“If the end happened that way, it was always going to come off,” Wilson said. “I just wish I had a better rig.”
Sitting high in the stands before the match, the English locals didn’t know whom to support.
“Australia or Northern Ireland?” said one. “Hardly a great choice.”
Perhaps they had a sour taste in their mouths from what had gone down that morning.
Ryan and Krstic hauled in an 11-2 deficit to secure the win off the deft hand of Ryan.
“That’s the best player in the world,” an English woman sitting next to me said of Ryan. “Ella She’s so good for someone so young.”
It’s difficult to argue. Ryan leaves her first Commonwealth Games with two gold medals, having also won the singles title.
Wilson is only 30 and already etching his name in the history books.
He earned the nickname “Disco” because of his penchant for the nightlife, burning the proverbial candle at both ends, swapping the green for the dancefloor then back again.
Crazy breed, those lawn bowlers.
It’s almost impossible for athletes to shake monikers, no matter how they change their lives, but the fact is Wilson has put his partying days behind him since becoming a young father.
“All the records are closed these days,” he said. “I’m a family man with a seven-month-old bubba Summer and partner [Jamie-Lee Worsnop]. I traded that life in for the family life.”
Wilson was planning to celebrate his victory back at the athletes’ village, such are the ridiculously strict COVID-19 protocols in place for the Australian team.
Australian athletes might be banned from getting out and about but you can be assured Australian reporters are not.
Channeling our inner Kate McClymontwe ventured to The Cricketers to find out what the fuss was about and it’s here that we found Tom Atwalthe 23-year-old publish.
How’s it been?
“Absolutely heaving,” he said. “It’s always good for us with the lawn bowls. Then we had the scaffolders putting up the stands. But this week has been great. Everyone’s happy, everyone’s chilling. You don’t really get much trouble here, but anywhere there’s alcohol involved you’re going to get it. But we’ve had nothing. Everyone’s been in good spirits.”
The Cricketers is found at the end of a quaint street in Leamington Spa, which is a 45-minute drive southeast of Central Birmingham.
Oddly, there’s no cricket played in these parts, even though W. G. Grace features on the billboard. The pub earned the name because former English cricket and almanac publisher John Wisden often stayed at the pub.
In the past week, the bar has been overtaken by the world’s best lawn bowlers and their supporters.
The busiest time has been between morning and afternoon sessions, and when you ask Atwal who’s been the thirstiest country it doesn’t take long for him to shoot back a response.
“The Scots,” he said. “They get a round and then they’re back in 10 minutes for another.
Josh, the young barman standing to his left, shakes his head.
“The Aussies,” he whispers.
Just not the players.
While Australian athletes have been banned from the hotel, medallists from other countries have dropped in to celebrate.
On Saturday afternoon, New Zealand’s bronze medalists sat in the beer garden drinking Guinness in the warm sun, killing the hours before they had to attend the medal ceremony.
One of the liveliest medalists has been John Brechon40, who has a makeshift gold medal dangling from his neck.
He’s actually the chef.
“Do you play lawn bowls?” I ask.
“Yes, I’m a third dan,” he says.
“That’s taekwondo,” he adds.
“Yo lo se.”
As a lawn bowler he makes a great chef. He takes great delight in telling you the meat for his burgers comes from the same butcher used by the Queen.
There’s a cardboard cut-out of Your Majesty in the upstairs window, looking down on her royal subjects.
“I’m better at cooking than I am at bowls,” Brechon says.
And you do it well, champion. Hand that man a gold medal for his beef burger and where do I collect my Walkley?
“Three parts vodka, one part Viagra.” — The spritely volunteer at the beach volleyball, who has spent the past week playing a fake inflatable saxophone, when asked what’s in his drink bottle from him.
What about that run from Australia’s Ollie Hore in the men’s 1500m at the track? He claimed gold in the last stride, beating Kenya’s Timothy Cheruyot to become only the second Australian alongside Herb Elliott to win the historic middle-distance event. (Elliott won the mile at the 1958 Games in Cardiff).
There’s no shooting at these Commonwealth Games because Birmingham doesn’t have the facilities. India, a shooting powerhouse, threatened to boycott as a result. In the early hours of Saturday morning, a series of gunshots rang out over the city, including those from an automatic weapon, followed by screeching car tyres.