HOLDERS Silverknowes and big rivals Carrickvale have both made significant team changes for the 113th Evening News Dispatch Trophy starting tomorrow at The Braids.
In the case of Silverknowes, it means that last year’s trophy-winning side of Tam Caldwell, Paul Heggie, Keith Reilly and Graham Robertson has had to be broken up.
Robertson is the man missing out, having decided that his focus should be next weekend’s Scottish Stroke-Play Championship at Barassie.
It’s understandable, to be fair, as he tasted success on the SGU Order of Merit circuit last year by winning the Edward Trophy at Glasgow Gailes.
“Graham has a schedule planned out this year in the Scottish events and we all understand his position,” said Reilly.
It has meant a recall to the Silverknowes side for Iain Doig, who played in the winning teams in both 1998 and 2006 along with Caldwell and Reilly.
“Iain is really experienced and I’ll be back playing with him this year,” added Reilly.
It’s the second year running that Silverknowes have been forced to change a winning team, Heggie having come in last year for Paul Ross.
The holders are second on the tee tomorrow, when they launch their latest trophy defence against Munro Heating, a team that is normally laced with Liberton members.
Carrickvale, winners of the Edinburgh Leisure-supported event three years in a row from 2007, will also be missing a familiar face. That’s because Simon Hermiston has been preferred to Darren Coyle, who played in the hat-trick winning teams. Hermiston will join forces with Allyn Dick, Craig Elliot and David Ewen, who had a hole-in-one at the ninth in a practice round at The Braids earlier this week.
“It was my fourth hole-in-one and this one was my favourite,” recalled Ewen, who hit a 4-iron into the wind off the medal tee. “The funny thing was that Allyn said ‘it’s in the can’ when it was in the air.”
Ewen was wearing a new pair of white trousers for the first time as he struck the ace – and revealed they could be back on when Carrickvale face Edinburgh Thistle in their first-round tie tomorrow.
“Yes, my white strides are now officially my lucky troosers,” he added with a laugh. It’s a tricky start for Carrickvale as Edinburgh Thistle are still one of the event’s strongest sides even though it’s been more than a decade now since they actually lifted the trophy.
Thistle Old Pretenders are first on the tee tomorrow, facing Royal Bank of Scotland, with the winners up against Silverknowes or Munro Heating when the second round takes place on Sunday.
Centre of attention then will be Julie Douglas as she becomes the first woman to tee up in the popular team event for more than 90 years. She’s in the Evening News team up against Network Cooling and, in truth, the only surprise is that it has taken so long to have some female representation again.
With Carrickvale and Silverknowes having shared the last five titles between them, the gauntlet has been thrown down to other teams to break that stranglehold and, it’s certainly overdue for one of the Braids teams to still be standing in the final a week tomorrow.
As always, Harrison will start out with high expectations when they face Colinton Under-21s in their opening clash.
A win in that and they’ll face an early test of character against either Heriot’s or Braids United in the second round.
Barnton Hotel were last year’s beaten finalists and they’ll have the Hunter brothers – Brian and Steve – leading their challenge once again.
They start against Munro Heating B tomorrow with a potential clash against either Colinton Mains or Kingston waiting on Sunday.
Kingston are one of the regular Liberton teams in the event and it will be interesting to see if their members can take the promising form they’ve shown so far up to The Braids.
The likes of BBT, a Turnhouse team, Dalmahoy side Third, and Temple from Duddingston could all emerge as contenders towards the end of next week.
So, too, could Watsonian, Stewart’s Melville and Riccarton, all of whom have received byes into the second round.
It is always nice when an unheralded team makes its presence felt and it’s possible that could be Portobello this year.
Making a first appearance for them in the event is John Ralston, a Shotts player who has picked up a fair few Lothians Order of Merit points over the years.
“John joined Portobello last year and won the club championship at the first attempt,” said Kenny Craigie, who is also in the team along with his son, Matthew, as well as James Heatlie.
Former Lothians champion David Warner could also be lining up for Portobello in the future as he’s also joined there.