the 16th year of the Alpha Trophies sponsored Edinburgh Bowling League swings into action tonight, with the top of the bill attraction in Division 1 featuring a clash between last season’s top two teams, namely champion’s Parkside and runners up Craigentinny.
“It is an early season cracker that promises to set the scene for another yet exciting campaign for both teams with Craigentinny bursting with ambition to re-capture the title they had won three times in a row,” said new EBL secretary Bob White.
“And Parkside nurse serious intentions of continuing to be a force to be reckoned with by retaining a title they first captured in their headline success of 2007,” he added.
Craigentinny will once again start the season as title favourites due to their formidable strength in depth and have home green advantage for their opening encounter making newly-installed team captain Grant McLaren confident of making a winning start.
“We had a warm-up match against Leith and won on all four rinks,” said McLaren.
“We will miss the strongly competitive skills of ace skip Ian Paterson as the former Tait Trophy Champion is working abroad this summer, however the presence of our British Isles Triples champions Darren Smith (below), Gary Nisbet and Andrew Caldwell brings an uplifting buzz to our squad.”
Caldwell made his full cap debut for Scotland last season and skips his fellow local heroes in a rink that is completed by Jamie Frame at second.
Andrew Jeffrey skips Daniel Gormley, Scott Duncan and Kevin Hunter, while Stuart Betts, Scott Rogers and Gordon Bold form the front-three for Kevin McFarlane, and the fourth rink comprises Craig McCall, Grant McLaren, David Brown and Willie McDonald.
The strength in depth at Craigentinny is reflected by the presence of Josh Spalding, Paul Robertson, and former Willowbrae champion George Johnston in the Second Sixteens team.
Parkside captain Robert Donaldson said: “We definitely respect the reservoir of talent that makes Craigentinny such dangerous opposition, but we do not fear them, as last season we beat them both home and away.”
Record six-times champions Tanfield have failed to shine in the top flight since their last title success in 2006, and face an opening visit to newly-promoted Mayfield without the services of former club champions Andy Sneddon and Graham Munro.
Tonight’s other Division 1 matches feature Northern v Queensberry and Maitland v Pilrig.