Monday, 3 December 2012

Balerno CC Ladies win the Sir John Gilmour Cup

The First Scottish Ladies Champions!

I came upon this gem when researching something completely different - it just goes to show how shallow sometimes our knowledge can be of the history of our club and, in this case, of one of the two predecessor clubs, the Balerno Curling Club.

In 1913, Sir John and Lady Gilmour (he was the immediate past-president of the Royal Caledonian Curling Club) presented two cups to the Royal Club - one for play in Canada and the other for play in Scotland.  The cups were presented for play amongst the ladies and the first competition took place from Wednesday 23 January to Friday 25 January, 1914.

The welcome lunch took place, presumably after the first round of play, in the rink dining room (maddeningly, the bit I have printed off does not say whether it was Crossmyloof or Haymarket, though I suspect Haymarket was the venue) and provost Husband of Dunfermline was in the chair.  In his welcoming speech, he is reported as saying, "this is the first occasion in Scotland when a bonspiel under the auspices of the (Royal) Club has been confined entirely to ladies, and I am sure it will not be the last."  He goes on later to admit, "I thought the playing was splendid.  The skips seemed to thoroughly understand the game and altogether they would have beat (sic) many rinks skipped by gentlemen."

The competition continued until Friday when , after the final round, the presentation party took place in the rink tea rooms.  Presiding over affairs was the Rev John M Kerr, the famous curling historian and Captain of the very first official RCCC Tour to Canada in 1903.  He announced that Balerno Curling Club had won the cup with a 16-11 victory over the ladies of the Braid Curling Club.  In his speech of welcome, he continued, "Every curler present will bear me out when I say the play of the ladies has in this first tournament for this cup has been really remarkable."  He goes on, somewhat disparagingly, "they are very good at 'soopin', which we expected them to be from their training, but every curler knows that if you cannot 'soop', you cannot curl.  The ladies can give points to the men in the way of 'soopin'."

Later on, in his peroration, he talks of the Balerno Curling Club as "an offshoot from one of the oldest clubs, Currie". This suggests a different, and perhaps closer relationship between the two clubs than we have hitherto been given to believe. It will be interesting to delve deeper.

In any case, here are the four winners with their trophy, from left, Miss A L Menzies, Miss N Bruce, Mrs J H Sang and Miss Brodie (skip).  Please forgive the quality; I have scanned the picture from a photocopy.

In her winner's speech, Miss Brodie, evidently a woman of few words, remarked, "In the name of the club, I have to thank you very much."  She left it to a fellow member, Mr David Love, to thank the Rev Mr Kerr for presenting the cup.  No mention was made of the ice technicians, bar staff, caterers, team mates, plucky opponents in the final or all the other competitors!

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