DAVID BELL, who was capped for Scotland at both cricket and rugby, is now chasing glory on the golf course – at the age of 63.
The Bruntsfield Links member is in the British Rugby Club of Paris team which has won through to the quarter-finals in the Evening News Dispatch Trophy at the Braids.
They’ve already accounted for Barnton Hotel, last year’s beaten finalists, and tonight take on Edinburgh Thistle B, with the winners guaranteed a medal in the event’s 113th staging.
“That would be a fantastic thrill, but it’s still a bit away,” said Bell, who won four Scotland rugby caps in the 1975 season, including the match against Wales watched by Murrayfield’s biggest-ever crowd of 104,000.
He also made a handful of appearances for Scotland’s cricket team, including one at Lord’s, where “I was out first ball!”
Ironically, it was at the Braids that Bell had a chance to make a name for himself as a young golfer.
“I reached the final of the Lothians Boys Championship here in 1964,” he recalled. “Unfortunately, I was up against a young chap called Bernard Gallacher and he beat me 7 and 6.”
Bell still plays off three and, when revealing his age after the win over Barnton Hotel, playing partner Colin McClung declared: “He played more like a 23-year-old tonight.”
Mark Dickson also lost in the final of the Lothians Boys Championship. Twice, in fact – to Haddington’s David Warner in 2006 then, 12 months later, to Longniddry’s Myles Cunningham.
But his knowledge of the Braids has helped two-time winners Caermount join British Rugby Club of Paris in the last eight in the Edinburgh Leisure-supported event.
The 21-year-old, who plays off plus two, is home for the summer from the University of South Carolina, where he has spent the last three years and has one more year to go.
“We made the Nationals this year, which was nice, but it’s good to be home and I’m certainly enjoying this event,” said Dickson, who has gelled well with his dad, Ian, as Caermount’s top couple.
Joining forces with them as Caermount bid to bridge a 55-year gap since their last Braids triumph are Martin Hopley and Gary Henshaw. It’s pleasing to see three Braids clubs still standing in the last eight – Harrison B, Edinburgh Thistle B and Edinburgh Western.
The Harrison B quartet up against Scottish Universities Golf Society (SUGS) tonight includes club captain Iain Ashley, who is playing in “one of the bigger teams” for the first time along with Cameron Bruce.
“It’s my first year as captain and it would certainly be nice if we could go all the way,” said Ashley.
He might be pleased that it’s Harrison B’s top couple of Stuart More and John Cafferty who have to worry about Duncan Martin and Niall Glen after the SUGS pair produced the best golf of the night in the third round.
“They putted like a pair of gods,” remarked one of their opponents of a performance that saw them notch seven birdies in 17 holes.
“We are used to this format from our days at Aberdeen Uni,” said Glen, who reckoned the greens were “rolling beautifully” after being shaved since the weekend.
SUGS, incidentally, still had the same four on Tuesday that started out at the weekend, which meant former Merchants man Dave Greenshields, now a Goswick member, kept Fergus Niven for company in the back couple.
On paper, the tightest of tonight’s four ties could be the one between Turnhouse team BBT and Duddingston side Temple Golfing Society.
Both are trying to lift the trophy for the first time and BBT’s former Lothians champion Steven Armstrong admitted: “This is an event full of history and it would be great to put our name alongside all the teams that have won it.”
Tonight’s ties: 4.30pm Harrison B v Scottish Universities Golf Society; 4.50pm BBT v Temple Golfing Society; 5.10pm Caermount v Edinburgh Western; 5.30pm British Rugby Club of Paris v Edinburgh Thistle B.
Back from US
COLLEGE kids Grant Forrest and James Ross are both Barassie-bound tomorrow after returning for the summer from San Diego and Houston respectively.
Forrest, the former Scottish Boys’ champion from Craigielaw, and Ross, the Royal Burgess player who reached the semi- finals in last year’s Scottish Amateur, are in a strong field for the Carrick Neill Scottish Open Stroke Play Championship.
Also heading for Ayrshire are Dunbar duo Danny Kay and Zander Culverwell, Forrest’s clubmate Ross Noon, Silverknowes star Graham Robertson and West Linton’s James Whitelaw.
MURRAYFIELD’S Jonathan Cliff showed stomach to earn a first crack at the Glenmuir PGA Professional Championship.
“I’ve put a new belly putter in the bag that has made me a lot more comfortable,” said Cliff after firing a two-under 69 to share top spot the qualifier at Ladybank.
West Linton’s Gareth Wright matched that effort, while Kevin Phillips (Winterfield) and Norman Huguet (Musselburgh) also secured spots in the £78,000 final at Carden Park in August.
HOLDERS Buckstone Golfing Society are through to the third round of this year’s Sivewright Quaich after beating Hailes in their opening match.
Second-round results: Royal Bank lost to Bruntsfield Allied by a walkover; Caermount beat City Chambers 12 and 11; Mount Vernon beat Observers 7 and 6; Lothian & Borders Police beat Corstorphine 8.30 7 and 6; Buckstone GS beat Hailes 3 and 2; Lochcraig lost to MCBA 2 and 1; Register House lost to Cramond one hole; Stewarts & Melville FP lost to Third 4 and 3; Dunbar Castle lost to Heriot’s 9 and 8; Standard Life lost to Watsonian 2 and 1; Buckstone GC beat Aegon by a walkover; Thorntree lost to Scarifiers one hole; Ethicon beat BBT 8 and 7; Edinburgh Drapers Thursday lost to Dental & Medical one hole; Edinburgh & Leith Licensed Grocers beat Kingston 2 and 1; Binivell beat Temple 2 and 1.
THE funeral of Ethel Jack, a well-known figure in the Lothians, takes place tomorrow at Mortonhall Crematorium (11am).
A member of Prestonfield and Gullane Ladies, she served as president of both Midlothian Ladies and the Scottish Ladies Golfing Association during a distinguished career in golf administration.