King: It was a terrific contest

Defending champion and number one seed Mervyn King saw his dream of a successful World Singles title defence end at Potters yesterday after the best final in recent memory.

Defending champion and number one seed Mervyn King saw his dream of a successful World Singles title defence end at Potters yesterday after the best final in recent memory.

The honours went to Scotland's Alex Marshall who made sporting history as the first person to win the event on FOUR occasions. The 39 year old from Tranent in East Lothian, winner in 1999, 2003 and 2004, edged home 5-7, 13- 4, 2-0 in the first final to be decided by a match tiebreaker since the three end shoot-outs were introduced in 2002.

It was the best encounter in recent memory yet King later revealed he would have pulled out of the game had it been anything other than a world championship final.

“I have been suffering from a heavy cold but obviously couldn't lie down to it and just had to get on with things,” he later explained.

The first set proved a closely contested affair with singles scored on the opening nine ends as King went 5-4 ahead roared on by the overwhelming majority of the sell-out 1200 crowd in the International Arena.

On the tenth end the local hero broke the pattern with a double and then went on to win the set gaining an important advantage.

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The first end of the second set saw King collect three shots before Marshall immediately responded in kind and then recorded a maximum four shots to take the initiative, The Scot stayed in control to level matters and force the three end tiebreak where he then scored on each of the opening two ends for an historic triumph.

In the press room after the game, King joked: “Would anyone like the cold? Seriously though that was a terrific contest but I felt the outcome hinged on the second end of the second set when I made an error and dropped a count of three. Alex changing the length of the jack was not really an issue and when he began fighting back I quickly realised the sooner the tiebreak started the better. On reflection I am pleased to have reached another final and put up a decent show.”

King, who rises to number six position from 15 on the World Bowls Tour provisional ranking list on the back of his results in the past fortnight, confirmed that he will be back next year to try and regain his crown.

“I have advised the English Bowling Association that I will not be available for the World Outdoor Championships next January in New Zealand as I will be at Potters. Improving my place on the ranking list gives peace of mind as you are guaranteed automatic invitations to all WBT events next season. I would also like to congratulate Alex on what is a brilliant achievement.”

Marshall was understandably delighted having been the only man along with legends David Bryant, Tony Allcock, Richard Corsie and Paul Foster to have won three world singles titles.

“To be mentioned in that company is humbling - to better their achievement is unbelieveable!” he added.

“Mervyn was awesome in the first set,” Marshall went on, “and consistently nailed the jack at any length. I deliberately shortened it in the second set but he was unlucky in the tiebreak not to take it into a third and final end. He certainly deserved to. The standard was very high and at some ends there were eight bowls within a foot of the jack.”

Marshall paid tribute to his opponent saying: “Mervyn is a great champion and a terrific guy. For my part I can't begin to sum up my feelings just now. To be awarded the MBE and then win a record fourth World Singles title - it surely can't get any better than that! The £28,000 cheque is lovely but pales into insignificance with winning this title and the sense of achievement. To win once is amazing but to do it on four occasions is beyond words”

In Saturday's semi-finals, King overwhelmed Australia's David Gourlay 11-1 10-4 in a surprisingly one-sided contest while Marshall defeated world number two Jason Greenslade of Wales 9-7 7-5.


Sunday, final, AlexMarshall (Scotland) beat Mervyn King (England) 5-7, 13-4, 2-0.

Saturday, semi-finals, Mervyn King (England) beat David Gourlay (Australia) 11-1, 10-4; Alex Marshall (Scotland) beat Jason Greenslade (Wales) 9-7, 7-5.