Bathgate based UK wide company Johnston Oils is the headline sponsor for the £4000 WLBA 18th West Lothian Masters that swings into its weeklong action this Monday with a field that is 186 strong challenging for the £1000 title and the signature Green Jacket.Read More
Established in 1999 to herald the change of name from The Linlithgowshire BA (1882) to the West Lothian BA the inaugural Master was Andrew Dunnett of Queensferry and subsequent Green Jacket wearers include multiple four times champions Grant Logan and John Aitken of Kirkliston. All three are in the 2016 line up, and with Aitken the current holder of the title the 61 year old is seeded No1 followed by 40- year old Logan (2) and 42 year old Dunnett, also the Master in 2007, at No3.
Neil Speirs, gold medal hero of the 2014 Commonwelath Games, makes a welcome return to West Lothian’s flagship event, and the 2002 Master is seeded No4 ahead of 2010 Master Gary Smith of Linlithgow at No5. Bo’ness star Ewan Shearer clipped the wings of the field to win the 2001 Masters and the now 43 – year old lines up as the No6 seed ahead of 48 year old No7 seed Brian Craig of Glenmavis who proudly sports the 2014 Green Jacket.
Cameron Greer raised the banner of Bathgate BC high to win the 2012 Masters and the 29 year old attracts the No8 seed and is followed at No9 by his 34 – year old club mate Bryan Cooper who reached the final in 2008. Buchan Park produced last years runner up in the shape of Ryan Miller and helped by his Champion of Champions triumph in 2008 the now 25-year old enters the seed ratings at No 10; he is followed at No11 by the 2015 Junior Open champion Andy Semple of Newbridge.
The Newbridge banner is also represented by Alec Allan at No12 and the now 54 year old Scottish and British Isles Pairs champion of 1995 remains ambitious to go one step better than his runners up position in the 2013 Masters.
Colin Cruickshanks of Pumpherston is a new entrant at No13 with the 31 year old impressing with his 2014 winning of the County Singles title, and following up by reaching the recent 2016 final.
“Super Ray Logan” enjoys an outstanding ‘box office’ reputation and although his Scottish Singles title of 1998 is a bit dated the 61 year old from Kirkliston remains a star of the WLBA Hamilton Trophy team and is seeded No14.
Connor McKendrick of Middleton Hall entered the Seed list as the District Junior Singles champion in 2014 and having won his Masters section that year remains in the limelight at No15.
Calum Black of Uphall Station is similarly rewarded as the 2016 District Champion and the 24 year old – in National action at Ayr this week – completes the Seed list at No16. There is no question that the 2016 Masters title is winnable from outside the 16 seeds and a large part of the romance of the WLM is that headline shocks will be created at the expense of the hot pots as the week progresses.
Jack High Insurance and local clubs Whitburn and Newbridge are additional sponsors of the WLM while Local Business concerns boost the funding with Adverts in the Brochure. There are also Menu Specials in the shape of Tony Macaroni donating a £10 Voucher to each of the Last 64 while the each of the Last 16 will receive a £10 Voucher from Sainsbury’s Livingston. The Final Days play takes place at Newbridge BC on Sunday 7th August.
World stage super star Lorna Smith of Linlithgow is one of the major attractions in the Bowls Scotland Championships that reach their climax at Ayr Northfield this weekend with the West Lothian ace bidding to turn up trumps in the ladies Singles for the fourth time five years.
And the West Lothian banner is also strongly represented in the gents Singles with Peter Lynch the 2003 Master, then Glenmavis now Whitburn, well capable of mixing it with the best of the 32 challengers for the championships ‘holy grail’ title.
Smith’s phenomenal feat of three title wins in a row was followed by a shock defeat in last years final and it remains to be seen if the former World No1 is now more vulnerable than at any stage of her fantastic career. Mental Strength is a major feature of the Smith make up and combined with her supremely consistent high performance levels over many years there is an understandable air of self assurance about her play. Smith’s shock defeat in the 2015 final does nothing to diminish her reputation as a giant of the sport but it did show that she can be upstaged when unable to hit top form, and that may encourage her opponents to have a real go. Her first round test comes in the shape of fellow Scotland cap Lynn Lees of Townhill (Dunfermline) while other notable names in the 32 strong line up includes former national champions Karen Dawson of Denny (2003) and Marie Todd of Newtown St Boswells (2008). Lynch is a product of the now sadly defunct Fauldhouse stable that saw his pals Willie Francis reach the Singles final in 2000, the trio of Jack McLaren, Sandy McDougall and Francis piped cruelly at the post in the 2002 final of the Triples, then McDougall hailed the winner of the Pairs title with Davy Ross in 2009.
The 32 strong field at large isn’t overly dominated by high profile national figures suggesting that the battle for the 2016 title is wide open – all of course have produced something special to earn their place in the line up. Calum Black carries the Uphall Station colours in the gents Junior Singles and the 24 year old winner of the District ttile has support form in the shape of having his name etched on the club championship board at East Calder. The son-father partnership of Jack and Alan Murphy of Bellsburn are itching to parade their skills for the first time on the national stage at Ayr but there is no show in the Triples as the Queensferry trio that won the District can’t make the trip. George Reynolds is a stalwart figure at Blackburn and over the moon at making it to the glamour stage of the Fours as skip to Willie Clark, John Graham, and Thomas Lee.
The campaign to land the ladies Junior Singles title is in the talented hands of Taylor Nicol of the Deans and the Livingston Station club are double handed with Mary McGinty, Debbie Holcroft, and Jodie Nicol bidding for glory in the Triples.
The high profile partnership of Sandra Steven and Kirsteen McLelland have bright the national pairs title back to Uphall Station on a magnificent three occasions and they are back to grace the scene again this year.
Buchan Park represent the WL banner in the Fours with Jennifer Sneddon skipping Marguerite Bradbury, Jinty Little, and Margaret Kain.
The championships reach their climax with the Finals on Sunday.