Edinburgh & Leith launch their Cities and Counties Championship campaign for The Andrew Hamilton Trophy this weekend and have home green advantage with Carrick Knowe the venue for Saturday’s visit of Stirling East.
E&L captured the national title in 2013 and were finalists in 2012 but failed to qualify from the ultra competitive East section last year finishing out of the top two places with disappointments that included losing away to Stirling East. That result needs to be reversed at Carrick Knowe and a home win is expected with team manager Willie Watson of Parkside confident that his opening selection is bursting at the seams with competitive talent. Watson has shaken things up quite a bit and hands debuts to four players in the shape of Josh Spalding (Craigentinny), Steven Pilley (Bainfield), Andy McNab (Tanfield) and Brian Pollard of Queensberry. There is also a welcome return for George Kirk of Blackhall and Colin Hutchison of Goldenacre although Hutchison is unavailable for the opening match. There are seven notable names missing from Watson’s first pick of the 2015 campaign and for mostly unavailable reasons they are, Ian Paterson and Craig McCall (both Craigentinny), Craig Paterson and Brian Stoddart (both Bainfield), Darren McKenny (Pilrig), plus Parkside duo Derek Smith and Alex Hurry. Colinton star David Fisher has been named captain of a six rink line up that reads, Rink 1. Daniel Gormley (Craigentinny), David Fisher (Colinton), John McDermott (Sighthill), and Paul Veitch (Parkside). Rink 2. Euan Craig (Pilrig), Gavin Smith (Pilrig), Jamie Gracie (Slareford), and Robert Marshall (Slateford). Rink 3. Josh Spalding (Craigentinny), Robert Donaldson (Parkside), Daren Hush (Carrick Knowe), and James Hogg (Carrick Knowe). Rink 4. Andy McNab (Tanfield), Gordon Bold (Craigentinny), Alan Brown (Gorgie Mills), and Mal Higgenbotham (Tandfield). Rink 5. Steven Pilley (Bainfield), George Kirk (Blackhall), Neil Watson (Parkside), and Paul O’Donnell (Carrick Knowe). Rink 6. Alan Trotter (Maitland), Brian Pollard (Queensberry), Andrew Caldwell (Craigentinny) and Willie McDonald (Craigentinny). Reserve: Scott Rogers (Craigentinny), Stuart Campbell (Tanfield).
It is being predicted by rival Associations in the East Section that Midlothian shape up as being a stronger team this season and that is being fuelled by the news that team manager Drew Pearson has Commonwealth Games gold medal star David Peacock back on duty.
Pearson also hands out recalls to Billy Peacock, Jamie MacNab, Robert Campbell, Andy Buerle, and Colin Bonnar while Darren North of Loanhead WM comes in for his debut against Fife County at Strathmiglo.
Rink 1. Neil Linton (Bonnyrigg), Lindsay Plenderleith (Bonnyrigg), Craig Hodge (Loanhead MW), and Colin Walker (Pathhead). Rink 2. Criag More (Shottstown MW), Jamie Mitchell (Deantown), Scott Briggs (Newbattle), and David Peacock (Danderhall MW). Rink 3. Jamie MacNab (Gilmerton Pr), David Lawrence (Wallyford MW), Daniel McDougall (Buccleuch), and Ronnie Duncan (Bonnyrigg), Rink 4. Andrew Wilton (Kirkhill), Scott Ritchie (Buccleuch), John Stevenson (Bonnyrigg) and Kevin McDougall (Bonnyrigg). Rink 5. Tom Moffat (Wallford MW), Robert Campbell (Dalkeith), Colin Bonnar (Newbattle), and Colin MacFarlane (Newbattle). Rink 6. Darren North (Loanhead MW), Andrew Buerle (Loanhead MW), Billy Peacock (Danderhall MW), and Ramsay Blair (Loanhead MW). Reserves: Robert Bruce (Easthouses), Andy Kelly (Buccleuch), Ryan Yuill (Newbattle), Martin Wyllie (Newbattle), Stuart Clark (Pathhead), Andy Scott (Loanhead Pr), Scott Reid (Musselburgh Pr), Mark Yuill (Deantown).