This was the photo that appeared on the front cover of the Scottish Curler magazine in November 1970. The caption read, "The bright and attractive new ice rink at Stranraer which Tom Stewart, President of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, opened on 31st October. Part of the colourful mural, which is such a feature of the rink, can be seen." Well done to Hammy McMillan, snr, for his vision all these years ago!
I mention this today as the rink prepares to open for a new season on Saturday morning, October 2 - forty years of curling in the North West Castle Hotel rink. The Stranraer Ice Rink Curling Club has organised four sessions of curling over the day with 32 teams representing the majority of Clubs who support the rink taking part in an Anniversary Bonspiel.
In the evening there is to be a dinner, with guest speaker, Robin Copland, followed by dancing.
And there's more. Gail Munro says, "We firmly believe that the Juniors are the future of the Club and they have their own bonspiel on Sunday 3rd October starting at 10am with further sessions at 12pm and 2pm; a total of 96 players will mark the start of the next 40 years."
I first played at Stranraer in a weekend competition in season 1971-72. The David Horton team had a great time both on and off the ice and we were made very welcome, a welcome that continued over the years. We made many friends on that first visit. Indeed one of these friendships (with Johnny and May McFadzean, from Airylick, Port William) led to me being 18,000 feet up in the Himalayas some years later, as well as having many fun weekends on the ice in the 1980s. But that's another story!
Many great curlers have emerged from Stranraer! Let's join the celebrations today with the first of 'Great Hammy Moments' from the video archive. This dates from 1999 in Saint John, New Brunswick, the final of the Ford Men's World Championship. Canada was represented by Jeff Stoughton (skip), Jonathan Mead, Garry Vandenberghe and Doug Armstrong. Hammy McMillan's Scottish team was Warwick Smith, Ewan MacDonald and Pete Loudon.
This was a Canadian (CBC) feed broadcast by the BBC, retaining the Canadian commentary, Don Duguid and Don Wittman (and with the late Sandra Schmirler, I've also learned now). Kirsty Letton once again supplied the original VHS tape. I've edited just ten minutes from the game, see here, or click on the image below.
I hope you enjoy this 'great sporting moment'! And look out among the fans for Hammy snr and wife Janet, complete with knitting!