ARBROATH last night recovered from Saturday’s Eastern Premier heartbreak to overcome Grange and lift the Scottish Cup for the first time in their history.
It was Grange who had come out on top on a dramatic final day of league action in Edinburgh 24 hours earlier. Arbroath went into battle with Watsonians on Saturday with their noses in front in the title race but they slipped up at Myreside, enabling Grange to snatch the Premiership with a clinical triumph over Heriot’s at Raeburn Place.
And so yesterday Grange had the chance to clinch a league and cup double and a hat-trick of Scottish Cup victories.
Instead, Arbroath enjoyed a measure of revenge and a superb century from Fraser Burnett and a brilliant display in the field was enough to send the large travelling support from Angus into raptures in the sunshine at New Williamfield, Stirling.
In a match briefly marred by angry exchanges between Grange’s Scotland international George Munsey and several Arbroath players and officials, it was the Lochlands men who retained their poise.
Chasing 218 for victory, Grange suffered two early blows when Calvin Burnett uprooted the stumps of Nick Farrar and Munsey, the latter’s dismissal sparking rancorous scenes.
Munsey, given a gleeful send-off by some opposition players, responded by allegedly swearing at some young supporters and hitting a helmet in their direction, before Arbroath president Neil Burnett became embroiled in an ugly incident which may be the subject of a report to Cricket Scotland.
The dismissals of Ryan Flannigan (31) and Neil McCallum (27) left Grange with an uphill struggle and Arbroath went on to record a 93-run win, Calvin Burnett making it a family affair with three wickets.
Earlier, Fraser Burnett produced an innings of character and class to keep Arbroath in contention. The left-hander and older sibling reached his century in the final over to finish unbeaten on 104. He had faced 129 deliveries and stroked six boundaries and two maximums, an effort which proved to be of match-winning proportions.
“I didn’t know how the lads would turn up after the disappointment of yesterday,” said Arbroath skipper Marc Petrie. “We congratulate Grange on their success in the league but I’m proud and thrilled to have led this side today and all season. They showed real character to play the way they did today and it was a fantastic victory.
“I’d also like to thank our supporters for the backing they gave us – this victory is for everyone at the club.”
In the crucial league fixtures on Saturday, Grange had it all their own way against Heriot’s, reaching a 221 target with six wickets and almost 14 overs to spare. Gordon Goudie led the charge with four for 41 before Flannigan (78) and Nick Farrar (68 not out) dominated the Heriot’s attack.
At Myreside, Arbroath lost out by a mere six runs. The moment of fate came for the Lochlands men when ex-skipper Fraser Burnett was run out for 79 – dashing for the run that would have enabled him to keep the strike with nine wickets down. Six scalps for spinner Craig Ramsay had pegged Sonians to 182, Ewan Chalmers top scoring on 64.
Grange player/coach John Blain said: “It is one of the highlights of my career.
“The bottom line is that I was born, bred and learned my cricket in Scotland and winning the league means a lot to me.
“During my time as a coach, I have worked with the likes of Joe Root, Gary Balance, Jonny Bairstow and Adam Lyth, who are now on the Test stage, but helping to bring success to Grange and previously West of Scotland means just as much.”
Blain declined to pick out individuals at Grange for special plaudits, saying: “People can look at the stats and see for themselves who did what.
“As far as I am concerned, they have all bought into and adopted a collective team ethos. These might sound like buzz-words, but they are just the truth.
“The person I would mention, however, is captain Andrew Brock, who – in his first season at the helm – has done a tremendous job in his own manner.”
Elsewhere, fallen champions Aberdeenshire were involved in a tense and low-scoring tie with neighbours Stoneywood-Dyce at Mannofield.
Half-centuries by Hamish Gardiner and Fraser Watts paved the way for Carlton’s victory over Forfarshire at Foothill.
And Falkland prevailed at Scroggie Park to complete the summer of misery for basement boys RH Corstorphine.