West Barns carried the East Lothian banner into the quarter-finals of the Co-operative Funeralcare sponsored Scottish Inter-County Top Ten following a convincing 6-2 points success over Bon Accord champions Westhill BC in last Sunday’s first round proper action.
Icon figure Billy Mellors was hero figure in the all-important singles clash as victory from him was key and he duly unlocked the door to the last eight with a commanding 21-15 victory. Ian Knox, Gary Landells and Alister Kennedy were in fine form to score a 5 shot victory in the triples while Calum Gordon skipped Dougie Kennedy, Billy Cormack and Scott Thorburn to a single shot triumph in the fours. Kevin Thomson and Scott Kennedy lost out narrowly in the pairs. “A tremendous result especially given the fact playing surface was extremely tricky and it was a major challenge for all the players to say the least”, reflected team captain Scott Kennedy. The quarter-final draw sends West Barns back on the road again and an adventure to Lanarkshire beckons with Burnbank Hamilton BC the destination for the East Lothian champions on Sunday. The side could be missing the services of star players Billy Mellors and Scott Kennedy as they are supposed to be participating in the Scotland gent’s senior trial match which is being staged at Craigentinny BC in Edinburgh also on Sunday. West Barns did approach the Scottish Top Ten Association about possibly changing the date of the fixture but this has been rejected and now the players face the unbelievable dilemma of having to choose between club and country.
East Lothian faced a testing home challenge to arch rivals Edinburgh & Leith at a sun drenched Cockenzie & Port Seton BC last Saturday in their third match of the Scottish Counties Championship for the Andrew Hamilton Trophy, but the six times winners came through with flying colours to win 111-103. Edinburgh & Leith finished with the upper hand over the East Lothian rinks skipped by Billy Mellors, Scott Kennedy and team captain Craig Valentine; but the win points were secured for the ‘garden county’ by triumphs for Derek Oliver, John McCrorie and Ian Bell. “Even this early in the campaign we felt this was a must win fixture for us so I asked the team for a big performance and in delivering I was impressed by their sense of focus and strong will to win”, commented team manager Ian Bell. Host club ace Oliver served up an outstanding individual display and claimed top honours plus the sweepstake money as he skipped Adam Martin, Gordon Baillie and Glenn Blair to a whopping 27-7 win over Paul O’Donnell. McCrorie was also in fine form to skip Gordon White, Billy Dunleavey and Stevie Greenan to a 23-13 success over Jamie Gracie while John Gearty (late replacement for the unavailable Stewart Johnston), Billy Cormack, Craig McLeod and Bell delivered a just about deserved 18-16 win over Robert Marshall. Valentine and his rink of Steven White, Davie Whitson and Craig Bell were involved in an enthralling battle with ex-garden county Malcolm Higgenbotham before being edged out 18-15. Kennedy and his front three of Chris Johnston, Matt Osborne and Tom Young slipped to a 19-12 defeat from Paul Veitch while Ross Thomson, Jamie Gordon, Stephen Cochrane and Mellors led 6-1 but then suffered a major collapse and were out-gunned 30-16 by another former East Lothian player in the shape of James Hogg.
The side is back in action tomorrow (Saturday) when they make the trip West to tackle Stirling County East at Larbert BC. Stirling County East will go into the fixture brimming with confidence after they registered a shock win at Borders so a big performance will be required from East Lothian if they want to bag the points. Team manager Ian Bell has had to make two enforced changes as both Chris Johnston and Glenn Blair are unavailable for the clash so Mark McCormack (Winton) and Ross Marwick (Prestongrange) are called up from the reserve bench as direct replacements and both will make their garden county debuts. The full 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) skipM.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.Cormack (W/B), C.McLeod (Giff), I.Bell (Hadd) skip Reserves: S.Johnston (Orm) & B.Young (Tra)
All players requested to report at Larbert BC 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 suffered a damaging setback in their bid to qualify from the East section with the garden county edged out to a single shot defeat by Borders in a dramatic climax to the head to head at Haddington BC last Sunday. Wins on the rinks skipped by Gordon White (+12) and Glenn Blair (+11) were in double figures but failed to cover the defeat of Mark McWilliams (-4), Steven White (9) and Fraser Pringle (-11) while James Burnett drew for the second week running.
