An excess of 1200 players from The Alpha Trophies sponsored Edinburgh Bowling League launched the 2018 outdoor campaign embracing 12 Divisions, and one of the eye-catching outcomes was the 5-4 defeat of star-studded Carrick Knowe.
Sentenced to start their life in Division 5, as belated members of the EBL, the top-rated giants of the rival Water of Leith League have made year-on-year progression to Division 2 and are hot favourites to win promotion to the top echelon.
The reigning Scottish Inter County Top Ten Champions dominate the Edinburgh & Leith trial for The Hamilton Trophy with eight players in today’s line-up at Sighthill and that number doesn’t include ace players Colin Mitchell and Paul O’Donnell.
However, expectations of Carrick Knowe making a dream start to their EBL campaign were dashed by the failure to deliver a winning performance in their away visit to Edinburgh West End.
Richard Tough did deliver a thumping 28-10 win over home skip Moray Tait while a single at the last enabled Darren Hush to rescue a point with a 14-14 peel against Donnie Gilbertson.
But James Hogg suffered a 16-10 defeat from Murray Baillie and Colin Mitchell a heavy 23-12 setback at the hands of Keith Gellaitry, however, a dramatic single at the last saw the former Scotland captain tip the aggregate scales in the 64-63 favour of the visitors to snatch the extra point.
“We do have a tendency to be slow off our mark at the start of the season, especially away from home; but thankfully the league is a marathon and not a sprint so although disappointed our camp isn’t downhearted. We were second best against a good home team,” reflected Mitchell.
Postal, down from Division 1, edged a 5-4 win at home to Wardie while the other results in a competitive Division 2 were, Willowbrae 7 Pilrig 2; Colinton 2 Hillside 7.
• Maitland are no slouches in Division 1 but expected a tough time away to last season’s surprise package, Brunstane, however, the visitors produced a tremendous performance to leave with a magnificent 8-1 victory.
Good wins for Brian Higgins, 20-10 over George Johnston; Alan Trotter, 22-12 over Bobby Clark; and Graeme McIntosh, 18-10 over Tom Gallacher, were well earned while the rink of Norman Smith, Stuart Clark, Andy Mackay and Gary Stout were set to make it a cleansweep. However, Brunstane skip Jamie Gunn rallied from 13-8 down to snatch a 14-14 peel with a 2, (1), 1, 1, 2 finish.
Craigentinny, the defending champions, launched their bid for a record-extending tenth title triumph with a 5-4 away win over tough-to-beat-at-home side Queensberry so the close result will be welcomed by both clubs.
The visitors were well served by Andrew Jeffrey who lead all the way to beat John Kidd, 17-12, while Andy Caldwell finished strong to skip Craig England, Kevin McFarlane, and Ian Paterson to a 15-13 win over Jordan Davidson.
Daniel Gormley finished on a double to snatched a 15-15 peel with Scott Walker while Frank O’Reilly’s 22-11 win over Willie McDonald tipped the aggregate so was worth 3 points to Queensberry.
Parrkside were held to an unexpected 4½-4½ share of the points at home to Northern with a ditched jack at the last by third player John Urquhart setting up a double of Ian Miller to snatch a 15-14 win over home skip Kevin Boyd.
Tanfield beat Summerside, 7-2, with wins for home skips Andy McNab (23-13), Liam McKay (22-9), and Robert White (15-13) while Alan Thomson lost 21-9 to Jim Currie.
• Opening wins for former Water of Leith giants in Division 3 saw Sighthill beat Goldenacre 6-3 and Bainfield beat Mayfield 7-2, however, surprises in lowly Division 4 saw Slateford lose away, 5-4, to Dean and Gorgie Mills lose away, 7-2, to Merchiston.
• The 1st Presidents Dinner of The West Lothian Bowling Association, headline sponsored by Digby Brown Solicitors and held at Whitburn BC, attracted an attendance of 130 and representation from 31 of the 34 member clubs.
President Ian McGill (East Calder) oversaw the draw for The Rosebery Cup – the Holy Grail (1882) inter club trophy – and the first name out of the hat was Pumpherston.
The opposition clubs were drawn by Gordon Dalyell of Digby Brown and his first dip was Winchburgh; but it was match five that produced the biggest reaction of the night with inaugural champions Bathgate against 2017 finalists Linlithgow.