East Lothian bowling icon figure Alex ‘Tattie’ Marshall MBE and partner Paul Foster MBE hopes of appearing in a sixth successive World Indoor Pairs final were thwarted when they suffered an agonising semi-final exit to the fellow Scottish pairing of Ronnie Duncan and Colin Walker in Monday’s last four action at Potters Leisure Resort in Norfolk.
Winners of the title in 2011, 12 & 13, Scotland golden boys Foster and Marshall produced some deadly bowls in the opening set to take it 9-3 but Duncan and Walker rallied in the second set and produced some superb bowls and won it 9-4 to take the all Scottish clash into a tie break. The outstanding bowling from both pairs continued in the tie-break and it was Duncan and Walker who drew first blood by capturing the first end but back came Foster and Marshall to claim the second and send the epic clash into a sudden death end. After both leads had played Foster and Marshall lay a match winning single but with his first delivery Walker played a sublime bowl to draw the shot and with his final delivery Marshall elected to kill the end. With his weighted bowl Marshall connected with the target but it failed to clear out Walker’s bowl and Foster and Marshall departed the event ending a remarkable five year run of final appearances. Marshall was back on the portable rink today (Friday) as he is involved in the World Mixed Pairs Championships where he teams up with fellow Scot Julie Forrest. The strongly fancied pairing faced an opening round clash against the England/Ireland combination pairing of Andy Thomson and Cliodhna Eadie.
On Monday Marshall will begin his quest to extend his remarkable record to seven titles in the Just Retirement World Indoor Singles Championships. Number 1 seed Marshall will open his 2016 campaign against the highly talented Irish qualifier Gary Kelly at 2.30pm and the defending champion knows the pressure will intense. “It’s the first round, I’m playing a qualifier and a very good one at that and people always tend to support the underdog”, said Marshall. The eagerly anticipated clash is expected to be screened live by BBC Television.
The East Lothian banner will be present in the final stages of the National Under 21 Singles Championships to be played at Falkirk IBC on weekend of 2/3 April and former Under 18 national singles champion Calum Darling will carry it. In the playdown action at Abbeyview IBC last Sunday, Darling was in tremendous form to capture the qualifying honours from the East section playdown action and now faces John Fleming Jnr of Inverclyde in the semi-final. The other last four clash features Jason Banks of Garioch against Coatbridge’s Thomas Strachan. The playdown action in the National Under 18 Singles Championships also took place at Abbeyview last Sunday but East Lothian representative Lewis Betts failed to progress from a competitive qualifying section.
Unbelievably survival in the Scottish Premier League is probably now the key ambition for the gent’s side at East Lothian IBC after they lost their second consecutive match and now sit only two points clear of Bainfield in the race to avoid the dreaded second bottom playoff spot. Once again far travelled Aberdeen proved to be the garden county’s bogey team as they departed the Alex Marshall Arena last Saturday with a 76-72 triumph. To depart fortress East Lothian with full points was a great result for the ‘Dons’ but given the richness of class and history that East Lothian have it is a major disappointment in the final stages when the chips are down and the stakes are so high to be outscored on your home carpet. “We looked in total control of the match and at one stage led by a healthy margin so I’m still trying to come to terms how we actually ended up losing the match but all credit to Aberdeen they kept going all the way to the end and won the photo finish”, said a dejected team captain Scott Kennedy. “Mathematically speaking it is still possible for us to win the section but I think it’s now a case of getting at least one more win to keep us well clear of any relegation fears”, added Kennedy.
Defeat on the rinks skipped by Scott Kennedy (-8), Willie Wood MBE (-6) and Billy Mellors (-4) severely blunted the challenge of the home side and the excellent 14 shot win for the rink skipped by Derek Oliver unfortunately paled into insignificance.
The side will hope to create some much needed ‘new year cheer’ tomorrow when they tackle foot of the table Abbeyview. Abbeyview have been cast adrift in the battle for survival and occupy the automatic relegation position with just four points from eight matches but they are a competitive outfit and with pride an issue for them the Dunfermline based Fifers will be no pushover. East Lothian will cross the Forth Road Bridge with star figures Alex Marshall and Scott Kennedy as enforced absentees but are able to call upon the services again of stalwart figures Mark Johnston and Andrew Jeffrey in a reshaped line-up that reads:- M.Higgenbotham, J.Gordon, S.W.Thomson, D.Oliver skip L.Middler, D.Berwick, J.Mower, B.Mellors skip/capt M.Johnston, G.Darling, W.W.Wood MBE, G.Robertson skip A.Jeffrey, G.Blair, E.Fallen, J.Higgins skip
Meanwhile in contrast the ladies side were feeling cock a hoop last Saturday evening after they produced a brilliant display on away terrority in their penultimate match in Division 1C of the Scottish Ladies League to beat West Lothian 81-67 then news filtered through that nearest challengers Balbardie had suffered a shock defeat at Bainfield. The results mean East Lothian go into tomorrow’s final round of fixtures with a four point cushion and in the knowledge they have already clinched the qualifying honours from a tough and competitive division. “I cannot praise my team highly enough as they put on a brilliant display against West Lothian and we were in total command from start to finish and we then reaped the rewards when the result came through from Bainfield”, said a delighted team manager Sheena Currie. Currie received early signals that her side’s penultimate match of the qualifying campaign was not to be riddled with nervous tensions as the visitors made a spectacular start to lead by a double figure margin after ten ends and never lost control on the still long road to 21 ends. Double figure wins for the rinks skipped by Yvonne Veitch (+11) and Lauren Baillie (+10) proved decisive while Emma Logan earned a 19-19 draw with Lisa Barrett and Janet Fairnie was beaten 23-16 by Jennifer Sneddon. The side round off their qualifying campaign tomorrow with a home clash against Balbardie. Ace skip Emma Logan is an absentee with the services of experienced Irene Gray called upon to cover her absence. The team reads:- P.Turner, C.Jones, N.McNeil, Y.Veitch skip M.Murray, J.Russell, A.Irvine, I.Gray skip M.Kivlin, M.Hamilton, M.Thomson, J.Fairnie skip M.Devine, I.Combe, G.Mackintosh, L.Baillie skip
East Lothian’s participation in this season’s Scottish Mixed Team Championship was a short-lived affair after they suffered a preliminary round defeat against East Fife at neutral West Lothian IBC last Sunday. The garden county went down 6-2 on points after defeats were sustained in the singles, pairs and triples clashes with the only bright spot for the garden county being a 19 shot win for Kim Hoggan, Dee Hoggan, John Carpenter Jnr and John McCrorie in the fours contest.
The ever popular Jock Brodie Senior Championships gets underway this coming Wednesday. The popular tournament for the ‘auld yins’ is now into its eighteenth year and this year again it has attracted a healthy total of 10 teams from the length and breadth of Scotland entered into the draw. For the fifteenth successive year well know Haddington businessman Norman T Craig has kindly agreed to sponsor the tournament and the organisers received further good news when Co-operative Funeralcare also confirmed they will give the tournament financial backing for a twelfth successive year.
After a lengthy break the youth side from East Lothian IBC return to East of Scotland Junior League action tomorrow (Saturday) morning and make the short trip to Dalkeith to tackle Midlothian.