Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Duncan Stewart Trophy at Dumfries

The ECA held the third Duncan Stewart Trophy at Dumfries Ice Bowl at the weekend with 4 teams competing. Unfortunately Duncan's widow, Mary, could not be with us this year owing to illness. The competition is open to individuals who are then drawn into teams at the start of the weekend after they have been graded by a competitions committee to make sure that 4 skips do not play together.

The original idea for the competition came from current ECA President, Alison Arthur, who was there as the solitary spectator throughout the weekend and presented the prizes of unique individual wooden curling stones to each member of the winning team.

The 4 skips this year were John Sharp, John Brown, Phil Barton and Doug Andrews and there were 4 games to be played - firstly a complete round robin and then the top two would play off, and the bottom two, with ranking based on wins, ends, shots up and shots.

Results were varied with some pretty high scores and not that many close games in the end:

John Sharp 10 Phil Barton 4
Doug Andrews 13 John Brown 4
John Sharp 9 Doug Andrews 3
Phil Barton 8 John Brown 4
John Brown 14 John Sharp 4
Doug Andrews 6 Phil Barton 4
John Sharp 7 Doug Andrews 4
John Brown 8 Phil Barton 3

Overall winners on 3 wins were John Sharp, Phil Slater, Graham Stanley and James Gibb.
Second were Doug Andrews, Richard Hills (Sunday only), Martin Gregory, Iain Jamieson (Saturday only) and Jim Marmont.
Third were John Brown, Jean Robinson, Harvey Curle (Sunday only), Alison Barr and Doris McQueen (Saturday only).
Fourth were Phil Barton, Ross Barr, Charles Murphy, Susan Young

Quite an eclectic mix of nationalities in fact with Canadians and Scots living in England, English living in Scotland, Welsh living in England and also a few English living in England. This photo was taken on Saturday and shows those who were playing then (with thanks to Iain Jamieson for this and other photos).

Left to right - Doris McQueen, John Sharp, Jim Marmont, Doug Andrews, Graham Stanley, Jean Robinson, John Brown, James Gibb, Martin Gregory, Phil Barton, Alison Barr, Ross Barr, Susan Young, Charles Murphy, Phil Slater

It was the first time that the ECA have visited Dumfries Ice Bowl and we were made very welcome with signs welcoming us and an England flag prominent by the rinks we were playing on. It was quite a surprise to see how quiet it was as well as over the whole of the weekend there were no other games going on, just one person practising on Saturday and 3 of our wheelchair curlers practising on the Sunday.

When we found ourselves two players short on Saturday morning we were lucky to find Iain Jamieson in the ice rink cafeteria talking to Susan Young whom he had met on the RCCC Adult course. He was available for both sessions on Saturday and he got hold of another local player, Doris McQueen for the second session on Saturday. We invited the local players out for dinner and Doris brought her husband Duncan with her. During dinner we discovered that Duncan had been the manager at Streatham Ice Rink in 1982 who had arranged with Duncan Stewart for there to be curling after the ice hockey on a Sunday night. Quite an amazing coincidence that circumstances led to him being there on Saturday night as we toasted Duncan Stewart for the work he did for curling in London and England.

So Duncan Stewart - Susan Young - Ian Jamieson - Doris McQueen - Duncan McQueen - Duncan Stewart - 5 degrees of separation - Amazing!

And here are a few more pictures of the action at Dumfries:

Finally many thanks to Graham Sloan for helping us at the weekend and we hope to return to Dumfries some time soon - it is actually where I was born and lived for 4 years - and the house we lived in is approximately 5 minutes walk from the rink - now that would be bliss these days!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Turnberry - Rounds 2 and 3

Apologies for lack of updates from the Ayrshire Coast but it has been a busy couple of days since my last report. The meetings finished today with the WCF Annual General Assembly which tends to be these days a run through of a set list of agenda items in the form of reports from various Board Members, the main meat of the discussion having taken place at the Open Meetings earlier in the week.

