Golf: On the home front in battle at the Braids

Gerry Curran

Gerry Curran

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AT least one Braids club will still be standing in the quarter-finals of the 113th Evening News Dispatch Trophy later this week as one of tonight’s third-round ties is a tasty tussle between Edinburgh Western and Braids United.

Western have accounted for two senior sides so far in the Edinburgh Leisure-supported event, beating Harrison’s over-50s brigade on Saturday then overcoming the Temple equivalent, still a competitive bunch, the following day.

“Our record in recent years has been poor but we’re stronger than we have been for a wee while,” said a Western spokesman of a team consisting of Gerry Curran, David Wilson, Danny Cameron and Sandy McFeat.

Cameron was in the Western team that reached the semi-finals in 1994 but, until now, had failed to get past the first round on the occasions he’s played since then.

Braids United, this year’s host club, reached the final twice in four years in the 1970s then again in 1985. It’s way too early for them to be thinking about bridging a 37-year gap this weekend but they will certainly be buoyant tonight after beating Harrison in the second round.

“I’d say that was an upset,” said Stuart Morrison, the low-handicapper in the BU team off two – four less than Andy Goodwin, Sandy Myles and Glen Marsters. “It was a great match and now we are looking forward to another derby against Western.”

Also still flying the flag for the Braids clubs are Edinburgh Thistle B and Harrison B, who take on Network Cooling tonight with two former gold medallists – Stuart More and John Cafferty – in their ranks. Harrison, back in 2000, were the last “home” club to lift the trophy and More admitted: “It is something we are all aware of! However, there are a few reasons why the Braids clubs aren’t as dominant in this event as they once were.

“For starters, the character of the course has changed in recent years and, secondly, teams like Silverknowes and Carrickvale are playing up here a lot now in the Winter League.”

At least two members of the Network Cooling team also know the course like the back of their hand – Mike Currie was a winner with Rhodes in 2003 while Stevie Doyle is a member of Harrison. “We know Stevie well so the banter should be good,” added More.

One team is being forced to shuffle its pack tonight. Fergus Niven is unavailable for Scottish Universities Golf Society so Dave Calder has been drafted in to partner Dave Greenshields.

Niall Glen and Duncan Martin, both low handicappers at Longniddry, are a useful top pairing for the ex-students, who are up against Stewart’s Melville.

Represented by Andrew Diamond, David Donaldson, Kevin Cattanach and Ally Ritchie – a strong-looking side – they’re relieved to still be standing after being let off the hook by Riccarton on Sunday.

After two comfortable enough wins so far in their quest to make it three trophy triumphs in a row, Silverknowes can expect a tougher test tonight against Turnhouse team BBT. The top BBT pairing of Neil Anderson and Stevie Robb have done their team’s main spadework so far, finishing four up against Lochend then three up in the win over Bruntsfield Allied.

Silverknowes, incidentally, made a last-minute change to their batting order, meaning Tam Caldwell is at the front with Iain Doig with Keith Reilly and Paul Heggie the two tail-gunners.

“Iain and I played for years together up here but I’ve played the evens the last couple of years and everyone is comfortable with how we’ve got the team,” said Reilly.

With seven medals to his name, two of them golds, Doig is certainly an able deputy for Graham Robertson, a member of the winning teams for the last two years but unavailable on this occasion due to the fact he’s playing in the Scottish Stroke-Play at Barassie this weekend.

“Graham is a better player than me, but I’ve played up at the Braids for years so know my way around,” said Doig. “I’ve also known Tam for years so I’ve found it easy playing with him. He’s also hitting it great just now, which makes it easier!”

Having already survived one tough tie – Stuart Smith holed a ten-footer to win against Third in the first round – Duddingston team Temple face another one tonight against RICS, represented by the same quartet that made it to the semi-finals two years ago.

Barnton Hotel, last year’s beaten finalists, are also still standing. “We want to go one better than last year,” declared Brian Hunter ahead of a third-round clash with British Rugby Club of Paris.

It includes Gavin Hastings, who said of team-mates David Bell, Colin McClung and Alan Williams: “I’ve never seen so much quality in our ranks!”

Caermount, conquerors of Edinburgh Thistle at the weekend, take on FORE in the remaining last-16 tie, with the winners earning the right to face either Edinburgh Western or Braids United.

Tonight’s ties: 4.30pm Harrison B v Network Cooling. 4.40pm Stewart’s Melville v Scottish Universities Golf Society 4.50pm Silverknowes v BBT 5.00pm Temple Golfing Society v RICS 5.10pm Caermount v FORE 5.20pm Edinburgh Western v Braids United 5.30pm Barnton Hotel v British Rugby Club of Paris 5.40pm Edinburgh Thistle B v Hailes.