The highlight of the indoor bowls national calendar this weekend in the playdown action of The Scottish Fours Championship and there is a strong degree of optimism that the Edinburgh Banner will be prominent in the hands of the Bainfield rink of Chris Downie, John McDermott, Colin Hutchison, and Gavin Smith.
The stars from The Hutchison Crossway Stadium are all high profile players with premier league experience, all of them in their prime and the dream they are chasing is to emulate the 1989 title triumph of Graeme Archer, Mel Muirhead, Frazer Muirhead, and Alan Brown.Smith is the senior figure with 15 full caps to his name and his experience and inspirational driving force will be paramount in Bainfield’s bid to make it to the last four stage of the event at Lanarkshire IBC on the weekend of Saturday March 28. Bainfield compete in the section being decided at Whiteinch (Glasgow) and having received a bye into the first round proper will launch their campaign against Richard Wright, Brian Ferguson, Brian Berryman, and Graeme McDougall of West of Scotland IBC.
Whiteinch is also the venue for West Lothian IBC and therein lies real danger for Bainfield as the challengers from Livingston come in the shape of 2011 national champions Bryan Cooper, James Speirs, Thomas Mann, and Neil Speirs. The WL back-end of international giants Speirs (Gold) and Mann (coaching support) will still be buoyed up by Scotland’s success at Glasgow 2014 while the front-end figures are star performers in the premier league. WL open in the prelim round and face Keith Campbell, Peter Pullen, Ian Bence, and Stephen Scott of Cowal. If WL and Bainfield were to meet then it would be in the section final.
Bainfield is also a venue for the playdowns and spectators at the Hutchison Crossway Stadium are in for a treat with local vicinity clubs in the shape of East Lothian, Midlothian, and Balbardie all parading their skills and strongly represented. The East Lothian challenge looks mega strong with former Edinburgh IBC star Andy Jeffrey playing lead to international stars Derek Oliver, Scott Kennedy, and Billy Mellors. Mellors – with Edinburgh in 1997- and Kennedy- with EL in 1998 – have celebrated previous title success.
The Midlothian banner is represented by four prominent Under 25 talents in the shape of Jamie Macnab, Jamie Aitken, Andrew Kelly, and Danny McDougall while 2001 title-winning skip Graeme Byrne of Balbardie is at the helm for Graeme Keery, Brian Craig, and Gary Orr. All three challengers from the Lothian’s open in the prelim round (9-30am) with Midlothian tackling Teviotdale, East Lothian facing Stirling, and Balbardie (Bathgate) lining up against Perth.
Meanwhile the ladies of Bainfield travel to Whiteinch IBC for their section campaign in the National Fours and their challenge is in the able hands of Liz McIntyre, Betty Eaton, Lily Murray, and Marion Dickson who open against Cowal in the prelim round. Bainfield have West Lothian IBC for company in the shape of Crina Docherty, Irene Wright, Carole Clarkson, and Margaret Russell who open against Ardrossan in the first round proper. The Inveralmond stadium in Livingston plays host to an all Lothian challenge with Jackie McFarlane, Catherine Jones, Cathy Ward, and Cathy McLeod clashing with Kim Ross, Catherine Lochran, Sharon Leitch, and Lorraine Malloy of Balbardie in the prelim round. Sandra McLeish has already celebrated a mighty five title triumphs with Midlothian and his now bidding for a super sixth as skip to Dorothy Millar, Grace McGregor, and legendary 72 times capped Jeanette Conlan. They open against Tweedbank.