Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Wales win the I'Anson for the first time

The First English Province's I'Anson Trophy had never been won by a team from Wales and so the victory by Adrian Meikle and his team of James Pougher, Andrew Tanner and Chris Wells was a milestone for the Trophy, of which the first winners were Carlisle in 1897. A peel of 5-5 in their last game against the holder John Sharp was enough to leave them top of the standings after 4 games, while in a typical Schenkel moment, John and his team dropped to 4th overall.

John had started his campaign with a 5-5 result as well, against John Brown, who also peeled his second game by the same score!!

A full house of 16 teams included 2 teams warming up for their European Championship campaign, the winners and Fiona Hawker's English ladies, whose team member Angharad Ward was sporting the scars on her knees from a close encounter with a netball court at school. As luck would have it the two teams were drawn together in the first round and the eventual winners showed the ladies no favours and won all but the last end. Later results for the ladies got them back into the top half of the field.

The Welsh team had been a late replacement for a team which withdrew, and the second place team at the end of the weekend was an even later replacement skipped by Robert Anderson of Galston Haymouth who had been recruited at the European Invitation Seniors at Greenacres just the week before. His team of Anne Anderson, Murray Stevenson and Gail Thomson had been supplemented on the Saturday by Lyndsay Cumming when Robert had been unavailable and ended the weekend with 3 wins.

Also on 3 wins and in third place was the team skipped by James Carswell with Richard Stevenson, Stew Sutherland and John McDermott who had first got involved with English curling as members of the rebel Scottish team which went to the 4 Nations in Kent in 2011.

Entry forms for the 2013 event were waiting on the bar tables as teams came off the ice after the last game and I am sure that next year this great weekend of curling and quizzes will be fully subscribed again.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Shedden and Sloan win Braehead Mixed Doubles

The Braehead Mixed Doubles concluded last night with an exciting final which went all the way to the last stone. Graham Shedden and Claire Sloan triumphed in the end over Lindsay Gray and Lauren Gray by 5 shots to 3.

Lindsay was substituting for brother Logan who had topped section C with 3 wins out of 4 and he made his presence felt in the semi-final almost immediately when he and Lauren took a full house of 6 off the holders, Hannah Fleming and Billy Morton, at the second end! However, Hannah and Billy responded well and with a pair of 3s they took the game to the end only to lose by 7-9, which is not a bad total of stones for a 6 end game!!

In the other semi-final Graham and Claire defeated Scottish Champions Judith McFarlane and Lee McCleary by 8-3, and a bad day continued for the latter when they then lost the 3rd / 4th place play-off to Hannah and Billy by 9-1.

While the High Road, as described above, consisted of the three section winners and the highest up second place team from the three sections, the Low Road consisted of the bottom team in each section and was played as a semi-final between the worst performing two teams with the best team waiting for the winners in a final. John Brown and Dawn Watson defeated John Laverty and Linda Moffat 10-2 in the semi-final and then lost 5-4 to the Dutch pairing of Shari Leibbrandt and Carlo Glasbergen in the final, the Netherlanders extending their stay after the Edinburgh International for a bit of extra competition.

And what of the other 8 teams in the middle of the sections? Well their results from the Round Robin were carried forward and they were ranked into one big Schenkel table in which they played two further games. At the end of all that Gary Macfarlane and Sarah Reid emerged on top with Cathryn Guthrie and Alan Guthrie second.

Thanks at the prizegiving were given to all involved in organising the competition and to Leslie Ingram-Brown who has sponsored the event for the last three years and announced that he would continue to do so for another three years for which many thanks are given to Leslie.

And now for me it is on to Stranraer for the I'Anson Trophy, organised by the Preston Curling Club.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Braehead just for a change

I nearly missed the turn-off to Braehead last night as I have been heading on to Greenacres so often in the last month, but I remembered just in time and in the pouring rain turned into the Braehead car park last night ready for some Mixed Doubles.

This is the second year I have participated in this event, paired with Dawn Watson from Carmunnock and Rutherglen, and I was looking forward to some close games with delicate draws and tap backs being the name of the game (though do not tell that to John Sharp and Gary MacFarlane who managed to blank an end in their game last night)!!

The quality of the entry was high with Scottish Champions, Lee McCleary and Judith McFarlane, holders Hannah Fleming and Billy Morton and a number of other teams practising this rarely played discipline before the Scottish Championships. The only overseas representation came from Holland after the late withdrawal of the Estonian entry.

The 15 teams were drawn into 3 sections of 5 to play a round robin. One unlucky team in each section played all 4 of their 5-end games last night while the other 4 teams will play their final game tonight (Wednesday) before the teams are divided into High, Middle and Low Roads - I shall explain how that is done once I have seen it in action and will post details of winners etc tomorrow. But if you are not doing anything this evening and you fancy seeing something unusual why not pop down to Braehead for a couple of hours - play starts at 6 pm.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

New blog

I have now started an additional blog to deal with English Curling Association matters - can be found here and also in the list of links to the right. This will be a regular information space for all matters to do with the ECA and will complement our Facebook page and our currently 'Under Re- Construction' ECA website.

Monday, November 12, 2012

And yet again, back to Greenacres

The third stage of my Scottish Curling Tour took me back to Greenacres at the weekend for the Gormac International where a full field of 24 teams took to the ice over the weekend. The teams were from all parts and of all ages and the quality was high.

From Ireland there were the World Senior Champions, though they were missing Bill Gray this weekend and skip JohnJo Kenny was also not available full time, and also there was the team which will be going to the European Championships next month.

From England there were two of the teams who would be playing in the National Championships in February trying out their new line-ups, plus our Senior team skipped by John Sharp, having its last warm-up before the English Senior Championships in three weeks' time.

From Poland we had a team of ladies joined by honorary Pole, Mark Callan, and from Scotland we had a whole host of teams getting in some ice time before their various Championships - Graeme Adam and Ken Horton's senior men, Christine Cannon's senior (and not quite senior) women, Ross McCleary's men and Gina Aitken's juniors, plus loads of local and not-so-local well kent faces such as Graham McIntyre, Graham Shedden, Alan Hannah, Fergus Corbett, Kate Adams, John McCall et al and apologies if I have missed your name off the list.

Action began on the Friday night with the first games at 1815 followed by stovies for all and the Calcutta bidding. Over £2500 was bid for the 24 teams with the highest price going on Ken Horton's team which went for £280 to Gordon McIntyre. I was pleased that our team went for £100 and thanks to John Summers for bidding so high - since we then won him some money by finishing 6th, I reckon that is worth a drink or two when we meet up again!!!

There were 4 games played across a Schenkel and then the top three in each won through to a final. Both sections were close in the end. The Blue section saw Ken Horton come out on top, but only by a matter of shots as the top 4 teams all finished on 3 wins and 18 ends!! It was a sensational finish as it looked for all the world that Ken would beat Graham Shedden in their last round match but a mistake by Kenny gave the win to Graham and brought him back into the reckoning, dropping Greg Dunn from London down to 4th and out of the money, much to the chagrin of Graeame Adam who had bought his team in the Calcutta.

Graham Shedden thus finished second with Graham McIntyre third and Greg Dunn 4th.

In the Red Section John Sharp was top after 3 games but Ross McCleary and Graeme Adam had tied their Saturday game and so were lurking on 5 points (separated by 1 end) with 3 other teams on 4 points who could also qualify by winning their last game. Graeme Adam eliminated one of them. Matthew McConnell, by winning while Ross McCleary defeated John Sharp to put himself top of the section with Graeme second. John Sharp did enough to qualify third by winning three ends in this defeat as in the match between the other contenders Peter Dagen and Fergus Corbett, Peter and his team (who had fewer ends than Fergus) produced an astounding performance of shot play to win but they did not have quite enough ends from previous games to go above John Sharp.

The main final between Ken Horton and Ross McCleary had a storming start as Ross scored a 4 at the first end to set Ken onto the back foot but how well Ken and his team of Bob Kelly, Tom Pendreigh and Greig Henderson responded and by 4 ends they were all square. The tense game went down to the last couple of stones in the 8th end but Ken held on to win narrowly to cap a great comeback and to earn for his "owner", Gordon McIntyre, a little over £600. Gordon had also bought Graeme Adam in the Calcutta and so saw his winnings increased as Graeme won the B final, while Graeme himself had bought Graham McIntyre's team who won the C Final, defeating yours truly (skipping while John Sharp had a game out).

Another great weekend of competition at Greenacres. well organised and run by Richard, Elma and her team who have now got the Province Championships to look forward to this weekend! It has been a really busy time for them all since the end of October and it is only when you go back there regularly for weekend competitions or events like the European Invitation Seniors that you really see how hard they all work to make it a great time for the participants and supporters. I will be back there again in late November for the ECA Seniors but tomorrow sees the start of leg 4 of my tour with the Braehead Mixed Doubles at ........Braehead (not Greenacres!!)

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Tomorrow never comes - until today that is

Promises promises I can hear you say - at the end of my last blog on 1st November I promised you more information the following day and yet here we are 5 days later and you have been patiently waiting for the rest of the story.......

I had hoped to do a bit of a live blog from Greenacres last Saturday during the Finals of the European Invitation Seniors, but Internet connections were off and on all weekend and so you will have to make do with this report on what happened - some of which you probably already know from Christine Stewart's report on "Theviewfromthehack"

In my last blog I gave you some information about the origins of the EIS (as I will call it from now on), and then I left you hanging waiting for the rest of the story. Since the first year continental attendance has steadily increased with entries this year from Switzerland, Latvia, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, Russia, Italy, Netherlands and Slovakia joining the Scottish, English and Irish teams.

Both the finals were all Continental affairs with Finland’s Timo Kauste (the holder) taking on Karl Grossman of Switzerland in the men and Sweden’s Ingrid Meldahl (going for a hat-trick of wins) against Susanne Affeltranger of Switzerland in the women’s. Home country interest had disappeared at the semi-finals following defeats for Scottish Champions Keith Prentice and Barbara Watt. Two other Scottish teams had reached the men’s quarter-finals but both Gary MacFarlane, who had topped a tough group with 5 wins, and Willie Jamieson, who by contrast qualified with 2 wins and a peel, were eliminated. In addition the World Champions from Ireland also fell at this stage.

