Clubs perform well

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The last two weekends have seen the popular end of season Champion of Champions Competition at Stonehaven. This pleasant tournament is hosted by Stonehaven Ladies Bowling Club and ran very smothly despite the weather conditions. Both players and spectators are grateful for the hard work of Alice Duncan in making the arrangements.

The two weekends were in sharp contrast. The singles competition played over 20-21 August encountered good weather but the fortunes of Deeside clubs were poor. The pairs competition played over 27-28th August experienced strong cold winds and occasional rain but Deeside clubs did well.

In the Ladies singles semi-final Mabel Keilloh of Auchenblae beat Valerie Coull of Bervie 22-18 and Gladys Walker of Portlethen beat Sheila Wilson of Laurencekirk 21-19. Gladys went on to win the final 21-11. In the men’s semi-finals the last surviving Deeside player Ian Massie of Torphins lost to John McMillan of Fettercairn 5-21 while Kenneth Barclay of Newtonhill beat Alistair Mcintosh of Stonehaven 21-17. Kenneth Barclay went on to win the final 21-16.

Two Deeside teams reached the semi-final stage of the pairs and both then proceeded to get into the final. In the men’s competition Banchory (John Durward and Alan Tennant) beat Marykirk (Sandy Reid and Raymond McDougall) 22-8 while in the other semi-final Newtonhill (Sandy Barclay and Bill Barclay) beat Fettercairn 15-14. The final was a close run affair with no more than two shots separating the teams at any stage and the outcome unclear until the final bowl. Newtonhill again won by a single shot – this time by 14-13.

Earlier Banchory had achieved the finest comeback in the competition in their quarter-final match against Sonehaven. After 12 ends they were trailing 4-21 and an early finish was well in view. At this point, however, the Banchory team scored a 6, immediately followed by a 5, and suddenly the scoreline looked very, very different. They then won the next two ends, so that, going into the last they were just 19-21 behind. Readers will by now have guessed the almost inevitable result – a three on the last end and they were in the semis, after a one-shot win. Although they were later beaten in the final by the (father-and-son) Barclays of Newtonhill, they should be able to dine out on that amazing comeback for some years yet!

However, it was the ladies’ competition that provided the major shocks. In their semi-final Ballater (Davina Russell and Sheila Rumbles) overcame the fancied Stonehaven pair (June Rattray and Catherine McIntosh) by 18-14. A score of 7 at one end helped to give them a lead but Stonehaven leveled the scores before Ballater pulled ahead again. In the other semi-final St Cyrus (Ethel Wood and Isabel Smith) were yet another 1-shot winners beating Fettercairn (Jenny Davidson and Jean Ewen) 20-19. In the final there was initially little to choose between the two sides. After eight ends the score was five each after which there was a touch of madness as successive ends both yielded 5 shots firstly to St Cyrus then to Ballater. However from the twelfth end Ballater steadily pulled ahead to emerge as champions by 19-14. This really was a triumph for the underdogs for Davina is a relative newcomer to bowls and the pair overcame some strong opposition. Congratulations to Sheila and Davina.

The semi-finals and finals had been played on Sunday in poor weather with strong winds often affecting the bowls and the players struggling to keep warm. However, there was no rain whereas at Alford just an hour or so earlier a competition between branches of the British Legion had to be abandoned as a water-logged green had made the surface dangerous.

Another competition affected by the weather on Sunday was the Kittybrewster Pairs competition in Aberdeen. This is a big event in the local bowls calendar, though – like many other tournaments – numbers had dropped this year. Players struggled to find line and length in the strong winds – one bowl was taken into the next rink, not by a wrong bias but by the wind, which also lifted and moved a mat on another occasion!

The Banchory team of John Abernethy and Trevor Field were on the green early in the worst of the weather, and while that was not an excuse for defeat in the first round-robin game – both teams had the same conditions – they were disappointed to receive a ten-shot defeat. The next game went rather better with a 12-shot win. However, hopes of progress from the group stages still relied on a win by at least six shots against a team that had won both previous games.

After five of the nine ends the score was 5-4, so a lot of work was still needed. But almost in a re-run of their clubmates’ performance at Stonehaven they then won the last four ends, amassing 16 shots in the process and finishing top of the group with a huge shots advantage.

The finals of the event take place on Sunday 4 September. In view of the various fight-backs of last weekend, one thing is sure – there’ll be no giving up until the maths make the result certain!

Elsewhere last week the Aberdeenshire and Kincardine Fours competition was held. Here Kincardine O’ Neil overcame their Deeside rival Banchory at the semi-final stage with Jocky Coutts playing a wonderful game at third for Kinker. In the final Kincardine O’Neil (D. Mathers, E. Hay, J. Coutts and W. Bruce) beat Oldmeldrum (R. O’Donnell, D. Reid, A. Canale and B. Reid) 18-14 to take the trophy.

Finally, a couple more competitions to look out for. On Sunday 11th September there is an open pairs competition which will run all day. And, in a sign that winter is not far away, between 23rd and 25th September the Deeside Indoor Sporting Club (DISC) will be holding a short-mat pairs competition.