Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Silver Broom Glasgow

So, what were you doing twenty-five years ago this week?

If you were a curling fan in Scotland, it was likely that you would have been looking forward to the Air Canada Silver Broom World Curling Championship which was due to begin in Glasgow's Kelvin Hall. The opening ceremony was scheduled for noon on Monday, March 25, 1985.

Perhaps you were already one of the many volunteers, some of whom had been involved in the planning and preparations for more than two years before. But what made the event so special twenty-five years ago was what happened in the eleven days prior to play beginning. You see, there was no ice rink in the Kelvin Hall in 1985, and one had to be built just for the event. This had never been done before.

Let's go back even further. The idea to bring the Broom to Glasgow was Richard Harding's in 1982. His own words (taken from a feature in the event programme, above) say, "I was driving past the Kelvin Hall. To this day I don't know what made me go inside. I met George Harrow, the Hall's General Manager, and there and then (the hall was empty) we paced out the size of a curling rink suitable for a Silver Broom. George advised me to go and see Bob Dalgleish, who heads Glasgow City Council's Sports Promotion Department. I telephoned Bob, and a meeting was fixed. Anyone in Bob's position has to listen to all sorts of crazy ideas, and I was quite sure the notion of laying temporary ice in the Kelvin Hall for a world curling championship was highly ranked in order of craziness!"

As it turned out Bob was extremely supportive. Then a late night meeting in a car park resulted in Robin Brechin becoming the General Chairman of the event. A successful bid was prepared and in 1983 Glasgow was awarded the Championship. Richard changed my life totally by coming round to see me in my flat in Battlefield one day in 1983 and persuading me to become involved on the media side. A large organising committee was put together.

But the big thing in 1985 was the construction of the rink and arena in just eleven days. Jim Winning must get a special mention as chair of the ice and seating committee who made it all happen. The contract for the ice pad went to Star Refrigeration of Thornliebank, Glasgow.

The problem was that the 1985 Licensed trade Exhibition was not scheduled to finish until 4pm on Thursday March 14. The first stone of the Silver Broom was due to be thrown on Monday, March 25, eleven days ahead.

To cut a long story short, history shows that all the problems that were encountered were successfully overcome!

And this is what it all looked like at the opening ceremony. Billy Howat, Robert Clark, Robert Shaw and Alistair Henry represented Scotland. The ten country lineup contained an English team.

The event was a great success - just ask anyone who was involved. It was the last world curling championship to be sponsored by Air Canada. Canada, skipped by Al Hackner (in the photo above), beat Sweden's Stefan Hasselborg in the final. (Incidentally, the third player on that team, Mikael Hasselborg, and his wife Pia, had a daughter a few years later. Anna has just skipped her team to gold at the World Junior Championship 2010!)

There are many stories that could be told about the Glasgow Silver Broom. Memories have flooded back today just getting this post together!

I know what you are thinking. Why's Bob going on about past history in the blog today. Should this article not be in the Curling History blog? Perhaps so, but you may be unaware that work is going on behind the scenes to bring the World Men's Curling Championship back to Scotland, perhaps in 2014. RCCC CEO Colin Grahamslaw confirms that several options are being looked at, including using the Lowland Hall in the Royal Highland Showground. Now, wouldn't that be an exciting prospect to look forward to!

The photos above are from my archive. The pic of the rink being constructed was from Alex Bain and Star Refrigeration. The photos of the opening and of the Hackner team were taken by the late Johnny Hibberd, and are courtesy of Caroline Hibberd.