Belfast Telegraph

Ace Tattie's end is not nigh after the joy of six

By Billy Weir

I think I know you all well enough now to admit a dark and sordid secret from my private life - I love bowls.

I always have done, ever since the days of David Bryant and Tony Alcock, and even though it has attempted to have a makeover to try and bring it into the 20th Century, there is still the feeling that it is that strange wee doll your granny had plonked on top of the cistern to hide the spare toilet roll.

The only problem with a makeover is that you can only do so much and yes there's a lovely blue carpet to play on, the rules have been tampered with and a shiny MC greets the players now dressed like senior hospital orderlies, but when you are sponsored by Just Retirement you're fighting a losing battle.

I suppose it is a step up from Co-operative Funeralcare who used to sponsor things but they may as well have a big sign hanging up saying 'The End is Nigh' or '11 ends a set are nigh and a tie-break if necessary.'

Appropriately for Burns Night, two Scotsmen had reached the final, although one of them is English, as Alex Marshall took on Sassenach Andy Thomson, at 59 the wild child of bowls, who was destined to be sent back to London to think again.

BBC2 presenter Rishi Persad handed over to our shiny MC and on came the players, Thomson first with the St George's flag carried by a flaxen-haired maiden in bare feet. Yes, there may be a makeover, but no heels on the mat, please.

And all this to the soothing tones of Paranoid by Black Sabbath as the crowd went bonkers and Elsie in the third row was seen to bite a Werther's Original in half.

Up next it was Marshall, or Tattie as he is known, who brought us bang up to date, well 1993, with his choice of music with Boom! Shake the Room by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Prince, and the room was shaking so much that a few hips may never pop back into place.

We had two Scotsmen on the mat, so it was fitting then that in the commentary booth we had an Irishman, a Welshman and an Englishman. Hang on, this is beginning to sound like a joke…

It was no laughing matter as Tattie, who lead commentator David Corkill told us picked up his nickname from not being able to say 'daddy' as a wean, romped into an early lead before Thommo, who picked up his nickname from people with no imagination, fought back to trail 10-9 with one end to go.

"As Alex Ferguson said, it's squeaky bum time," said analyst John Price, although that may have had more to do with the plethora of egg and onion sandwiches consumed by Elsie and her mates.

Then drama. An injury. Thommo, the bright young thing, bent down to send out a delivery and nothing. Could it be bowlitis? No, he had an injury.

"Knees can be a bit of a problem for some players. He's in bother here, he's in trouble," diagnosed Professor Corkill, and advised Thommo that "if he's got a knee brace in his bag it would be a good time to use it" although as Marshall bowled off into the sunset, his only hope was to thump him with a wheel brace.

In the blink of an eye it was all over, Marshall picked up his sixth World crown, people were dancing on the streets of Raith and he showed them that he's still the Tattie.

So, conclusions? What is there to look forward to when we're getting on a bit? Just retirement. Oh, and the bowls.

Belfast Telegraph

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