The second last item is the approval of new member nations, and you may remember that the application from Kosovo was deferred to this meeting from the one in Basel in April so that member associations could sound out their members and satisfy themselves of the situation behind Serbia's protest that, because Kosovo is not a country recognised by the United Nations, then it could not become a member of the WCF. The Serbia-Kosovo conflict is one of the many wars that have taken place in the Balkans in recent years and Kosovo broke away from Serbia in 2008 and declared itself an independent nation. Kosovo is recognised by all the countries in Europe except Serbia and, bizarrely, Spain.

After a presentation by the representative of the Kosovan Curling Federation, the floor was thrown open to comments and for 30 minutes, Marko Stojanovic of the Serbian Curling Federation presented the case why, in Serbia's opinion, Kosovo should not be recognised by being given membership of the WCF. As there were no more questions, the resolution would normally have gone to a show of hands vote, but, at the request of the RCCC, seconded by Holland and supported by Japan and other countries, a secret ballot was called. The WCF had obviously expected this as the secret ballot papers were ready for distribution and once they were all counted, Kosovo was admitted by a count of 80-16 with one abstention.

The secret ballot had been called for because, apparently, at least one delegate had received vicious emails after the Basel decision to delay the decision making process.

It remains to be seen what Serbia's reaction will be to this decision.

In other news, Flims in Switzerland was announced as the host for the 2014 World Junior Championships, the third time it will have held this competition since 2003.

As the rain teems down outside Ailsa Craig is invisible from my window at the moment and the last few bedraggled delegates stream in quite literally from the golf course. The Congress has been a great success and will be a regular event in the WCF calendar - the 2013 version will take place at the end of August at a venue still to be announced, though the decision is near.

There were many other things discussed during the week and I will try to find the time to tell you all about them in future blogs. In the meantime I go off to Dumfries tomorrow to play in the ECA's Duncan Stewart Trophy this weekend.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Turnberry - Round one - level par

And so at 2330 your lonely blogger finds time to review the first day's play here at the Turnberry resort.When play began at 0900 in front of a full house of delegates the decision to set up this new WCF congress seemed to have paid off with some nations represented in full for the first time for many years and others making a rare appearance. There were a lot of new delegates to get to know and therefore some interesting news about developments in far -off countries, e.g. Brazil who hope to have their first curling rink operational within 2 years.

But the business began with further developments on the new Constitution being put together by a Commission chaired by Graham Prouse of Canada. Comments received in Basel had been incorporated into the latest thinking and delegates were fed a number of recommendations which the WCF would like to have views on, plus a number of straightforward questions.

At this time of night my notes appear a bit blurred in front of me, but at times I felt sorry for Graham as the responses from the congregation of delegates were not forthcoming in any great number, either in agreement or in opposition to the proposals. Further discussion tomorrow will see the commission conducting a number of straw polls to gauge the mood of delegates, so that a draft Constitution can be prepared for voting on at next year's congress.

I will try and sum up at the end of the week what these proposals might be.

After lunch WCF Director of Finance, Andy Anderson, led the delegates through a number of spreadsheets which indicated that the finances of the WCF remain in good health with approximately $14million spread around various bank accounts.Current projections indicate that by the end of the current Olympic quadrennial period the WCF should have achieved one of their financial aims in having enough money in the bank to enable it to operate for at least one year with no large pot of Olympic or any other income being available.

After the official business of the day was completed the delegates were then taken on a number of tours - one bus load went to the Kay's stone factory at Mauchline via the Electric Brae and Rabbie Burns country while others went on a whisky tasting trip or went direct to Ayr Ice Rink for the first WCF Congress Bonspiel where they were joined later by the rest of the delegates for an evening of curling and a meal.

I joined the tour of the Kays factory where Mark Callan and Donald McRae welcomed us to see how curling stones are made - I have photos on my phone which I will add here later. As I said in my last blog the appearance of the factory surprised a number of delegates who were obviously expecting a modern industrial unit with computer driven machine tools producing these millimetre perfect curling stones. The reality of course is a small unpretentious little factory in the back streets of Mauchline where 50 year old machines, lovingly tended and modified to suit the processes involved, produce millimetre perfect curling stones. The main issue is the outcome of the process and nobody can say that the methods used do not produce the outcome required.

Then it was on to Ayr Ice Rink where the delegates, who wished to participate, played 4 ends of curling without a major international incident. My Anglo - Croatian - Chinese - Austrian conglomerate were not so successful against the might of Germany-Estonia-Denmark-Lithuania losing by 2-6, but the eventual winners won by 13-3 (in just 4 ends!!) by scoring a 6 and a 7 - so close to an 8 - and proved that when it comes to playing in Scotland, the RCCC always win!!. The winning team was skipped by RCCC President Bill Duncan with help from New Zealand and Netherlands and Germany.

So day one passed and  a few birdies were neutralised by a few bogies along the way and so level par was a fair score. Here's hoping that tomorrow will see us getting into red figures.

Monday, October 15, 2012

In full view of Ailsa Craig

This may be the first post of many this week as I am off tomorrow to the Turnberry Resort where the World Curling Federation is holding the first World Curling Congress from Tuesday evening until Saturday morning. A very nice place for a junket you may think - and you would probably be right!! But as you can see below a thrill packed agenda awaits myself and the other hundred plus representatives from the curling nations of the World.

This is the first of what will be an annual event and will replace the 2 sets of meetings which the WCF have previously held at the European and World Championships. It does of course mean that "going to see my team play curling" will no longer be an acceptable excuse for not appearing at a meeting!!!

Tuesday 16th October

PM Delegates Arrive / Free Afternoon
1930  Pre Dinner Drinks and Opening Dinner supported by Event Scotland / Scottish Government

Wednesday 17th October
0900 Open Meetings -  Governance Discussions - Further discussion on the proposed new Constitution for the World Curling Federation
1200 Lunch
1300 Open Meetings - Finance and Budget - Discussion on the Financial Reports 2011/12 and the Budget for the 2013/14 Financial Period
1500 Leave for Visit to the Kays Factory
1600 Leave for Ayr Rink from Hotel for those not visiting Kays Factory
1700 Leave Kays for Ayr Ice Rink
1815 Curling Games and Evening Meal at Ayr Ice Rink

Thursday 18th October

0900 Open Meetings - Competitions and Development (inc Rules) - Presentations from and discussions with the new Competitions and Development team
1300 Lunch
1400 Break-Out Meetings - Zonal Commission Meetings - An opportunity for each Zonal Commission to meet and discuss and proposed future structure and methods of working to be included in the new constitution.
1545 Open Meeting - Membership Applications - An opportunity to meet and discuss applicants for membership of the WCF
1730 Buses depart for County Halls for South Ayrshire Council and Royal Caledonian Curling Club Reception
1900 Civic Reception (drinks and Evening Meal)

Friday 19th October

0830 Annual General Assembly
Lunch @ Hotel Time to be confirmed
PM Golf or visit to Kays for those who did not go on Wednesday or other sightseeing trip for non-golfers
1930 Pre Dinner Drinks sponsored by sportscotland
2000 Closing Dinner and Dance

Saturday 20th October
Departure for Congress Guests

So the major hot topic is likely to be the new constitution of the WCF which proposes the setting up of Continental Commissions and which will probably lead to the demise of the European Curling Federation as previously discussed in this blog back in April when we were in Basel.

An interesting session is planned for 1545 on Thursday which is blandly titled "Membership Applications - An opportunity to meet and discuss applicants for membership of the WCF." but which is principally concerned with resolving the issue raised in Basel by Serbia when Kosovo applied to join the WCF and the issue was set aside to be discussed this week.

Having visited the Kay's factory at Mauchline, I know what to expect but I have not yet taken anybody there who has failed to be astonished by the appearance of the place - and it will be interesting to hear what the delegates have to say about it.

It is a shame that visiting Ailsa Craig is not on the agenda but its status as a bird sanctuary makes that impossible I believe, but at least we will be able to look across at it from the hotel every day and reflect on its importance in the development of the "beautiful game" - at least we deserve it more than that other abomination that calls itself that!!! - Discuss!!!!.

So if I can find the time in the packed schedule I will sit down and pass on my thoughts on the happenings at Turnberry this week while others brave the gale force winds and lashing rain to hit a wee ball around a field!!!