Open Seven Ends

On Sunday afternoon bowlers from many clubs throughout the Mearns and beyond were welcome visitors at Laurencekirk Bowling Club for the Open Seven End competition which brought the curtain down on the Gala Week celebrations. Thankfully when play commenced at noon the green was bathed in sunshine

The combination of warm weather and a fast green worked wonders for one of the host club’s unheralded members Betty Hampton who after picking up the notable scalp of Dave Easton in the opening round came within a whisker of pulling off the shock of the season by taking the illustrious Willie Robb right to the wire at the next stage.

The cream came to the top at the semi final stage. In the first the hopes of the host club rested on the shoulders of Arthur Macdonald, sure to be tested to the full by Peter Thomson who as a schoolboy was taught the game on the Laurencekirk green and is now a prominent member of the Lochlands Club in Arbroath.

The match was expected to be close and so it transpired with Arthur’s 3-1 lead after three having disappeared at the conclusion of the penultimate end when the score was peeled at 4-4. On the decisive seventh end Peter claimed the all important shot to book his berth in the final.

In the other match Raymond McDougall, a demon on the Marykirk carpet is no slouch on grass as he demonstrated in his third round match against Willie Robb when with his final bowl of the seventh end he trailed the jack for a count of 2 to peel the score and with his last bowl of the extra end drew the winning shot. He locked horns with Jim Diack of the Fettercairn club. After losing a count of 3 on the first end Jim went on a 3,1,1,1 burst before Raymond peeled the score with another count of 3 on the sixth. As with the other match a place in the final depended on a seventh end shoot out that went the way of Jim. Three consecutive single counts allowed Peter to grab the early initiative in the eagerly anticipated final before Jim picked up a full house of 4 shots on the fourth to establish a narrow advantage. From this point however Peter went up a gear, a fine 2,1,4 sequence sealing victory by 10-4.

Laurencekirk’s surprise packet quartet Tracy McGillivary, Fraser Young, Irene Macdonald and Steve McGillivary skip entertained four of Bervie’s finest in the area final of the Hutchison Trophy. Making home advantage count Steve and his team established a 5-2 lead after four before losing five consecutive ends each by a single shot to trail by 7-5 at the midway point. Then once more the pendulum swung in favour of the hosts as over the course of six ends they gathered 5 shots while losing a solitary single. Now trailing by 2 shots and only two ends remaining the experience of the Bervie four came to the surface, successive counts of 2 edging them to victory by 12-10. For the shell shocked hosts it was a bitter pill to swallow as they reflected on how the fates were against them when with the opposition holding a match winning lie Steve’s final bowl dislodged the jack from the head into an area where no friendly bowls lay in wait only those of the relieved opposition.

Following last week’s narrow Kincardine League victory over Portlethen the Laurencekirk teams set out to give a repeat performance against Thursday evening’s opponents Newtonhill. With Max Harrison playing a match in the afternoon, John McNicoll took his place in the home four alongside Bill Russell, Arthur Macdonald and skip Walter Blakeman to face the might of “the Hill” skipped by Kenneth Barclay who quickly found the green to their liking, surging ahead by 11-2 after eight ends. Belatedly but to great effect the hosts leapt into life with an amazing eight end burst that allowed them to accumulate 15 shots with only a single in reply. Now trailing by 17-12 the visitors did stop the rot with a count of 2 on the final end to reduce the margin of their defeat to 17-14. Skip Steve McGillivary has been the only constant as the away squad search for a winning formation. On this occasion he was joined by Fraser Young, Ivan Reid and Doug Henderson for the match against Ramsay Taylor’s (he wasn’t on holiday) hosts on the Newtonhill carpet where few visiting teams find much joy. To the surprise and concern of the home team Laurencekirk made a splendid start to lead by 7-2 after six ends. Then the wheels fell off big time as over the remainder of the match they failed to secure a further shot while the hosts ,their early worries now forgotten, racked up 26. Hammered by 28-7.

Friday’s Hat Night top dogs were Fraser Young, Betty Hampton and Andy (Kevin Kerkow) Wink who completed their programme 9 shots up.