Bowls: Mellors fits the Bill for bowlers

Billy Mellors

Billy Mellors

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Edinburgh & Leith launch their campaign in the East section of the Scottish Cities & Counties Championship, for the Andrew Hamilton Trophy against West Lothian at Pumpherston tomorrow.

Billy Mellors of Goldenacre is the choice of E&L president David Sinclair to captain the 2012 attack on the coveted title and the CV of the 38-year-old international cap includes winning the national singles title in 2006 and the junior version ten years earlier.

West Lothian have also opted for experience in their captaincy, with 57-year-old former cap and 1998 national singles champion Raymond Logan.

Both teams are under the guidance of a new manager with Willie Watson of Parkside becoming the first ever appointment by E&L, while Jimmy Mallon of Broxburn succeeds Rangers football legend Colin Stein to the WLBA position.

The match is a tough baptism for both team bosses and it promises to be a real cracker, although the enforced absence of top players is a frustration that Watson and Mallon could have done without.

E&L are the sleeping giants of the Cities & Counties Championship, with the ten-time winners failing to deliver an exciting challenge of note since losing in the 2004 final.

E&L start with a line up that has five changes from the opening match of last season with Watson opting to bring in Andrew Sneddon, Craig Paterson, David Brown, Darren Hush, and Mal Higgenbotham.

They replace, for one reason or another, Andrew Caldwell, Gavin Smith, George Kirk, Malcolm Weir, and Colin Mitchell.

Paterson and Brown make their debut while Sneddon (Tait Trophy), Hush (National Pairs), and Higgenbotham (Tait Trophy) should bring great additional strength to the E&L challenge.

Higgenbotham is asked to skip and the 43-year-old is joined as helmsmen by Robert Marshall, Paul O’Donnell, Willie McDonald, Mellors, and reigning national fours champion James Hogg.

Given that Watson has had to accept the fact that several top performers still can’t commit themselves to the Hamilton Trophy campaign his final selection has brought shape, strength and, therefore, genuine promise to the long suffering E&L support.

An E&L team that is particularly strong at second reads:

Rink 1: Neil Watson (Parkside), Andrew Sneddon (Tanfield), Colin Hutchison (Goldenacre), Paul O’Donnell (Bainfield).

Rink 2: Craig Paterson (Bainfield), John McDermott (Sighthill), Alan Brown (Gorgie Mills), Robert Marshall (Slateford).

Rink 3: David Brown (Craigentinny), Stuart Campbell (Tanfield), Alex Hurry (Parkside), Billy Mellors (Goldenacre).

Rink 4: Scott Noble (Pilrig), Ian Paterson (Craigentinny), Darren Hush (Carrick Knowe), James Hogg (Carrick Knowe).

Rink 5: Craig McCall (Craigentinny), Kevin Hunter (Craigentinny), Paul Veitch (Parkside), Mal Higgenbotham (Tanfield).

Rink 6: Alan Trotter (Sighthill), Robert Donaldson (Parkside), Jamie Gracie (Sighthill), Willie McDonald (Craigentinny).

The reserves are: Russell Wilson (Bainfield), Scott Rogers (Pilrig), Gordon Bold (Craigentinny), Euan Craig (Pilrig).

West Lothian enter the action without three aces in Neil Speirs, Thomas Mann and George Sneddon who are all abroad with Scotland, while Andrew Dunnett is a late call-off.

Mallon also has Ian Robertson missing out from the players that started last season and he has drafted in Paul Lynas, Ian Humble, David McCormick and the Drysdale cousins, Diz and Ian.

The WL team reads:

Rink 1: Frazer Muirhead, Paul Lynas, Bryan Cooper, Raymond Logan.

Rink 2: Steven Forrest, Greg Logan, Mark Allison, Grant Logan.

Rink 3: Ian Humble, Sandy McDougall, Davy McCormick, John Aitken.

Rink 4: Ewan Shearer, Kenny Black, Blair Mackie, Calum Logan.

Rink 5: Diz Drysdale, Walter McDougall, James Speirs, Steven Fleming.

Rink 6: Cameron Greer, Ian Drysdale, Alec Allan, Gary Smith.

East Lothian start their defence of the national title against arch rivals Midlothian at Port Seton but have Alex Marshall MBE and Willie Wood MBE missing.

Midlothian are hit by the absence of David Peacock, Ronnie Duncan, Graeme Archer and Willie Rankin.