Monday, February 28, 2011

Grand Masters at Greenacres

Christine Stewart sends this report:

Sixty-four curlers, every one a Grand Master, gathered at Greenacres Curling Club last week for a two day bonspiel. To qualify for this competition all the participants had to have achieved three score years and ten. That gave them a combined minimum age of 4,480 years! And just try to imagine the number of stones these guys have thrown over the years.

The sixteen teams were greeted with coffee and bacon rolls before getting down to the serious business on the ice. Divided into two sections they played two six end games in the first day and one in the second using the Schenkel system for ranking. At the end of day one the curlers sat down to a well deserved dinner complete with guest speaker and plenty of stories.

After three games it came down to four teams battling it out for the high and low road titles. Willie Ralston from Stirling faced Hamilton’s Jim Waddell in the high road final, while David Young from Perth took on Jimmy Johnson from Kinross in the low road. Willie Ralston, Duncan Hamilton, Robert Gallacher and John Sands took the title, Jim Waddell, Jack Muir, Robbie Scott and John Veitch settled for second place.

The low road final was won by David Young, Willie Scott, Ian McDonald and Donald Whyte beating Jimmy Johnson, Ian Nicholson, Jim Paterson and Ian Muirhead.

The third Grand Masters Bonpsiel was voted a great success by all the players. Some questions came up, could numbers be increased? Well it’s up to you out there. If interested contact Greenacres at the email address below, or if you are not a silver surfer, use snail mail, Greenacres Curling Rink, Bowfield Road, Howwood, Renfrewshire, PA9 1DE.

We have Masters and Grand Masters, what about Legends? Just add five years to the three score and ten and contact Greenacres. That’s the gentlemen taken care of, what about the ladies? The ladies may be less willing to admit to being of a certain age but who could resist being a Grand Mistress? Volunteer now at!

Top photo (L-R) Robert Gallacher, Willie Ralston, Duncan Hamilton and John Sands from Stirling, is courtesy of Hugh Stewart.

Scots in semi

Congratulations to Aileen Neilson and all the Scottish squad in Prague at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship. I've been following the linescore on the event website this afternoon here, and I see that Scotland beat Russia in the Page 3-4 game, in an extra end. That advances the team to the 'semi' against Norway, losers of the Page 1-2 against Canada, tomorrow. The winner of the semi will play Canada in the final.

There are lots of photos from the event in the WCF galleries here, listed on the right of the page. I particularly liked this one of Scotland's Gregor Ewan!

This photo by Vladimir Nosek is courtesy of the World Curling Federation.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Junior Challenge Division 3

It's 10.00 Sunday, and twelve teams of young curlers are waiting for the off at Braehead. Chief Umpire Leslie Ingram-Brown in charge! Representing Lockerbie, Perth, Braehead, Aberdeen, Stirling and Lanarkshire these are the teams which found themselves in Division 3 of the Royal Club's Junior Challenge after the reorganisation last season. I have already described what happened in Division 1 and Division 2, at Ayr early in January, see here and here.

What was at stake today was promotion to Division 2, this going to the top two clubs after a five session round robin over the weekend. Each club is represented by two teams, and clubs may put forward more than one set of two. Indeed, the Stirling side in Division 3 was Stirling 2, and the Lanarkshire side was the third of three pairs from Hamilton.

This was the position with one round remaining. Two points are available for each team's win, one for a draw. Perth was against Lockerbie. If Perth won both their games they would be top and gain promotion. Braehead was not out of it. If they won both games, and Lockerbie lost theirs, then it would be promotion for the home side too. And this is exactly what happened.

When the dust had settled this afternoon, Perth and Braehead were going up, the others staying in Division 3 for next year, to be joined by Kinross and Ayr who were relegated from Division 2 in January.

All the Division 3 results are here.

Here is a selection of photos from both sessions today to give a flavour of the action!

Firstly though a mention of all the parents without whom an event like this would never happen, and who watched anxiously from behind the glass!

Of course, some of the parents have passed on their curling genes... !

No, it's not Eve. But I predict a big future for this young lady!

Here's Mili Smith playing third with her brother Kyle for Perth. Their father is of course David Smith, multiple Scottish Champion.

