Sunshine and showers were the order of the day for the Bowls Scotland District Finals held at Jedburgh Bowling Club on Sunday.
For the most however it stayed fair and the many supporters who went along to watch were treated to some red hot action on the green as players from east and west of the Borders battled it out for a place in the prestigious Bowls Scotland National Championships on Ayr’s Northfield Greens from Tuesday, July 28 – Sunday, August 2.
Players from clubs stretching the length and breadth of the region had been battling out over the last two months to make these final qualifying stages and the standard was high as bowlers strove to secure their golden tickets to Ayr.
For many their was disappointment, others elation. None more so than 26-year-old Lauren Upton from Gala Waverley who secured her first ever national finals spot at the first time of asking when beating former Scottish Champion Marie Todd from Newtown in the Ladies Singles.
“I’m still trying to take it in,” said Upton, after beating her friend and rival 21 shots to 16.
“I know it’s always going to be a hard game against Marie and so it proved today when she came back at me in the middle of the game.
“I’m so pleased to have qualified. I went to Ayr last year just to watch and said to my family that I was going to do my very best to qualify, I didn’t expect to do it straight away, though, I’m still in shock.”
Played in three sessions the action kicked off at 10.30am with four of the senior finals taking place as well as the mixed pairs In this early session it was the blue and gold of Hawick’s Wilton club which was prevalent on the green as both Ladies (18-12) and Gents (16-9) Senior Fours secured their passage to Ayr with victories over Jedburgh and Ayton respectively.
There was more success to come for the Teries when Hawick BC’s Alison Clarkson emerged a worthy winner when beating Sandra McLeish from Spittal by 21 shots to 12 in the Ladies Senior Singles.
Gala’s Rob Fulton had more of a fight on his hands in the Gents equivalent, but held firm in his tie against Ancrum’s Gordon Scott to take the match by a narrow 21 shots to 19.
The match that had the crowd on the edge of their seats however was the Mixed Pairs clash between Ayton BC and Selkirk. Souters Jill Borthwick and Jamie Purves were 15-13 up going into the last end and looked likely winners as they held the advantage with one bowl to play. But Ayton’s Stuart Bebbington, partnered by Leanne Carruthers, held his nerve to roll in the winner.
The middle session endured the worst of the weather as heavy showers swept across Jedburgh and it was the eastern Borders players who coped best with Eyemouth beating Abbotsford (14-11) in the Gents Fours, Coldstream seeing off Kelso (18-11) in the Ladies Pairs and Ancrum cruising through against Abbotsford (22-12) in the Gents Pairs. The only win on the west side was that for Hawick BC Ladies Four who scraped past Gala Waverley (19-18) in an entertaining encounter.
It was four o’clock in the afternoon when the final session took to the field of play, but support was as enthusiastic as ever as young Upton fought for her 21-16 victory over Todd. Bebbington took his second win of the afternoon when beating Hawick BC president Bill Anderson 21-12 in the Gents Singles while Chirnside’s Jamie Mitchell saw off the challenge from Gala Waverley’s Liam Nicholson to take the Junior Singles (21-11).
St Ronan’s triumphed over Berwick (15-6) in the Ladies Triples while, after much firing, and one or two burnt ends, Neil Kellett’s Gordon Triple prevailed (15-6) over Hawick BC in the Gents equivelent.
Gents’ district secretary Alan Bennie, from Eyemouth, thanked all those in attendance as well as the host club who did a grand job in keeping everyone fed and watered throughout the day.
Borders qualifiers for Ayr
Ladies Senior Fours
June Robertson, Joan Kyle, Betty Gibson, Irene Bennett (Wilton BC).
Gents Senior Singles
Rob Fulton (Gala BC).
Gents Senior Fours
Alister Taylor, Michael Notman, Ricky Paterson, Bruce Miller (Wilton BC).
Leanne Carruthers, Stuart Bebbington (Ayton).
Ladies Senior Singles
Alison Clarkson (Hawick BC).
Irene Wilson, Mary Riddell, Pat Brady, Joyce Dickey (Hawick BC).
John Crowe, Drew Scott, Alan Bennie, Campbell McNeil (Eyemouth BC).
Sonia Martin, Margaret Riley (Coldstream BC).
Jimmy Renwick, Ronnie McCulloch (Ancrum BC).
Lauren Upton (Gala Waverley BC).
Stuart Bebbington (Ayton BC).
Gents Junior Singles
Jamie Mitchell (Chirnside BC).
Mark Redpath, Arthur Cossar, Neil Kellett (Gordon BC).
Gloria Smith; Ibby Currie, Hazel Dodds (St Ronan’s BC).