Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Cumbrae Push for Erskine

Members of Braehead Wheelchair Curling Club were on Cumbrae last Sunday (June 27), to push ten miles round the island in aid of Erskine Hospital.

Gill Keith, Fiona Simm, Billy Galbraith, Alison Cloudsley, Michael McCreadie and Aileen Neilson, along with family and friends, enjoyed the glorious sunshine while pushing for a very worthwhile cause, coinciding with the Armed Forces Day celebrations, acknowledging the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces.

Michael says, "For the past five years we have raised money for our own club. However, this year we felt it appropriate that another worthwhile organisation should benefit."

Well done to all involved! The Armed Forces Day website is here.

Photos courtesy of Aileen Neilson

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Squad selections and news of European qualifiers

In a big day of announcements, the names of supported athletes and teams have now been published. Explanation of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Performance Pathway is here. In total, twelve teams will receive support for next season.

The ELITE teams will receive support through the Scottish Institute of Sport. The Institute coaches are Derek Brown (National Coach) and Cate Brewster. The teams for 2010-11 are:

(1) David Murdoch, Warwick Smith, Glen Muirhead, Ross Hepburn

(2) Tom Brewster, Greg Drummond, Scott Andrews, Michael Goodfellow

(3) Eve Muirhead, Kelly Wood, Lorna Vevers, Annie Laird

(4) Sarah Reid, Kerry Barr, Kay Adams, Barbara McFarlane

The NATIONAL ACADEMY programme is run by Rhona Martin (RCCC Performance Development Coach) supported by Brad Askew (RCCC Assistant Performance Development Coach) and complimented by team coaches. The teams 2010-11 who will receive support via the Royal Club and the Area Institute network are:

(1) Ally Fraser, Blair Fraser, Thomas Sloan, Kerr Drummond

(2) Jay McWilliam, Grant Hardie, Struan Wood, Ian Copland

(3) John Penny, Colin Dick, Colin Howden, Billy Morton

(4) Duncan Fernie, David Edwards, Richard Woods, Colin Campbell

(5) Anna Sloan, Claire Hamilton, Vicki Adams, Rhiann Macleod

(6) Lauren Gray, Jennifer Dodds, Tasha Aitken, Caitlin Barr

(7) Hannah Fleming, Rebecca Kesley, Alice Spence, Abi Brown

(8) Gail Munro, Lyndsay Wilson, Kerry Adams, Alison Mather

Congratulations too to the fifty-five individuals who will receive help through the Regional Academy programme, see here. This programme is also managed by Rhona Martin, supported by Brad Askew.

In a separate announcement, see here, RCCC Competitions Manager Colin Hamilton has named the teams that will take part on the European Qualifying event at the Dewar's Rinks, Perth, October 29-31. The winners then will represent Scotland at the Le Gruyere European Championships in Champery, Switzerland, December 3-11.

The top three women's teams from last season's Scottish Championship all met the criteria for entry. These are:
(1) Eve Muirhead (skip), Kelly Wood, Lorna Vevers, Anne Laird
(2) Gail Munro (skip), Lyndsay Wilson, Kerry Adams and Alison Mather
(3) Sarah Reid (skip), Kerry Barr, Kay Adams and Barbara McFarlane

On the men's side, I had already flagged up the difficulties faced by the Competitions Committee this season, see here.

Colin says, "None of the top three teams from the Scottish Championships meet the criteria, so after long deliberation these are the teams that have been invited to play in the European Play-offs":
(1) David Murdoch (skip), Warwick Smith, Glen Muirhead and Ross Hepburn
(2) Hammy McMillan (skip), David Smith, Ross Paterson and Sandy Gilmour
(3) Ewan MacDonald (skip), Peter Loudon, Graeme Connal and Euan Byers

These three teams avoid having to play in the Scottish Championship prequalifiers.

Curling Champions Tour

I see that the dates for next season's Curling Champions Tour are now online here.

MEN's Competitions:
Baden Masters, September 10-12
Radisson Blu Oslo Cup, September 23-26
Swiss Cup Basel, October 1-4
Bern Open, October 22-24
Lucerne Curling Trophy, November 11-14
Edinburgh International, November 26-28
Ramada Perth Masters, January 6-9

There are also plans for a Danish Open in January.