Front end for this Perth team were Calum Kinnear and Kerr Sands.

Cammy Smith was skipping the other Perth side. Yep, same family! Cammy's team was Robin Brydone, Ewan Mitchell and Polly Lightbody.

Here's Robin.

Robin encourages Ewan and Polly.

Hannah Fleming skipped one of the unlucky Lockerbie teams. Here she is against Stirling's Alastair Mitchell.

Hannah delivers, with Hannah Beattie and Ellen Boomer ready to sweep

Here's another Lockerbie team hard at work. Alice Spence joins in to help Kirsty Sloan and Koren Boomer.

Kirsty Sloan

"Is it there, or isn't it....... "

Here's one from this morning. Robin Brydone is in charge of the head, with Carolyn Baird and George Ballantyne (Lanarkshire 3) behind.

Here's the rest of the Lanarkshire 3 team. Carolyn Baird and Eilidh Johnson sweep Mairi MacDonald's stone. Mairi's mum is Marion MacDonald (nee Miller, former Scottish Champion).

Now, here's a question. Eilidh's twin sister Kathryn was also playing today. Are there any other curling twins out there?

The Aberdeen teams were well turned out in their green tops. That's Maggie Wilson's stone with sweepers Alasdair Izat and Kirsty Lockhart on the right. Yes, it is the daughter of Jackie, Olympian and curling commentator! Her younger brother Scott was also representing Aberdeen today

No lack of enthusiasm on the ice today! And lots of good curling.

As I keep saying, these juniors are the future of Scottish curling and it is great to see them enjoying the sport.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Saturday, February 26, 2011

ECA newsletter

For those missing the Scottish Curler, here's the English Curling Association's online newsletter. Volume 31 is now available. It's in .pdf format and published online at issuu, here.

Friday, February 25, 2011

World Wheels update

I've been following the progress of Team Scotland at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in Prague from the results service here, and with the reports on the Royal Club website here.

With six games of the nine-match round robin completed, Aileen Neilson, Tom Killin, Gregor Ewan, Angie Malone and Mike McKenzie have won five and lost one, and are on the same record as Norway. Canada is undefeated.

Scotland have yet to play Korea, China and Canada.

The photo above shows Gregor Ewan and Tom Killin in action against Germany and is courtesy WCF/Vladimir Nosek. Lots more pics can be found here.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Henderson Bishop 2011 Final

The winners of the 2011 Henderson Bishop, (L-R) Maggie Wilson (3rd), Claire Dagen (2nd), Kay Gibb (skip) and Laura Morris (lead), Aberdeen.

I was unable to see any of the competition other than today's final which matched Kay Gibb and her team against Kate Adams, Vicky Wright, Debbie Torbet and Alison Bell from Stranraer. This was a tense one, going down an extra end (an eleventh), with Kay making a double takeout for the win.

All the section and semifinal scores can be found here. From what everyone was telling me today, it had been a great week with first class hospitality and friendship at Murrayfield. And the semifinals in particular had been close well played games.

Here all Team Gibb get into the action on the skip's stone. I should mention that the team was 'conceived' in a Pizza Hut in Dundee on the way home from the Unders and Overs last year! So there are two morals to this: (1) Play in the Unders and Overs this year (teams are still needed) if you want to win beautiful trophies next season, and (2) Eat lots of pizza to improve your game!

Youngest team ever to win the Henderson Bishop by my reckoning. Laura is 25, Claire and Maggie are both juniors, and Kay is .... a little older!

Vicky comes out to help Alison and Debbie on Kate's stone.

Kate, whose daughter Vicki has won both Scottish and Scottish Junior titles this season. I've always said that curling is genetic!

As always at the Henderson Bishop, a good crowd watched the final. And not just the main event......

Here are the winners of the Low Road with the Cherrystone, (L-R) Anne Hewitt (lead), Margaret Cairns (2nd), Vilma Kirk (3rd) and Ann-Maree Davidson (skip) from Perth.

Ann-Maree's team was too strong on the day for Ayr's Karen Strang, Gail Thomson, Anne Anderson and Sheila Kennedy.

Here Anne and Sheila work on Gail's stone. The Ayr team did well to reach the final of the Cherrystone. Karen had to take over as skip for the finals after their usual boss Margaret Agnew broke a bone in her leg in a skiing accident before the competition.

