COLIN Mitchell, the Clydesdale team manager, believes his side can make history by becoming the first Western Union outfit to lift Scottish cricket’s Grand Final trophy.
Dumfries, Uddingston and Ayr have all come second best to rivals from the east since the end-of-season showpiece was introduced in 2012 and a powerful Grange line-up appear favourites to continue the dominance of the Eastern Premier at Bothwell Castle Policies this afternoon.
However, Mitchell declared: “There is no doubt that the Eastern Premier is a stronger league than the Western Union and we are underdogs. But I think that tag suits us and the guys can rise to the occasion. We know we will need to produce our most complete and rounded performance of the season to win.
“Our toughest game of the summer was our Scottish Cup defeat to Carlton and that match acted as a wake-up regarding the strengths of the two leagues. I believe we have raised our game since then and are better prepared to meet the challenge. We played with belief to win the Union and we will take that attitude into the Grand Final.”
Clydesdale boast several key players, including skipper Majid Haq, who last week claimed a record eight-wicket haul against Dumfries, and Scotland all-rounder Richie Berrington.
However, Mitchell opted to pay tribute to the impact of player-coach Con de Lange, adding: “Con has transformed the club and instilled a professional approach. He has brought a structure and an attention to detail that has had a major influence. He is also gun-barrel straight. If you’re doing well you’ll know about it. If not, you’ll know about it and then some!”
Grange player-coach John Blain is one of several key performers missing from the Eastern Premier side’s line-up. Blain has work commitments at Loretto School, while fellow new-ball bowler Raj Routray is injured and George Munsey is on trial with Northants.
However, Grange have the strength in depth that allows them to field a formidable line-up and Blain believes his men can cope without the absentees, while putting behind them the disappointment of their Scottish Cup final defeat to Arbroath a fortnight ago.
He said: “I think the guys put so much effort into winning the league that we simply ran out of steam a bit in the cup final.
“Even when I first joined the club at the start of the year it was stressed that winning the league was the priority.
“But the Grand Final brings another challenge and it is one we relish as it brings an opportunity to win another trophy.” It is not all doom and gloom for the Stockbridge troops since they are able to welcome back skipper Andrew Brock, who missed the cup final through injury, while the Sole brothers, Chris and Tom, are also likely to be fit. They also boast three former Scotland caps in Neil McCallum, Ryan Flannigan and Gordon Goudie, all potential match-winners.