Karl Grossman became the first Swiss winner of the men's event and Ingrid did indeed win her third title in a row but only after she had to put her professional skills as a surgeon to good use when her opposite number Susanne Affeltranger fell and broke her wrist. The Swiss 5th player came on to the ice and the team forced Ingrid to an extra end before succumbing. In the 8 ends of normal play the Swiss girls scored 6 singles while the Swedes took a 4 and a 2 - contrasting ways to reach the same total.

The presentation of the trophies took place at the closing banquet at the Holiday Inn at the Airport where after dinner we were 'entertained' by various team members singing and dancing in the traditions of their countries.

So another successful EIS drew to a close with the promise that it would happen again next year.

Winners of the EIS:

2008 - Claes Roxin (SWE) and Kay Gibb (SCO)
2009 - Karl Nordlund (SWE) and Isobel Waddell (SCO)
2010 - Keith Prentice (SCO) and Ingrid Meldahl (SWE)
2011 - Timo Kauste (FIN) and Ingrid Meldahl (SWE)
2012 - Karl Grossman (SWI) and Ingrid Meldahl (SWE)

After my involvement in the EIS had finished I was asked to play in a couple of club games and so on Friday I turned out for Carmunnock and Rutherglen and on Sunday for Reform - unfortunately my team was on the losing side in both games but I now have a rest before the Gormac International at Greenacres at the weekend where our Senior team skipped by John Sharp will be getting in further practice before the ECA Senior Championships in early December.

After that I am playing in the Braehead Mixed Doubles and then the following weekend at the I'Anson Trophy in Stranraer before heading South after my little curling holiday up here in Scotland. So if you see me in an ice rink near you in the next 2 weeks don't be surprised.

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Still here at Greenacres

After the Welsh Bonspiel I had a couple of days with family before it was back to Greenacres for the European Senior Invitation, now in its fifth year. The round robin stages are currently drawing to a close with the final games tomorrow before the men's quarter finals tomorrow evening.

The competition began in 2008 using funds which were left over from the 2005 Women's Worlds held in Paisley at the now defunct Lagoon Centre.The aim has always been to have 18 men's teams and 12 women's teams playing in sections of 6. In the first year there was a very Scottish flavour to the competition with 7 of the men's teams and 8 of the 11 women's teams being Scottish (and two more of the women's teams were Irish teams based in Scotland).

This has gradually changed and there is a much more European flavour to the competition with just 4 Scottish teams in each competition though we still also have the Scottish based Irish teams and a smattering of Scottish based England players.

I shall have to continue with this particular blog tomorrow but for the moment you can anticipate the rest of what I have to say!!!!

And now on to Greenacres

Since my last blog from Dumfries and the Duncan Stewart Trophy I have been home to Bedford for a few days and am now back up in Scotland where last weekend I participated in the Welsh Bonspiel at Greenacres. Lots of familiar faces there including my old school team mates, Graeme Adam and Ken Horton, both of whom I was destined to meet and to lose to!!!

The Welsh Bonspiel has been going since 1978 and was originally based in the Deesside ice rink in North Wales where the Welsh CA continue to hold curling on a Monday, though I hear that the ice this year is deteriorating and numbers are falling, which is a shame as the Welsh CA have built up a good body of curlers there with many who have been dedicated to the cause of Welsh Curling for a long time.

The Bonspiel was played at Deesside until 1989 before moving to Scotland and Forest Hills for 8 years and Letham Grange for 2. Since 2003 it has found a home at Greenacres.

In 1979 the afore-mentioned Graeme Adam and Ken Horton had won the Bonspiel in Deesside and while Graeme has been back and won all of the various trophies on offer many times, Ken reckoned that this was his first return to the Bonspiel since 1980.

Twenty teams participated this year with many former winners appearing.and as usual the competition was keen. In the Red Group, Andrew Woolston (who had won the B Final last year) came thorough undefeated with David Robertson (skipping Andy Carr's entry) in second place and Michael Yuille third. The green group had no 100 per-centers after Graeme Adam and Ken Horton had peeled their game but they both won their other 3 games to finish first and second with Ken getting the number one spot by one end. Colin Martin, who had lost the main final for the past two years qualified in third position.

The C final for the Stan Williams Trophy was the least exciting of the the three finals for the spectators with Michael Yuille, Delphine How, Gordon Nicholl and Lyn Black beating Colin Martin 9-4 in 7 ends. The B final went all the way, and, thanks to some spectacular in-wicks in the last two ends, Graeme Adam, Liz Jamieson, Jim Jamieson and Julia Adams scraped past David Robertson by 6-4.

In the A final it looked as though Ken Horton was on his way to victory being 2 up going into the last end with last stone, but two uncharacteristic misses saw the extra end being played in which Andrew Woolston and his team left Ken with a raised double for victory, but a narrow miss gave the victory to Andrew, Lesley Gregory, Martin Gregory and Lauren Baxter.

And now I am back here at Greenacres for the 5th European Seniors Invitation, which will be the subject of the next blog.