EAST Lothian’s bowling stars are hoping for success at the Scottish Championships at Ayr Northfield next month after booking their places there at the weekend.

Billy Mellors is hoping to make a big impact again in the final stages of the Bowls Scotland Scottish Championships at Ayr Northfield, with the 41-year-old Haddington star producing a strong performance to capture the East Lothian District Singles title in the qualifying climax at a sun-drenched Castlepark BC on Sunday.

Mellors is no stranger to the challenges that face him in Ayr, having already captured national titles on no fewer than three occasions.

Mellors – current team captain of East Lothian – lined up against Kevin Jones of Tranent and quickly mastered the challenges of the fast-paced surface to open up a 10-1 lead. Jones arrested the slide with a treble to 4 but Mellor kept his opponent on the hook with a run of 1, 4, 2, 3, then at 20-5 bagged a single to win 21-5 in just 14 ends.

The final of the junior singles featured two top players in the shape of Joe Mower (Haddington) and Ross Thomson (EL-Coop), but the expected cracker failed to ignite, with Mower dominating the scoring to win 21-11 in 19 ends.

Current national singles champion Derek Oliver will be returning to the big stage for a second consecutive year but this time in the pairs after he teamed up with Cockenzie & Port Seton team-mate Steven Morgan to win the title with an 18-11 triumph over Gordon Hunter and Gary McNab of Haddington.

Haddington went into the district finals with a five-pronged attack and celebrated a third triumph in the triples when Colin Dick, Stewart Thomson and Alister Kennedy showed their class in a 17-7 win over Macmerry’s Paul Mair, Kenny Donaldson and Billy Cormack.

There was more to come from Haddington, who were also contesting the senior singles final in the shape of Andy Burt against Lindsay Bell of Longniddry. This developed into a cracking encounter with peels called at 16-16 before Burt clinched the title with a 1, 4 finish to win 21-16 to complete a memorable afternoon for the Hi Hi’s.

Prestongrange looked good for success at 6-2 up in the fours but Tranent’s Kevin Cunningham, Davie Sands, Matt Osborne and John McCrorie stormed to a 22-13 victory with a great finish against Craig Innes, Brian Burnside, Stevie Greenan and Ross Marwick.

Macmerry prevailed in the senior fours, with Davie Pryde skipping Jim Hogg, Ted Skillen and Bobby Scott to a convincing 22-13 victory over Stewart Galloway, Bobby Brownlie, Jackie Greenwood and George McLeod of Aberlady.

Meanwhile, the district finals of the Scottish Young Bowlers National Championships took place at Aberlady BC on Saturday to decide who would represent the East Lothian challenge in the national finals.

Current national ladies’ junior singles champion Megan Kivlin of EL-Coop will spearhead the Garden County challenge in the blue riband singles event at the championships at Ayr Northfield on Sunday, July 30.

Cockenzie & Port Seton captured the limelight in the pairs playdown action with Logan Kennedy and Lucy Hogg finishing top of their section to book their place at Ayr.

The EL-Coop trio of Beth Riva, Cameron Shaw and Robbie Shields will carry the local hopes in the triples event.

“The standard of bowling was exceptional throughout y and all the youngsters played the game in great spirit which was brilliant to see. A massive well done to everyone who took part,” said an ELBA spokesperson.

Bowls Scotland have finally announced their final line-ups for the upcoming gents’ senior and junior British Isles Home International series. Haddington’s Malcolm Higgenbotham is included in the final 24-man line-up for the seniors, while Scott Kennedy of Cockenzie & Port Seton is named one of the travelling reserves. The junior international series sees Haddington young star Glenn Blair make the final 24-man line up and he will skip a rink.

Friday evening saw the first half of fixtures in the East Coast Carpets-sponsored East Lothian Leagues completed and in Division 1 defending champions Haddington remain in pole position following their 6-2 win at home against Dunbar.

Cockenzie & Port Seton lead the chase and consolidated their position with a 6-2 home win over struggling Castlepark. Third place EL-Coop bagged an 8-0 home win over foot-of-the-table Gifford. Tranent’s good run continued with a 6-2 win over Aberlady at home while the fixture between East Linton and West Barns was rescheduled for tonight (Thursday).

Tomorrow (Friday), Haddington enjoy home advantage against an in-form Tranent, who welcome back former world star Graham Robertson.

Cockenzie & Port Seton cannot afford to take Dunbar lightly on their visit, while EL-Coop face a testing away assignment at East Linton and West Barns can perk up their campaign at home to Castlepark. Aberlady are at home to Gifford.