East Lothian icon figure Alex ‘Tattie’ Marshall MBE and partner Paul Foster MBE are chasing further glory for their already packed CV after producing a grandstand finish in last Monday’s all Scottish semi-final pairs clash in the Just Retirement World Indoor Championships at Potters Leisure Resort to move through to their fifth successive pairs final in this event.
Winners of the title in 2011, ’12 and ’13, the Scotland golden boys lost to Nicky Brett and Greg Harlow in last year’s title decider and once again the high-flying duo who won the outdoor pairs title in Australia in 2012 and Commonwealth gold last summer, didn’t get things all their own way with the international colleagues Jonathan Ross and former garden county star Wayne Hogg turning in a superb performance to push the title favourites every step of the way before edging a 7-7, 8-6 victory with the last bowl of the match.On the world ranking list at thirteen and sixteen, Ross and Hogg, a scratch pairing who only teamed up for this event, commandeered the early stages of the first set, only dropping one of the first five ends to take a 6-1 lead, however Foster and Marshall reeled off a 2, 3 and 1 to hold a 7-6 penultimate end lead but Hogg played the perfect shot to count the vital single and share the set at 7-7.The second set was a closer affair with the match tied at 3-3 and 4-4. A double followed by a single gave Foster and Marshall the upper hand with two ends remaining, but two sensational draw bowls to the lip of the ditch saw them count a double and brought Ross and Hogg to within one shot playing the last where a single would have taken the match to a three end shoot out or a double would give them a place in the final.After five bowls, the outsiders held a match lie with two touchers to a full length jack, but Marshall played up to the head and sprung the jack.Then with just two bowls remaining, under pressure Hogg drew the vital shot to within a foot of the displaced jack which would have sent the match into a tie break, but once again Marshall rose to the occasion, playing an inch perfect bowl that carried the back to the ditch to secure their berth in the title decider.”That was one hell of a match” said Marshall later. “Wayne drew a miracle shot to draw the first set although both players were outstanding. In the second Jonathan never missed a running shot once and they both turned a lot of heads.”On the last end of the match I knew any solid connection would be needed to alter the head so was happy to punch the jack into the open but when Wayne drew the shot I was left with no other option that to go for the bowl or jack for the match.
“We knew we wouldn’t get it easy against Jon and Wayne, they are quality players. Like our game against the Midlothian boys the previous day, we knew we would have our work cut out. We’ve had two really testing matches and that will stand us in good stead in the final.”The number 2 seeds will tackle the English pairing of Simon Skelton and Robert Paxton, who defeated defending champions Nick Brett and Greg Harlow in their semi-final clash, in the final on Monday (January 19) which will be screened live on BBC television.
East Lothian IBC men’s side hopes of making the it to the Scottish Premier League play-off final are still very much a realistic dream after they registered a hard fought 79-71 home victory over Lanarkshire while B section leaders Aberdeen suffered defeat at Ardrossan.With two fixtures remaining East Lothian have closed the gap to just two points and now have the leaders firmly in their sights and in tomorrow’s (Saturday) penultimate week of fixtures East Lothian face a tough trip to Falkirk while Aberdeen enjoy home advantage but face a Lanarkshire side fighting for their lives to avoid relegation from the Premier League.“In my pre-match team talk I praised the players for their performances but more importantly their character over the last few games but stressed we need to keep up the high standards until the end of the season. They did not disappoint me and responded with another solid display in a tough encounter against good opponents”, reflected team captain Mark Johnston.Wins on the rinks skipped by Billy Mellors and Jamie Higgins carried the day for East Lothian and covered the defeats sustained by Scott Kennedy and Derek Oliver. Mellors produced a totally focussed performance that saw him skip Ewan Fallen, Calvert Allison and Dougie Berwick to a 25-13 win over Mark McGowan. Higgins continues to revel in the challenge of skipping in place of the unavailable Alex Marshall and in the company of Mark Johnston, Calum Darling and Andrew Jeffrey they manage to defeat Robert Gordon, 20-15. Kennedy and his rink of Lessel Middler, Gary Darling and Stuart Thomson went down 20-16 against John Simpson while the rink of Gary Muir, Andy Burt, Graham Robertson and Oliver failed to fire at their best on the last few ends and suffered a 23-18 defeat from Robert Grant.
