Looking back

Twenty Years Ago (posted November 30, 2010)

The cover of the December 1990 Scottish Curler magazine had detail from the large oil painting of the Grand Match at Carsebreck by Charles Martin Hardie. It was presented to the Royal Club in 1900 and hangs in Scone Palace.

Robin Welsh's editorial reported on plans for the Grand Match, despite the previous one having been held in 1979. There were four possible sites twenty years ago – Loch Leven, Lake of Menteith, Lindores Loch or Stormont Loch. Ice marking was to start when the ice thickness reached six inches. The magazine published the draw for the event, should it go ahead.

A Canadian Ladies Tour, captained by Pat Fownes, had arrived on November 4. They had already played at Stranraer, Ayr, Magnum and Lanarkshire by the time the magazine went to print. Tour courier Kirsty Letton promised a 'full report' next month.

Eight men's teams and eight women's teams had played off at Gogar Park for the right to represent Scotland at the European Championships in Lillehammer. Were the country's best teams taking part? David Smith had declined to compete. Christine Allison's side were excluded by the regulations. It would be Robin Gray, Kenny Knox, Kerr Graham and Willie Hogg, and Hazel Erskine, Edith Loudon, Katie Loudon and Fiona Bayne, who would be our representative teams twenty years ago.

In a Letter to the Editor David Smith explained his reasons for deciding to compete in invitation events in Lausanne and Berne, with his team of Graeme Connal, Peter Smith and David Hay. The Scots won both. He would have liked to compete in the European competition, saying, “If the RCCC had considered their top teams, they would have organised the play-offs on a weekend where there are no National or International events on. It's maybe just as well it's the last season with a European play-off.”

David also commented on the fact that Scotland had lost its televised weekend competitions, and the big teams that used to come from Europe and Canada to play in these. The team had played the new 'Moncton Rule' (which we now know as the Free Guard Zone) at Lausanne and David wrote favourably about that. He was only partly true with his predictions of the future when he wrote, “The rule is simple, leads can hit stones in the house, but cannot remove guards out in front. This leads to a more interesting game but a higher level of shot play from both sides. It is the kind of game people will come to watch and enjoy. And if people start to come and watch it then sponsors and TV should soon reappear back into a great team winter sport.”

Leslie Ingram-Brown was to be chairman of the 1991 Royal Bank World Junior Curling Championships to be held in Glasgow's Summit Centre, March 9-17, 2011. The magazine had a photo of Elizabeth Paterson-Brown signing the contract with the bank representative, James Grier.

Hammy McMillan, Norman Brown, Roger McIntyre and Peter Wilson had won the Lockerbie Invitation, beating the Grant McPherson team in the final.

There were photos of curling at the new six-sheeter at the Ice House, Cumbernauld. The winners of the opening bonspiel were Alistair Govan, Alison Cron, Jim Jamieson and Liz Jamieson from Reform CC. Curling was scheduled in the Cumbernauld rink on Mondays only during the first season.

This is a photo of curling in the Ice House from the Scottish Curler twenty years ago:

From my Scottish Curler archive

Fifty Years Ago (posted November 1, 2010)

The cover of the November 1960 Scottish Curler shows James Carey, Director of the Station Hotel in Ayr, making the presentation to the winners of the Ayr Mixed Bonspiel. The winners were Mrs Laird, Mrs Reid, James Carey and George Reid. It is interesting to think that fifty years ago it was considered impolite, even when reporting on curling events, to refer to the ladies by their first names.

Right at the back of the photo is Bill Kean, who was to be a great supporter of young curlers in the early sixties, taking many of us into competitions, and covering the costs for us too!

The 'big curling news' fifty years ago was the entry of the USA into the Scotch Cup, hitherto just a Scotland v Canada competition. In its third year the Scotch Cup would be contested by three countries, a double round robin being planned for the rinks at Ayr, Perth and Kirkcaldy in March 1961.

It was reported that Mrs Glen, Mrs Love, Mrs D White and Mrs WG Piper had won the 'Scottish Ladies' at Perth.

The Corstorphine Curling Club had held a quiz night and a discussion on the Rules and Etiquette of the game. Among the questions aired were, "How does a good skip 'study the ice'?" "What should be done when a running stone hits the broom of one of the opposing side?" "A player's stone picks up grit while running. If it finishes in play is the skip allowed to examine it and remove the cause of the trouble?"

There was a story about the great RB Dick who had been involved in a 'motoring accident' on his way to compete in the final of the Kandersteg Trophy at Crossmyloof. He arrived at the rink an hour late. By that time his son Bob Dick jr had taken over as skip in place of his father, but lost out to the Lesmahagow team skipped by Tom McGregor.

The Editor, Robin Welsh, was looking forward to a 'lightning tour' in Germany and Switzerland with Bill Piper, the Royal Club President, Alex Mayes and James Fleming. They planned to play matches in Zweibrucken and Baden Baden, as well as taking in a bonspiel in Zurich. Robin was anticipating in particular games against the Canadian Air Force 'boys', some twenty of whom had booked for the Edinburgh 'World's Championship' week later in the year, that competition now known as the Edinburgh International.

Twenty Years Ago (posted September 30, 2010)

The cover of the October 1990 Scottish Curler was a 'stock photo', detail of Jemimah Wedderburn's watercolour of the first Grand Match at Penicuik in 1847.

Derek Anderson, the Royal Club President, noted that although the view of the Royal Club Council "has essentially been against curling being a demonstration sport at the Olympics", it had been agreed "it would be unthinkable if curling there be at the Olympics, that the United Kingdom would not be there to take part." The British Curling Association had been 're-awakened', and that subject to the availability of monies to send male and female teams to France, the British Association had verbally agreed that whichever UK teams came highest in the top six from Europe at the World Championships in Winnipeg in March 1991 would be the Great Britain representatives at the curling event at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Pralognan.