Definitely caption competition this one of Karen. How about, "The lion not sleeping tonight."

Margaret and Anne work on their skip's stone.

Gail jumps to action as Vilma and Ann-Maree watch behind.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Still on the Scottish

I enjoyed the BBC Scotland broadcast of the Bruadar Scottish Men's Curling Championship tonight, just as much as I appreciated last night's programme on the women. I see that the latter is now available for the next week on the BBC iPlayer. The link is here. I assume tonight's programme will also be available later.

Robin Copland has written a splendid piece with his views of this year's Scottish Championships. Find it here, or link to Behind the Glass, on the right.

Ten days to go

The World Junior Curling Championships are almost upon us. The teams are set to practise on Friday, March 4, with the first games on Saturday, March 5, at the Dewar's Centre in Perth. John Penny's team has two games on the first day, against Finland and Switzerland. Eve Muirhead's side has one match, against Norway. You can find the draw here.

Photos of the competitors are online too. The women are here, and the men here. These pages have email addresses for each team.

It should be a great week. Bill Duncan, chair of the organising committee, tells me that advance ticket sales have been good. There is a new ticket option for the opening weekend, see here.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Well played

I've just watched the BBC Scotland broadcast of the Columba Cream Scottish Women's Curling Championship from 7-8 pm tonight. I really enjoyed it.

For a start it was great to be able to watch BBC coverage on the big screen at a time of the evening when I'm not falling asleep - usually this programme goes out in the wee hours. Despite actually having been at Perth, and knowing the result, it was still interesting to watch, for all sorts of reasons. My goodness though, these cameras are intrusive, they really get inside your nose! I wonder if the girls enjoyed seeing themselves on camera in such detail!

I thought the coverage was good. Curling on the box lends itself to the 'package' treatment, and not always to a whole game which can be uninteresting in parts to many. A whole end - the key one - was shown, and there should be no-one asking, "Is it only the skips that get to throw the stones?"

The commentary was good. Bob Kelly is experienced in that role nowadays, although Jackie came over as too laid back, and those of us that know her will realise that her 'commentator's voice' is not the real Jackie at all. It was a hard day for the two of them, commentating all the way through the live webcasts of two games. They did well, not dumbing down what they said for the non-curlers out there, but still explaining well what was going on.

Good ice too was on show with lots of swing, and some excellent shotplay. I found myself studying deliveries and releases too, even although I'm usually watching through a camera lens.

Would a non-curler have enjoyed the broadcast? Certainly, what was on the screen was a far cry from the 'old man's game' impression that some still hold of our sport. My opinion was that it was an hour of good advertisement for curling. It will be interesting to see if the package from the men's game is as good. That's tomorrow night (Wednesday) again at 7 pm. I dare say audience figures will be available in due course.

The fashion critic in me is just glad that Abi and Becca were able to keep on their red tops, or it would have been the team in black playing against the team in black, as both teams were wearing their National Academy tops. BBC once said, I believe, they would refuse to show curling unless teams dressed sensibly! DTD. But I digress, as usual.

Talking of the National Academy, I think a quiet 'well done' should go to Rhona Martin and her assistant Brad Askew who have looked after the Royal Club's National Academy programme in recent years. Both finalist teams have been supported through the National Academy, not the Scottish Institute. I hope they were proud to see their charges fighting it out in the finals, as I'm sure the two coaches, Isobel Hannen and Debbie Knox, were too.

Yes, well played!

Photo is © Skip Cottage. Anna is shouting, with Hannah and Becca behind.

World Wheels

Play at the World Wheelchair Curling Championship begins today in Prague. The Scottish team (see here) had a first round bye and, as I write this are up against Russia in their first match..... and are well down.

The full draw is here. The results are here. And there are reports on the Royal Club website here, just scroll to the bottom of the introductory piece.

I found the image above, of the opening stone being played in the super four sheet rink in Roztyly, a suburb of Prague, on these pages, linked from the official site, here.

Our own Ian Addison is chief umpire for the event, and Anne Malcolm is also on the umpiring team.

Those who follow wheelchair curling will already know that Eric Eales' Wheelchair Curling Blog is the place to keep yourself updated with what's happening in the sport.

