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14 May 2002 09:00

Greenock joint top

Greenock 251 for 7wkts; Carlton 217. (Greenock 25 pts, Carlton 9pts) GREENOCK consolidated upon their winning start last week to the Premier League with a second victory at Glenpark on Saturday, Carlton being the second Edinburgh club to succumb to their collective wiles. They now share top spot with West of Scotland and Ayr. The 34-run margin of victory, Carlton losing their final wicket in the 98th over, was deserved if not entirely assured. Having amassed a highly creditable 251 on a slowish wicket on which they were inserted, they then proceeded to make rather heavy weather of the defence. Six bowlers were utilised, yet professional Dene Hills, having taken four wickets for 11 runs from 10 overs the previous Saturday at Watsonians, found himself surplus to requirements. The feeling may have been that it was a seamer’s wicket - supported perhaps by the non-use also of slow bowler Dougie Wylie - or that Greenock were sufficiently in charge not to need his frugal economy (a dangerous assumption if the case), but Greenock never got the same advantage from the Fox Street End that visiting professional Cedric English enjoyed. Scrapping the draw has its pros and cons. The principal advantage is that sides batting second can no longer simply block for a draw from an early stage in what they feel to be a futile chase. The main disadvantage is that the bowling is negative and the fielding defensive. On Saturday, after a night of heavy rainfall on Thursday, the side winning the toss was always going to insert the opposition on a slow wicket. It certainly wasn’t a badly affected track, but the ball did lift more off a length at one end in particular. A combination of wind and sunshine meant it was only going to get better as the day progressed. The hosts nevertheless began at a very respectable rate of between four and five per over, despite the early loss of Neil MacRae, third over, and Ian Stanger, ninth, each playing across the line to full length English deliveries. Neither could blame the pitch. When the latter departed it was 35 for two. Dene Hills and Jason Borgas began the recovery and when Hills, who had batted steadily for 49, was out to a low catch at midwicket in the 27th over, it was a healthy 87 for three. Darryl Anderson joined the productive Borgas at the wicket and these two, who had provided the platform for victory the previous week, once again performed with a flourish. Lowrey eventually removed Borgas in the 43rd by which time the pair had put on 83 runs. Twelve runs later Anderson was run out going for a risky second, having notched up 50. He had produced some lovely shots, two fine consecutive fours to leg springing to mind, the first clipped effortlessly off his feet. Shannon Bakes joined Tom Black at the crease and the Tasmanian hit a sparkling 44 off only 20 deliveries in a prolific denouement to the home innings. Thirty runs came off one over by the unfortunate Lowrey in which Bakes struck him for two consecutive sixes. Bakes, supported by Black, wreaked havoc, but worse was to follow for the visitors when their Scotland opening bat Bryn Lockie let a Black mid-off drive struck fiercely in the air slip through his hands. He fell to the ground as the ball smacked him on the cheek and was eventually taken to Inverclyde Royal where, fortunately, no break was revealed. Four stitches were inserted in the wound, however, and the swelling to his face was such that he took no further part in play, a considerable blow in more ways than one. It was substitute fielder Jason Borgas who took an outfield catch to remove Black off the final delivery, Bakes having departed one run earlier to a slower Thornton delivery. The partnership for the sixth wicket had put on 68 in just over four overs. The chase centred round Carlton professional English. As long as he remained at the crease there was an outside chance of a shock win, but only Coutts provided real back-up. There were flurries by Thornton and Burns but, when the latter was bowled by Anderson shortly after having struck him over his head for six, the game was effectively over. Lowrey was run out then Hussain was superbly caught by Stuart McDonald, running across from long-on to hold the ball in front of the sight screen. English racked up a thoroughly deserved century with a four round the corner off Bakes, only to hole out to the same shot off the next ball, Borgas securing the catch with over two overs left for play. How the match would have panned out had Lockie been fit to play his part in the second innings can only be a matter of conjecture, but Greenock will face stiffer challenges from stronger batting line-ups this season. Their response will need to be a touch more convincing.

