Thursday, June 30, 2011

Who's for Moscow?

The European Curling Championships will be held in Moscow, December 2-10. Who will be Scotland's representatives then will be decided at a special qualifying competition at the Dewar's Centre in Perth, October 27-30.

The four men's teams and four women's teams which will contest for the right to represent us in Moscow have been decided and have (quietly) gone online recently on the Royal Club website. They are the teams skipped by Tom Brewster, Sandy Reid, David Murdoch and David Edwards, and Eve Muirhead, Hannah Fleming, Jackie Lockhart and Sarah Reid.

The European Qualifying Competition has not been without its controversy in the past. It seems that every year there is something new and different to get your head around. Those who like democracy, transparency, logic and adherence to regulations should again go and sit in a darkened room this year! Mind you, I know few Vulcans who curl!

Let's start with the regulations for entry (for 2011-12, see here) which say, "(i) If a playdown is required to find representative teams for the European Championships, the two finalist teams from the previous season’s Scottish Championships will be invited to compete in the European Playdowns. (ii) To be eligible to participate in the European Playdowns a qualifying team must have the fourth player and two other players from the previous season’s team that entered the Scottish Championships (excluding any substitute(s) who shall not count towards the eligibility criteria). (iii) The Head Coach, along with an RCCC Sub Committee for the competition, may select one or more teams to participate in the Playdowns. The number of qualified teams plus selected team(s) will not exceed four."

However, it turns out that these are the rules which will apply next year. Colin Hamilton, the Royal Club's Manager of Competitions, explains, "The selection of teams was done on last season's rules ie top three teams. Next year's rules will be the two finalists, this was to give the two Head Coaches more of an input to who will play in these playdowns."

In the men's event, three teams met the criteria, ie those skipped by Tom Brewster, Sandy Reid and David Murdoch. The last has been forced to change his team recently, and it does not now meet the criteria, but it is not likely that this will change anything. David Edwards with his team of John Penny, Scott Macleod and Colin Campbell is the wild card team pick. This is a completely new team, untried in men's competition, but was picked for the Performance Squad.

Of course with any 'selection' there are those who could have been considered and might well be wondering why they were not. For example Logan Gray's team, also in the Performance Squad. Or even the Frazer Hare team, an unsupported side, which reached the Bruadar tiebreakers back in February, and has an eligible lineup this season.

In the women's competition, there were two teams which met the lineup eligibility of having the same fourth player and two others - Hannah Fleming and Jackie Lockhart. These will be joined by the Eve Muirhead and Sarah Reid teams from the Podium and Performance Squads. This means that all four women's team who are in the World Class Programme play off for Moscow.

I was pleased to see that the October competition will involve four teams of each gender, rather than three. Colin Hamilton confirms that those involved in the decisions felt that having four teams on the ice at the same time was better than having to give teams byes. The teams will play double round robins. It should be an exciting event. The draws are here.

David Edwards, whose mixed team won the European title last season. Photo © Skip Cottage.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Junior Camp in Sweden

I met Greta Aurell, Tilde Vermelin, Camilla Schnabel, Felicia Johansson and Almida de Val when they played in the Dumfries Junior International at the end of the season, see here and here. What an enthusiastic group of young Swedish curlers!

The girls have dreamed for some years of hosting a junior curling camp in Gothenburg. It has been a lot of hard work for the girls and not easy to convince the various authorities that a young team could organize a camp. However, their dream is to come true and the very first international camp in Sweden will be held October 27-30, with the blessing and support of the Swedish Curling Association and the World Curling Federation!

Interested? The camp is for juniors in the 13-18 age group. Further details of the camp and how to register can be found on the camp's website here.

Junior camps are undoubtedly the great successes of the sport today. Examples are the two camps organised each summer by the Royal Club based at Dolphin House at Culzean (both full), and the World Curling Federation's camp in Fussen to which the Royal Club sends the winners of our U17 Slam. And Shari Leibbrandt was in touch recently with details of the 2nd International Sweetlake Curling Camp, a team camp, August 8-13, see here.

