Edinburgh & Leith will field a team that oozes class in abundance so can be expected to put up a strong show when they tackle Lanarkshire South in the Cities & Counties Championship final at Montrose today.
Team captain Billy Mellors is both a Scottish Singles and Junior Singles champion while team manager Willie Watson’s selection for the final includes five Tait Trophy winners in Mal Higgenbotham, Andrew Sneddon, Colin Hutchison, Robert Donaldson and icon figure Robert Marshall.
Paul O’Donnell and Jamie Gracie have their names etched on the Edinburgh Open Trophy while Andrew Caldwell, James Hogg, Darren Hush, Willie McDonald, Kevin Hunter and 21-times capped Alan Brown have all won national titles.
John McDermott, below, and Neil Watson, are celebrated winners of the E&L Under 25s Fleming Trophy and Gavin Smith an indoor cap while Craig Paterson, Paul Veitch, Alan Trotter, Brian Stoddart, Craig McCall, Stuart Campbell and Scott Noble are stalwart figures with their respective clubs.
“I am encouraged that a highly charged team spirit and a strong will to win have been hallmark qualities of our campaign and I have no doubt that this team has the ability to win however to do so we will have to perform at our very best as Lanarkshire South are a strong outfit,” said Watson.
The E&L name is proudly engraved on the coveted Andrew Hamilton Trophy an impressive ten times since the event was established in 1939 but there has been ten lean years since the last success was achieved in 2001.
E&L have also lost nine finals over that time and their record compares with 12 title celebrations and two knocks on the door achieved by their Lanarkshire rivals suggesting that tomorrow’s opposition don’t lose many finals.
The Capital elite may take some solace however from the fact that the last time the teams clashed in the final was 1996 and E&L came out on top. However, those in the Capital that believe in the magic of sequence will worry that Lanarkshire have reigned supreme in 2006, 2008, and 2010.
Lanarkshire South will probably line up as most pundits’ title favourites having dumped star-studded West Lothian in the semi-finals and they have a strong mental toughness that enhances their natural skills.
“Players like Ian Campbell and Robert Grant will aggressively put you through the mincer given half a chance and they can whip up a torrent of vocal enthusiasm so curtail them both and the reward could be victory,” says James Mallon, team boss of West Lothian.
E&L teams of the past tended to perform best with the sun on their backs and tomorrow’s weather may be turning in favour of that tradition, however Northern greens do run slower than the fast conditions favoured by the Capital thoroughbreds. It should be a cracking encounter.