Six-time national champions East Lothian hit the campaign trail in the East section for the Andrew Hamilton Trophy tomorrow (Saturday) with a tricky-looking away fixture against Borders at Melrose BC.

Expectations of a successful season are high but some tough questions are expected to asked tomorrow, as Borders are a side on the up in recent seasons and will probably be quietly confident they can mount a serious challenge for the section qualifying honours.

Newly appointed player/manager Ian ‘Dinger’ Bell has major issues to deal with ahead of East Lothian’s opening clash. It was hoped that a side would be selected around the players who performed so well in last year’s qualifying campaign but Bell has been forced to reconsider his structure plan following news that several key players are unavailable for the campaign ahead.

World-stage star Alex Marshall will miss the whole qualifying campaign due to his continued involvement in the Australian Premier League, while it is a team selection concern that Scotland cap Scott Kennedy is an enforced absentee tomorrow and serious doubts also remain on the availability of Kennedy’s West Barns team-mate Billy Mellors.

Further bad news is that the contingent of Alister Kennedy (West Barns), Steven Morgan (Cockenzie & Port Seton), Stuart Johnston (Ormiston), John White (Gifford), Jamie Higgins (Tranent) and Gifford legend Willie Wood are not available for selection.

On a positive note, Tranent ace John McCrorie has committed his invaluable services for the campaign ahead and, along with Derek Oliver, Craig Valentine, Stephen Cochrane, Brian Young and Billy Mellors, they will form the backbone of the side, while new faces in the opening game line-up include Steven White (EL-Coop), Craig Bell (Haddington), Ross Thomson (EL-Coop), John Gearty (Cockenzie & Port Seton) and Tom Young (Dunbar).

The captain’s armband for the campaign ahead will be worn for the second consecutive year by Craig Valentine of Cockenzie & Port Seton.

Team: S. White (EL-Coop), C. Bell (Hadd), R. Branley (C&PS), C. Valentine (C&PS) skip/capt. R. Thomson (ELCO), J. Gordon (C&PS), C. Johnston (Giff), S. Cochrane (ELCO) skip. M. Greenan (P/G), G. Baillie (C&PS), G. Blair (Hadd), D. Oliver (C&PS) skip. G. White (Aber), B. Dunleavey (Aber), S. Greenan (P/G), J. McCrorie (Tra) skip. M. Osborne (Tra), J. Gearty (C&PS), T. Young (Dun), B. Young (Tra) skip. M. Riding (Elph), W. Cormack (W/B), C. McLeod (Giff), B. Mellors (W/B) skip. Reserve pool: S. Kennedy (W/B), C. Allison (E/L), I. Bell (Hadd), M. McCormack (Win), A. Martin (Athel), J. Robertson (Tra).

Bus pick-up times as follows: West Barns BC, 11.15am; East Linton (main bus stop), 11.30am; Haddington Corn Exchange, 11.45am; Tranent Police Station, noon; Brig Inn, Tranent, 12.05pm.

Any player selected who is unable to play is requested to contact team manager Ian Bell immediately on 07846 075980.

The team will wear new polo shirts tomorrow after securing another team sponsorship deal with well-known Macmerry based company Had-Fab Ltd.

Meanwhile, East Lothian Under-25 team manager Stevie Greenan has confirmed that, due to late submissions of player nominations from some clubs, there will be no time for a trial match.

Greenan will finalise his 24-man line-up for the opening Scottish League Cup match against Fife next Sunday (May 17) over the course of this weekend and it will be announced via social media on Monday evening.

Last Friday night’s action in the East Coast Carpets-sponsored East Lothian Leagues saw Division 1 title holders Haddington show exactly why they are the champions as they did an 8-0 demolition job on Gifford on away terrority.

Tranent and Castlepark continue to enjoy excellent starts to their campaign after they both registered 6-2 away wins at East Linton and Dunbar respectively.

Cockenzie & Port Seton’s stuttering start to the season continued after they were held 4-4 on home soil by Castlepark A, while EL-Coop bounced back to winning way with an excellent 5-3 victory at West Barns.

The action in Division 1 continues tonight (Friday) and early-season leaders Haddington face another tricky-looking away fixture, this time visiting Tranent-based side EL-Coop.

Tranent play their first home fixture of the season when they welcome Castlepark A to Polson Park, while Castlepark play host to West Barns.

Out-of-form sides Cockenzie & Port Seton and East Linton go head-to-head and both teams will be desperate for a win to kick-start their season.

After two tough opening away matches, Dunbar have home advantage when they play host to Gifford.

All club secretaries are requested to ensure that all league and cup results, including shots aggregate score, are phoned into ELBA match secretary Keith Fender on 01620 860217 or via text message 07786 110416 immediately after each match.

The first silverware of the ELBA domestic season will be won on Sunday as the finals day of the ELBA Trophy takes centre stage.

The semi-finals get under way at 12.30pm, then the successful sides will battle again at 3pm. The semi-final ties take place at Castlepark and Prestongrange respectively, with the latter club hosting the grand finale.

Aberlady Bowling Club is staging a Youth and Adult Open Pairs Competition next Saturday (May 16). The youth must be under 13 years of age on day of competition, while the adult must be 21 or over. Entries should be made by telephone to organisers George McLeod 01875 870735 or Derek Ward 01875 870609 by Tuesday.

Meanwhile, the draw has been made for the £1,000 senior triples at Haddington next Monday (May 18), kindly sponsored again by local funeral directors Wood and Hay.

The draw is: 9.15am start: E Denholm, D Watson, B Strang, Dirleton 1.

D Brown, G Lunn, D Hogg, G Gray.

B Scott, B Bolan, C Kennedy, P Laidlaw.

G Mcleod, M Hamilton, I Gibson, J Rolland.

Second sections – 10am start: A Burt, Dirleton 2, M Wood, Wallyford.

T Paterson, R Philp, B Higgins, Galashiels.

J Carpenter, Mrs Macrae, J Wurr, A Todd.

Dirleton 3, B Fotheringham, East Kilbride, Late entry.

A total of 21 different clubs from Fife to Lanarkshire and Berwick to West Lothian have entered, as well as a mixture from local clubs as this competition expands throughout the bowling circles as one of the most lucrative to be found in Scotland.

Players are reminded that there will be breakfast rolls available before their game, a two-course meal at lunch and a raffle.

Bowls fans can now keep up-to-date with all that is happening on the outdoor bowling scene in the Garden County by following the website by East Lothian Bowling Association. Visit