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Gourlay has designs on another world title – 22 years after his first one

PUBLISHED: 17:53 16 January 2018 | UPDATED: 17:53 16 January 2018

A view from the stands of the World Indoor Singles Championship clash between Jamie Chestney (red) and Chris Gale at Potters 
Picture: Nick Butcher

A view from the stands of the World Indoor Singles Championship clash between Jamie Chestney (red) and Chris Gale at Potters Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

David Gourlay, who, as Bowls Scotland’s head coach, is in the process of masterminding the country’s bid for medals at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast, won the World Indoor Singles title in Preston’s Guild Hall in 1996, when he was a 100/1 outsider.

Jamie Chestney (red) taking on Chris Gale at Potters. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Jamie Chestney (red) taking on Chris Gale at Potters. Picture: Nick Butcher

Two months ago, he showed that class is permanent by winning the Scottish International Open in Perth, and his determination to bridge that 22-year gap was in evidence yesterday as he defeated his fellow Scot John McCrorie in the first round of the singles at Potters Resort.

McCrorie, a self-employed painter, decorator and sign-writer, was once at the centre of a political storm after he won the Scottish outdoor singles title out of the Tranent club in 2000, and earned the right to compete for the British outdoor singles title in Belfast the following year.

After making his travel arrangements and booking his accommodation, he found the Scottish Bowling Association (later renamed Bowls Scotland) had severed its relationship with the British Isles Bowls Council, and his name was no longer in the draw for the British event.

It was a body blow for McCrorie, and signs promptly went up all over Edinburgh demanding he should be allowed back in. “Free the Tranent One!” they read - but the pleas were to no avail, and McCrorie had to settle for the role of spectator at the British championships.

Chris Gale takes aim against Jamie Chestney. 
Picture: Nick Butcher Chris Gale takes aim against Jamie Chestney. Picture: Nick Butcher

Yesterday, the 51-year-old Scottish PBA qualifier was supported by his niece Dee Hoggan, who won the Scottish women’s outdoor singles title in 2017. “She was with me in Belfast 17 years ago, and will be playing in the British championships at the same Belmont venue next summer,” McCrorie said.

On the rink, he gave best to number five seed Gourlay in straight sets. “I played too many loose bowls,” he said. “These guys (seeded players) are so consistent. They are nines and 10, and the rest of us are sixes or sevens, so we have to raise our game and hope they have an off day if we are to stand any chance.”

To be honest, Gourlay was not at his sparkling best, but played well enough to win against a game opponent who admitted he was not consistent enough, and the 1996 champion duly won in straight sets, 8-3, 10-2.

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