The Gothenburg camp organisers. Photo from the camp website.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Scottish Curling Tour

It's all very well that the very best teams in this country are looked after, supported, and have opportunity to play in major events throughout the world. But what about those others who aspire to play competitively. What can they play in? And where's the incentive? So it's good to be able now to talk about the biggest news in curling this summer - the launch of the Goldline Scottish Curling Tour, presented by British Curling Supplies!

The Goldline Scottish Curling Tour has been set up to provide a competitive curling circuit in Scotland that will strive to meet the following objectives:

1. Provide structure to the existing circuit of competitive events.
2. Grow the number and quality of competitive curling events around Scotland.
3. Provide high quality competitions in Scotland for international teams looking to improve their game outside of the European tour.
4. Establish a second tier competitive path for graduating juniors wishing to stay in the competitive game.
5. Improve participation by encouraging strong local teams to travel to different rinks.

The Tour brings together six competitions: the well established Inverness Skins; the Braehead Open, which went to a weekend format last year and next season will be sponsored by the Cardwell Garden Centre; the Forfar Open; the Petrofac Aberdeen Open, the new Dumfries Open which I mentioned last week, and another new event at Stirling. This last will be held November 11-13. The organisers there are looking for twenty teams, in four sections of five.

The dates of all the events can be seen here. Note that all are 'open' competitions - any four curlers regardless of age or gender!

The driving force behind the formation of the new Tour has been Gavin Fleming. He acknowledges the help of the newly formed SCT committee of David Edwards, Neil Joss, Colin Hamilton, Iain Stobo and Tom Pendreigh, 'for their hard work and valuable contributions in making the new tour a reality'.

Gavin says, "I am delighted to announce the launch of the Goldline Scottish Curling Tour for season 2011/2012. The new curling tour will bring together both new and existing tournaments from around Scotland in an exciting new format where tour points will be won by teams over the course of a season, culminating in the crowning of the Goldline Scottish Tour Champions. The tour will be sponsored by Goldline and British Curling Supplies. It is intended that this development in the domestic game will invigorate competitive curling around Scotland, encouraging the best local teams and aspiring junior curlers to compete against some of the top national and international teams. I hope that the tour will be valuable addition to the curling calendar and will go from strength to strength in the coming years."

I hope so too, Gavin. It is a great initiative. 'Invigorate' is a great word to use! Tour information can be found at The Galbraith Trophy, presented for the defunct Mini Tour, will be the main Tour trophy, and there will be cash prizes, courtesy of sponsor Goldline.

It is good to see that the Tour has the support of those in charge at the top level. Performance Director Dave Crosbee has indicated that the winners will be invited to participate in an organised elite training opportunity, to take place during the summer of 2012. Prizegiving will take place at a players' dinner held by the Royal Club during the 2012 Scottish Finals.

The six Scottish Curling Tour events do not include the Edinburgh International and the Perth Masters, both of which are male only competitions and part of the European Curling Champions Tour. In addition to being able to play in the Scottish Curling Tour events, women's teams can compete in the Women's Tour which involves competitions at Forfar and Aberdeen, as well as the Glynhill at Braehead, a European Tour event.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

At the show

I spent a splendid day at the Royal Highland Show at Ingliston yesterday. You probably know that the headquarters of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club, Cairnie House, is located within the Ingliston Showground. Traditionally the Club sets up a small marquee next to the office, and this provides an opportunity to promote curling to the many thousands attending the four day event, the largest in Scotland.

That's Margaret, Judith and Joan, splendidly attired in the Royal Club tops, on hand to help.

Of course, the Royal Club stand was a great place to meet up with friends, enjoy a cup of coffee, some sunshine, and catch up on the gossip.

Members of the Ladies' Branch had made sure that there was lots to eat too.

Out and about in the huge show, I ran into many friends and acquaintances, not all of them curlers.

Let's have a competition. Who are these two women manning the Scotherbs stand in the Tesco tent? Meg Donaldson on the left is one of the company's 120 staff. But can you guess who the girl on the right is? There is a curling connection! Think Ladies' Branch, and the answer is below.

Brian Binnie is a well-kent curler. Here he is with wife Ali on their show stand, marketing their Denfind Stone and Denfind Outdoor Living interests. Having something of a fondness for dry stane dykes, I just love Brian's Pitairlie sandstone which is regarded as one of the best walling stone in the UK. Check out the website for all the uses to which the stone can be put.

