Sun shines for James Milne Memorial Trophy

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The sun shone on the annual tournament at Kincardine O’Neil for the James Milne Memorial Trophy, a nice introduction for the new sponsors Agricar Ltd. The tournament, perfectly organised as ever by Derek Mathers, was notable for the range of clubs represented and by the range of headwear needed to ward off the sun. Royal Ascot it wasn’t, but fashion watchers saw a notable preference for floppy white hats.

Coincidence or not, the winners (a rink skipped by Willy Beaton of Aberchirder) remained hatless throughout – and the only time they looked remotely floppy was in losing one of their round-robin games on Sunday. In other games, however, they never seemed in trouble, and after a good semi-final win against Tam Dow’s rink they met Willy Bruce’s team in the final. After taking a 7-1 lead the Foggieloan Four were pinned back to 8-5 but then a three on the last-but-one end made the game safe.

Three Kinker teams made the semi-finals, reflecting the high standard of play just now at the club. However, it is worth saying that two of them made it by just one shot in the Sunday group stages, and the general level of play was excellent – helped by a well-maintained and true green that was a pleasure to play on.

The first-stage round-robins had a format where each pair of four-team sections produced two winners and a best runner-up. An interesting quirk was that In one such pair both group winners won all three games while the other six teams involved all finished with one win, so there was a six-way tie for the runner-up slot. Four teams had minus shots totals and one had a “zero” difference, so the team with +3 went through. It was certainly very unusual, but it just goes to show that you should never give up in a round-robin format.

Probably most men’s teams have given up on catching Kinker in the Dee-Don league! The runaway leaders maintained their awesome form with a 6-0 victory at Alford. It was very comprehensive, 83-23 in terms of shots, but at least Alford could be pleased with an 18-10 win for their ladies in the same fixture. Kinker now have an average shots margin of precisely 12 on all rinks played by the men this year, and are on course to beat the points record of 54 out of 60 set by Banchory a few years ago.

Another big away win was Tarland’s 5-1 score at Aboyne, where the home team missed a chance to reel in the teams above them. Here too the home ladies’ team made some amends for the men’s result, Aboyne winning 16-9.

Over at Torphins they were not content with a 13-13 draw to exactly match the score on the drawn rink at Aboyne, but even produced a second drawn rink as Alec Thomson and Ernie McIntosh of Ballater made it 16-all. The third rink went to Ballater so that the visitors won 4-2, but clearly it was a close match even if Jim Ellis did need five shots on the last three ends to seal his draw.

Drumoak beat Millbank 4-2 at home, and although there were reasonable margins on all rinks it was close in the sense that each club scored 41 shots in total on the night.

The match between Banchory and Upper Donside saw the men’s teams second and third in the table at the outset, with the ladies’ teams second and top respectively. In the event the result looked very comfortable for Banchory, as the men won all three rinks and the ladies’ rink went top with a 20-6 victory. Drilling down under the headline scores, however, showed that it was a much closer game than might appear. Both the Banchory skips named M. Durward (Margaret and Michael) won by the same margin (20-6), yet after six ends the ladies’ score was 4-4 while Michael’s rink was tied at 5-5. Indeed, one end later the Banchory men were 5-6 down, but then proceeded to win the last eight ends while the ladies won eight of the last ten.

But the real closeness came in the other two men’s rinks, which each had totals of just 21 shots. John Durward, making it a family hat-trick of skips, had a 14-7 win but after 11 ends it was just 8-6 and the only end with more than a single shot was one where the visitors scored a four. This rink actually showed twelve single-shot ends out of the 15 while the third rink (16-5) had ten singles, so there was really not a lot between the teams on the night – except the points haul.

Upper Donside remained in third place (22 points), but now the three teams behind them all have 19 points with a game in hand, and will be looking to take advantage in the week that Upper Donside have a blank schedule.

This week’s report was mainly written by Trevor Field who took part in the Kinker tournament. Meanwhile Mike Franklin was in Aberdeen taking part in the friendly match between Ballater and Seafield BC and finding himself in the unusual circumstance of a cloudless sky and not a patch of moss to be seen on the green! Now that is bowling!