Liam McKay is the 2017 winner of the historic Tait Trophy with the 21- year old Tanfield star parading his skills in exciting fashion to become the 126th Singles Champion of Champions of Edinburgh & Leith.Read More
A spectacular win over Parkside champion Paul Veitch in an epic semi final battle followed by an accomplished performance against Wardie teenager Greg Wardie in a 25-end final saw McKay crowned and hailed as a worthy King of Kings. First played for in 1888 and reckoned to be the oldest surviving trophy in the world of bowls entry into The Tait Gallery of Champions is an annual Holy Grail conquest of competitive minded bowlers in the capital city.
McKay – already a player of Hamilton Trophy status – was tackling his first Tait Trophy campaign but did so with the distinguished singles record of having achieved double triumphs in both the District 14 Junior Singles and the Under 25 Fleming Trophy. The dream of etching his name on the ancient silverware of the Tait seemed a lost cause when the young Tanfield champion found himself severely challenged by a 13-1 deficit in his semi final against a richly talented opponent playing on his own green – the host club for the final stages being Parkside.
Veitch – a strong player and still on a high from skipping Parkside to the Scottish Triples title – is not the type of player expected to blow up or being fazed by the pressure of expectations to deliver on his home green; so a successful fight back from McKay is all the more admirable. McKay managed to include a confidence boosting count of 4 in a recovery to 13-7 but was still playing off the back-foot at 17-11 however his pulse rate quickened when conjuring up a magic count of 3 to put himself more prominently into the picture at 17-14. The loss of a singles was countered by a purple patch run of 2, 1, 1, 1, to hit the front at 19-18 then two ends later he finished on a double to clinch a thrilling 21-19 victory in traumatic 25-end encounter. Meanwhile, just off the shoulder the second semi final was producing a similar cliff-edge climax with Greg Walker the 17- year old champion of Wardie breaking an 18-18 deadlock with a deadly count of 3 to beat Malcolm Weir of Whitehouse & Grange.
An early highlight in the final came from 6-6 to 10-6 in favour of McKay who three ends on the trot had faced menacing heads but he converted into counts of 1, 1, 2 by serving up a hat trick of brilliant trails on the jack. McKay then stretched from 10-8 to 15-8 with counts of 1, 2, 2 and stayed on strongly to clinch a 21-14 victory in 25-ends. “Both my games were tough encounters that demanded a maximum respect for the qualities of my opponents but my self confidence was always good to high as I felt my sense of touch wasn’t deserting me even when under pressure. Winning The Tait is a fantastic high for me and my club for whom I am following in the footsteps of Andrew Sneddon (2002) and Mal Higgenbotham (2005/2007/2015).” The 2017 Tait was dedicated to the memory of Jimmy Gaylor of Hillside – a Past President of E&L.