Belfast Telegraph

Don't be paranoid, it's just the same game of bowls

By Billy Weir

Booming music and dark, threatening images warned of something scary and disturbing on our screens but soon men in white trousers and sensible shoes arrived to help restore calm and order.

Yes the care home orderlies were on their annual pilgrimage to the seaside and a welcome return to the Potter's Complex - which sounds more like a complaint than a venue - for the final of the World Bowls Championships.

Over the years they have tried, in vain, to sex up bowls, turning the rink from green to blue, bowls from black to red and green but the bowlers remain predominantly in white although festooned in the marks of bowls as if they have been attacked by angry fans.

Music has been brought in, along with an excitable MC and walk-on girls and just like the darts, all the fans turned up in fancy dress. They must have been mortified when they arrived though and found they had all come dressed as pensioners.

Of course it's very easy to take the hand out of bowls, which is a shame because it's a great game, a bit like Connect Four but with balls, but let's face it when it is the Just Retirement World Championships then who's kidding who here?

One of the finalists, Nicky Brett (41), the wild young thing of bowls, was in his first final and admitted it was ' a new thing for me, with all the razzmatazz that goes with it' and never has that word been so out of place.

"The atmosphere is absolutely electric in here at the international arena at Potter's," said our MC and it was to get even heavier as suddenly the players appeared, accompanied by the soothing, melodic strains of Black Sabbath's Paranoid, and two young waifs in flowing white gowns walking barefoot and carrying English flags.

Ozzy Osbourne probably had the same trip one time and in his honour the crowd were seen moshing, tearing the heads of Jelly Babies and lobbing Thermos flasks full of Jack Daniels onto the rink.

"They'll be a little nervous and have a few bubbles in the stomach," said commentator David Corkill, and I think he meant the players but it could well have some fans who had dropped just one too many tabs of Werthers.

It wasn't a game to remember, the opening foray ending 9-9 and meaning like someone in the crowd who seemed to have choked on a lozenge and lost their dentures that they had half a set each.

Brett ran away with the second to win with Corkill vowing that 'it's going to be a big night tonight', presumably if you play your bowls right, with presenter Rishi Persad asking 'how does being the world champion sound to you?'

"Pretty bloody good, I'd say," came the response, as half the crowd fainted and missed Brett doing a cartwheel on his way up to collect the trophy.

We all wish him well in his recovery.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph