BJ Smith leads his quartet to national indoor bowls title
East Lothian IBC's capture of the indoor bowls Scottish Senior Fours title was the reward for two supercharged performances served up by skip Brian (BJ) Smith and his rink of Peter Fallen, David Pryde and Alan Morgan at Paisley.
Whilst the national title triumph was a first for the front-three it was a second celebration for Smith as the weel-kent figure tasted the fruits of success under the banner of Portobello IBC in 2011 when capturing the Triples Crown as skip to Eddie Tomany and John McLeod.
The climax stages to the 2017 campaign saw Smith and Co engaged in a semi-final battle royal against Coatbridge with the game-changing highlight in a 15-12 victory coming with a run of 1, 2, 1 that crossed the East Lothian rink into a 13-10 lead with three ends to play.
The final against Jim Murphy, Gordon Porteous, Harry Pratt and Neil Gillies of Ardrossan saw East Lothian storm into a 15-1 lead from a whirlwind run of 3, 4, (1), 1, 3, 2, 2 then answer growing pressure at 18-12 with a grandstand style finish of 1, 2, 2 to win 23-12.
Expectations of other titles going back to The Alex Marshall Arena were dashed by semi-final exits for the fancied partnership of Lessel Midler and Willie Wood in the Pairs, and the Triple of Jim Neilson, Brian Bissett and Tom Young.
The Midlothian banner also had a presence in the mix of finals with Shona Johnston bidding to capture the championships Singles title at the expense of defending champion Margaret Durward of Aberdeen.
Johnston – a record winner of the Edinburgh Ladies Champion of Champions on the outdoor scene – had raised the hopes of her Dalkeith Stadium support with a strong semi-final performance to beat Frances Haxton of 21-9 on her opponent’s home carpet.
Durward’s progress into her second final on the trot was extraordinary in that the title-holder was heading for the exit door at 15-5 down before staging a thrilling fight back to beat Mary Scott of Glasgow IBC, 21-18.
The opening exchanges in the final saw Johnstone come under pressure at 14-7 down but raise the match temperature with a sizzling run of 1, 1, 2, 1, 2 to stand peels at 14-14.
Sadly for Johnstone, and her support, it was all over just three ends later with the abrupt loss of 1, 4, 2 causing her to say: “Margaret is an excellent player and is a worthy winner.”
An Edinburgh presence in the men’s Singles saw Les Nicholson of Bainfield put up a strong semi-final show to stand peels at 18-18 with George Buchan of Stonehaven but bowed out to a 2, 1 finish.
Buchan also stood 18-18 in the final against George Prosser but his bid for the title glory ended with the loss of a 3 to the Lanarkshire ace.