The clash between arch-rivals West Lothian and East Lothian in the play-off final for the indoor bowls Premier League title at Auchinleck tomorrow (12 noon) has all the makings of a classic.
West Lothian are the two-in-a-row defending champions, but both clubs have a substantial record in the event, with both having their name engraved six times on the coveted silverware.
East Lothian wrote their name into the record books as the first club to capture the national sports blue riband club honour four times on the trot, from 2006-2009.
West Lothian have campaigned through their tough qualifying A section with a settled squad of players that is small in number and are brimful of confidence having chalked up eights wins out of ten to finish top ahead of Blantyre.
Their line up for the big clash reads:
Rink 1: Paul Lynas, Raymond Logan, Jamie Gracie, Mark Allison.
Rink 2: Bryan Cooper, Dougie Mitchell, Des Hagart, Neil Speirs.
Rink 3: James Greenock, Blair Mackie, George Sneddon, Calum Logan.
Rink 4: Cameron Greer, Ian Drysdale, James Speirs, Thomas Mann (C).The occasion has an en extra dimension of emotion for Jamie Gracie as the former junior cap is returning to his homeland carpet and is sure to attract additional local support from the otherwise neutral Ayrshire community.
East Lothian are a team of many giants whose record of six wins, one draw and three defeats suggests they were vulnerable in their B section qualifying campaign, but they showed they could rise to the occasion when the chips were down.
And the morale of their camp is greatly boosted by the news that Alex Marshall is available to be part of the big occasion.
“Tattie” has been in impressive individual form of late and his presence at skip in company with Derek Oliver, Scott Kennedy and Billy Mellors gives EL a total internationalist presence in that influential position.
The backbone of the team is given additional strength by the presence of Scotland’s two most capped international players, Willie Wood and Graham Robertson, who are joined in the thirds position by stalwarts Jamie Higgins and Steven Morgan.
The EL line up reads:
Rink 1: Kieran Simants, Dougie Berwick, Steven Morgan, Alex Marshall.
Rink 2: Ewan Fallen, Gary Darling, Graham Robertson, Derek Oliver.
Rink 3: Colin Cook, Jamie Gordon, Willie Wood, Scott Kennedy.
Rink 4: Mark Johnston, Andy Jeffrey, Jamie Higgins, Billy Mellors (C).
The draw for the final has been made and reads:
Mark Allison v Alex Marshall; Neil Speirs v Scott Kennedy; Thomas Mann v Derek Oliver; Calum Logan v Billy Mellors.