A first bonspiel had been held in Prague (then in Czechoslovakia) and the Royal Club had sent a team of Charlie Binnie, Jim Forrest, Hugh Aitken and John Walker to take part.

Bob Cowan had written an article on 'Doping Control in Curling'. Dr Derek Anderson had been instrumental in getting Council's agreement for the doping control programme to be implemented for curling. The article contained his answers to questions I had put to him!

The magazine's 'junior pages' had a full report by Alan Campbell of the Summer Camp at Abernethy Outdoor Centre and Aviemore Ice Rink. There was even a photo (by Jane Sanderson) of Ladies Branch President Kirsty Letton climbing the abseil tree at Abernethy.

There was a full page photo, courtesy of Aviemore Photographic, of the campers and coaches. Where are they all now, I wonder. Some names are still very much in the forefront of the sport. See if you can recognise Euan Byers, Alison Kinghorn and Lynne Robertson from twenty years ago without looking at the key!

Click on the photo to see it larger size.

Back: Andrew Ferguson, Garry MacKay, John Dunlop, Craig Hamilton, Iain Dykes, Steven Still, Gary Wood, Ross MacKay, Euan Byers, Paul Westwood.
Centre: Jane Sanderson, wan Malcolm, Amanda Russell, Allison Davies, Ross McCracken, David Hynd, Gregor Dalgleish, Martin McKendrick, Sheona McLean, Lucy Levack, Alan Campbell, Anne Gumley, John Walker.
Front: Fiona McEwan, Alison Kinghorn, Sandra Hynd, Sarah Tweedie, Lisa Corti, Lynne Robertson, Kirsteen McIlwham, Jan Byers, Lorraine Wood, Jennifer Harrison

From my Scottish Curler archive

Fifty Years Ago (posted August 27, 2010)

This is the cover of the September 1960 Scottish Curler magazine. The photo is of the Swiss team which had won the Ladies International Cup at the 3rd Summer Bonspiel at Cortina, Italy. Seven nations had taken part in the midsummer competition, with a total entry of seventy teams. J M Fleming reported on the event, but fails to mention the skip of the team which won the men's competition, nor who was in the Scottish women's team that finished runners-up to the Swiss!

There had been a Grand Match the previous year, on January 27, 1959, and the magazine was looking forward to a repeat. Willie Murray, the Convenor of the Grand Match Committee, had spoken at the RCCC AGM and indicated that "arrangements had been streamlined to make the next Grand Match even better than the memorable one on Loch Leven."

A cannon had been obtained to start the Match, in place of the shotgun which had been used before!

Edwin White, the secretary of Stratheden CC, had supplied a number of photos showing curlers kiggle caggling. One such is shown above, captioned 'Gavin McLuggage delivers a thunnerin' cast'.  

This black and white image was part of the sales pitch for the Scottish Curler Christmas Card for 1960. It is a reproduction of 'Curlers on Duddingston Loch' by Charles Lees. (Lees also painted the 'Grand Match on Linlithgow Loch' which of course has been very much in the news recently, with the Royal Club considering selling it). The Duddingston painting was in private hands in 1960. I wonder where it is now. Anyway, Christmas cards showing the image of the painting were available for ten shillings for a dozen fifty years ago.

Elsewhere in the magazine, an article by Canada's Ken Watson cautioned about playing long odds shots. Ken wrote, "There comes a time in every curling game when a skip is tempted to gamble by asking for or playing a shot where the odds are prohibitive. Some strategists are by birth and temperament confirmed optimists who drool over the prospect of making a scintillating double kill or negotiating a dangerous port to eliminate an opposing stone that stands between them and a big end. These characters are a menace to the brotherhood of the ice lanes for they can demoralize in a few short seconds the team morale that they are supposed to nourish."

Wonderful writing, and just part of a long article.

From my Scottish Curler archive

Twenty Years Ago (posted August, 2010)

The cover of the September 1990 Scottish Curler magazine had a Scottish Tourist Board photo of the River Tay in Perth. The reason is below!

Inside, Robin Welsh's editorial led with the news that the Royal Club had decided to introduce a 'no striking by the leads' rule for the Rink Championship, to test it in practice. (These were the days before the Free Guard Zone.) Robin was skeptical, but admitted, "It is a tangible attempt to combat the hitting game which is threatening to destroy curling as a spectacle."

Twenty years ago, also under discussion was the alternative suggestion that blanking an end should be penalised with the loss of last stone!

I had written an article, looking forward to the Royal Bank World Junior Curling Championships, which had been awarded to the Summit Centre in Glasgow and would be held later that season!

On the international front, James Oastler, President of the Australian Curling Association, described the ACA's intention to challenge for a place in the Men's World Championship. Referring to the fact that the challenge in Norway in December would be the first time Australia would be represented in international curling, Oastler said, "As far as we are concerned, this is another country to assist in gaining acceptance of curling as an Olympic sport."

The main feature in the magazine though was a preview of the new Perth complex, the Dewar's Rinks, scheduled to open officially on October 8, 1990. The complex included an eight-sheet curling and skating rink. These were the pics that accompanied the feature:

1989 RCCC President Roy Sinclair, Past-President Bill Muirhead, Bar Manager Rab Gray and Assistant Manager Walter Johnston examine the complex under construction earlier in the year.

And in June, Royal Club office bearers Bruce Guild, Charlie Binnie, Matt Brown and Derek Anderson were on site.

From my Scottish Curler archive.