11 May 2002 09:00

Ready for action

TOMORROW One2One Greenock Hockey Club will take their place in the Scottish Cup Final for the first time in their history. Watsonian’s will provide the opposition at Peffermill in Edinburgh in what promises to be a highly charged and emotional game. The Edinburgh side have already played the locals twice this season in the Spektra Systems National League Division Two. Greenock ended up on the losing side on both occassions, suffering 5-0 and 4-3 reversals. However, coach Ian Henderson insists his men have nothing to fear and sees no reason why the sorcery of the cup cannot rear its head and inspire the Glenpark men to victory. "We have started each game this season with a distinct game plan," he said. "When we have kept to it, we have been successful. "I can’t stress enough to the team how we must compose ourselves and concentrate on the task in hand." Greenock went into last weekend's semi-final with a plan and it worked. Against Bon Accord MBC last Saturday One2One simply out-fought and out-though their opponents. They were first to every ball and played some of their best hockey of a memorable season. One player who will walk out for Greenock tomorrow and who already has a Scottish Cup winners medal is Iain Phillips. “Winning the cup the first time was an incredible experience," he said, "but winning with my current team would be even sweeter in the twilight of my career." If Glenpark do win tomorrow they will become only the second team to ever hold both the Scottish Cup at hockey and cricket. Ian Stanger led the cricket men to victory against Grange last August and he took time out from his preparations for his side's clash with Carlton tomorrow to speak to the Telegraph, "It's fantastic that they've made it to the final," he said. "One or two of the cricketers play for the team so that's great and all I've told them is to go out and enjoy it because it's an achievement in itself just reaching the final." Henderson is able to welcome back former coach Mark Robertson. Robertson has kept his promise that he would return from Australia if the side made it through to the final. His return is likely to buoy the squad ahead of the final, and supplies the short corner team with the sort of firepower that has been lacking in recent weeks. With 16 players allowed in the squad for the weekend, Henderson has opted to name the squad as last week plus Robertson. Graeme Quigley, Danny Giles and Ross Slater, however, all still face late fitness tests. Quite simply this is Greenock Hockey Club’s first chance of winning a national honour. Hopefully it will prove to be so, and hopefully it will not be their last. Only the right mentality and perseverance throughout the game will deliver the desired result, but all players are aware of how great an opportunity this is.

9 May 2002 09:00

Mighty Marshall

KAREENA Marshall capped a fantastic weekend for the Marshall family at the weekend when she starred for Scotland at the badminton Under-15 Home International at the weekend. While her brother William was playing a leading role in One2One Greenock Hockey Club's Scottish Cup semi-final win in Dundee against Bon Accord MBC, Kareena was in Cardiff leading Scotland to victory. The 15-year-old, winning her fourth cap for her country, skippered the side to the overall title. Scotland started off on Friday with a tough match against England. It was a memorable match for Kareena and the rest of the team as they beat the Auld Enemy 7-3. That left Scotland only needing to beat Ireland and Wales in their remaining two matches to win the tournament for the first time. They did, 7-3 and 9-1 respectively, and it was left to Kareena to lift the trophy. Kareena and doubles partner Julie Boyd of Fauldhouse, who are now ranked in the top eight in Europe, were unbeaten in all three matches. Following the team event, which ran from Friday to Saturday, the players from all four countries then battled it out for individual and doubles honours and Kareena picked up a hat-trick of medals. The Greenock Academy pupil won gold in the doubles with Boyd but had to settle for silver and bronze in the mixed doubles and girls' singles respectively. Next up for Kareena is a switch of sports. In June she will line-up for the Scotland Under-16 hockey team when they take on Belgium, Ireland and Wales. Kareena will then join William at the School of Sport in Glasgow.

7 May 2002 09:00

Watsonians bowled over

Greenock 186 for 7wkts; Watsonians 103. GREENOCK got their Premier League season off to a flying start in Edinburgh on Saturday, defeating the home side by 83 runs and confirming their status as many people’s favourites for the title. It may be a little presumptious on the strength of one victory over one of the lesser lights in the division to talk of championship success, but this display merely confirmed that the Glenpark men are a side with something many others lack, genuine strength in depth. Their front three batsmen effectively ‘failed’, but overseas amateur Jason Borgas, in partnership with Darryl Anderson, laid the middle order foundation for a revival upon which the ultimate victory was based. Shannon Bakes, Dougie Wylie and Tony Judd all chipped in and the final total on the wide expanses of Myrefield looked eminently defendable. Watsonians had bowled tightly and generally fielded exceptionally well, but they must have felt that, given their start, they had let the opposition off the hook. Stronach’s four for 32 off 14 overs, supported by Gonal’s two for 36 off 15 overs, provided the backbone to the hosts’ bowling effort, but 35 extras is a statistic which must concern the home team. Hills was first wicket down, caught at third man driving, MacRae fell to a fine cover catch low down and when Stanger was out to a half shot to the slower ball home hopes must have soared. Then began the revival, and Borgas and Anderson put on 56 before Anderson, caught between two minds, holed out at mid-off. Borgas was out hitting across the line, Black was bowled and Wylie fell leg before in the final chase before a respectable total of 186 was established at the interval. In reply Watsonians began steadily. At 61 without loss in 23 overs there were was a contemplative, if not concerned, air to the visiting support as they ambled round the environs. That was when a defining moment arrived to shape the game’s outcome, Ian Stanger taking an excellent outfield catch to swallow up professional James Henderson off Hills’ slow bowling. His opening partner, David McLean was cleaned up by Tony Judd and, when McCallum and Spiers followed to Judd and Hills respectively, both trapped leg before, it was 76 for four. Watsonians faced a long haul back but, led by Johannes Mans, they scraped and scrabbled to 99 before Mans was run out. It then became a rout, the last five wickets falling for an addition of four runs with just over 10 overs remaining of play. With excellent figures of four for 11 off 10 overs, professional Dene Hills provided the top bowling display of the afternoon. Greenock’s gauntlet has been thrown down. It will take a stronger side than Watsonians to pick it up with any sense of purpose.

