2023 National Championships - Stage One Stars: Cockenzie and Port Seton BC

As part of the build-up to the 2023 National Championships, we have been profiling players and clubs that have qualified for the finals which are taking place at the National Centre for Bowling, Ayr this week, Sunday 23rd – Saturday 29th July.

We were contacted by Darren Donnolly, Secretary of Cockenzie and Port Seton BC in East Lothian. 2023 sees the club celebrate its 75th Anniversary so Darren told us a little more about its history as well as the impressive 13 players who will be competing across 5 disciplines at Northfield this week. Read the clubs’ full report below…

Cockenzie and Port Seton Bowling Club is situated in a small fishing village, ten miles from the capital and was founded in 1948 at a meeting in the local pond hall which means it is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year.

The club has formed an extremely rich history over the years including winning the East Lothian District Division 1 League many times and in recent years winning the Women’s League for the first time as well as the Senior Gents Division 1 league title. The club has 75 playing members as well as over 250 social members many of whom like to dabble in and out of the bowls throughout the season at our open competitions. Such amazing strength and depth in numbers has led to many local cup successes as well as other Division league titles. The biggest success for the club to date has been the Top Ten National event in 2007 where the team went all the way to lift the trophy.

Such was the success of our club in the early 2000’s that quite a number of local players started to become recognised resulting in Johnny Allen and Steven Morgan representing Scotland at under 25 level in 2001 and 2002/3. Steven then went on to represent Scotland full international team in 2019 with Scott Kennedy who is renowned for his many managing roles within Bowls Scotland and holds an impressive CV himself at both indoor and outdoor disciplines. The club also became very lucky 3 years ago when Graham Archer joined our club – Graham himself has a mesmerising record of accomplishments including a World Triple title in 2012. As well as these the club’s young starlet Logan Kennedy has just recently been selected to represent Scotland at both U17 and U25 level with all of his successes so far surely pointing to a full international debut in the near future.

Our current full international representative Derek Oliver also joined the U25 international list in 2005 and then joined the full international team in 2007 which has resulted in some amazing international achievements, too many to mention, but his number one achievement to date is winning two commonwealth gold medals in the triples and fours in Australia in 2018.

Another player with an amazing amount of International caps is Lauren Baillie-Whyte. Lauren has represented Scotland on a regular basis and became a World Championship medallist, winning bronze in the Pairs with Lesley Doig at the 2016 event in Christchurch, New Zealand. She took Scottish and British Isles Singles titles at U25 level.

Leading on to our club Scottish National Successes, Lauren has won the championships pairs title on four occasions with her sister Leanne Baillie (Watt) who has also represented Scotland numerous times over the years. Both girls dominated the pairs for many years winning it in 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

Other successes at the National Championships over the years include: Craig Valentine, Steven Thomson and Steven Morgan winning silver in the triples and Derek Oliver winning the singles in 2016.

This year we hope to add to these honours with a record-breaking number of district qualifiers coming from Cockenzie and Port Seton for District 17. Our representatives include:

Gent’s Pairs (Derek Oliver and Steven Morgan) and Women’s Pairs (Lauren Baillie- Whyte and Leanne Watt) Youth Pairs (Lucas Donnelly and Luke Cowan) Gents Triples (Darren Donnelly, John Gearty and Steven Thomson) and the Gents Fours (Michael Greenan, Jamie Gordon, Craig Valentine and G Archer.

This is the first time so many players have ever qualified for the Scottish National Championships in Ayr from Cockenzie and Port Seton and given how difficult it is to qualify from District 17 this is definitely one of the key highlights of our 75-year history. Our club president Mr Kevin Cunningham has said “Everything feels extra special for the club this year and we are hoping all our hard efforts are rewarded with some silverware from this year’s championships. Best of luck to all.”

Thanks to the club for sharing news of their anniversary, competitive history and 2023 ‘Stage One Stars.’ Keep an eye out for Cockenzie and Port Seton’s players this week by following Bowls Scotland’s social media channels and website for updates from Northfield.

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