THE FIVE STRANGEST SPORTING DAYS IN '95

Skip on the carpet for losing his head

The world of bowls - outwardly civil for all the passions within - is still dealing with the shock waves emanating from what will no doubt become known as the Auckinleck Incident earlier this month.

John McLardy, skip of the Galleon Club from Kilmarnock, was "sent off" by umpire Roger Black, a former football referee, for persistent verbal abuse during the Scottish Indoor Fours championships. He was subsequently disqualified.

"I spoke to the player on two occasions regarding his general conduct on the green and after the second warning he launched a verbal attack on me within earshot of various officials and other bowlers," Black said. "If this had happened on a football field I would have had no hesitation in sending the player off."

Dennis Petrie, competitions secretary for the Scottish Indoor Bowling Association, could not recall a similar bowls incident in his experience.

"There has never been a situation where we felt it necessary to disqualify a player," he said. "Usually a quiet word is enough."

McLardy was reported to have sat at the back and made rude comments about his opponents' bowls. "He was saying things like: `Go in the ditch, go in the ditch'," Petrie said.

Galleon won their match, but went out the next day, playing a substitute in McLardy's place. He himself required hospital treatment on the Sunday after collapsing.

"He was in a bit of a state," said Bill Thomson, the Galleon rinkmaster. "He was probably upset with himself. I have known John McLardy for more than 40 years, and that's the type of man he is. You will hear him. But there's no malice in him."

The club committee met last week to decide on appropriate disciplinary action, and the SIBA will make an official announcement in the New Year. In the meantime, opinion within McLardy's own club is mixed. "The feeling is that he shouldn't have sworn to start with," Thomson reported.

MIKE ROWBOTTOM

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