West Lothian IBC’s champion Four of Bryan Cooper, James Speirs, Thomas Mann, and Neil Speirs currently hold the national crown and are back in the limelight this weekend seeking to stake a claim for the 2016 title.
Speirs and Co cross the Forth to parade their skills in the play-down section taking place at East Fife and could well have their hands full Saturday mornings prelim round action with the opposition provide by their Abbeyview (Dunfermline) counterparts. Whilst the pressure will be on the four star names from The Inveralmond Stadium they have proved in the past that they can cope and as extra incentive to defending the national title they are bidding to win for a third time – having also been successful in the 2011 campaign.
Balbardie IBC also have a proud record in the event having been crowned champions in 2000 and the inspiration from that history will be carried into this weekend’s opening challenge against Inverclyde – with Glasgow the venue. Alas the communication links between the ruling body and the Bathgate based club don’t appear to be strong as the information page on the SIBA website doesn’t carry the intended Balbardie line up.
The ladies version of The Scottish Fours play down action also takes place this weekend and the challenge from West Lothian IBC is in the hands of Creena Docherty, Irene Wright, Carole Clarkson, and former cap Margaret Russell. Russell and Co are bidding to emulate the 2009 title triumph of Irene Taylor, Jennifer Sneddon, Angie Uttley, and Wendy Purdie; they head for Fife venue Headwell where the prelim round challenge on Saturday morning comes in the shape of Perth.
Balbardie IBC have been drawn to play in the Glasgow IBC section where they have received a bye into the first round proper and face Lanarkshire on Saturday’s 2pm session. No line up has been announced by the Bathgate club.
West Lothian IBC’s must win game at home to Blantyre in the A Division of the gents premier league failed to produce the desired result with the home team suffering an 88-60 defeat that leaves them trailing table toppers Midlothian by six points. Whilst WL have a clearer sight of the relegation danger zone than the top of the table the campaign is only at the halfway stage so much headway can be made if the former three-in-a-row national champions start to string more positive results together.
Balbardie IBC operate in Divison 1North of the gents leagues and the Bathgate club have ended the first half of their campaign with four wins out of five that has them sitting two points clear at the top of the table. The latest result was a crucial one against fellow leaders Alloa but with home environment advantage at Bathgate the local support were able to cheer a comfortable 93-71 victory that moved Balbardie clear.
Meanwhile the ladies of Balbardie IBC were unable to raise a team to visit Teviotdale at Hawick so conceded the points that proved costly in that they now sit two points adrift of leaders East Lothian.
West Lothian IBC did travel to Galashiels to face foot of the table Tweedbank but could only field a team of 12 players instead of 16 and the heavy penalty incurred contributed to their 90-51 defeat.
Balbardie seniors sit two points behind leaders East Lothian the East B section of the national leagues and are presently nursing the wounds of a 79-44 defeat inflicted on them by neighbour club West Lothian at The Inveralmond Stadium.
It was West Lothian’s third win in six and they sit two points adrift of Balbardie.