OF all the memorable moments at Glasgow 2014 - and there were many – Alex Marshall’s “get it up ye” celebration following his defeat of England on his way to Commonwealth lawn bowls gold is one that has well and truly stuck in the memory over the past eight years. 

There was, insists Marshall, no anti-English sentiment in the slightest behind his gesture but he admits that when he ventures onto the Auld Enemy’s territory at Birmingham 2022, there may well be more than a few English supporters who have not forgotten his reaction.  

That, he is well aware, is likely to make for quite an atmosphere over the next week of competition but it is in the heat of battle he thrives and will, he is confident, help him produce his best form. 

“I actually got in a wee bit of trouble for that celebration because some of the officials thought it was towards some hecklers but that wasn’t it at all, it was just a total release of pressure and emotion,” the 55-year-old who is best known as “Tattie” recalls.  

“A lot of English people remember I did that and so that might still be in their minds in Birmingham. But actually, having an atmosphere is exactly what I like, I rise to that and it helps me play better. 

“There’s always a rivalry between Scotland and England, of course there is, and it’s always good to beat the Auld Enemy so there’ll be some good matches over the next week or so.  

“The English will have a lot of support but you want to be playing in these kind of atmospheres, that’s what its all about.  

“And if there’s any heckling, I’ll just block it out – if you start getting involved in that, you start losing the plot so that’s when you need to let your bowls do the talking.” 

Birmingham will be Marshall’s seventh Commonwealth Games, with his tally of five golds and a silver ensuring he is Scotland’s most successful Commonwealth Games athlete ever. 

He is spearheading Scotland’s 16-strong lawn bowls squad in Birmingham and his past success ensures he goes into these Games, in which he will compete in the pairs alongside fellow gold medallist Paul Foster and the fours alongside Foster, Darren Burnett and Stewart Anderson, with considerable pressure upon his shoulders. 

However, having spent three decades at the top of his sport – he won his first of 21 world titles in 1992 – he has become somewhat accustomed to the pre-tournament nerves that inevitably arise. 

“Pressure has always been there. I remember when I was at my first Commonwealth Games in 1994, I was a nervous wreck. The butterflies in my stomach were constant, I couldn’t settle at all and that stayed for the whole Games, I was just so nervous and didn’t want to let any of my teammates down,” he says. 

“The most nervous I’ve ever been was ahead of Glasgow 2014 – being at home and having high expectations on you. You’re aware that if you get off to a bad start, the crowd might get on your back and so we knew we needed to get a good start but as a team, we coped with that and got the crowd behind us. 

There’s always pressure but having support behind you is massive and we’re hoping there’ll be quite a sizeable Scottish support down in Birmingham.” 

For many, retaining the motivation required to remain at the top of their sport for thirty years would be unimaginable. 

Marshall insists none of his drive has waned just yet though and until it does, any thoughts of retirement are well and truly on the back-burner. 

A number of recent trips to compete in Australia have ensured he has retained the sharpness that saw him win gold and silver at the 2018 Commonwealth Games and there is little doubt he has his sights set on adding further to his medal tally in Birmingham. 

“Early in my career, I wanted to be a part of Team Scotland just once. But with this sport, you’ve got the opportunity of longevity and so to be at a seventh Commonwealth Games is just fantastic,” the East Lothian native says. 

“I feel like the motivation is absolutely still there. The older I get, the better I get,’ he says.  

“There’s a lot of youngsters wanting to take over my spot and that makes me more determined to do well. I’m still so hungry for success and that just keeps driving me forward, the drive’s not fading at all. 

I’m in good form, my confidence is good and I really just can’t wait to get out there in Birmingham.”