World bowls title glory for Arbroath’s Darren Burnett

Darren Burnett with the World Championship trophy.
Darren Burnett with the World Championship trophy.

Local hero Darren Burnett can be sure of a huge welcome when he returns to Arbroath after winning the Just Retirement World Indoor Singles crown for the first time after an epic victory over Englishman Mervyn King in the final at Potters.

The community policeman surpassed his own expectations on Saturday after making the final for the first time, when he defeated Robert Paxton, but yesterday’s success in front of a packed crowd was beyond his wildest dreams as he pocketed a cool £50,000 record first prize with a nerve-shredding tie-break success.

A jubilant Burnett said: “It’s unbelievable. It’s something you dream of, but you never know if it will happen to you. For the first time in my career, I came down here not in form and not expecting anything other than getting through the first game. But I have been more relaxed than I have been before.

“We both probably played under what we have been playing and he was a little more consistent. I really couldn’t master the weight at first and I was hanging in there. But the big bowls came at the right time and I am absolutely delighted. For it to go to the last bowl, you can’t get better than that.”

The scoreline, 5-7 10-8 2-1, suggested a close encounter and it definitely was, with neither player managing to forge any sort of advantage as they struggled at times to replicate their brilliant form from the semi-finals, with both sets decided on the final ends, while the tie-break came down to virtually the last bowl of the match.

Norfolk’s finest King, world champion in 2007, was roared on by a partisan crowd and he settled the quicker and took the first three ends to carve out a 3-0 lead.

Burnett hit back to lead 4-3 and the pendulum swung to and fro, before King eventually edged the first set by two shots, with Burnett missing a real opportunity to claim a full house on the final end and win the set himself.

With King 6-4 up after six ends of the second set, there was a sense of feeling in the crowd that this was going to be his day, but a big three on the eighth end proved vital for Burnett. Although King levelled at 8-8 going into the final end and with the pressure firmly on Burnett, the bobby produced his best two bowls of the match to take the match into a tie-break.

Burnett stuck one on the jack in the first of the three-end lottery, but King delivered a bowl from heaven to send the crowd wild. Burnett fired, split the head and won a vital measure to take first blood to silence the raucous spectators.

A sloppy end from Burnett, saw King level the match, but Arbroath’s finest pulled out another fine draw when it mattered and the Englishman failed to muster a response and the title was Burnett’s.

Burnett admitted to having the jitters at the start. He said: “It’s the first game of the tournament where I can honestly say there were plenty of nerves. I’ve never been in the final before and I was up against a man who has been superb throughout the event. I’m just delighted to get over the line.”

He was cheered on by wife Linsay and daughters Isla and Evie and he was clearly delighted to have them present.

“It’s absolutely brilliant. It’s a long tournament for us here and to have the wife and kids come down for the last week of the event has been brilliant. For me to be here and share the moment is superb.”