Lothians bowlers delighted to win National titles in Ayr
Carrick Knowe are celebrating the capture of a coveted national trophy after the rink of Graham Pringle, John Priestley, Stephen Pringle and skip James Hogg claimed the Men's Fours title at the Bowls Scotland Championships.
There was also joy at Ayr Northfield for West Lothian sisters Delia Flannigan and Angela Uttley from the Glenmavis club in Bathgate as they etched their name on the Ladies’ Pairs Trophy for a second time.
The Glenmavis triumph over Cockenzie & Port Seton in the final brought disappointment to the East Lothian camp, with Leanne and Lauren Baillie denied what would have been a fifth crown.
Hogg lined up in the final of the Men’s Fours bidding to add to his previous Scottish title wins in the Pairs (2008) and Fours (2011) and the 42-year-old internationalist notched up his treble with a 19-8 win over Dumfries club Marchmount.
The early signs were worrying for Carrick Knowe, with the Edinburgh challengers trailing 8-3 after seven ends.
“We failed to cope with the wet and windy conditions and were all over the place on these opening ends,” said Hogg, “but a serious chinwag with Graham (lead) determined the urgency of adapting to the conditions and raising our game,” described Priestley.
The sharpening of focus led to a double on end 8, then with 54-year-old Pringle opting for a shorter mat and electing to change his choice of hands, the tactic paid the huge dividend of a 4 to cross 9-8.
“It was back to ‘game on’ and what looked to us like a surprising dip in the opposition play allowed us to get on top of them with an extended run of 2, 1, 1, 3 to occupy the driving seat at 16-8 after 13 ends,” reflected Priestley.
End 14 produced the most brilliant bowl of the final and it was delivered by 24-year-old Stephen Pringle, who broke the hearts of the opposition with a perfectly judged ‘chap and lie’ for a first shot that made it on to the card.
Marchmount had threatened with a hold of 3, but Pringle’s conversion in difficult conditions killed that menace then two more singles triggered the title winning salute.
“We are describing Stephen’s moment of genius as our British Isles bowl as in our eyes it clinched our place in next seasons Home Championships,” said Priestley.
“Representing the Scotland Banner in 2019 certainly puts the cherry on our cake and it give me the chance to make it third time lucky,” added Hogg.
Winning a national title was an extra special occasion for father and son Graham and Stephen Pringle, with Graham saying: “It was a dream come true when I won the Fours with James in 2011, but it is an even more fantastic moment to treasure when your son is a member of the rink and sharing the glory and memory of it.”
Stephen chipped in: “It’s the icing on the cake to win my first national title playing with my dad and I am grateful that my rink mates kept my spirits up after I lost out in the second round of the Junior Singles”.
As for Glenmavis, winning a Scottish title on your 59th birthday creates an extra-special moment, but former cap Angie Uttley took it all in her stride – not so however her younger sister Delia, who was overcome by emotion and broke down in tears.
“I felt such an idiot in front of that big crowd – but they had started singing Happy Birthday Angie,” she admitted.
The final of the Ladies’ Pairs featuring two sets of sisters started in spectacular fashion and with the West Lothian support wildly cheering the count of a magnificent 7 for the Glenmavis team.
“The extent of the flying start was unexpected against formidable opposition but it allowed us to both settle and press on to build a 10-1 lead,” said Uttley. “However, Leanne and Lauren (Baillie) are a class act and battled back to bring us under pressure at 11-11.”
Glenmavis put the brake on their slide with a single to 12-11, then showed they had weathered the storm by adding 1, 2, 4 to clinch a 19-11 victory.
“We won this title in 2007 and went on to become British Isles Champions so this victory gives us a dream to hold on to,” said Uttley.