Saturday saw the final stages of the Border Championships at Wilton Bowling Club – and it was a special occasion for the club who were not only hosting the event but had also achieved the rare feat of having five of their own teams in the semi-finals.
The last-four ties in the various categories took place from 10am with the weather looking very threatening. The players were forced to abandon play after a few ends but thanks to the efforts of the home club’s members play was able to resume after a short delay.
Only one of the Wilton teams was eliminated in the semi-finals and the remaining four teams were in the finals of the pairs, triples, fours and senior fours categories. This left the singles and junior singles which both included players from the Hawick club.
In the final of the fours, Ronnie Nichol, Malcolm Scott, Colin Crook and Colin Sutherland of Wilton faced Ancrum’s I. Cowan, G. Scott, Stuart Skeldon and Colin Skeldon. And with the villagers in good form – three of their four having already had success this season in reaching the Scottish triples finals – they enjoyed a comfortable win to become Border champions.
The senior fours was contested between J. Elliott, J. Murdie, G. Brownlee and C. Rae of Wilton who were up against Spittal’s G. Blackett, P. Tait, J. Renton and G. Douglas. The Wilton quartet started with a count of four but a similar tally for Spittal on the fourth end gave them a seven shots to five lead. After nine ends the two teams were locked together at nine-all and after this both sides took turns in holding the lead before a crucial count of three put Wilton two shots in front playing the last end. They then managed to restrict their opponents to a single giving the Wilton Club their first champions of the day at 16 shots to 15.
In the triples, Wilton were represented by J. Smyth, T. Brown and C. Macdougall, with their opponents being I. Swan, D. Tait and C. Tait of Stow. After five ends the score was five shots apiece and on the sixth end Wilton moved in front with a count of five. They followed this with a single but the next six ends all went to Stow giving them a three-shot lead with two ends to play. Wilton gained a single on the next end but still needing three shots to win on the last end they dropped another two, with Stow emerging champions by 15 shots to 11.
The pairs was very much a game of two halves and Wilton’s Duncan Macdougall and Alan Brady faced Ross Nichol and Craig Martin of Gordon.With eight ends completed the Wilton pair had only managed to gain two shots while the Gordon pair had amassed 19. With nearly half the match completed there appeared to be no way back for Wilton. However, a complete transformation saw the West Stewart Place men winning six ends in a row, gaining 16 shots to be just one adrift with three ends to play. On the next end Gordon picked up a crucial count of three to be four shots ahead, and still needing three shots on the last end to force an extra end Wilton had the chance to do it but could only add another single and the Gordon pair were crowned champions.
This left the singles and junior singles and in the latter Hawick’s Kirk Ford was defending the title he won last year. His opponent was C. Cowan of Ancrum who found himself 6-2 down after a good start by Ford.Cowan had some success but was always chasing, and with the score at 11 shots to 6 in Ford’s favour, counts of three followed by a full house of four put the Teri in sight of victory. A valiant effort by Cowan ended six ends later with Ford retaining the title by 21 shots to 13.
The final category was the singles with Hawick’s Martin Christy up against Billy Nisbet of Lauder, and this turned out to be a hard-fought battle, although at one stage Nisbet seemed to heading for victory when leading by 15 shots to four. He needed just another six shots to clinch the title but Christy clawed his way back into the match and reduced the deficit to just three at 16-13 for Nisbet. Four ends later Nisbet had moved to within a single shot of victory but Christy was still not beaten and won the next three ends to join his opponent in needing just a single to take the spoils. Christy played three poor bowls in the last end and had his back to the wall playing his last bowl. Under pressure, he produced the goods to draw the shot with his last bowl and with Nisbet unable to recover the situation, it was Christy who became singles champion.
The prizes were presented by Duncan Macdougall, president of the Border Bowling Association, and thanks were due to the Wilton Club for what turned out to be a very good day despite the weather which had threatened to ruin the occasion.