Photo gallery: Alex ‘Tattie’ Marshall turns on style at Potters to make it six of the best
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015
DAVID RHYS JONES turns the spotlight on yesterday's Open Singles final at Potters Leisure Resort.
Six of the best – an elated Alex 'Tattie' Marshall, who has won just about everything in the sport, and has collected titles all over the world, was clearly pleased as punch to win the Just Retirement WBT world indoor singles title for the sixth time at Potters Resort in Hopton-on-Sea yesterday.
'Potters is my favourite venue,' he said, after beating veteran Anglo Scot Andy Thomson, 11-9, 10-3, in a disappointingly one-sided final. 'To win the world title once is marvellous, but to think I have won it six times is unreal.
'And this is where I have won all of them,' the Scot added. 'It's a very special place – but there was one piece of the jigsaw missing this year, and I would like to dedicate my win to the memory of Brian Potter, who died in November.'
While Marshall came out of the blocks like a sprinter, Thomson, who was born in Fife, but has been a central figure in English bowls since he moved to London in 1980, was positively sluggish by comparison, and bowled too many short bowls.
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Marshall, who struck gold in men's pairs and fours in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow last July, opened up a 4-0 lead after three ends, and, although Thomson managed a double on the fourth and a single on the seventh, the first set looked all over at 10-3 after eight ends.
To the capacity crowd's relief, Thomson rallied magnificently, claiming a full house of four shots on the ninth, and adding a double on the 10th to trail by a single shot with one end left to play – at least he had made a game of it!
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And, although Marshall nailed the set with a single on the 11th end, everyone thought that Thomson had sorted himself out, and would come out fighting in the second set.
We had a game on our hands, and were looking forward to a thrilling finish.
Sadly, it just didn't happen. Thomson scavenged a single on the second end, but he had to make do with scraps from Marshall's table, and found himself 6-1 in arrears after five ends, before carding two more singles to make it 6-3.
All hope disappeared over the next three ends, as Marshall collected a single, and double and another single to lead 10-3, so that the 11th end was redundant.
The crowd clearly felt they had been royally entertained, and gave the pair a standing ovation. They –and the Potter family– were also very touched by the tribute Marshall paid to the venue, and particularly to the memory of Brian Potter. It was an emotional occasion.
Marshall himself held his left hand high in the air, and raised his forefinger on his right hand to indicate that he had just won his sixth world indoor singles title – and was proud to point out that the bookies were offering odds of 10-1 against him at the start of the event.
A crestfallen Thomson, who was hoping to win the title for the fourth time after previous triumphs in 1994, 1995 and 2012, said: 'Tattie played really well and deserved to win. I only wish I could have put up a better fight. I'm not disappointed at losing, but I regret having played so badly.'
Marshall countered: 'Thommo, who is a class act, played some crunch bowls, and came back strong in the first set. I don't consider that the game was one-sided –- that wasn't my take on it at all. But I can tell you one thing – I'm knackered!'
On Saturday, both semi-finals reached a very high standard, with Marshall edging home in straight sets against Greg Harlow, who now works at Potters, 7-6, 7-5, and Thomson getting the better of the 1996 champion David Gourlay, 7-6, 3-8, 2-0.
With all the talk of bowls being a young man's game these days, the older generation received a boost from the success of the sport's elder statesmen, whose year it most emphatically has been.
Not long ago, it was universally thought that, at 40, bowlers were on the scrap-heap – or at least, to put it more politely, 'past their best'.
At Potters on Saturday, the ages of the four semi-finalists added up to 198, an average of 49.5 years: Harlow is 45, Marshall and Gourlay are both 47, and Thomson, the evergreen Silver Fox, will be 60 in November.
Someone suggested that, for once, Just Retirement might indeed be the perfect sponsors for this World Bowls Tour event.
n Don't miss tomorrow's EDP for David Rhys Jones' review of the tournament.