Dispatch in safe hands as ‘new beginning’ hailed a success

The Stephen Gallacher Foundation team, from left, Stuart Johnston, Connor Wilson, Cameron 
Gallagher and Scott Knowles. Teenage players will be vital if the tournament is to have a decent future

The Stephen Gallacher Foundation team, from left, Stuart Johnston, Connor Wilson, Cameron Gallagher and Scott Knowles. Teenage players will be vital if the tournament is to have a decent future

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It was Allyn Dick, a member of the victorious Carrickvale team, who hit the nail on the head with the 117th Dispatch Trophy.

“A new beginning” was his description of the event and that was spot on in so many different ways.

For starters, it was the first time in the tournament’s history that it had been played with a title sponsor on board.

And it wasn’t just a case of golfclubs4cash, a Loanhead-based retailer of second-hand golf equipment, sitting back and being happy to see its name associated with the event.

Murray Winton, the owner, was present himself at the Braids on the opening weekend before returning for the final between Carrickvale and BBT.

Another change for this year’s event was that it was run for the first time by Edinburgh Leisure, who did an excellent job.

David Atkinson, the Golf and Grounds Maintenance Manager, orchestrated a professional operation that involved Derek McLeod, Mandy McBain, Diane Moncrieff, Neil McKinsley and Kenny Craigie carrying out important duties throughout the tournament.

Craigie normally plays in the Dispatch Trophy for Portobello but he swapped his driver for a microphone on the first tee on this occasion as the official starter.

It was a masterstroke on Edinburgh Leisure’s part to designate the ‘Scotsman Lounge’ at the Braids as the event’s headquarters, with plans afoot to have that re-named as the ‘Dispatch Trophy Lounge’ in time for next year’s event.

“With a sponsor and some of the touches added by Edinburgh Leisure, it felt like a big event,” said Craig Deerness, another member of the Carrickvale side that lifted the trophy for a fifth time in ten years.

Neither Dick or Deerness, it must be said, was being critical in any way of the committee that had run the event equally well in the past.

Indeed, in his speech on behalf of the winners, Dick made a point of thanking both Hamish Coghill, the convenor, and secretary Robin Mutch for their efforts over the years.

Partly due to the fact it was quite late in the day before it was actually confirmed this year’s event would be staged, the entry of 42 teams was the lowest in its history.

On the plus side, though, it probably involved more youngsters than ever before and that is pivotal in terms of the tournament’s future.

It still needs the likes of Dispatch Trophy veterans John Archibald, Ronnie Ackroyd, Mike Armstrong, David Campbell, Keith Millar and Iain Stavert supporting it.

It was pleasing, too, to see some old faces returning on this occasion, including Robin Carson for the Royal Bank.

But, at the same time, the event, like golf in general, needs new blood and among those to provide that were fellow 15-year-olds Connor Wilson and Cameron Gallagher.

They turned out for the Stephen Gallacher Foundation, a new entry, along with Scott Knowles and Scott Johnston, the quartet giving Carrickvale their biggest fright of the week in the third round.

“We will definitely be putting more teams in next year,” said Knowles, the Foundation manager. “It’s a great format and a great learning experience for youngsters like Connor and Cameron.”

Another teenager, Michael Watt, helped Turnhouse team BBT get to the final for the first time and gave a great account of himself alongside his dad, Keith.

The Heriots quartet that lost tom BBT in the semi-finals also included a couple of young guns in Rory Smith and Willem Kerr.

They all loved the experience and, with a bit of luck, will be spreading the word about how the Dispatch Trophy still is the best event on the Capital golfing circuit and will remain that way thanks to its “new beginning”.