Dispatch Trophy: Tantallon can almost touch dream semi-final

Fraser Henderson of Tantallon 1 at the Braids. Pic: Jon Savage
Fraser Henderson of Tantallon 1 at the Braids. Pic: Jon Savage
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Tantallon are tantalisingly close to a “dream” semi-final in the 119th Dispatch Trophy at the Braids.

Playing in the historic event for just the second time, the East Lothian club have two teams through to the quarter-finals in the same half of the draw. Tantallon 1 take on BBT, a Turnhouse team, tonight while Tantallon 2 face Gullane as the Golfclubs4cash-sponsored tournament reaches the business end.

Rhodes, a club consisting of members of the Glen, lifted the trophy in 2003 and now another North Berwick club are determined to claim the coveted prize.

“The dream of us meeting in the semi-finals on Saturday morning is still alive,” said Simon Holt after Tantallon 2 had progressed to the last eight with a win over Bank of Scotland.

That team includes Richard Gill, who beat the host club’s Richie Ramsay in the semi-finals before losing in the title decider in the 2001 Scottish Boys Championship at Royal Aberdeen. He’s partnering Chris Low and they’ve been strong so far, producing some of the best golf in the Edinburgh 
Leisure-run event in covering the holes played in eight-under on Thursday night.

Tantallon 1 contains three current club champions – Tantallon title-holder Fraser Symon, Bass Rock’s Gareth Pugh and Fraser Henderson at North Berwick. John Stewart is the odd man out but he’s been part of Tantallon teams that have won the East Lothian Winter League in the past and, along with Symon, helped Bass Rock to a County Cup win in recent years.

“We are delighted to be through to the quarter-finals and hopefully we can keep it going,” said Stewart. “Tantallon 2 are pretty strong, too, and it would be great if we could set up that clash in the last four.”

Pugh only returned to his home town last year after a spell working away and he is loving his first taste of the Dispatch Trophy, with Tantallon having jumped at the chance to enter when the rules changed last year.

“Tantallon are on the way back up and that’s great as its like a home,” said the one-handicapper.

Neil Anderson is the sole survivor from the BBT team that reached the final two years ago. “It’s a new team,” said the 52-year-old of linking up on this occasion with Andy Williamson, Mark Scoular and Scott McPherson.

“We’re delighted to make to the quarter-finals and now we’ll be trying to match or better the team’s achievement in 2016.”

Gullane’s team includes two players who already boast goal medals – Scott Walker with Scottish Life in 1991 and Stephen Marshall with Riccarton in 2005.

Kenny Wright is hoping to claim first medal of any colour at just the second time of asking while Robert Jack, the fourth member of the team, would love to add to a surprisingly sparse collection.

“I first played in this event 46 years ago, it involved play on three Saturdays back then, but my only medal was a bronze with Kingston in 1978,” said Jack.

“I’ve been to the quarter-
finals a few times and it’s great to be back there again with one of the new teams in the event.

“It’s great that ourselves and Tantallon are still in the mix and the beauty about the Braids in foursomes is you can win holes with a run of birdies or a run of 5s.”

Harrison, bidding to claim the trophy for the first time since 2000, are having to do it the hard way. Hailes, the 2015 winners, were their third-round opponents and now they take on Carrickvale, five-time victors since 2007.

“We’ve already had a couple of tough ties and this one will be the same,” said Dougie Waugh, who is joining forces with Donny Munro, Scott Knowles and Alan Stewart, “but we are all looking forward to it.”

Mortonhall, still standing on their debut in the event and bidding to add this prize to last year’s Edinburgh Summer League title, are being forced into a change for their clash with Edinburgh Western.

David Wilson is hoping the Braids club can make home advantage count in that one, saying: “Playing here definitely helps, maybe just by a shot or two but that can make the difference.”

Tonight’s ties

4.30pm: Tantallon 1 v BBT

4.50pm: Gullane v Tantallon 2

5.10pm: Edinburgh Western v 
Mortonhall

5.30pm: Harrison A v Carrickvale