Willie Wood MBE is set to add to his record number of indoor bowls caps with the father figure of the sport named in the Scotland team for the Home International Series being played at Welsh venue Llanelli from March 17 to 19.
The now 77-year old ‘Wizard from Gifford’ – as crowned by yesteryears bowls columnist Dominie (Steve Bathgate) of the Evening News – made his Scotland debut in 1972 under the now sadly defunct Edinburgh IBC banner.
WWW – the middle W is for Walker after the great Tommy Walker of Heart of Midlothian legend – won 18 caps with the famed Capital City club then transferring to his native East Lothian added a further 72 from 1989 to 2015. His 2016 trio of caps moves him up to the phenomenal 93 mark and he heads a list that is dominated in the top three by East Lothian IBC figures in the shape of Graham Robertson- second with 87 and Alex (Tattie) Marshall MBE – third with 72.
Marshall was an enforced absentee in the 2015 campaign but the record six times World Indoor Singles Champion is a high profile recall for 2016 and that moves his caps figure onto the 75 mark.
Whilst celebrations are in order for the continuing achievements of Wood and Marshall at international level there is particular regret in the ‘garden county’ camp that Graham Robertson won’t be parading his brand of exceptional skills in Wales. Robertson’s 87 appearances in the international arena is the result of a stunningly fantastic 29 Home Championship Series in a row having never been dropped since making his debut in 1987 – like Wood under the Edinburgh IBC banner. Mention of Robertson brings the opportunity to mention the recent sad passing of his dad Adam who was a long time popular figure who graced the bowling scene with his enthusiastic and charismatic personality, and no mean player at club and county levels, also the Edinburgh Trades Holiday’s tournament scene.
Edinburgh and The Lothian’s contribute an impressive 12 of the 24 named team with East Lothian heading the numbers list with Billy Mellors, Scott Kennedy, Derek Oliver, and Jamie Higgins joining Wood and Marshall to make a total of six. Colin Hutchison is a solitary figure representing the capital city with the Bainfield star making it three series and 9 caps in a row having made his debut in the 2014 season.
The West Lothian IBC representation is five strong and headed by gold medal figure Neil Speirs who remains an ever-present since his debut in 2003 and playing his 14th series moves him onto the 42 cap mark. Speirs is joined by continued recognition for Thomas Mann, Calum Logan, Mark Allison, and Bryan Cooper.
Midlothian are disappointed to have zero representation however top figures Colin Walker, Ronnie Duncan, and David Peacock were unavailable for the selection process.