WOMEN's competitions:
Radisson Blu Oslo Cup, September 23-26
RE/MAX Women's Masters, Basel, October 8-10
Grasshopper Women's Masters, Zurich, October 22-24
Stockholm Ladies Cup, November 4-7
ZO Women's Tournament, Wetzikon, November 26-28 more
Bernese Ladies Cup, January 14-16
Glynhill Ladies International at Braehead, January 21-23

Just which Scottish teams will be competing on the Tour next season depends much on which have received support through the Scottish Institute supported Elite and the RCCC's National Academy programmes. I understand that those selected have been notified and that the formal announcement will be made through the Royal Club website soon.

What about the Junior Tour? There is nothing online yet, but word is that there will be three events next season. Five countries were keen to host competitions but the organising committee (which includes the Royal Club's Performance Development Coach Rhona Martin) decided that three events were enough or it would be a struggle to fill them. The countries will rotate. This season's events are in Denmark (August 27-29), Oslo (October 22-24), and Thun (November 26-28).

That means no Junior Tour event for Inverness this year, although Scotland and Germany will host events in the 2010-12 season.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

One member, one vote

It's ten years or so since I was last at the Erskine Bridge Hotel. The occasion then was a Glasgow University Medical Students' Final Year Dinner. A great night, happy memories.

Today, I did wonder if my visit back to Erskine for the AGM of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club would be anything like as enjoyable! As it turned out, it was a good day.

Prior to the meeting, several Past Presidents pose for a photo.

Photographer Jim Law had more difficulty marshalling members of the Areas Standing Committee!

It was a big day for the incoming President, Robbie Scott, here taking a moment or two to go over his notes, with his wife Kathleen on hand for support.

The meeting itself was well attended. One hundred and ninety-three members were at the meeting. Some had already voted by post, and only 128 of those in the hall had a vote to cast. A total of 593 members had voted by post or left proxies.

The meeting was efficiently run and business was concluded in a little over ninety minutes.

So what happened? For a start, for the first time in my memory, no letter was received from the Royal Patron. A delay? An oversight? Who knows. Perhaps Scotland's curling governing body is about to become just the 'Caledonian Curling Club'!

Grand Match Committee Chairman Jim Paterson was invited to speak following the CEO's report. Yet more reasons emerged why the attempt to hold the Grand Match on the Lake of Menteith last January ended in failure. Apparently the unknown number of spectators is a problem. Thousands crowding on to the ice amongst the curlers could cause the ice to collapse. You might think that restricting access to the ice would be the answer, and indeed this was suggested. However, it was pointed out that because the Lake of Menteith lies within a National Park it would not be possible to prevent the public's legal right to roam, even on to the ice!

Jim emphasised that if, in the future, the Grand Match could be held at either of the Club's preferred venues, Loch Leven or Piper Dam, spectators would be strictly controlled and would not have access to the ice itself.

A commitment was obtained that the minutes of the Grand Match Committee will be posted on the Royal Club website.

The proposal by Dalbeattie Ladies CC to change Bye-Law 1.6 to remove the requirement for clubs to purchase copies of the Annual received the necessary support.

I already mentioned that I disagreed with one section within Special Resolution 2 which suggested that the list of the Royal Club's possessions (books, paintings, historical artefacts and records for example) should be "Deleted for security reasons. The Royal Club does not think it is wise to publish a list of valuable artefacts." I spoke up in an attempt to convince those present, including the Board, that it is important that the club keep a record of all its possessions, especially things that have been donated recently, available for the members to see and appreciate.

We all discovered that there is a list, but just how complete this is was not clear. Anyway, it can be consulted at Cairnie House. Apparently.

The proposal went to a vote. Although rejected by the majority in the hall, the proposal still passed (480 for, 88 against), the postal votes and proxies carrying the day. At least though the topic got a good airing, and the other important changes in Proposal 2 were not held up.

The exercise illustrated an important point for the future. If there are controversial decisions to be made, which could be influenced by discussion and debate on the day of the meeting, the outcome could still be decided simply by members exercising their right to vote, or leaving proxies, IN ADVANCE of the meeting. I must admit that it is a consequence of the 'one member, one vote' that I had not considered until now.

But today, everything else continued smoothly. Robbie Scott was duly elected as President. Pat Edington is the Vice-president.

