Castle Park quit East Lothian Winter League amid player eligibility row

Castle Park have resigned from the East Lothian Winter Golf League '“ seven months after the Gifford club claimed the Second Division title.

Thursday, 15th November 2018, 6:30 am
Connor Wilson, the Scottish Boys champion pictured with Stephen Gallacher, was part of the Castle Park team
Connor Wilson, the Scottish Boys champion pictured with Stephen Gallacher, was part of the Castle Park team

The decision was made after league officials deemed that Castle Park, which has developed strong ties with the Stephen Gallacher Foundation, had fielded an ineligible player.

That claim has been denied by Stuart Johnston, who was running the team and is upset that an opportunity to help promising youngsters progress by playing against adults has been lost in such a way.

“All children in the Stephen Gallacher Foundation were given membership of Castle Park,” said Johnston. “The teams we played against last year were very supportive and positive about what we were trying to do and this enabled us to play boys and girls as young as 12 years old.

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“The kids loved the environment they were playing in and came away from all of our matches with positive experiences. This year in our first match at Gullane all of our team members noticed the difference and felt they were all quizzed about their membership.”

Johnston, who is heavily involved in the Stephen Gallacher Foundation, added: “My job is to do the best for the children and, as such, we have decided with Castle Park GC that the league is not for us in what we are trying to promote. We instead will create an alternative for our kids so that they do not miss out.”

League secretary Torquil McInroy said: “This was not the first time that other clubs had complained about Castle Park using ineligible players, but it was the first time the committee had upheld such a complaint.

“The league’s committee was very supportive of Castle Park’s initiative to play junior golfers from the SGF in their team and felt that the club’s sudden resignation was regrettable and could only disadvantage these young golfers.

“The league has a long and proud record of encouraging junior golfers, and therefore an exceptional ruling was made to exempt the Castle Park players from the rule that would otherwise prevent them from representing another club.”