East Lothian gents will look forward to life as an indoor bowls premier league club next season having escaped the relegation zone with a hard fought nine shot away victory (76-67) over foot of the table challengers Abbeyview in their penultimate fixture in the B Division.
The result paid East Lothian a three-way dividend with the preservation of their premier league status achieved at the expense of sentencing Abbeyview and Edinburgh club Bainfield to occupation of the two relegation zoned places. “We did face the scary situation of being sucked into a three way relegation zone dog fight entering the final round of fixtures but that pressure is off us now as we have moved four points clear of Bainfield and six clear of Abbeyview”, explained spokesman Billy Mellors.
Mellors stepped into the captaincy role in place of absentee star Scott Kennedy and coped with the extra pressure well enough to skip Les Middler, Dougie Berwick, and Joe Mower to a single shot victory. The leading light though was fellow cap Jamie Higgins who was similarly hard pressed by very competitive opposition but had their measure to skip Andy Jeffrey, Glenn Blair, and Ewan Fallen to a five shot win.
The Fifers certainly didn’t go down without putting up a ferocious fight and another result that went close to the wire saw Graham Robertson skip Mark Johnston. Gary Darling, and Willie Wood MBE to a four shot triumph. Three wins on an away carpet reflected a sterling effort by an East Lothian team whose only one was a narrow two shot setback for the rink of Mal Higgenbotham, Jamie Gordon, Stewart W Thomson, and Derek Oliver.
Meanwhile the ladies from The Alex Marshall Arena, near Tranent, had already celebrated the national league capture of the Division 1C honours but enhanced that by finishing on a high against chief rivals Balbardie. The result was close call as East Lothian shared a 2-2 outcome on the four rinks but the wins delivered by home skips Janet Fairnie and Irene Gray tipped the scales in an 80-76 triumph that was ‘the garden county’s’ eighth win in 10. Fairnie emerged the chief trail-blazer and in sensational fashion as she skipped M Kevlin, M Hamilton, and M Thomson into a 17-2 lead over Margo Duff and went on to deliver a 26-11 victory. Gray – skipping in place of absentee international star Emma Logan – was on track for a similar big margin triumph but came under late pressure in a 23-20 win over Delia Flannigan. Yvonne Veitch was outgunned in a 23-15 defeat from Sharon Leitch while Lauren Baillie went down 22-16 at the hands of Angie Uttley.
The Midlothian ladies campaign in the B Division of the Premier League ended with a disappointing 83-64 defeat away to Falkirk, and they finished fourth of six, some six points adrift of table-toppers Auchinleck.