Here's another curling connection. In recent years Jill MacKay of the Scottish Liqueur Centre has been a big supporter of curling, as sponsor of the Bruadar Scottish Men's Championship and Columba Cream Scottish Women's Championship. Here she is working hard on the Bruadar stand at the Show. On the right? Non other than Willie Nicoll, the Royal Caledonian Curling Club Board Chairman.

So who was the mystery girl in the pic? She is Newcastle University geography student Ilona McLaren, daughter of Ladies' Branch President Claire McLaren. Check out the genes here.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

New Dumfries Competitions

Want to play in Scotland's newest curling rink? The Ice Bowl, Dumfries, with its dedicated curling rink now available for play at weekends, will host three new competitions next season.

To kick of the season, the Dumfries rink will hold the Ice Bowl Open, September 16-18. This involves four sections of six with qualifiers playing quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, with a consolation events for the beaten quarterfinalists and semifinalists.

Next up will be the Dumfries 4Bowl which was run previously as the summerspiel back in the summer of 2009 when Team Ireland won the spoils. Due to the construction work on the new ice pad the summerspiel fell of the calendar. Reborn again, the Ice Bowl will host the 4Bowl, October 7-9. The 4Bowl will be open to any four curlers with cash prizes for the top teams.

Later in the season (February 10-12) there will be a most unusual event. Speed Pairs is an invention that Graham Sloan, the Dumfries ADO, came up with three seasons ago for the local junior club. Graham says, "Speed Pairs offers fantastic excitement and exhilarating games not only to watch but to get your heart rate racing while playing the ultimate curling challenge involved. With Dumfries Ice Bowl now having weekend ice I would like to challenge any curlers out there who think they have what it takes to become the ultimate curler. Speed Pairs will test your nerve to the limit put your body through new physical demands and test the best tacticians in the game all within a fifty-five minute game."

Having seen speed pairs in action, I would certainly encourage everyone to give it a try!

Contact Graham Sloan at the Ice Bowl for more information on any of these events.

The top photo (© Skip Cottage) is of the Ice Bowl pad at the end of the season just past. I wonder if the new rink will continue to have such an innovative colour scheme next season!

Perth Masters 2012

Pete Loudon, the chairman of the organising committee, has news regarding the Perth Masters 2012. The 36th Perth Masters will take place at Dewars Centre, Perth, January, 5-8, 2012.

Ramada is again confirmed as the title sponsor with all participating teams staying at the City Mills Hotel, Perth. The Ramada Perth Masters committee continues to work hard to attract additional sponsors. There will be an increased total prize fund for the 2012 event, and details will be confirmed in due course.

All teams interested in entering should contact Linda Cowing at the rink - her contact details are here.

A number of international teams have already registered. Pete says, "From the teams that have already contacted us, it’s shaping up to be another world class event at Scotland’s premier curling venue. Keep up to date at"

Monday, June 20, 2011

European Curling Federation News

Andrew Ferguson-Smith (left) may well have been re-elected President of the European Curling Federation unopposed last December but it was very apparent at Champery that all was not well with the body that represents European curling and organises the European Mixed and European Championships. You can read what I wrote at the time here, and there's other information from John Brown here.

Now, I have no idea what has been happening 'behind the scenes' but I learned today that Andrew has resigned. This can only be good for the organisation, although his enthusiasm will be hard to replace.

What of the future? A rather terse statement on the ECF's website reads, "The ECF Executive Board will meet on July 2-3, 2011 at Munich, Germany and will put in place measures that will help drive the ECF forward for our associations at this point in time."

Photo of Andrew Ferguson-Smith is © Skip Cottage

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Royal Club AGM

I attended the Royal Club AGM today at the Dewar's Centre in Perth. In the photo above is (L-R) Willie Nicoll (Royal Club Chairman), CEO Bruce Crawford and President Robbie Scott (whose tenure in that post finished today). It was Bruce's first AGM since taking up office in October last year.

I don't remember how many AGMs I've sat through over the years. There's been a few! I do remember my first, at Falkirk way back in 1963 when, as a member of the Bill Horton team with David Horton and Martin Bryden, I got the opportunity to meet Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who presented us with the TB Murray trophy. It was a big day for four schoolboys!

