Friendly rivals off the carpet but intensely serious and no prisoners taken when engaged in a head to head battle so the sparks are expected to fly when neighbour clubs East Lothian and Midlothian clash in today’s gents semi final of the indoor bowls Scottish Cup at Stirling.
East Lothian’s end of season ambition is to etch the club’s name on the coveted silverware for a for a record seventh time and that mission is enhanced today by the returning presence to the line up of icon figure Alex Marshall MBE. Team morale is further boosted by the return of Scotland’s most capped player ever in the shape of 78-year old legend Willie Wood MBE. WWW – the middle initial stands for Walker as in Tommy Walker the Heart of Midlothian football legend – has just announced his retrial from the international scene having chalked up a marvellous 134 caps over a career span of 45 years.
Wood lines up at second to Les Middler, recently crowned World Under 25 champion Joe Mower, and another giant of the sport in one time Edinburgh IBC star Billy Mellors. There are two enforced absentees in the shape of stalwart figures Dougie Berwick and Jamie Gordon so the rest of a restructured line up read, Rink 2. Mal Higgenbotham, Stuart W Thomson, Ewan Fallen, and Derek Oliver. Rink 3. Mark Johnston, Andy Burt, Jamie Higgins, and Alex Marshall MBE. Rink 4. Andy Jeffrey, Glenn Blair, Graham Robertson, and Scott Kennedy (Cpt).
“I think we will be viewed as the ever so slight favourites but a cup tie against Midlothian is never going to be a picnic outing for either club so it will be focus, focus, focus for as and no doubt them”, said an EL spokesman.
Midlothian have been particularly impressive and exciting performers in the premier league both this season and last but handicapped by the absence of two star players in the shape of Colin Walker and Ronnie Duncan.
Both have just recently returned from outdoor international duty in New Zealand but only Walker is available for today and he returns to skip Andy Caldwell, Kevin McDougall, and Danny McDougall.
Walker’s return fits in well with the enforced absence of rising teenage star Jack Macnab – the make up of the other three rinks reads, Rink 2. Jamie Macnab, Craig Hodge, Scott Briggs, and David Peacock. Rink 3. Colin Cook, Neil Linton, Colin Macfarlane, and Billy Peacock.Rink 4. Ian Forbes (cpt), Drew Pearson,, Lindsay Plenderleith, and Sandy (AJ) Knight.
“The formbook goes out the window in local derby clashes like this but we beat them in the finals of 1994 and 1995 so we know what it takes and our hope is that we can deliver”, said team manager Frank Gray.