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Hot potato: Hail Tattie, king of bowls

ECK for first minister.

Alex Marshall and Neil Speirs celebrate winning gold in the men's fours. Picture: Stewart Attwood
Alex Marshall and Neil Speirs celebrate winning gold in the men's fours. Picture: Stewart Attwood

Alex 'Tattie' Marshall, that is. That was the scribbled suggestion of one banner at the bowling yesterday, and any straw poll conducted in the Kelvingrove area around mid-afternoon would surely have concurred after the larger-than-life bowls legend racked up his second gold medal of the games. Forget all about Ross Murdoch and Eilidh Child, this bald and rather portly 47-year-old gentleman from Tranent has an everyman quality which makes him the real pin-up of Glasgow 2014.

Another poster nearby was hailing him as the Lionel Messi of bowling, but this of course, was much, much more than a one-man effort. Marshall was merely one cog in the wheel of a smoothly functioning bowling machine.

The Scottish skip, with 19 world titles under his belt, was joined by World No.1 Paul Foster, his pairs partner also racking up gold medal number two of the games, while there were firsts for David Peacock and Neil Speirs, two men who also made wholesome contributions to the victory. While things were end to end at the outset, soon the consistency of this fearsome line-up had utterly obliterated their English rivals. Andrew Knapper, John McGuinness, Stuart Airey, and Jamie Chestney were disposed of by a 16-8 scoreline with fully an end to spare.

Unfortunately for the gathered paparazzi, there was no repeat of Marshall's controversial "get it up ye" celebration which marked that epic come-from-behind victory against Knapper and Sam Tolchard in the pairs semi-finals. Neither did the die-hard Hearts fan make a Child-like reference to his club's 5-1 Scottish Cup final win. No, instead of the forecast histrionics, when the Scots' lead became unassailable in front of the watching Prince Edward, there was merely a joyful huddle, these four close friends revelling in the moment, and choosing to keep what was said in there to themselves.

"After last week I wasn't going to be doing the same again but because we were nine up with two ends to go it was a bit different anyway," said Marshall. "But I had spoken to the guys about the celebrations and what we were going to do if we did manage to win. We agreed to just shake the English guys' hands and then go into a huddle and have a wee celebration."

This was very much a team achievement and Marshall and Foster made sure it was treated as such. "It is more satisfying when there's four of us to share in the moment," added the skip.

"We play as a team, we win as a team and all four guys deserve all the credit. David and Neil are a fantastic front end then you've got the world No.1 coming behind these guys and myself at the end.

"We're a fantastic team, we knit well together and that's why we're Commonwealth gold medallists."

From the moment a nerveless late runner from the Scottish skip led to a six-shot swing in the Scots favour in the third end, you suspected this Battle of Britain was beyond England. The Auld Enemy briefly rallied to take a 5-4 advantage, but with Peacock and Speirs starting to find their range early in ends, soon the Scots were out of sight.

One last errant delivery from English skip Chestney which sailed wildly by put them out of their misery, with Australia narrowly beating India to take out the bronze.

As democratic as their crowning moment undoubtedly was, it had been Marshall who had led the way, Marshall who has taken hold of the public imagination. His team-mates made it clear what they thought of their skip, who takes his individual tally of Games golds to four in five attempts. "Alex is a massive part of this," said Foster. "He's our team captain and every one of us look up to him and what he's done in the game. His record is phenomenal and will probably never ever be beaten."

"I'd vote for him [as first minister] without doubt," added Speirs. "He's an absolute legend."

These four ordinary heroes will go back to their day jobs soon enough - Marshall is a sales manager for a company which manufactures bowls, Foster owns a taxi company, Peacock works in computer graphics and Speirs works in a motor factory - but last night as the sun dipped behind Kelvingrove Art Gallery, they were to be spotted with beer in hand, wandering amongst their people.

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