When James Hogg skipped his Carrick Knowe rink comprising Craig Aitken, Graham Pringle and Richard Tough to the Scottish Fours title at Ayr Northfield in late July, he was also putting another stamp on his claim to be recognised as a player of international potential.
And sure enough, it worked a treat as the 35-year-old was later picked for the international trial match and just recently it was confirmed by the Scotland selectors that he had been awarded his debut cap.
Hogg had already earned the right to be on the radar of the likes of local based national team selectors Stewart McFarlane and Gordon Logan and he did himself a power of good when producing a bowl in a million at the national championships.
It was ironic that Hogg’s magnificent last bowl conversion, with no margin for error, at an extra end in the second round at Ayr dealt an exit blow to his former East Lothian rink.
It was – most would say – the final before the final, and it was a measure of Hogg’s consistency that he did that magic moment justice by going on to skip his rink to the title glory three rounds later.
Hogg was celebrating his second national title success having made local headlines in the Evening News back in 2008 when capturing the Pairs crown as skip to Darren Hush, and it was a national first for Carrick Knowe.
2008 was his debut season for Carrick Knowe and also Edinburgh & Leith in the Hamilton Trophy having switched from East Lothian club Castle Park where he was champion on four occasions.
“Ecstatic” was the feeling expressed by Hogg when learning that his first national trial had led to him being named in the squad to represent Scotland in the 2012 Home International Series due be take place in Wales.
“I played my formative years in East Lothian with legend figures like Willie Wood, Angus Blair, Graham Robertson, and latterly Tattie (Alex Marshall) and never even dreamt at that time that I could approach their level.
It is rare for first time trial players to go straight to the international arena so it was a second major surprise when Bainfield star Paul O’Donnell also achieved that distinction, on the eve of his 26th birthday.
“I am not used to such honours falling into my lap so news of my selection was totally unexpected by me as I wasn’t even aware of being in the Selection Committee’s eye until invited for my first trial”, said O’Donnell.
O’Donnell however is stepping up from Junior Cap level and has both played and worked hard at building a career that includes 5 championship wins at Bainfield and a title triumph in the Edinburgh Open at Balgreen.
The squad is 26 strong and the Edinburgh and Lothian contribution continues to be significant with 12 others continuing to find favour, namely,
Graeme Archer, David Peacock, Colin Walker, Alister Kennedy, Alex Marshall MBE, Derek Oliver, Grant Logan, Thomas Mann, Neil Speirs, Ewan Shearer, Billy Mellors and Robert Marshall.