I doubt if any subsequent AGM has been as exciting for me. Some have been interesting and encouraging, but many have been uninspiring, depressing, interminably long, sometimes confrontational, or just plain uncomfortable!

Today's saw a new adjective having to be used to describe the AGM - record breaking. So slick and uncontroversial were the proceedings that it was all over in little more than 60 minutes. Of course these days members can vote online in advance of the meeting (if votes are required - and indeed there was little voting required today). Much of what needed to happen today was well planned beforehand. Of the 150 or so members (out of some 13,000) who turned up today, many had already voted online. Of those who did not attend, more than 600 had cast their vote in this way either directly or by proxy.

What was there to vote on? There were three 'Special Resolutions'. The first involved proposals by the Board of Directors to amend the Memorandum and Articles of Association. Housekeeping changes, and this was passed by a large majority.

The second was really to put the efforts of the committee which has been looking at the RCCC rulebook over this last year into effect. And that too was passed overwhelmingly.

The third resolution had been raised by Loch Leven CC and involved trying to legislate against players damaging the ice, slow play and sweeping issues in games when umpires are not present. Whereas the issues raised by Loch Leven CC concern many of us in our club play (whatever did happen to good etiquette?), legislation in the form proposed seemed to me to be unwarranted, and unenforceable, and this indeed was the view of the majority. So this resolution was not approved.

There was no need for voting in the election of Royal Club President. Pat Edington (on the left) is now our President, and Bill Duncan, the Vice-president.

Willie Nicoll was elected to serve on the Board of Directors for another three years. There was no nomination for the vacant director's post, Jeanette Johnston having served two terms. I gather the Board plans to co-opt an additional director in due course.

Of course an AGM is not just about elections. It is good to see the politics of our sport 'in action', and it is just great to meet up with old friends, and generally pick up on some of things that are ongoing in the off season. On each of our seats in the tent erected in the bowling hall was a donation form to encourage us to give generously towards the restoration of Charles Lees's painting of the Grand Match. Have you done so yet? The fund does need your donation, see here.

If I can just select a few other things that I found interesting, without trying to be comprehensive. After last year's lack of clarity on how the Royal Club was looking after the memorabilia in its care, I was pleased to learn that a group of five interested members, headed up by Robbie Scott, had visited the secure storage facility where these items are now held, and a start made to preparing a database of all that we have. I look forward to hearing in the future that this job has been completed.

The Four Nations competition was mentioned on a number of occasions, but looking forward it was made clear that participation is open now to all members of the Royal Club. So if you would like the chance to represent Scotland when the competition is held at Greenacres next season, hosted by the Welsh Curling Association, get your name in NOW. You can download an application form from this page.

It was also announced that one of the Club's plans for next season is to produce a monthly magazine, in electronic format, to fill the gap left by the Scottish Curler. More details when I learn more about this.

Robin Niven spoke on behalf of the Kinross Curling Trust about developments of the new facility which will incorporate the Royal Club's offices, and a small curling museum as well as six sheets of ice. £10,000 is the rental figure for the ground per annum. Ayr's Neil Beattie raised the issue of Kinross being the wrong place for such a facility, and tried to establish what support there was in the room for his views. Willie Nicoll made it clear that this was all old hat, and that there had been a bid process in which the Kinross location was the winner (now several years ago), and expressed the Royal Club's support of the project. But I am sure I'm not the only one who has been put off by the delays in making the National Curling Centre a reality, and I can only hope that something will happen (soon) to rekindle my enthusiasm for it.

Murrayfield Curling Rink, June 9, 2012, will be the next AGM, if I've noted the date correctly. I wonder what adjective will be used a year hence! Meanwhile a full season of curling lies ahead for us all to enjoy.

The new Royal Club Board. Back L-R: Bruce Crawford, Pat Edington, Trevor Dodds and Bob Kelly. Front: Anne Malcolm, Willie Nicoll and Kay Gibb.

A quick mention of Claire McLaren, the Ladies' Branch President, here with the Royal Club President, Pat Edington.

Last but not least, Eve Muirhead represented her team which won the World Junior Championship and collected the winners' banner from World Curling Federation President, Kate Caithness.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Team Murdoch Online

I mentioned the lineup change in the David Murdoch team recently. Richard Woods has been in touch to say that the team now has a Facebook page - click here to find it. A team website and Twitter feed is to follow!