Monday, February 21, 2011

More from Perth

They are smiling in this photo, but I bet this morning the Hannah Fleming team must be feeling disappointed (make that really gutted)! The juniors (Abi Brown, Becca Kesley, Alice Spence and Hannah Fleming, with their coach Debbie Knox, above with their silver medals) lost in the final of the Columba Cream Scottish Women's Championship yesterday to Anna Sloan, their first (only) defeat in the competition. It was a fantastic performance, and in thirty years time when they look back at their successful curling careers, I am sure it will be a one which they will happily remember with pride, despite the defeat yesterday.

David Soutar, Scott Macleod, Moray Combe and Sandy Reid with their silver medals. Great to see an unsupported team reach the final. They could easily have been Bruadar champions, losing only at the last stone to Team Brewster. If those in charge of Scottish curling needed encouragement to pay attention to the whole of the sport rather than just supporting a few top players, then surely this past week has proved that our game has quality in depth and should be cultivated. Let's all try to ensure that the 'all the eggs in one basket' approach is consigned to history!

Here's Greg Drummond, Team Brewster third player, who didn't appear in many of my photos yesterday. He gets the last word.

So, that's it from the 2011 Scottish. The finals are set to be televised tomorrow (Tuesday) and Wednesday on BBC 2 at 7 pm.

Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow will now travel to Regina, Saskatchewan, for the Ford World Men's Curling Championship, April 2-10. Duncan Fernie will be their alternate.

Anna Sloan, Claire Hamilton, Vicki Adams and Rhiann Macleod will represent Scotland in the Capital One World Women’s Curling Championship, March 18-27, Esbjerg, Denmark. Eve Muirhead will be the alternate - and just that, not a tactical substitute. I understand that it has been made clear that it is Anna's team, and they will not need to be looking over their shoulders if they have a bad game.

I'm looking forward now to being back at the Dewar's Centre in a couple of weeks for the World Junior Curling Championships when of course Eve, Anna, Vicki and Rhiann will be playing together for Scotland then. Alice Spence from Team Fleming is their alternate at Perth. See you there?

Photos © Skip Cottage

Sunday, February 20, 2011


L-R: Rhiann Macleod, Vicki Adams, Claire Hamilton and Anna Sloan, Columba Cream Scottish Women's Curling Champions 2011.

L-R: Michael Goodfellow, Scott Andrews, Greg Drummond and Tom Brewster, Bruadar Scottish Men's Curling Champions 2011.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Bruadar Men's Final: Post 2

Tom Brewster is Scottish Champion! How long have I waited to be able to say that.

Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews and Michael Goodfellow won the Bruadar Scottish Men's Curling Championship this afternoon, beating the Sandy Reid team at the last stone!

Tom Brewster's side came up against Moray Combe (4th), Sandy Reid (skip), Scott Macleod and David Soutar in the final this afternoon. That's Tom Brewster above.

It didn't begin as a 'classic' final. Brewster missed an open draw for a third stone at the second and only counted two to keep the teams level. At the fifth, Sandy was one shot in front.

The linescore is here.

Team Brewster took the initiative with a two at the sixth, and going down the ninth held a one shot lead. Moray just had to hit an open Brewster stone on the nose for two, but it curled away, he barely got a piece of it, and only one went on the board. Score 4-4 after nine, Brewster with last stone in the tenth.

Tom faced two Reid stones when he came to play his last. He elected to draw, and his stone, well looked after and swept by his team, finished on the button!

Moray Combe who plays last stones for the Sandy Reid team.

David Soutar and Scott Macleod sweep.

Tom Brewster on screen as his team sweep.

Here is the Brewster front end again, Michael Goodfellow and Scott Andrews.

"What's that you're saying, Scott?"

"I told you in the round robin, go sit in your corner!"

David Soutar, Moray Combe and Scott Macleod.

Scott Macleod watches the line of his stone, Michael Goodfellow and Scott Andrews behind.

Team seamstress, Margaret Cairns. Margaret and Ladies' Branch President Brenda Macintyre made sure that the sponsor's crests would not fall off the finalists' clothing during the televised match.

Caption needed!

Photos © Skip Cottage