Bob Sutherland, born May 21, 1942, died March 30, 1997

BOB Sutherland, winner of the World Indoor Bowls championship in 1983 and Scotland's national bowls coach for the last nine years lost his battle with cancer when he died late on Sunday evening in the St Columba's Hospice, Edinburgh, aged 54.

While he will be remembered mainly for his contribution to the bowls world his early sporting exploits were confined to the football field.

Signed by Rangers as a promising 17-year-old in 1959 the West Lothian man stayed with the Glasgow club until 1964 when he moved on to

Stirling Albion.

He never managed to figure in the first team at Ibrox and a knee injury prevented him from extending his career much at Stirling where, forced into an early retirement, he turned his attention to bowls.

He made almost an instant impact and within a few years found himself in both the indoor and outdoor international sides and in 1975 he made the big breakthrough after winning the first of his two national indoor singles titles.

The second came in 1983 and signalled the highlight of his career when he went on to add the British and World titles in the same season to become the only Scot to hold all three titles simultaneously.

His world indoor win saw him leave his job as a sales representative in the building trade to embark on a career as a full-time professional bowler and over the next few years he pioneered many new ventures in the game.

As the sport grew in popularity Sutherland found his skills more in demand and he began to see his talents pointed more in the direction of coaching.

Never happier than when on the green with newcomers to the game, particularly youngsters, he freely admitted he derived tremendous satisfaction from imparting his considerable knowledge to those learning the rudiments of the game.

With coaching becoming an ever-increasing part of bowls Bob found himself called upon by the governing bodies of the game in Scotland - the Scottish Bowling Association and the Scottish Indoor Bowling Association - to set up their national coaching scheme.

Bob was appointed as national coach and in the ensuing years has seen the introduction of more than 1400 coaches at club, area and district level and the scheme has been so successful that every one of Scotland's 900 plus clubs now has a club coach.

Within the last two years he has developed coaching for partially sighted and disabled and was awarded the UK Coach of the Year award by the National Sports Council in the coaching development category.

Back in 1993 Bob was awarded the National Playing Field Association MacRobert Thistle award as Scotland's Sportsman of the Year.

Bob Sutherland's untimely death has not only robbed Scotland of one of its finest sporting ambassadors, it has left the game of bowls with a void that won't easily be filled.

His enthusiasm and application for the coaching position he held has seen the programme accelerated throughout all the clubs in Scotland both indoor and outdoor and that in itself will be a lasting legacy to the achievements of Bob Sutherland.

Not content with his world championship triumph in 1983 Bob Sutherland went on to leave the more tangible legacy of his achievements.

While his efforts to date are justifiably applauded the long term prospect for the game in Scotland have never been brighter - due in no small part to the efforts of Bob .

I suspect he would have settled for that when that football injury threatened his sporting ambitions back in the late 60s.