In the election for the two directors positions on the Board, Kay Gibb received 463 votes, Trevor Dodds polled 434, and Bill Marshall will be disappointed as the one to lose out with 296 votes.

And here's an informal pic of Trevor and Kay after the meeting.

Look out for an official report of the AGM on the Royal Club website in due course.

It was great to see so many friends at the Erskine Bridge Hotel today. And after witnessing curling democracy in action, it was a pleasant run home!

Pics © Skip Cottage

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Royal Club AGM

The Royal Caledonian Curling Club's Annual General Meeting will be held at the Erskine Bridge Hotel on Saturday (June 19) at 14.00. This will be a milestone in the history of the sport's governing body. It will be the first time that individual members will have the opportunity to vote. If you intend to vote at the AGM in person, you will have to produce your membership card at the meeting as proof of membership. It will be interesting to see how many attend the meeting, and how many have cast postal votes, or indeed given their proxy to another to vote for them.

One of the votes that will take place is to elect two new directors, from a list of three, Trevor Dodds, Kay Gibb and Bill Marshall. Another is to approve an increase in subscription from £17 to £18.

Special Resolution No. 1 is interesting. It is "To approve the proposal by Dalbeattie Ladies CC and supported by Dalbeattie CC and Craigie CC to change Bye-Law 1.6 as set out in the Notice of AGM." The current bye-law requires local clubs to purchase at least two copies of the RCCC Annual each year, the actual number depending on the size of the membership. Dalbeattie Ladies CC wants this requirement to be removed.

The future of a printed Annual has been discussed over a number of years. I wonder if this Resolution will be approved, and if so what it will mean for the publication of the Annual in the future.

Actually it is something that has been missing from the Annual in recent years that is a particular concern to me. The Royal Club's Memorandum and Articles - 5.15 (g) - indicates that the Annual should include a 'list of Paintings, Books, Artefacts and Records held by the Royal Club'. It was pointed out some years ago that the list in the Annual of the time was not up to date. Efforts were made to find out just what the Royal Club owned in respect of historical artifacts, and where they were stored. At the 2008 AGM at Cumbernauld, the Chairman of the Board (Mike Ferguson then) said, "Work is nearing completion on the registration of publications and artefacts. It is fair to say that the project has turned out to be far more expansive and complex than originally thought. In terms of publications alone, we own more than 500 and a full list will extend to several thousand items. One factor which has arisen is whether it is wise for these to be published in the Annual as previously indicated. That said, the good news is that the register is nearing completion after which the Board can decide how best to publish it."

Two years later, the Board has indeed decided! It has made the decision that we should not be told what the Club owns!

The proposal buried within Special Resolution 2 is the suggestion that clause 5.15 (g) should be "Deleted for security reasons. The Royal Club does not think it is wise to publish a list of valuable artefacts. Members can apply to the Royal Club for information on specific items. It is also proving impractical to publish a list of the many items donated to the Royal Club each year."

What nonsense is this!

If there is no published list of things that the Club owns, how can members ask about specific items? And surely it should be possible to record items donated to the Club each year. I would suggest that recognising the donors of such items is an imperative! Hopefully someone at the meeting on Saturday will ask for this point to be clarified.

I have attended many RCCC AGMs in my nearly fifty years association with the sport. Many times I have said, "Never again" given how long and drawn out, uncomfortable and boring, the meetings can sometimes be. On the surface of it, this year's AGM looks not to be a controversial one. I shall be there, if only to exercise my right to vote for the first time, and I trust it will be an enjoyable afternoon.

Now, where have I hidden my membership card?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

New Event for Curl Aberdeen

Curl Aberdeen is set to stage a new open competition next season, the Aberdeen City Open, February 4-6, 2011.

The competition comes about as a result of the success of the Le Gruyere European Championships last December, and the good relationship between Aberdeen City Council and the local organising committee. The A Division was held in the Council owned Linx Arena, and the B Divisions in Curl Aberdeen. The Council has donated a trophy in recognition of the success of the Euro event.

Manager Tom Brewster is looking for twenty-four teams. The competition will be open to any four curlers. Tom says, "We hope to finalise details by the end of July and have the invites out for sometime in August. It should be a fun weekend with some great prizes."