East Lothian will head to Falkirk still missing the massive influences of icon figures Alex Marshall MBE and Willie Wood MBE but other than that the garden county will be at near full strength for the must win clash. The selectors have decided to make one change to their line-up with Kieran Simants replacing fellow youngster Calvert Allison at second in the rink skipped by Billy Mellors. The team reads:- L.Middler, G.Darling, S.W.Thomson, S.Kennedy skip G.Muir, A.Burt, G.Robertson, D.Oliver skip E.Fallen, K.Simants, D.Berwick, B.Mellors skip M.Johnston, C.Darling, A.Jeffrey, J.Higgins skip
The ladies side only fired on two of their four cylinders in Galashiels last Saturday but it was still enough to score a nail biting 70-65 win over Tweedbank and still remain in pole position in Division 1C of the Scottish Ladies League with only one fixture remaining. “We had to dig very deep to come out on top against Tweedbank and we now going into tomorrow’s final game against second placed Balbardie with a one point advantage”, said team manager Sheena Currie. Wins on the rinks skipped by Yvonne Veitch (+13) and Janet Fairnie (+6) were sufficient enough to cover the setbacks suffered by Emma Brown (-2) and Nancy McNeil (-12). So everything is now set for a final game winner takes all clash between East Lothian and Balbardie at Meadowmill stadium tomorrow afternoon. The eagerly awaited encounter kicks-off at 2pm and the following team has been selected to hopefully land the honours:- M.Kivlin, P.Turner, M.Thomson, J.Fairnie skip J.McFarlane, R.Mackintosh, M.Hamilton, E.Brown skip M.Devine, J.Russell, C.Ward, Y.Veitch skip M.Murray, I.Combe, G.Mackintosh, N.McNeil skip
Meanwhile on the international stage the strong East Lothian contingent of Willie Wood MBE, Graham Robertson, Derek Oliver, Scott Kennedy, Billy Mellors and Jamie Higgins have all been named in the Scotland side announced by the SIBA for the British Isles Home International series being held once again at Stanley IBC in County Durham from March 12-14th. It’s also congratulations to Emma Brown after she was named in the Scotland Ladies side announced by the SIBA and the 24 year old will participate in her 5th consecutive series in the Ladies British Home International series also being held at Stanley IBC from March 6th-8th.
The talented senior side from East Lothian IBC were in Scottish Senior League quarter-final action on Wednesday when they tackled current title holders Falkirk at West Lothian IBC in Livingston. Meanwhile the qualifying action on the Jock Brodie Senior Challenge Cup resumed last Wednesday and defending champions East Lothian A got their campaign off to a winning start following a 6-2 point’s win over Bainfield. In the other fixture played Midlothian defeated Abbeyview by a similar scoreline. East Lothian A was back in action on Wednesday this time playing Headwell while Midlothian also returned and clashed with Tweedbank.
A side from East Lothian IBC is in first round Scottish Mixed Team Championship action on Sunday against West Lothian at the neutral venue of Balbardie IBC in Bathgate. Former outdoor national singles champion John McCrorie will spearhead the garden county challenge in the all-important singles event while Janet Dickson and Stevie Thomson forge a partnership in the pairs. Dee Hoggan, Andy Burt and Tommy Young will be the representatives in the triples while in the fours its Megan Kivlin, Gordon Pryde, Emma Brown and Scott Logan.
The youth side at East Lothian IBC have a busy day of action tomorrow (Saturday) at Meadowmill stadium as they play Falkirk in a league and cup double header. First up at 7.50am is an East of Scotland Junior League fixture followed by a SYIBA Top Ten first round clash at 10am.
Finally the funeral of well-known county bowler Kenny Mason, who was tragically killed recently following a road collision near his home town of Gullane, will take place today (Friday) at Seafield Crematorium from 11am.