The photo above is from the Team Murdoch Facebook page. L-R: Richard Woods, Ross Paterson, Glen Muirhead and David Murdoch.

Sweetlake in August

Shari Leibbrandt has been in touch with details of the 2nd International Sweetlake Curling Camp in the Netherlands, August 8-13. This is a Team camp, focused on team developments and includes topics such as Team planning, Technical analysis, Team communication, Team based strategy, Team goal setting, Team dynamics, Preparing for and evaluating competition, Teambuilding activities, Sport nutrition, fitness, and injury prevention.

There are still a couple of places for teams. Email for more information. Fifth players and coaches are also welcome.

Shari says, "Last year it was really excellent and a great experience for players and coaches who participated. We are really excited about hosting the camp again, but to ensure a great program with good diversity of teams, it would be great to attract a couple more teams."

You can find photos of last year's camp here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Mike Hay in the news

I mentioned the London Olympics yesterday. I note today that someone who in the past played a big role in our sport of curling is in the news in connection with 2012. Mike Hay will oversee the Team GB Preparation Camp in the run up to the London Olympics.

Read the whole press release here.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Ice Rink for London Olympics

I nearly missed this news about next year's Olympic Games in London. The organisers of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, 2014, will have a presence in London during the Summer Games in 2012. These plans include an ice rink! This will be constructed near Marble Arch, opposite Hyde Park. The artist's impression above is on a number of websites.

It is planned that Russian figure skaters will give master classes for young British skaters. In addition, British figure skaters will be invited to participate in the Sochi World ice shows, see here.

Now I wonder if anyone has thought to put on a curling demonstration at some point?

Talking about Sochi, it is now less than 1000 days to the Olympic and Paralympic events. I note that construction of the curling venue is well underway. That's it above, the photo taken from the Sochi 2014 Facebook page. As part of the 'coastal cluster', the Sochi Curling Centre is within walking distance of other venues, hosting the skating, ice hockey, speedskating and short track events.

The 3000-seat Sochi curling facility has been designed so it can be dismantled and transported for post-Games use as a curling center in another Russian city. It should be open next year, 2012, and the first international events, as tests of the venue, will be the World Wheelchair Curling Championship in February 2013, with the World Junior Curling Championship the following month.

So, is it too early to predict who might be representing GB in Sochi in 2014? It is very likely that some of the curlers who have been named to the various performance squads in recent months (see here) will be selected for the GB teams, in some combination or other, for the Olympics and Paralympics. But - if past experience is anything to go by - a lot can happen even in the months before the games. And there are still two full seasons of curling before we get to the Olympic season. Dave Crosbee is the Performance Director. To him falls the difficult decisions. An example? Warwick Smith was listed as playing with David Murdoch next season. But Warwick, for family reasons, has decided to step back from international competition this year. Ross Paterson will take his place in Team Murdoch, joining Glen Muirhead and Richard Woods.

Warwick still remains committed to trying for selection for Sochi 2014, and Dave Crosbee confirms that the programme will continue to support him during this period.

Steven Mitchell is now moving to Team Logan Gray, to replace Ross, and becomes a new member of the Performance Squad.

I note that Dave Crosbee has already been to see progress at Sochi, as part of a BOA delegation, see here.

Ross Paterson, who gets the call to play for Team Murdoch this coming season. Photo © Skip Cottage.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Curling on the box

If you missed the little feature on curling on BBC Scotland television's Sport Nation programme on Tuesday, you can watch it again here, and read about Rhona McLeod's experiences getting a lesson from Eve Muirhead.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Talent for the future

With the top competitive teams in the country being supported by the sportscotland Institute of Sport through the World Class Performance Programme with its Podium and Performance Squads (see here), what should the Royal Caledonian Curling Club be doing - on behalf of its members - to support and develop those younger players who aspire to play at top level, those indeed whose vision is one day to compete in the Olympics? Who will be representing Scotland at the World Championships, and Great Britain at the Olympics, looking ahead to 2018, 2022 and 2026? It is a question to which there is no easy answer, but I am very pleased to see that it's being thought about now.

