The play-down action of the Gents National Fours this weekend brings opportunity for 2014 Commonwealth Games good medal star Neil Speirs to blaze a well known trail that has twice led him to the capture of the coveted Scottish Crown.
Speirs skipped his West Lothian IBC rink to title glory in 2011 and 2015 and two his associates remain with him in the shape of his brother James and Bryan Cooper. Thomas Mann is the absentee figure this weekend and the internationalist star of 30 caps is replaced at third by James Speirs moving up from second with Dougie Mitchell stepping into the limelight of the national arena at second.
A prelim round bye might have spared Speirs and Co an early morning start at East Lothian IBC however Saturday’s first round match against Stirling is – unusually – scheduled for 9-30am .
The Balbardie IBC rink hasn’t been registered on the SIBA website but the representation from the Bathgate based club journey to Inverclyde for a 9-30am prelim round battle against Falkirk stars Chris McGready, Colin Scott, Steven Glen, and Steven Allan.
The Ladies version of the National Fours also takes place over the weekend and the West Lothian rink of B Tate, Helen MacDonald, Jean Brown, and Jennifer Sneddon make a 2pm appearance at East Lothian against first round opponents, Teviotdale.
The Balbardie line up is unnamed but join their male colleagues at Inverclyde where they open in the first round (2pm) against Allander.
West Lothian IBC gents suffered their third defeat in four games when losing by 14 shots (88-74) on their visit to Lanarkshire in the A Division of the Premier League. The chief highlight for the visitors was Calum Logan skipping Darren Pearce, Raymond Logan, and Cameron Greer to a 25-20 win over John Simpson. However setbacks for Craig Moss (22-13), James Speirs (22-16), and Neil Speirs (24-20) resulted in WL occupying the relegation zone in company with Aberdeen and Elgin.
Balbardie gents failed to raise their game after a long trek to Fraserburgh in Division 1North and having crashed to an 88-56 defeat from the league leaders find themselves on the second bottom rung.
West Lothian ladies had home carpet advantage against East Lothian in the East Premier Division but failed to live with the strongly talented visitors and suffered a crushing 83-33 defeat.
Balbardie’s campaign in the Division 1 East took on a brighter note with their 66-58 win at home to Teviotdale pushing them up into second place albeith 3 points adrift of Bainfield.
The Seniors brigade of WLIBC put in a strong performance to beat Tweeddbank, 63-49, at the Inveralmond stadium while Balbardie suffered an agonising 69-68 defeat at home to joint leaders Midlothian. This weeks fixtures (Wed) saw West Lothian at home to Bainfield and Balbardie at home to Tweedbank.
Play in the National Seniors Fours saw the WL rink of Tom Brown, John Murphy, Stuart Smith, and Jim Traynor defeat host club Bainfield, 19-9, then lose a 10-9 nail-biter to East Lothian. Play in the Ladies Singles saw West Lothian’s Jean Brown defeat her Balbardie neighbour, Kim Ross, 21-16, at Midlothian make a 21-16 exit to Helen Winter of Perth.