Thursday, 31 July 2014

Glasgow 2014 - Days 7 and 8

And so we reach the last couple of days of a fantastic bowls tournament. All of the usual stereotypic media coverage has been blown out of the water despite some attempts by some hacks to keep plugging away at the “old age” storylines. It is reassuring to witness some of the young talent that has been on display not only from the home countries and developed bowls nations but also the up and coming nations.

The River Kelvin
On Wednesday I was not working until the afternoon session and so I had a bit of a chance to pop back into the City and do some last minute gift purchasing for loving family who I have missed these last two weeks. I went into town with Graham and we had a leisurely stroll around and a coffee for the morning. We then took a walk back to the TO Village through the park and botanical gardens along the beautiful River Kelvin.

The afternoon session started and 3:45 and I was umpiring on the back green out of the way of the hustle and bustle. There were quite a few measures that I had to deal with which kept me busy. There was also some altercation between two players as there was an accusation of “riding bowls” – willing your opponents bowl to miss or be unsuccessful. Definitely not etiquette. I didn’t need to get involved as it was sorted out with the players and managers in the end. There is also very little I could have done in terms of the laws.

8 of us enjoyed a fantastic meal in an Italian restaurant in a back street somewhere close to the village. Mark Cowan, one of our Aussie colleagues had his daughter over travelling and spending a few days at the games and she joined us for the meal. I am not really sure what she made of us mad Poms but we did have a good laugh.

Up early again for what was to be my final session of the games on Thursday. I was allocated a marking duty in a Quarter Final of the Men’s Singles between Darren Burnett of Scotland and Martin McHugh of Northern Ireland. It promised on paper to be a fantastic tussle and it certainly didn’t disappoint. The crowd were standing 4 deep around the back of the green and the stand was packed. It was a great atmosphere. The match went to the wire with the scores level at 20 – 20 before Darren scored the final shot to earn a place in the Semi-Final. Marty was naturally extremely disappointed not to win the game. He is a true gentleman n and off the rink and it was an absolute pleasure to mark for them both.

In the afternoon we three English Umpires played against our three Australian colleagues in what has not become a regular fixture when we meet called the “trashers match”. It was a great opportunity for us to relax, unwind and try out the commonwealth greens, albeit the practice green. It was a great laugh and to be honest the standard of bowling was shocking but we had fun. We were even blessed with a very special spectator for some of the match – Prince Edward stood and watched a few bowls being delivered but clearly was not impressed and so left with a wave. We thrashed the Aussies by the way!

Aussie and English Umpires
Action in the Trashers Match

There were some important deciding matches played in the afternoon session. The English Men’s four qualified for the Fours Final beating India in the semi-final, they will play Scotland in the final on Friday. Natalie Melmore and Jamie Lee Winch qualified for the final of the Ladies pairs and will play South Africa on Friday. But the best new from today was the English Ladies Triple of Sian Honnor, Ellen Faulkner and Sophie Tolchard winning the Gold Medal by thumping the Australian girls 22 shots to 4. An amazing result for England who had very little funding to support the elite squad in the build up to these games.

Our proud Gold Medalists from L to R: Sophie Tolchard, Sian Honnor & Ellen  Faulkner
The big game on Friday is the Gold Medal final of the Men’s Singles and will be contested by Ryan Bester of Canada and Scotland’s Darren Burnett. The stands will be packed and it will be noisy – a great showcase for our sport. Let’s just hope that it gets some airtime on the main TV channels.

As for me, my games is now over. I can relax and enjoy Friday and the men’s final. It has been a very enjoyable games for me. I managed to get through all the sessions without any major mistakes which is always a bonus. My final report of the games will come on Sunday whilst on my way home.

Please tune in Friday afternoon and support this fabulous sport – one of only a few core Commonwealth Games sports.

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