‘Bad day at the office’ for Ali in British final

HOPES that Guernsey’s bowlers would bring a title home from the British Isles Bowls Championships in Paisley were dashed yesterday when Ali Merrien lost in the women’s singles final and Dave King, Ian Merrien and Ben Harvey were runners-up in the men’s triples.

The legendary Willie Wood (third from left) – soon to be an octogenarian – looks on as Guernsey’s Ben Harvey, Ian Merrien and Dave King consider their options. (Picture by David Rhys-Jones)
The legendary Willie Wood (third from left) – soon to be an octogenarian – looks on as Guernsey’s Ben Harvey, Ian Merrien and Dave King consider their options. (Picture by David Rhys-Jones)

Playing in her eighth British singles final in 17 years, Merrien had lost in only one of her previous seven showdowns, but, for once, she was completely outplayed by Scotland’s Caroline Brown, who retained the title she won in Belfast last year.

‘I was really poor, and it was simply a bad day at the office,’ Merrien admitted.

‘I just had no idea of length and it was really difficult to play accurate running bowls on that rink.

‘Add to that the fact that Caroline, who is a class act, played exceptionally well, and that was that.’

Brown, who will be representing Scotland in the singles at the Commonwealth Games in Australia next month, allowed Merrien a double on the third end and the Guernsey ace managed only two more singles – on the 7th and 10th ends – as Brown romped home, 21-4.

‘I was expecting a hard game, because Ali has won this title six times, and had beaten Michelle Coleman and Catherine Beattie on her way to the final,’ said Brown.

‘But all I had to do was to get my bowls close.

‘This win will boost my confidence for the Commonwealth Games.’

Merrien’s husband, Ian, was playing mid-rink in the Guernsey trio who faced a Scottish team in the men’s triples and, with King at lead and young Harvey at skip, they gave a good account of themselves in what turned out to be an honourable 19-14 defeat.

What made the game special was the fact that Merrien’s opposite number was none other than the legendary Willie Wood, who has been playing for Scotland since the 1960s and will be celebrating his 80th birthday next month.

More than 60 years separated the Guernsey skip and the Scottish middle-man, but however experienced you are, bowls is all about your ability to get bowls close to the jack on the day – and for the first 10 ends it was anyone’s game.

On the 11th end, the Scots – Mark Johnston, Wood and Derek Oliver – scored six shots that shot them into a 15-7 lead, but the Guernsey trio bravely clawed back to 18-14 by the time the 18th and last end got under way.

There was even a chance that Harvey could conjure up a count of four to tie the match with his final delivery – and he gave it his best shot.

On target, he did not quite get the right results, Guernsey dropped a single, and lost 19-14.

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