7 May 2002 09:00

Pacers are the champions

Greenock Pacers 102, Dumbarton Suns 43 GREENOCK Pacers secured their second league championship in successive seasons with this comprehensive defeat of Dumbarton Suns in their final game of the season. A much improved display to that in last week’s semi-final defeat to Oatlands saw Pacers outplay the Suns in every department. It was the visitors, though, who took an early lead which they maintained until three minutes before the end of the first quarter. With the Suns leading 14-13 Tim Burges added a field goal to previous scores by Scott Bradley and Morrison to give the local side their first lead of the game at 15-14. Dumbarton couldn’t find the basket again in the quarter and Pacers finished with a seven point advantage. Pacers opened the second period with a Bryan Howell lay up before Scott Bradley and Mitch McFarlane added further points. The home side steadily increased their lead as the period progressed and the visitors were finding it tough to break down the Pacers pressure offence. The Suns had no answer to Pacers’ fast break play and, as half time approached, Bradley fired home two free shots to give the Greenock men a healthy lead at 43-24. With he game virtually over, Pacers set out to secure the victory during the third period. They ran their fast break with Howell and Stephen Brown benefiting from the outlet passes which allowed them to run the floor with ease. The visiting defence was destroyed time and again by a series of fine passing and good shot selection. Again the men from across the water had no answer to the Pacers relentless pressure and were outscored by 34 points to 10 as Pacers powered into a 77-34 lead going into the fourth. Dumbarton tried manfully to keep the score respectable as play entered the final period, but again they struggled to keep pace as the local side dominated at both ends of the court. Grant Morrison capped a fine display to score what proved to be Pacers' final basket of the season with a simple lay in after passing the ball around his waist as he strode past the last defender. The score also took Greenock's total past the 100 mark. With the Suns eclipsed, Pacers celebrated another fine season in which they lifted the Second Division title and reached the semi-final of the Strathclyde Cup. This has been a fine achievement for a club which is only five years old and has only been competing in league competition for four seasons. Pacers now look forward to competing in Division One next year. This will be a tough although exciting prospect as most clubs in the top flight also have teams competing in the National League set-up.  All at Greenock Pacers thank game and refreshment sponsors, T-Mobile and Eddie McAnerney respectively, the staff at Notre Dame High School and staff at both Greenock and Ravenscraig Sports Centres for their support during the year.

4 May 2002 09:00

Six are axed

NEW Morton manager Dave McPherson has fired the first shots in his swift revolution at Cappielow. To kick-off his new regime McPherson has confirmed the axing of six first team squad members. Chris Aitken, Gavin Redmond, Paul Wright, John Gibson, Scott Miller and Garry Tweedie have all been shown the door by the new Morton boss. The news comes less than 24 hours after McPherson was revealed to the press as the new boss yesterday morning. The sudden release of the unfortunate six is part of a radical pruning programme which McPherson hopes will enable him to bring in several new faces. "I want to make changes," confirmed the new manager. "We need to make changes which is why I've decided to let some players go." McPherson also revealed that Stewart Greacen, on loan at Cappielow all this season, would be returning to Livingston. The defender missed Morton's last 14 games of the season after picking up a knee injury that required an operation and faces a fight over the summer to be fit in time for the start of next season. One man who isn't on his way, however, is Mel Bottiglieri. The Canadian, a target for the boo-boys for much of this season, has done enough since reverting to left back to impress McPherson and the pair will discuss a new deal when Bottiglieri returns from his homeland later this month. Three-year deals, meanwhile, have been signed by Craig Coyle, Scott Bannerman, David McGregor, Sean Curran and Marco Maisano. Although former Scotland and Rangers defender McPherson has already identified the areas where his squad needs strengthening, he has yet to pinpoint particular players that he would like to bring in. "I'm waiting now for the free list to come out which should be over the next week," he revealed. "There's going to be a lot of players available." McPherson realises that midfield is an area that needs some attention, but he is also on the lookout for an experienced centre half, a winger and at least one more striker. "First and foremost I want players who have the right attitude, are fit, and are prepared to work hard," he continued. "Then if we can get someone in who is creative we can do well. Fitness is a problem though, I don't think we were fit enough last season." At yesterday's press conference the new Morton manager had highlighted the need for any potential signings to live in, or be prepared to re-locate to, the Glasgow area. "It's important that all the players are able to train together and learn to work as a unit," he said. McPherson also revealed yesterday that he, along with new youth team boss Stephen Frail, will register as player next season although it is highly unlikely that either man will feature in the first team. Former Morton ’keeper David Wylie returns to the club as the new goalkeeper coach. The new assistant-manager, meanwhile, will be named next week. It is believed that he will add experience to the relatively raw management team. Morton chairman Douglas Rae was keen to point out at yesterday's press conference that, contrary to speculation in the national media, the club are in no danger. "Morton are here and they are here to stay," he said.

