It was bloom time for ‘the garden county’ at Ayr Northfield yesterday with the climax to the Bowls Scotland Championships dominated by East Lothian stars capturing national crowns in the gents Singles and both the gents and ladies’ Junior singles.
The latest names being written into the rich folklore of an area with a proud heritage are Derek Oliver, Gordon White, and Megan Kivlin.
And that spectacular achievement follows hard on the heels of John McCrorie of Tranent skipping his young niece Dee Hoggan to the Mixed Pairs title earlier in the week.
The gents Singles crown is the holy grail 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 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 an underperforming John Strachan of Houldsworth in a final contested in reasonable conditions but being described amongst the worst ever.
Strachan did suffer a nightmare experience with far too many short bowls and in the early stages Oliver was just as wayward; but being the more composed he was rewarded by an 8-1 lead after five ends.
Oliver did improve immensely though and cheered up his strong support with a solid run of 3, 1, 2, 1, 1 that accelerated him into a 16-2 lead then he answered the loss of a single with a 3, 1, 1 reply to 21 that triggered a loud East Lothian roar.
“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 champion of his club.
Oliver’s walk in the park was in direct contrast to his morning 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.
It often happens that the main event is forced into the shadows by The Junior Singles and there is no question that the crowded banking left Ayr singing the praises of an epic battle that lasted 24 ends and climaxed in a 21-20 win for Gordon White of Aberlady over Jack Harkness of Annan.
White had impressed in the semi-finals 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 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 extinguished 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 nailbiting exchanges before White delivered yet another brilliant effort that converted for the title winning single.
Megan Kevlin triggered the mighty garden county roar that hailed the magnificent hat-trick of titles with the 15-year-old from East Lothian Co-op 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.
Edinburgh and Midlothian were title free zones but West Lothian made it into the headlines with Sandra Steven and Kirsteen McLelland of Uphall Station basking in the limelight of an impressive fourth title triumph in the ladies Pairs – defeating Hannah Smith and Claire Johnston of Auchinleck 21-7 in the final.
Megan Kevlin triggered the mighty garden county roar that hailed the magnificent hat-trick of titles with the 15-year-old from East Lothian Co-op blazing a 19-7 trail in exciting fashion then staying calm to clinch a 21-16 win over Claire Walker of Whitefield.
Edinburgh and Midlothian were title free zones but West Lothian made it into the headlines with Sandra Steven and Kirsteen McLelland of Uphall Station basking in the limelight of an impressive fourth title triumph in the ladies’ Pairs – defeating Hannah Smith and Claire Johnston of Auchinleck 21-7 in the final.
Lorna Smith of Linlithgow was bidding to reach the final of the ladies’ Singles for a phenomenal fifth time in a row but the hat-trick winner and former World No.1 made a surprise exit in the semi-finals, losing 21-18 to Donna Fleming of Busby who went on to beat Kirsty Ann Rowatt of Motherwell Miners, 21-13 for the title.
Other results: Gents Pairs: Mount Vernon 17, Strathmiglo 12; Triples: Hyndland 12, Troon Portland 9; Fours: Milngavie 16, Eddlewood 15.
Ladies’ Triples: Muirhead and Birkhill 16, Whitehill 10; Fours: Stranraer 22, Stoneyyetts 4.