Billy Mellors grabs Scottish title from jaws of defeat

Billy Mellors looked down and out in his semi-final and then final
Billy Mellors looked down and out in his semi-final and then final
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Billy Mellors drew on the vast banks of his title-winning experience to claim the Scottish indoor bowls Singles Crown after looking dead and buried in the semi-final and final.

The 40-year-old East Lothian player emerged as the fairy tale 21-20 victor from two epic battles having been 18-11 down in his semi-final and 19-12 behind in the final.

“My form was very patchy in the early stages of both matches and that brought me under very heavy pressures but thankfully I was able to step up several gears entering the business end and I am thrilled to bits with both my escapes to victory,” he said.

Mellors, who learned his indoor trade as a member of the sadly defunct Edinburgh IBC, has a good habit of getting over the line in top-class events having won the Scottish Singles and Junior Singles titles under the outdoor code and also the Scottish and British Isles Pairs titles. He has also won the Scottish Triples indoor title.

The victory for Mellors follows East Lothian’s Alex Marshall wining a sixth World Indoors Singles title.

The challenge for the national title was of the highest order with Mellors facing fellow cap Ronnie Duncan of Midlothian in his semi-final while former title-holders Paul Foster of Prestwick and Mike Stepney of Elgin clashed in the other.

Duncan is a class act and shaped up as the likeliest finalist when accelerating into an 18-11 lead with a run of 2, 2, 1; but time and score stood still for the Midlothian ace as Mellors stormed into a 19-18 lead with a whirlwind reply of 4, 3, 1.

Mellors might well have become a spent force when Duncan carded two singles to regain the initiative at 20-19 but ‘the never say die’ quality in the East Lothian challenger’s make-up allowed him to muster up his reserves and produce successive singles to snatch a 21-20 win in 23 ends.

Meanwhile, what might be considered us an upset in the other semi-final, resulted in four times world champion Paul Foster recovering from 5-12 to 16-13 but then slipping to a 21-18 defeat from his fellow Scotland internationalist, Stepney.

The final promised to be a cracking encounter and it turned out to be of epic proportion’s lasting 24 ends and going right down to the wire.

Mellors was forced onto the back-foot in the early stages to trail 12-5 after nine ends then, having closed to 13-12, he collapsed to 19-12 down with the loss of 1, 2, 1, 2. It was question time once again for the East Lothian champion and his 1, 1, 3 reply to 17 was a good response but he then dropped a single to stand on the brink of defeat at 20-17 down.

Hopes that Mellors might pull something special out of the hat rose when he conjured up a 3 to 20 then brilliant build-up play came close to being destroyed by Stepney, but excellent back-bowl position earned Mellors the title-winning single to 21.

“It was the first time that I was ahead in the entire match,” reflected Mellors.