The mainstream action of the National Championships swings into action at the Ayr Northfield Bowls Complex on Thursday and the Capital City’s title challenge in the gents Singles is excitingly strong in the shape of experienced campaigners Scott Mackintosh and Alex Hurry.
Macintosh of London Road Foundry carries the banner for District 14 and having reached the final in 2009 the 45 yer old has excellent Singles credentials that includes winning the two most recent Tait Trophy titles. Hurry went great guns in the 2004 championships only to be spiked by eventual champion Paul Foster in the semi finals while the now 37 year old District 15 spearhead from Parkside is a former winner of The Edinburgh Open.
The last player to bring the coveted Blue Ribbon title to Edinburgh was Billy Mellors of Goldenacre in 2006 and the now 41 year old is in the 2015 field but this time representing the banner of East Lothian as the champion of West Barns.
Andy Dunnett of Queensferry is a two times winner of The West Lothian Masters Title and the 41 year old is in good recent form having booked his place at Ayr with the 21-20 scalp of international star Grant Logan of Kirkliston in their District final. Midlothian’s Stuart Roseburgh of Loanhead MW has less of a profile but it is skills that count most and he will be well fired up in his bid to reach the heights of the great Dick Bernard in 1970.
The luck of the draw has been unkind to Edinburgh and The Lothian’s with Mellors first out of the hat and drawn against Macintosh and they go head to head on Friday at 1pm while Hurry takes to the green against Kenny Murray of Stranraer at 3pm.
Dunnett launches his campaign against James Howell of Clarkston at 5pm and is joined by Roseburgh playing Stuart Bebbington of Ayton. Mellors is joined in the 32 strong field by other former champions in the shape of Iain McLean(2013), Mark Kelsey (2011), and Jonathan Ross (2010) while other high profie names include, Jason Banks (Inverurie), Steven Allan (Menstrie), Robert Grant (Overtown & Waterloo).
Tanfield produced the singles champion proper in 1984 with Willie Paul their hero figure and hopes are high that the Junior version of that title can be delivered in 2015 by 18 year old Liam McKay with the exciting talents of the teenager demonstrated by his recent successful defence of the E&L Fleming Trophy.
Stephen Pringle of Carrick Knowe is also a strong hope to bring the junior crown back to the Capital City as the 21 year old is already an experienced campaigner and toughened up as a regular on the Hamilton Trophy scene with Edinburgh & Leith.
The wider Lothian challenge also brings high quality players into the picture in the shape of Daniel McDougall (Buccleuch),Ross Thomson (ELCO), and 18 year old Jordan Pearce of Kirkliston.
McKay opens on Friday at 1pm against Jordan Baptie of Glencarse, Pringle faces Robert Kinloch of Shettleston at 11am,McDougall tackles Kyle Ross of Fortrose & Rosemarkie at 9am; Thomson takes on Douglas Balfour of Giffnock at 9am; while Pearce has it knowingly tough against Chris Stein of Markinch, also at 9am.
Midlothian have the strongest looking Pair (Thur) on paper in the shape of Ronnie Duncan and Kevin McDougall of Bonnyrigg; while Graeme McIntosh skipped Tanfield to the Triples title in 2010 and is now the pilot figure for son Mark and Brian Higgins under the Maitland banner.
Bainfield star Craig Paterson was a big hope for the 2014 Singles and now seeks better fortune as he skips his Bainfield rink of Stuart Clark, David McNair,and Steven Pilley in the Fours.(Thur).
Gary Smith bids to bring extra icing to Linlithgow’s 150th Anniversary Cake with the famous England/Scotland cap skipping Andrew Grimshaw Jnr, Mark Graham, and David Alexander. The final days play takes place on Sunday.
The sparks are set to fly in the upcoming third round of the Singles discipline of the Edinburgh Bowling League Knockout Championships, sponsored by Buyrite Bathrooms, in terms of a high octane skills clash between star figures Daniel Gormley of Craigentinny and David Fisher of Colinton. Both players were fixtures in this seasons E&L Hamilton Trophy team and members of the 2013 cup winning line up so have earned their spurs in the higher echelons of Bowls in The Capital so represent a touch of proven class. Gormley’s second round survival in the EBL did hang on the proverbial shoogly nail however as he was trapped in the jaws of defeat at 20-16 down at Colinton to Corstorphine challenger Jim Conner. The escape hatch remained open with a magic count of 3 to 19 then he answered the intense pressure with successive single to 21 – bringing the curtain down on a 25-end humdinger of a tie. Fisher new he would have his hands full against former Dean ace Andy McNab now playing out of Tanfield but stamped his mark on his opponent when breaking from 7-7 to 16-7 with a run of 2, 4, 1 ,2 at Hillside. The catch still looked securely in the bag for Fisher at 19-12 but McNab wriggled back with a run of 1, 1, 1, 1, 2 to 18 however the scales tipped finally in favour of the Colinton ace with a double to 21 on end 22.
Mark Hewitt carried the Whitehouse & Grange banner into the third round having come out on top in his 18-end battle with Ian Neil of Ardmillan at Craigentinny. It was evens-stevens at 12-12 after 11-ends then Hewitt made good space to 17. Neil was still in with a fighting chance at 18-16 down but Hewitt delivered the coup de grace with a mighty count of to 21.
The shock result of the round was delivered by Colin Jones of Queensberry at Jessfield where he raced into a 13-3 lead then traded well on the margin to end up trimming Colin Hairs of Hillside, 21-13 in 24-ends. Hairs – a former finalist in The Edinburgh Open at Balgreen – was the EBL champion of 2013 and 2014 therefore bidding to complete a hat trick.
Donald Brown always brings good value for money performances to the Merchiston banner and he delivered a fine performance to finish the stronger in a 21-13 win over David Pinkney of Brunstane in 21 ends at London Road Foundry. The opposition to Brown in round three comes in the shape of Willowbrae ace Craig Duffus who turned up trumps at the 21-12 expense of Liberton’s former Tait Trophy finalist, George Blaikie at Northern.
Alan Trotter – another E&L Hamilton Trophy star – made a strong forward move from 3-4 to 15-4 with a run of 2, 2, 4, 4 and went on to score a 21-9 victory in 18-ends over John Arnott of Coltbridge at Leith. Graham Flight’s battle against Alan Muir of Goldenacre at Postal was a thrilling 23-end encounter that saw the Dudley challenger set to be grounded at 13-2 and 15-6 down but he escaped the exit door with a flying finish to snatch a 21-20 victory.