Big guns to clash in Edinburgh Cup prelims

Alex Marshall will be a major absentee for East Lothian
Alex Marshall will be a major absentee for East Lothian
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Postal was the first name out of the hat in the draw for the 21st playing of the Specsavers-sponsored Edinburgh Cup – the highlight of the Sportsmens Dinner of The Edinburgh Bowling League – and it triggered a response that set the scene for the member club bowlers in attendance.

Mayfield followed as the preliminary round opponents of Postal then, two ties later, there was an eruption of noise from the 240 guests as Queensberry, the 2015 cup winners, were pitched against 2012 champions Summerside.

Corstorphine, drawn against near neighbours Carrick Knowe, who were champions in 2016, was a tremendous kick-start to the first-round ties emerging from the searching hand picks of headline speakers Steve Daley and Gary Marshall.

Holders Craigentinny received a bye into the first round proper and the record seven-times cup winners will launch their defence of the coveted title against Leith – a club that proudly etched its name on the silverware after a glorious 2000 campaign.

Parkside, champions in 2005 and 2010, play Liberton while Slateford, giants of the Water of Leith League, open against Willowbrae. Bainfield, finalists in 2015, face 2016 runners-up Maitland.

EBL President Kenny Watling will host the final of the Edinburgh Cup at his local club Craigentinny on Saturday, August 18.

• Eight would be great for seven-times Scottish Cup winners East Lothian but the pathway towards that record-extending achievement stands blocked by defending champions 
Falkirk, who provide this weekend’s quarter-final opposition.

Home wins were the outcome when the two adversaries clashed in the Premier League but the scene of this weekend’s cup battle is neutral Headwell IBC in Dunfermline – a venue both teams are familiar with.

The team news from the Garden County camp is that two of their top stars in the shape of Alex (Tattie) Marshall and Derek Oliver, are absentees as they are now headed for Australia’s Gold Coast to parade their skills for Scotland in the Commonwealth Games.

The enforced absence of 79-year-old Willie Wood MBE is another blow to the selection process while stalwart figure Jamie Gordon also misses the action.

There is no lack of replacements thirsting to be part of thec up fever gripping the reservoir of players from The Alex Marshall Arena so opportunity knocks for seasoned campaigner Stewart Thomson and young budding bowler Aaron Betts.

Meanwhile, there is an Edinburgh presence in the closing stages of the Scottish Cup with 2008 winners Bainfield carrying the Capital’s banner into battle against Blantyre – the just-crowned champions of the Premier League.

The hope is that Bainfield, huge underdogs on this occasion, can be inspired by memories of their triumph over Blantyre in the 2008 Cup final.

There is no team news from The Hutchison Crossway Stadium for the clash at neutral venue Lanarkshire IBC.

• Fired up by an excellent win for Willie Wood, the Seniors Brigade of East Lothian defeated Ardrossan 6-4 on points in a thrilling climax to their semi-final of their Scottish Cup played at Whiteinch, Glasgow.

Wood skipped Billy Higgins, George Gray and David McGill from 8-1 down to a 23-11 victory that was then supported by a crucial 15-12 win from Alistair Russell, who tipped the scales with a magic count of 3 on his final end.

Ardrossan dealt 21-16 and 19-12 defeats to Dougie Berwick and Tom Young respectively.

• The play-off final of The Premier League saw East Lothian put up a bold fight before losing by eight shots (81-73) to home-advantaged Blantyre.

The scorers were: Billy Mellors 26, Jim McCann 10; Alex Marshall 18, Brian Irvine 24; Derek Oliver 16, Stewart Anderson 23; Scott Kennedy 13, Ian McLean 24.

• Midlothian and East Lothian ladies clash in Saturday’s second round of the Scottish Cup at 
Falkirk.