“We were beaten on an umpires measure so obviously the guys were left gutted and the defeat is a setback but not quite the end of the world”, reflected team manager Stevie Greenan afterwards. On Sunday the side make the short trip to Currie BC in Edinburgh to tackle a very strong and experienced Edinburgh & Leith side. A huge team effort will be required from the garden county ‘young yins’ to get a positive outcome against the current title holders and Greenan has been forced to make three personnel changes with seasonal debuts given to Chris Brock (Haddington), Dean Riva (Gifford) and Kieran Frame (Castlepark), in place of the unavailable trio of team captain Glenn Blair, Kieran Simants and Chris Innes. Steven White will wear the captain’s armband in the absence of Glenn Blair. The slightly reshuffled line up reads:- S.Clark (P/G), D.Riva (Giff), R.Cochrane (P/G), K.Frame (C/P) skip C.Allison (E/L), J.Robertson (Tra), R.Thomson (ELCO), G.White (Abe) skip S.Robertson (C/P), B.Inglis (Abe), Dec.French (Elph), C.Bell (Hadd) skip L.Newlands (Ath), H.Robertson (C/P), S.Gray (C/P), J.Burnett (C/P) skip C.Brock (Hadd), A.Martin (Ath), B.Forbes (ELCO), S.White (ELCO) skip/capt C.Darling (Giff), S.Newlands (Ath), F.Pringle (C/P), M.McWilliams (Hadd) skip Reserve pool: K.Yule (P/G), R.French (Elph), D.French (Elph), J.Ferguson (Long), S.Johnston (Orm), L.Irvine (Tra)
All players requested to report at Currie BC by no later than 1.30pm. Any player selected who is unable to play is requested to contact team manager Stevie Greenan immediately on 07712 277681.
It’s congratulations to the Tranent BC pairing of Dee Hoggan and John McCrorie after they won the Bowls Scotland District Mixed Pairs title and now go forward to represent East Lothian in the national finals at Ayr Northfield in late July. The talented duo defeated the East Linton partnership Agnes Thomson and George Cowan 16-6 in the East Lothian district final staged at Castlepark on Monday evening.
Meanwhile its congratulations to the Cockenzie & Port Seton BC sisters Lauren and Leanne Baillie after both were named in the Scotland Ladies Senior International team that will head to Leamington Spa next month to participate in the British Isles Home International series.
Haddington’s spell as early season table toppers in Division 1 of the East Coast Carpets sponsored East Lothian Leagues continues despite the leaders being held to a 4-4 draw at Castlepark in last Friday night’s action. However the result felt like a victory for the defending champions as they staged a thrilling fightback to capture the four points and keep their unbeaten record intact. Tranent and West Barns moved into joint second position and closed the point’s gap on the leaders to 7 points after both sides recorded impressive 8-0 home wins against Cockenzie & Port Seton and Gifford respectively. After a shaky start East Linton are now beginning to find their feet and enjoyed a 6-2 home win over newly promoted Castlepark A while EL-Coop departed foot of the table Dunbar with a fine 6-2 triumph.
Haddington visited West Barns last night (Thursday) in this week’s top clash in Division 1 after both sides agreed to bring the clash forward 24 hours so a few of the visiting players can attend a stag weekend. In tonight’s (Friday) action Tranent will hope to capitalise on home advantage when they welcome Castlepark to Polson Park. EL-Coop play host to fellow in-form side East Linton while Cockenzie & Port Seton welcome back Craig Valentine and Steven Thomson for their match at fellow early season struggler’s Dunbar. Gifford entertain Castlepark A.
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.
Draw for Gifford Bowling & Sports Club Open Triples tournament, sponsored by Belhaven Brewery & Johnston Oils, tomorrow (Saturday) is as follows:- 10am A.Riva, Dirleton 2, A.Hurry, R.Wilson, D.French, Haddington 2, S.Galloway, J.Campbell, M.Wood, B.French, Haddington 1, I.Inglis 11am C.Allison, B.Bisset, J.Hamilton, R.Skea, S.Plenderleith, Dirleton 1, J.Lothian, D.Strachan, J.Harley, W.W.Wood MBE, D.Riva, L.Johnston