It’s either Tantallon or Gullane for East Lothian Winter League title
Twelve months after narrowly avoiding relegation, Tantallon stand between Gullane and a sixth successive East Lothian Winter League title triumph this weekend.
Gullane can afford a 3-2 defeat and still retain the crown but a 3.5-1.5 or better for Tantallon, who have home advantage, will see them claim the prize for the first time in 20 years.
Having been junior convenor for a number of years, when Ric Foulner took over as Tantallon captain last April he was acutely aware of the talent in the club.
He felt the club was under-achieving and set the challenge of regularly challenging for silverware within three years.
Offering more support from the club and creating a spirit of fun and the team above the individual, it immediately responded by getting two teams into the semi-finals of last year’s Dispatch Trophy.
“Obviously Gullane, with their outstanding record in recent years, have set the benchmark for us all to follow and are rightly favourites,” said Foulner.
“However, with that comes a certain pressure and all I hope for is that our team performs to their best, enjoys it and we will see what happens. No matter what the result the Tantallon team has had a fantastic season.”
Team captain Fraser Symon added: “Given the ever-improving quality of the league, we are very proud of our season so far. It has been a real squad effort.
“Undoubtedly Gullane will provide our biggest test yet, but we have a very strong home record.
“All season our goal was to make this final match count for something - now we have achieved that we are going to enjoy it and make sure we give it our best shot on Sunday.”
Veteran John Stewart, who has been playing with Nick Peoples, will be the only member of the Tantallon team in Sunday’s showdown who did not come through their junior programme.
The team also features current club champion Chris Low, 14-year-old Valdemar Hundeboll and both Fraser Skene and Gareth Pugh, who are in their second season back in the amateur ranks.
Gullane are also in the final of the cup, facing North Berwick at Royal Musselburgh on Sunday week, but they are “fully focused” on the title decider.
“We expect a really close game as Tantallon have almost mirrored our results, hence this year’s really tight finish,” said John Clelland.
“We have two games left this season and, if successful, we would go through our campaign undefeated, which is no mean feat.
“There will be no surprises in the team selection for Sunday, but we expect a close match, similar to our previous meeting at Gullane.”