An end of season review from our Chairman...
First Past the Post
We had the distinction of being the only league in Scotland to have completed this season due to the current COVID-19 situation. Well done to our ever-resilient match secretary Willie B.
Our usual mid-March planned finish has had its fair share of critics over the years, however this year it has certainly paid dividends. Willie, year on year, takes on the most thankless task in the league and keeps everything ticking along. He deals with the annual last-minute call offs and chasing up of league fees with a passion and desire that has never changed over the years. He even had time to play himself this year. Thanks Willie, a beginner's course in Microsoft Office on its way to you!
The season started in some confusion when Brian Hunter unfortunately withdrew due to illness leaving multiple champions Bowhouse with an early season problem. Following Brian’s withdrawal, after a couple of games after his replacement also pulled out and it looked like we would have a new name on the trophy this season. However, a rabbit was pulled out the hat after a late-night SOS from Mando to Callum Rankine was answered. The rest is history as they say, as it looked like Calum had never been away and with Marc his usual consistent self the pair had the league sewn up by early January.
A new look Jags partnership, with West Lothian Free transfer Andy Honeyman who proved to be a great addition to the league joining a motivated Daniel Grant, recovered from a slow start to comfortably take the runners up spot.
At the other end of the table, newly promoted Carron found the going tough in the 8-team set up and found themselves detached early in the season. Both Blair and Lisa did however pick up some decent wins against higher ranked players and will learn from the experience.
The battle for the second relegation spot was much tighter going down to the final week. In the end, the Kerse boys occupied the seventh spot however with league expansion planned next season it looks like they might be staying where they are.
It was also great to see one of the best players the county has produced make his comeback this season, Jim Leishman. On the first match night Jim did have a confused look though when knocking up with new teammate Jimmy J as he hadn’t in his career knocked with anyone with a Woolworths bat before. As the season progressed, like a fine wine, Jim kept improving and I’m sure will be a real force to be reckoned with next season.
Marc Stewart has a signature year taking 5 titles in all - Premier League Team & Individual titles, Stirlingshire Open Singles, Open Doubles and Handicap Singles. Well Done Marc, a brilliant performance!
From the outset this was always going to be the most competitive Division and so it turned out. Throw four of the leagues’ longest serving partnerships (George and Spencer, Bob and Danny, Scott and Mark and Paul and Craig with over 100 years together between them) into the mix along with some former Premier players and up and coming talents and the title battle was always going to go to the wire.
At the end of the day, it was the new Gemini partnership of Andrew Exton and a rejuvenated David Wells that took the title on the last day of the season just piping Bob and Danny. It rounded off a great double for Andrew who also easily won the individual averages, dropping only two games. He will definitely (eventually) be plying his trade in the Premier next season.
It was still a great end of season run from Bob and Danny (who was suffering from back pain in the run in). Danny saying years of carrying Bob has taken its toll. It will be great to see them back in the Premier next season.
Elsewhere it was great to see Willie B back and Craig Lewis (too good for this league but stepping in to help out his great, great mentor Peter). Rab and Corey both showed massive improvement this season as did Andrew, Lewis and Lee who all also brought the average player age down.
This Division had a very top-heavy feel to it at the start and it very much played out that way, with three teams battling it out alone at the top for most of the season. In the end, it was the latest in a long line of parent and child pairings, the Kippen team of Stewart and James Warwick that took the honours. Clearly Stewart’s purchase of another new pair of glasses for James, and more importantly James not losing them, was a major factor in their title win. They were pushed all the way by the Still Game trio of Jack, Victor and Winston (oops meant Owen, Drew and Alistair) and the Junior pairing of Tyler and Harry.
In the individual race the Warwicks came up trumps again and were joint winners.
Three other players to mention here. Our youngest participant, Ben Hart, who in his first season only lost four matches and is no doubt the best prospect we have had in many years. His National league teammate and another of our up and coming Juniors, Tyler Leishman, also made massive improvements this season. And last but not least well done to Owen Kelly who only lost two individual matches of the games he played as part of the Still Game pool.
This Division also provided a great introduction to league play for some of our more inexperienced Juniors this season and it was also great to see Paul Ekins make a comeback after many years away from the sport.
Full Roll of Honour
Winners – Bowhouse (Marc Stewart, Calum Rankine)
Runner Up – Jags (Andy Honeyman, Daniel Grant)
Individual Winner – Marc Stewart
Winners – Gemini (Andrew Exton, David Wells)
Runner Up – Clackmannan (Bob Strachan, Danny Gallagher)
Individual Winner – Andrew Exton
Winners – Kippen (Stewart Warwick, James Warwick)
Runner Up – Still Game (Owen Kelly, Andrew Stevenson, Alistair Graham)
Individual Winner – Stewart Warwick, James Warwick (tie)
Stirlingshire Closed Events
Winner – Marc Stewart
Runner Up – Mando Notarangelo
Winners – Marc Stewart, Dylan Jenkins
Runner Up – Forbes Stirling, Brian Kelly
Winner – Lewis Gillespie
Runner Up - Blair Spinks
Winner – Harry Robb
Runner Up – James Warwick
Winner – Ben Hart
Runner Up – Callum Andersen
Winner – Marc Stewart
Runner Up – Andrew Exton
Winners – Scott Maxwell, Mark Ferrier
Runner Up – Brian Kelly, Tyler Leishman
Chairman Mando’s Alternative League Awards...
Player of the Season – Marc Stewart
Comeback Player – Calum Rankine, Jim Leishman
Stirlingshire Rookie – Andy Honeyman
Most Improved Player – Forbes Stirling
Best Fall (Artistic Impression) – Forbes Stirling
Worst (longest match) – Daniel Grant vs. Rob Urquhart
Umpire of the Year - Jim Leishman (Umpire Grant v Urquhart)
Most Consecutive Five Set Losses – Dylan Jenkins
The Campbell Galbraith Trophy (Last out the hall) – Mando Notarangelo
The Willie Ballantine Trophy (Playing up as a sub for different teams) — Rob Urquhart, Andrew Exton
Player of the Season – Andrew Exton
Best New Division 1 Player – Corey Baker
Comeback Player – Willie Ballantine
Most Improved Player – Rob Urquhart
Best Fall (Artistic impression) – Peter Howarth
Umpire Award – Spencer Ormsby (Danny vs. George)
Most Edges – George Risk
The Willie Ballantine Trophy (Playing up as a sub for different teams) – Tyler Leishman
Most Backhands to Hit the Wall - Scott Maxwell
Player of the Season – Ben Hart
Comeback Player – Paul Ekins
Newcomer – Ben Hart
Most Improved Player - Tyler Leishman
The Specsavers Sports Award – James Warwick
The Clansman Trophy – Owen Kelly