Note that I'm not asking, 'What should the Royal Club be doing generally to develop our sport more widely?" That's a different subject. Rather, the question - in 2011 speak - is all about 'Performance Pathways' and is about putting in place the starting blocks on a road which one day might bring the new curler to winning medals at a world championship. Elitist? One hopes not. Any programme at grass roots level should provide an opportunity for ALL young curlers early in their careers, giving them the chance to experience what might be involved in competing at the highest level, and realising their potential should they have a vision to compete at the top with the commitment to making that happen.

Since 2005, the Royal Club has had 'National Academy' and 'Regional Academy' programmes. These are no more. I am sure that most reading this, with but a passing awareness of what programmes there are to encourage our young curlers, might think that the two new programmes now in place are just a follow on to what went before. Not so. The new Royal Club Academy and the Royal Club Talent Programmes are different. There is one common link. It was Nancy Murdoch who implemented the National and Regional Academy programmes back in 2005 when she was the Royal Club's Performance Development Coach. Rhona Martin and Brad Askew took these programmes and ran successfully with them for a number of years. Now Nancy is back in charge again.

I don't pretend yet to understand all the intricacies of the two new programmes. I have no doubt that the strengths and weaknesses will become apparent as they are implemented over the next season or two. What I like about them is that they connect the Royal Club's Skills Awards at the one end, with the elite programmes of the Institute at the other. As it should be, the Institute and the Royal Club will be working together, with the one aim of having Scottish (British) teams winning medals in the future. Not just in the next three years, but much further ahead.

You can read about the two Royal Club programmes on the RCCC website. The Royal Club Academy programme is described here. The forty curlers, based in teams, selected for the 2011-12 season were announced early last month. The number of curlers supported may rise to eighty over the next three years. Only the Gold ranked teams may receive overseas training/competition support, but this is subject to resources available. All Academy teams will benefit from fortnightly technical training sessions and a squad day in addition to other programme support services. Each curler has to pay a contribution towards participation. Value for money? Surely so, but time will tell.

At the introductory level, the aims of the Talent Programme are:
• To raise and encourage developing potential level to achieving excellence by providing pathway support training programmes.
• To increase strength and depth of athletes within the British Curling and Royal Club’s Performance Programme
• To encourage athlete and team participation in RCCC and Ice Rink competitions therefore increasing participation.
• To identify talent at a young age within each Ice Rink in Scotland
• Encourage and improve young curler’s skills by measuring and monitoring proficiency that is recognised by the RCCC Skills Awards Scheme
• The Royal Club Talent Programme is a development programme to integrate into the performance programme
• Manage goal setting and expectations of performance progression.

The Talent Programme is the foundation of the competitive pyramid. The curlers selected for this programme were announced on Monday. They are listed here. Each has to pay a small sum to offset the costs involved. Again, exactly what the curlers will get for being part of the programme and how they will benefit remains to be seen. The curlers themselves will no doubt be the ones to tell me next season!

The one thing I like is that this programme is ice rink based. 'Representing your ice rink' is how it used to be. Anything that gives individual ice rinks prominence has to be a good thing. If every rink in the country reaches its maximum of eight young athletes, then the pool of 'talent' for U17 and U21 competitions grows significantly over what exists at present. And, as the aims suggest, these curlers are to be actively encouraged to compete.

Of course, the success of the Talent Programme will depend on the coaches at each ice rink. Any programme that involves 'selection' requires a degree of transparency, and objectivity, openness and fairness in ensuring that opportunity is there for all, and not just for a select few. Good coaching will be the key. Hopefully the programme will not be divisive. Opportunity for everyone? In theory that is the ideal, although what is practical and achievable, is something completely different. We're thinking of the future here. If the TP can give a helping hand to budding Eve Muirheads and Anna Sloans, then we might look back on 2011 and say that was the right way to go.

There will be those that sense that there will be no place in the future for four friends to get together and compete at top level, not having come through these programmes. Will it be a bad thing if all the teams competing in world qualifying competitions in the future have come out of the same stable? For sure, those looking after the top teams now, with all the support they get, will want curlers well used to the 'Performance Pathway' and all the training and commitment required. Curling has changed.

The new Royal Club programmes are ambitious. Good luck to Nancy Murdoch and Brad Askew in the season ahead.