Bowls: First UK title for Capital in 20 years

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A BRITISH ISLES Crown will be proudly displayed in the already-crowded trophy cabinet of Craigentinny Bowling Club following the title success of star trio Darren Smith, Gary Nisbet and Andrew Caldwell in the Home Championships at Llandrindod Wells in Wales at the weekend.

Caldwell skipped his front two to Scottish title glory in the Triples at Ayr Northfield last summer and has now stepped up on that achievement to capture the British title with wins over the respective champions of Guernsey, Wales and Ireland.

It’s only the second time in the history of the Craigentinny club that members will celebrate British champions with the current heroes adding to the 1983 success in the Junior Singles of the illustrious Richard Corsie.

It’s an honour that will also be cheered by the Capital at large and bridges a 20-year gap since Ian Brown of Bainfield brought the 1992 Junior Singles title back to Edinburgh.

“Winning this title is the stuff that bowling dreams are made of and we are off the scale with our feelings of delight. The magnitude of our achievement hasn’t really sunk in yet, but will do so the moment we get back to Craigentinny,” said Caldwell.

Caldwell, 26, tasted defeat in these championships as the 2005 Scottish Junior Singles Champion, so was determined to make amends and launched his Triples campaign by skipping Smith (39) and Nisbet (33) to a 16-9 win over Guernsey in the prelim round.

“We led 5-3 then added 3, 1, 1 to 10 and always felt in control after that, although strangely enough we did encounter a build-up of danger on the final end. But I killed that with a noser,” added Caldwell.

In the semi-final against Wales, Craigentinny produced an early purple patch of 4, 1, 3 to establish a 14-5 authority that was challenged at 14-9 and 5 against, but Caldwell played a stoater of a last bowl to cut the loss down to a single.

It was tremendous effort that brought huge sighs of relief from the large travelling Craigentinny support and they went on to cheer a 19-11 passage in to the final.

The final against Ireland was delayed for almost three hours due to a combination of lead Paul Daly competing in the final of the Singles (which he won) and skip Brendon Thompson being rushed to hospital before returning after a check-up.

“It was quite a fidgety time for us to hang around and once the final got underway, we were finding it a very tough battle at 10-10 after ten ends,” added Caldwell. “We then faced with a sizeable count against is on the 11th.”

“But Gary (Nesbit) bured the head with a fierce strike, then we scored a single on the replay and added a second single plus a 3 to give us a 15-10 lead. That gave us sufficient impetus to clinch a 19-15 victory.”

Edinburgh was battling on two fronts in these championships, but the dream for Carrick Knowe in the Fours ended with a nightmare exit in the prelim round for the rink of Graham Pringle, Craig Aitken, Richard Tough and James Hogg.

Hogg and Co made a very encouraging start to lead England 11-5 after seven ends but lost 2 at the next. Then a change of jack length from short to long saw the opposition cross to 15-12, then charge to a 31-12 victory.

“We were gutted at our failure to kick on when holding an early lead and playing well, but the roof caved in on us,” explained Aitken.

England then beat Ireland, but lost to Jersey in the final.