East Lothian IBC have carved out an exciting opportunity to etch their name on the silverware of the gents Scottish indoor bowls Fours Championship as a result of Billy Mellors skipping Andy Jeffrey, Scott Kennedy, and Derek Oliver into the showpiece climax of the event at Lanarkshire IBC on the weekend of March 28
Mellors and Co served up four stunning performances in their play down section at Bainfield last weekend with knockout wins over Stirling, Berwickshire, Tweedbank, and Midlothian earning them a well-deserved place in the semi finals. The section final against next door neighbours Jamie Macnab, Jamie Aitken, Andrew Kelly and distinguished 21 times Scotland cap Ronnie Duncan developed into a real Christmas Cracker of a clash with lots of fireworks that included no less than seven burnt ends. Both rinks contained one substitute from the original domestic qualifiers with Oliver coming in for legend figure Willie Wood MBE and Duncan taking over from Danny McDougall. East Lothian – the pre-match favourites on paper with 99 caps shared between Kennedy (42), Mellors (39) and Oliver (18) – were rocked back on their heels in the early stages by their younger opponents and trailed 11-3 after 10 of the scheduled 21-ends. “We knuckled down under the threat of heading for the exit door and battled back to 9 with a run of 3, 2, 1 but then conceded a 2 and a 1 to be back in trouble at 14-9 down after 15 ends”, related Kennedy later. “We new time was running out and that we wouldn’t complete the regulation 21 ends as seven had already been burnt as a result of aggressive play so it was a huge relief to us when carding a mighty 5 to stand peels at 14-14”, he added. “The momentum was now with us and we carded a double at what proved to be the penultimate end to hit the front for the first time then a brilliant front-toucher from Derek (Oliver) survived onto the card for us to clinch a 17-14 victory”, he concluded. The exceptionally strongly formed East Lothian rink had launched their campaign in great style with an impressive 23-14 win over Richard Kelly, Steven Hazel, James Brown, and Gary Malcolmson of Stirling being a declaration of intent in the prelim round. Mellors then skipped his front-three to a commanding 23-15 victory over Ross Neil, Gavin Douglas, Stuart Bebbington, and Graeme Forsyth of Berwickshire to set up a second round challenge against Tweedbank. There was to be no at of revenge for the Border area with the East Lothian rink continuing to fire on all four cylinders to score a hard-fought 25-20 victory over Derrick Pearce, Neil McInally, Kenny Johnstone, and Ross Nicol. A win that set up the confrontation against a Midlothian Four that had started the event with a crushing 27-5 demolition of Teviotdale challengers John Taylor, Colin Rae, Andrew Kyle, and Ewan Lindores then followed up with a 23-16 win over Cumbernauld and a 28-11 triumph over Dumbarton.
Balbardie IBC opened with a good 26-18 win over Perth but Graham Keery, Brian Craig, Gary Orr , and Graeme Byrne then made an 18-16 exit to Dumbarton.