3 May 2002 09:00

Dave's the man

DAVE McPherson was named as the new Morton manager at a press conference at Cappielow this morning. The 38-year-old former Scotland and Rangers defender has been handed the task of leading the club on a full-time basis by Morton chairman Douglas Rae even though he was unable to halt the slide into the Third Division after taking over from Peter Cormack in mid-March. Speaking to the Telegraph this morning, McPherson admitted that he couldn't wait to get started, adding that it had always been his ambition to go into management. "It's something I feel I am cut out to do and I'm relishing the challenge," he said. "I've been lucky enough to be successful as a player but now I want to be successful as a manager." One of the first tasks facing the new boss is deciding which of the several out of contract Morton players to keep. That decision, McPherson said, would be made in the next 24 hours. There will not, however, be a mass clear-out as the manager believes there are men at Cappielow around whom he can build a squad capable of winning promotion next season. "I'm not going to make changes for the sake of it, they will be ones that will improve the team. "We're not going to underestimate anyone in the Third Division, but I have always said that we have the nucleus of a good squad here," said the manager. "We will add to that in the summer so that we're able to mount a realistic challenge next season." Meanwhile, McPherson admitted that it was a blow that the team had missed out on a Second Division life-line yesterday when First Division Airdrie were put into liquidation. The move means Stenhousemuir, who finished just one point above Morton, stay in the Second Division despite ending the season in the relegation-zone. "It would have been great if we could have stayed up," he said, "but that's in the past now, we've got to start concentrating on the future."

1 May 2002 09:00

Bronze for John

LOCAL boxer John Simpson faces an anxious wait to discover whether he has made it into the Scottish Commonwealth Games squad after only managing a bronze medal at the Four Nations Tournament in Killarney. Simpson, who fights for Port Glasgow Victoria and is the Scottish Amateur featherweight champion, lost to Ireland's Steven Ormond in the semi-finals before beating Welshman Peter Ashton in the third place box-off. After being laid low by a heavy cold during the week leading up to the Four Nations, Simpson admitted that his preparations for his opening bout could have been better. "I wasn't right at all for the first fight," he confessed. "I had a head cold and I was so tired by the end of the third round that I could hardly lift my gloves. "I wouldn't like to say that I could have beaten him had I been 100 per cent, because he beat me fair and square on the day, but I could have done better." Simpson lost the fight 12-3 after four two minute rounds. The gap between the two had been only three points up to the third round at which point John began to tire. The local lad confessed that he then considered pulling out of the box-off for the bronze medal the following day. "After the defeat I was thinking 'what's the point' but in the morning I felt a lot better and decided to fight," he added. It was a gamble and when John found himself 4-1 down at the end of the first round it began to look as though he had made the wrong decision. However, the Scottish champion dominated the next three rounds to take the bout 15-11 and secure the bronze medal. Ormond lost the final to Englishman David Mulholland who stopped his opponent in the first round with a body shot. Simpson now knows that he will have to impress the selectors on his next Scotland outing against Canada. He flies across the Atlantic a week today for that one. After that he will have one more opportunity in a Box-Am tournament in Tenerife on 26 May. "I've still got a good chance of making the squad," said Simpson. "Obviously if I had got gold or silver in Ireland it would have helped, but I can still do it. "The Scotland team manager Donald Campbell thinks we'll be taking eight or nine boxers to Manchester and I've heard that I'm number seven on his list so I need to make sure I stay there." Simpson faces a battle out of the ring also as he bids to make it to Manchester. As is the case with any amateur sportsman, finance, or lack of it, is a regular problem for John. The 19-year-old is currently studying for an HNC in Sport and Fitness at James Watt College and as a result struggles to fund his boxing. "Everything costs in this game," he said. "I've been lucky that my club have paid half of the £240 that it's costing me to go to Tenerife but everything adds up and on top of all the trips I still need to buy my own gear. "If I was in England then I would picked up about £30,000 worth of sponsorship for being the national champion. Up here people just aren't interested."

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