The climax to the national indoor championships at Lanarkshire IBC in Wishaw last Sunday produced a nightmare experience for the East Lothian IBC contingent of Andrew Jeffrey, Scott Kennedy, Derek Oliver and Billy Mellors in the gents Fours final but in contrast triggered a fantastic high for their West Lothian opponents
West Lothian celebrated the crowning glory after extra-end drama that saw the rink of Bryan Cooper, James Speirs, Tommy Mann and Neil Speirs orchestrate a spectacular escape to victory having trailed East Lothian by eight shots after 16 ends played of regulation 21. Mellors and co had performed like demons from the opening end and charged into a 14-5 lead after 11 ends, an astonishing scoreline given the quality of an apposition that had reigned as national champions in 2011. West Lothian did raise a cheer from their support on the crowded banking when on end 12 they counted a mighty 5 that brought them back into contention however it was short lived when forced back onto the back-foot once more with an East Lothian response to 19-11. “Given that we were playing well as a rink and the flow of the game was in our direction I must admit the thought in my head was that defeat was improbable with just five ends to play”, said Scott Kennedy later. End 17 was to spark a West Lothian revival however and it came with the count of a 2 that moved them onto the 13 mark, usually seen as a graveyard figure psychologically difficult to escape from but Speirs and Co didn’t dwell on the thought of it. End 18 produced another count of 2 for WL, closing the gap to 19-15 then the momentum gathered pace in the shape of landing a one, two that hiked up the match tensions on both rinks with EL now defending a slender 19-18 lead. End 21 developed into the promised cliff-hanging situation and presented EL with a chance to arrest their slide and clinch the title however Mellors fell an agonising foot short of playing the hero role resulting in WL carding a single to 19-19.
The final went into an extra-end decider and although played out on a tightrope situation the pendulum did seem set to swing in the direction of EL with the head building up in their favour in the shape of a hold of two shots. Speirs had the last bowl of the final and it brought the 2014 Commonwealth Games Gold medal winner one of his finest moments in a career of many highs with the 36-year old attacking the head with a fierce rocket like strike. “Neil exploded on his target with pin point accuracy sending our two shot bowls and the jack spinning away from each other and once the dust had settled and I had rubbed my eyes for a second time I found that West Lothian were holding the title winning shot”, reflected Kennedy with a wince. “I remember the events of the extra- end vividly but the five–ends previous to that are just a blur to me other than Neil (Speirs) played like a man possessed and was instrumental in their revival”, concluded Kennedy.
Meanwhile in the gents triple semi-final action last Saturday morning the ultra-talented East Lothian trio of Mark Johnston, Billy Mellors and Derek Oliver came under early pressure to trail 10-4 and the garden county champions slipped to a surprise 23-14 defeat from Andy Greenwood, John Cowie and Jim Byron of Cumbernauld.
The section’s for next season’s Scottish Premier League campaign were drawn at last weekend’s national finals and East Lothian IBC men’s side have been drawn in a very winnable looking B section which features Bainfield, Ayr, Falkirk, Abbeyview and Aberdeen. The ladies side will compete in a competitive looking Divison 1C which includes Teviotdale, Tweedbank, Bainfield, Balbardie and West Lothian. The senior side have once again been drawn in the East B section and will tackle Bainfield, Midlothian, Teviotdale, Tweedbank, Balbardie and West Lothian.
The gents side from East Lothian IBC step up their bid to win the Scottish Cup for a magnificent seventh time tomorrow (Saturday) with an eagerly awaited semi-final encounter against local rivals at Stirling IBC. Scott Kennedy makes a welcome return as one of the four skips – the others being fellow caps Derek Oliver, Jamie Higgins and Billy Mellors. The vastly experience Gary Darling is an absentee which means last game call-up Brian Galloway deservedly retains his place in a line-up which reads:- L.Middler, B.Galloway, W.W.Wood MBE, S.Kennedy skip A.Jeffrey, A.Burt, D.Berwick, B.Mellors skip E.Fallen, J.Robertson, G.Robertson, D.Oliver skip M.Johnston (capt), C.Darling, S.W.Thomson, J.Higgins skip
A side from East Lothian IBC is in final action on Sunday at the Headwell Mixed Team Championship tournament. The garden county have etched their name on the coveted silverware on just one occasion back in season 1993/94 so there are high hopes at Meadowmill stadium that 2015 will bridge the long gap. The following team has been announced:- Gents: J.Carpenter jnr, M.Osborne, S.W.Thomson, J.McCrorie skip Ladies: M.Devine, I.Combe, A.Irvine, M.Hamilton skip Seniors: L.Middler, G.McCathie, A.Davidson, B.J.Smith skip Mixed: G.Mackintosh, R.Mackintosh, S.Betts, S.Mackintosh skip
Last Wednesday’s final round of qualifying action in the Jock Brodie Senior Challenge Cup, sponsored by Norman T Craig and Co-operative Funeralcare, saw East Lothian A easily secure their place in the semi-final knockout stage with a highly convincing 8-0 points win over West Lothian. The other clash played was between Bainfield and Headwell and it was the ‘townies’ that came out on top 6-2. The semi-final draw paired defending champions East Lothian A and Midlothian while the other tie featured East Lothian B against Falkirk. Both semi-finals were scheduled to be staged on Wednesday with the final taking place this coming Wednesday (April 8) at 11am.
East Lothian IBC staged the final of the Central District Senior Top Six last Saturday afternoon and it was Dunfermline based club Abbeyview that emerged the victorious side following a 4-2 point’s win over Midlothian.
The youth side from East Lothian IBC failed to shine in last Saturday’s Midlothian IBC Youth Team tournament and had to settle for a disappointing fourth placed finish. The side will hope to make amends tomorrow (Saturday) when they make the trip across the River Forth to participate in the East Fife Top Ten tournament.
On the domestic front finals week at East Lothian IBC will kick-off on Sunday evening at 6.30pm when Tranent tackle outdoor champions Haddington in the final of East Coast Carpets sponsored Top Club tournament. Finals week will come to a conclusion next Friday (April 10) evening with a huge night of action as the finals of the gent’s singles, ladies singles, senior singles, gent’s junior singles, ladies junior singles and youth singles are all down for decision. All finals during the course of finals week will commence at 6.30pm.