Melrose bowlers brought national title glory to the Borders at the weekend by notching the first ever success for the area in the Inter-county Top Ten Championship.
The battle scene was Eddlewood BC in Lanarkshire on Sunday and Melrose played like driven warriors to capture the scalps of Bogleha’ of Argyll & Bute and Edinburgh champions Slateford.
“It has been a truly magical day for Melrose and Borders with our 6-2 win on points in both the semi-final and final confirming that on the day we have the skills and determination to compete with and beat the best that the rest of Scotland can offer,” said 68-year-old team captain Bill Swanston.
Slateford came into the final of the Co-operative Funeralcare-sponsored tournament with the heritage of back-to-back title wins in 1996/97, and led by nationally acclaimed singles star Robert Marshall, while Melrose were, as Border champions, making their first ever appearance in the event.
Kenny Johnstone played the spearhead role in the singles and became the hero figure with an inspirational performance to beat Marshall 21-17 in a 22-end thriller.
Johnstone’s win was a tide turner as a huge wave of Borders optimism and self-belief spread over the sun-swept green, with Melrose on course for support wins in the pairs and fours.
The fours had blazed a trail to lead 10-0, then Swanston Snr answered pressure at 11-7 to skip Ross Graham, Billy Swanston Jnr and Ross Nichol to a commanding 24-9 win over Jamie Gracie, Louis Beaton, John Ramsay, and Scott Brunton.
The pairs partnership of Lee Haldane and Ian Crawford sparked Melrose euphoria with two sizzling counts of six and cashed in to score a 19-13 win over Dougie Martin and Gordon Ramsay.
Slateford did have the upper hand in the Triples with Ronnie Ramsay, Graham McAdam and Andrew Ramsay dishing out defeat to Craig Brown, Michael Paterson, and Neil McNally.
The morning semi-final action saw Melrose hard pressed by Bogleha’, but wins in the singles, triples, and fours covered a defeat in the Pairs.
“We are famous for our Abbey, The Heart of Robert The Bruce, The Melrose Sevens, and now as the 2013 Scottish Top Ten Champions,” added an excited Melrose club president, Jack Daly.