The dates for the Aberdeen City Open sit comfortably in the competitions calendar just before the Scottish Seniors and Scottish Championships get underway. Curl Aberdeen will also host the Scottish Junior Championships in January.

Pic of Curl Aberdeen © Skip Cottage.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Scottish Team for Euro Mixed

David Edwards, Claire Perras, Dillan Perras and Louise Wood, above, won the Scottish Mixed title at Curl Aberdeen last season and with that the right to represent Scotland at the European Mixed Curling Championship which will be held at Greenacres, Renfrewshire, September 21-28, 2010.

However, the latest is that Claire won't be able to play as she is expecting her second baby in October. Great news for Claire and Dillan of course, but I'm sure Claire is disappointed that she will not be able to be on the ice at the Greenacres Rink.

Kerry Barr (above) has been asked to take Claire's place in the team, and the Royal Club Board has approved the choice. Kerry is third player in Sarah Reid's women's team.

Looking ahead to the Greenacres event, I see the European Curling Federation has published the playing regulations for the competition, see here. For the first time ever, there will be no tiebreaker games at an EMCC. Instead of tiebreakers, teams that are tied on points for playoff places will play a Post Round Robin Challenge. This will take the form of a Draw Shot Challenge in which all four team members will each play one shot.

Doing away with tiebreakers was a suggestion which World Curling Federation delegates voted against, by a narrow margin, at their meeting in Cortina in April. The European body has apparently decided to go its own way despite this.

Pics © Skip Cottage

Friday, June 11, 2010

Grand Match Venues

Coodham (above) is a fine venue for outside curling, but too small to host the Grand Match. Followers of the sport will remember all the fuss earlier this year when an opportunity to hold the big bonspiel on the Lake of Menteith slipped away, see here.

At the time there was much criticism of the Royal Club's Grand Match Committee. What has happened since has taken place out of site of the membership - the Grand Match Committee is one of those which does not publish its minutes online. However, an extraordinary note has appeared on the Royal Club website, here. It says:

"The Royal Club would like to welcome venue proposals from groups who can meet the following criteria:
> A Local Organising Group with representatives prepared to attend the Grand Match Committee meetings
> 20 plus acres of ‘shallow’ water
> Agreement of Local Landowners for parking, ancillary services and ice access
> Agreement of Local Blue Light Services
> Sufficient space for parking
> Traffic Plan agreed with the local Police
> A Safety Plan for players and spectators"

Surely this is all what the Grand Match Committee is charged to do? My first reading of this note is that the committee is just shirking its responsibilities, and now putting the onus on local curlers to enter into negotiations with police and ambulance services? Or just organise the whole thing themselves? Surely not.

But maybe I'm just misunderstanding the Committee's intentions. I see opportunities here for the Grand Match Committee to be revitalised, and for lots more potential venues to be identified. And that's a good thing.

Anyway, anyone with a venue in mind should get in touch with the present Grand Match Convenor, Jim Paterson, via Carnie House, contact details here.

The pic of a small group of enthusiasts enjoying their sport at Coodham in January is © Skip Cottage.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Scottish Curler to fold, again

I came home this evening to the news that the Scottish Curler magazine is to cease publication. Helena Morrow, the magazine's MD, has written to all the correspondents to say that, despite best efforts, the Scottish Curler falls short of revenues required to make it a viable business proposition in today's media environment.

I edited the magazine for seven years when it was produced by the Dunfermline arm of Clyde and Forth Press. Especially in the latter years of my tenure I was made very aware of the difficult financial position of the magazine. When the call came early in 2009 that the decision had been made no longer to produce the magazine in print, I was disappointed, but not surprised. I was not willing to continue with just some sort of electronic magazine, and so I made the decision to retire as Editor. Efforts were made to find another publisher, initially without success, see here.

My reaction was one of delight, as well as some surprise, when I learned that Helena and her team at Ardrossan took on the publishing of the magazine (here). I offered to do the 'junior beat' for the team, and the Looking Back feature every month, and I enjoyed that challenge last season.

Helena has indicated that the magazine witnessed an increase in circulation and a growth in advertising in the past year, but that apparently has not been sufficient to allow it to continue. The Souvenir Edition from the Curling Awards dinner, due out soon, will be the last edition from Clyde and Forth Press.