time and I consoled myself that no-one would have lived with him and at least I had experienced a master class lesson that would improve me,” reflected the now 73-year-old MBE holder this week.

The funeral of Dick takes place tomorrow at Mortonhall Crematorium Main Chapel, at 1.00pm.