Braids earn their stripes by breaking the Bank

Stuart McLaren of Stewart's Melville tees off at the first. Picture: Scott Louden

Stuart McLaren of Stewart's Melville tees off at the first. Picture: Scott Louden

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BRAIDS UNITED overcame some “Army golf” early on to march into the last eight of the 114th Dispatch Trophy.

Joining them there are Edinburgh Thistle after they stayed on course to return to winning ways at the Braids.

But, ominously perhaps, the quarter-final line-up also includes the last three teams to lift the famous trophy – Caermount, Silverknowes and 
Carrickvale.

Not since 1985, when they lost to Bank of Scotland, have Braids United reached the final but the club appears to have been galvanised by its best Winter League campaign for some time.

They took won a “war of 
attrition” to take revenge on Bank of Scotland last night and now have Carrickvale standing in the way of a medal.

“It was Army golf – left, right, left, right – from myself and Glenn Marsters at the start but we got ourselves sorted out,” reported Stuart Morrison of the back BU pairing’s performance.

Neil Baird, who had Alan McIntosh for company after he replaced John Greenhalgh, added: “We’re a club on the up and have a winning vibe.”

That vibe is likely to be seriously tested against a Carrickvale side that has its sight set on regaining the trophy it won three years in a row from 2007.

Allyn Dick and Craig Deerness ran into a RJM Kitchens pairing of Scott Johnston and Kenny Bisset as they finished three down. But the back 
Carrickvale couple of Craig 
Elliot and Thomas Beattie saw them through with a strong performance against Aaron McHardy and Ricky Myles at the back.

“It was a combination of both Scott and Kenny playing well tonight but, thankfully, the boys at the back did the business for us,” said former Lothians champion Dick.

Thistle last lifted the title in 1990 and it’s 14 years since they appeared in the final.

A quartet comprising of brothers Donald and Barry Anderson, Simon Sumner and Ian Cropley tried their best to throw away a big lead against Kingston.

But, thanks to a brave decision by Cropley, as he went with a driver off the last, they scraped through by the skin of their teeth.

“Barry left it to me to decide what club to go with but it was the right play to try and get us up on to the top of the plateau,” said a relieved Cropley.

Thistle now meet Munro Heating B after their game against Kilgour Wealth Management also went the full distance.

It means Paul Middleton, a member of the Munro Heating quartet, will be coming up against the club he helped win the event.

“I’ve got nine medals, including golds with both Thistle and Crags,” said the four-handicapper. “Now it would be good if I could help Clark [Munro] win his first medal.”

In a repeat of last year’s final, the outcome was the same as Caermount came out on top against Harrison B.

“We’re delighted to be through to the Thursday again and hopefully we can keep it going then as well,” said 
Caermount’s Martin Hopley.

Next up for the holders are Network Cooling, for whom Mike Currie and Chris Timms did the damage at the back against Harrison Seniors.

“It’s the first time we’ve made it the Thursday, which is crunch night,” admitted Stevie Doyle, who is partnering David Liddle in the front pairing.

Silverknowes survived a “scary night” as they eventually got the better of Cramond in their derby clash after being two down overall just after the turn.

Keith Reilly and Tam Caldwell salvaged two unlikely halves with second balls as they finished all square with Ian Doig and Stevie Adamson.

They also made an outrageous par-4 at the 16th, where Reilly made amends for driving into the gorse by holing a monster putt.

“It was going at 40mph and must have moved the hole by around two inches,” declared one wag in the sizeable Silverknowes contingent out supporting both teams.

At the back, it was only 
towards the closing stages that Graham Robertson and Paul Heggie managed to shake off the stuffy duo of Kenny Alexander and Craig Scott.

Heggie produced a contender for shot of the night as he almost holed the Silverknowes approach at the 14th.

“It was a strange wind out there tonight as it doesn’t normally come out of the east at this time of the year,” reported a relieved Reilly.

The five-times winners now meet Stewart’s Melville after they edged another close encounter against Edinburgh Western. Young guns Stuart McLaren and Scott Simpson twice recovered from being three down in the top match while David Donaldson and Ally Ritchie had an eagle-2 at the 12th in their match.