Gran and grandson bowling team win Scots title

Mary and grandson John McDermott lift the trophy they won in the mixed pairs contest. Picture: comp
Mary and grandson John McDermott lift the trophy they won in the mixed pairs contest. Picture: comp
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The family who plays together stays together.

Caught by the bowling bug aged ten, John McDermott never imagined lifting one of the most prestigious trophies in the sport – let alone partnered by his gran.

But the steely-nerved star and his 73-year-old grandmother Mary Price have created history by becoming the first pairing of their kind to win a Scottish National Championship.

The duo – who live together in Baberton Mains – turned on the style to win the Mixed Pairs contest at the Bowls National Championship in Ayr on Thursday.

It’s a long way from Sighthill Bowling Club where John, now 27, first honed his skills on the greens under the watchful eye of his grandmother,

John, who works at Western Toyota in Newbridge, credits his nan’s passion for the sport for sparking his own love affair with bowls.

“It used to be that your mother and father had to be members before you could join the club but they changed the rules to include grandparents so I could join,” he said.

“I started playing as soon as I turned ten – which was the age restriction,” he said. “And I’m still here, I’ve caught the bug.

“I joined the junior section and started getting more involved in the game.”

And he added: “My nan is the best. She really is Super Gran. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here today.”

“Both my grandparents were very encouraging,” he said. “We used to play together when I was younger and they would come and watch my games.”

Pensioner Mary was a talented golfer but swapped the fairways for the bowling greens after her husband Peter – another accomplished bowls player – was in hospital for heart bypass operation.

She said: “Bowling is all we talk about.

“John’s got a daughter, 
Hannah. She’s five and he bought her a set of bowls for her birthday with pink speckles on, and she’s into it as well.

“It keeps them out of trouble. We always knew where John was and if he misbehaved, he knew the club would tell his granddad. But he never did.”

John and Mary had to overcome a string of club and district matches before progressing to the National Championships and ultimately the winners’ podium.

Bowling commentator Stewart Meikle, 71, who has been involved with bowls for about 60 years, said he hoped the partnership would help dispel the sport’s stuffy image.

He said: “This demonstrates that playing bowls can bring rewards like being national champions. This is not just a sport for old people but for every generation, and that a grandmother and grandson can play together proves that.”