East Lothian champions West Barns hopes of national title glory in the Co-operative Funeralcare sponsored Scottish Inter-County Top Ten were ended by Lanarkshire champions Burnbank Hamilton in last Sunday’s quarter-final action.
Gary Landells skipped Kevin Thomson to a fine 12-10 win in the pairs clash but that was to be the only bit of good news for West Barns as defeats in the singles, triples and fours proved decisive and it was Burnbank Hamilton who progressed through to the semi-final stage with a comfortable 6-2 point’s victory. West Barns officials were left seething after ace duo Billy Mellors and Scott Kennedy had to withdraw as they were requested to attend last Sunday’s international trial match at Craigentinny BC in Edinburgh after the Bowls Scotland international selectors indicated that if the players did not attend the trial they could not be guaranteed a place in the Scotland side for the forthcoming British Isles series. “The Top Ten is the premier club event of the outdoor season and is only played over four Sunday’s so surely Bowls Scotland can take this into account when setting the date for the trial match so that both event’s don’t clash. This situation was not just a problem for us (West Barns) it affected a few other teams who had to lose the services of their star players and we just hope that Bowls Scotland and the Top Ten Association can get together and address this situation for future years”, said West Barns President JL Johnstone.
East Lothian remain in contention for one of the two qualifying places up for grabs in the East section of the Scottish Counties Championship for the Andrew Hamilton Trophy thanks to an impressive 120-110 away win over Stirling County East at Larbert BC last Saturday. Stirling County East finished with the upper hand on the rinks skipped by team captain Craig Valentine, Ian Bell and Scott Kennedy; but the win points were secured for the ‘garden county’ by triumphs for Derek Oliver and John McCrorie while Billy Mellors grabbed a peel. “It was another close game but in these circumstances it us vital you do what you can to scramble a win which thankfully we did and it keeps us very competitive in our East section campaign”, said team player/manager Ian Bell.
Oliver claimed top honours and the sweepstake money for the second consecutive week as he skipped Adam Martin, Gordon Baillie and Ross Marwick to an excellent 21-11 win over Stuart Hogg. McCrorie and his front three of Gordon Whyte, Billy Dunleavey and Stevie Greenan looked in a spot of bother at 14-11 down after 16 ends played but then produced a whirlwind finish to count 15 shots without reply before going on to register a 26-17 victory against Simon Thomson. Ross Thomson, Jamie Gordon, Stephen Cochrane and Mellors were involved in a high scoring encounter against Darren Couper before settling for a 26-26 share of the spoils. Valentine suffered a 21-16 defeat from Gary Crosbie; Bell made late headway before going down 16-14 against Stuart Williamson while Kennedy lost 19-18 to Stuart Lusk. The side is back in action tomorrow (Saturday) when Fife County are the visitors to West Barns BC. The visitors did inflict a shock defeat on section favourites West Lothian last Saturday so they will come brimming with confidence so another big performance will be required from East Lothian if they want to bag what could be two very precious points. One enforced change sees Brian Young of Tranent recalled as replacement for Billy Cormack and he will play second in the rink skipped by player/team manager Ian Bell. The team reads:- S.White (ELCO), D.Whitson (Tra), C.Bell (Hadd), C.Valentine (C&PS) skip/capt R.Thomson (ELCO), J.Gordon (C&PS), S.Cochrane (ELCO), B.Mellors (W/B) skip A.Martin (Ath), G.Baillie (C&PS), R.Marwick (P/G), D.Oliver (C&PS) skip M.McCormack (Win), M.Osborne (Tra), T.Young (Dun), S.Kennedy (W/B) skip G.White (Abe), B.Dunleavey (Abe), S.Greenan (P/G), J.McCrorie (Tra) skip J.Gearty (C&PS), B.Young (Tra), C.McLeod (Giff), I.Bell (Hadd) skip Reserves: G.Blair (Hadd) & C.Johnston (Giff) All players requested to report at West Barns by no later than 1.30pm. Any player selected who is unable to play is requested to contact team manager Ian Bell immediately on 07846 075980.
Meanwhile the Under 25 brigade of East Lothian hopes of reaching the knockout stages of the Scottish League Cup are very much alive and kicking after they produced a majestic team performance to beat defending champions Edinburgh & Leith by 6 shots (113-107) at Currie BC last Sunday. “In my pre-match team-talk I asked the lads for a strong start and they duly delivered by counting on every rink on the opening end and from then on in we never lost the lead but Edinburgh & Leith did come back strongly and actually got to within single figures but we kicked on again for a fantastic win”, said a delighted team manager Stevie Greenan.
Wins on three rinks skipped by Jamie Burnett (+9), Kieran Frame (+6) and stand in skipper Steven White (+2) plus a peel for Gordon Whyte carried the day for the garden county ‘young yins’ and covered the defeats sustained by Craig Bell (-3) and Mark McWilliams (-8). The win now gives East Lothian a chance of qualifying going into the last match against arch rivals Midlothian next Sunday (June 14) at Cockenzie & Port Seton BC. Greenan is buoyed by the news that both Glenn Blair and Ewan Fallen come back into selection contention while Ross Irvine may also have a chance of featuring but Adam Martin and Sam Newlands are confirmed absentees.
Last Friday night’s action in the East Coast Carpets sponsored East Lothian Leagues saw Haddington consolidate their position at the top of Division 1 following a fine 6-2 home win over West Barns and remain seven points clear of the chasing pack. Tranent are emerging as their main challengers but they were hard pushed to beat Castlepark 6-2 with a single shot win for John McCrorie tipping the scales for the Polson Park side after the other two rinks peeled. EL-Coop moved into third place following a thumping 8-0 home win over East Linton while Gifford departed Castlepark A with a hard fought 5-3 triumph. Cockenzie & Port Seton celebrated a much needed win after they inflicted 7-1 pain on foot of the table Dunbar.
In tonight’s (Friday) Division 1 action Haddington will fancy their chances to stay well clear of the chasing pack when they visit third bottom Castlepark A. A tasty encounter looks in prospect at West Barns when they entertain second placed Tranent while it should be a noisy and cracking encounter at Gifford as they play host to a high flying EL-Coop side. Veteran campaigner Gordon Baillie will miss his first league game in nearly 15 years tonight when his beloved Cockenzie & Port Seton entertain Castlepark while East Linton welcomes Dunbar.
Just a reminder that all club secretaries are requested to ensure that all league and cup results, including shots aggregate score, are phoned into ELBA Match Secretary Keith Fender on 01620 860217 or via text message 07786 110416 immediately after each match.
Finally officials at East Lothian IBC have confirmed that the club will remain open during the summer months. A hat game will be staged every Tuesday from 12 noon to 2pm and members along with non-members are all welcome to come along. Also the club is calling on former members to return any locker keys they may have in their possession.