Heartbreak Hotel is full of Midlothian players, and their support, all devastated at being agonisingly fluked out of the capture of the coveted Hamilton Trophy – the Holy Grail of The Cities and Counties Championship.
Lanarkshire South were the destroyers of Midlothian dreams in the final played at Crieff BC, and the multiple winners of the Hamilton Trophy are a great team - boisterous, super confident, exceptionally skilful – and they added to their legend with a single shot victory (113-112) that was both dramatic and traumatic.
Wins delivered by the rinks skipped by David Peacock, Colin Bonner, and Colin Walker contributed a plus of 16; but the loss of a combined total of 17 was the result of – single figure- defeats inflicted on Scott Briggs, Danny McDougall and Graeme Archer.
The phase outcomes of a final played in wet, dreich conditions show Midlothian slow out of the blocks and suffering a sizeable 45-28 setback over the first seven ends; but they bounced back to edge the second, 42-37, then win the third, 42-31.
However that 11 shot plus on the final phase had been diminished from a 22 shot supremacy over ends 15,16,17,18, and 19. Having hit the front in brilliant fashion the slippage proved to be damaging and costly.
End 14 was also a game-changing highlight and one that could well have knocked the stuffing, (but didn’t) out of Midlothian as having boldly fought back into the frame at 66-69 they promptly conceded 13-4 to fall 12 shots behind.
Midlothian arrived at Crieff as the only undefeated team of the entire campaign, with nine wins out of nine to reach the final and straining at the leash to enter the history books as the 2017 Hamilton Trophy Champions.
It almost happened with Midlothian making a spirited fight back from early setbacks to hit the front then enter the final furling holding a 10 shot lead (108-98) that with the winning post in sharp focus would surely see them cross the line as Champions.
But Lanarkshire South have the ‘Never Say Die’ attitude and it was stoked up to menacing heights by an 8-1 fight back on end 20 – the master scoreboard now showing a much reduced three shot lead in favour of Midlothian (109-106).
Midlothian’s world collapsed on the final end where the record will show a 7-3 loss robbed them of their Tunes of Glory title celebrations – but that masks the real pains of a tension filled climax.
Iain McLean finished 4,1,2 against McDougall and the double peeled the match at 112-112, swinging the spotlight onto the one rink left, Archer v John Simpson.
Archer’s rink held shot for the title, then Simpson’s last bowl was tight and looking harmless until it got a flick into the head – and be a contender for the winning shot.
Archer was timid with his last bowl suggesting that Midlothian felt the shot was in their favour but the umpire was called in and after seconds that seemed like hours the decision was made.
One shot to Lanarkshire South.
Rink scores: D Peacock 21 Stuart Simpson 13; C Bonner 21 Robert Grant 16; C Walker 25 David Gardner 22; S Briggs 13 Stewart Anderson 14; D McDougall 17 Iain McLean 25; G Archer 15 John Simpson 23.