Backing Nicky for big victory in X-Factor

Nicholas McDonald performs at Hampden
Nicholas McDonald performs at Hampden
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Motherwell and Bellshill businesses are spearheading the drive to ensure maximum votes for X-Factor sensation Nicholas McDonald.

The teenage star is gearing up for a 17th birthday to remember on Saturday - but beyond that, he’s pinning his hopes on already sky high local support remaining steady to deliver the votes he needs to win overall victory.

As part of the Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker’s campaign to get all our readers involved in the effort to make Nicholas the X-Factor champion, we’ve visited post offices and pubs, shops, offices, cafes and hairdressers to find what people really think of his chances.

Motherwell Times and Bellshill Speaker kingsize posters of Nicholas are conspicuous in many businesses and homes across the area, and their straightforward message is to vote, and vote again.

Support may already be rock solid, but the many business people we’ve spoken to - who in turn meet scores of local customers every day - are completely realistic about his chances.

They know he’s a class act, but that he’s up against at least two surviving rivals who could still tip the scales.

Nicholas has more than once said he is not “a one trick pony” - meaning he is versatile enough to handle a wide array of styles - and as the competition heads inexorably towards its grand finale that special ability could be decisive in his favour.

Twitter went into overdrive in the wake of his latest stunning success on Saturday, and after the judges’ solid verdict on his performance it was no surprise that he went through to the last six of the contest.

Meanwhile Nicholas was obviously still on a high from Friday when he commented on the honour of performing “at my national stadium”.

Mum Eileen had previously handed out complimentary tickets to Nicholas’s classmates at St Aidan’s for the friendly clash between Scotland and the USA at Hampden where Nicholas belted out Flower of Scotland before kick-off.

But with the contest getting tougher every week, Saturday’s show also saw the first flicker of qualified criticism.

It was nothing like the roasting dished out to now-departed Sam Callahan or other contestants evicted - but it was the first time Nicholas’s performance has drawn even mild adverse comment.

Judge Gary Barlow argued Nicholas should have “turned up the individuality a bit” for his rendition of the Adele classic Someone Like You - although he was the only one to find even the most minor fault.

But later on another well-known entertainer, Boy George, said on Twitter: ‘Nicholas sung that Adele song perfectly! Wrong Mr Barlow!’

During Saturday’s show the camera panned to Eileen McDonald clapping with joy when Nicole Scherzinger told Nicholas: ‘I can’t wait to buy your album’, while Sharon Osbourne - yet again - expressed amazement that such a young performer could manage such mature heartfelt emotion.

Can he keep up this sort of momentum - and will he be able to give his thousands of local fans a unique Christmas present by winning the contest?

With Motherwell and Bellshill people voting for all they are worth he’s certainly in with a chance.