Monday, 30 March 2015

Susan Kesley Appointed as Royal Club Representative at World Curling Federation Congress

Many congratulations to Susan who was chosen with past Royal Club President, Bill Duncan as one of two new Royal Club representatives at the upcoming 4th World Curling Federation Congress in Belgrade, Serbia from 2-5 September, 2015.

Photo courtesy of Jonathan Strandberg, RCCC
From left: Bruce Crawford, Chief Executive Officer RCCC, Bob Kelly, board member RCCC, Bill Duncan, past-president RCCC, Susan Kesley and Billy Howat, vice-president, RCCC

Apart from being a great honour for Susan and for Currie and Balerno CC, this is an important role for Scottish curling in general.  Susan and Bill will join Bob Kelly and RCCC chief executive, Bruce Crawford as Scotland's representatives at the Congress and are there to represent our interests at curling's top table.

Susan brings her experience as a former Scottish Junior Champion skip, as a serious competitor at national level for many years and, of course, was only recently in the winning Henderson Bishop rink.

She will be great in the job and deserves the club's heartiest congratulations. 

Serbia, mind you?  Could they not have chosen somewhere a wee bit sexier than Serbia?  Iraq maybe; Syria perhaps?  but Serbia?

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Tom Holmes Trophy

The Tom Holmes trophy is all about curling fellowship and sociability.  It gives a chance to players who normally play "front end" curling in the major club competitions to skip a team.  It also gives them a chance to get their names on a famous old club trophy.

This year's format saw three short games of curling, two ends each until the last game of three ends.  The winner was decided first on ends won, then shots-up.  Much was the noise generated by senior curlers shouting instructions up to rookie skips - all great fun!

The "Bravest Shot of the Day" award goes to Donald Kennedy who, despite the very real risk of driving the opponent's stone onto his own shot, went for it anyway and scored a three for his troubles.  Brilliant!

The winning skip, Lois Copland, had to play a thrilling take out and lie for the two shots she needed to overhaul her nearest challenger (and opponent in the last game), Karen Munro.  She was ably supported by Andrew Cargill, Katie Wood and Colin Campbell.

A successful and happy post-competition dinner over the road at the Hampton hotel was followed by the club prize-giving.  Some members got into the spirit of things more than others, and my thanks to Anne Anderson for providing me with the photograph of Raymond Preston.  No words are necessary, except maybe, "why?"

Lois was exuberantly happy at "getting the monkey off her back" as she put it and offered effusive thanks to her team.  None of the rest of you had to live with her the next day.  All I'm saying.  And I can say that in the sure and certain knowledge that I am in Rosenheim, Germany and she is in Balerno, Scotland - amazing how distance adds bravery!

Brilliant club day out - and a fitting climax to the season; congratulations to all involved in the day's organisation.

Gina comes back with a World Junior Silver Medal

What a fantastic on-ice performance over a gruelling week of curling by Gina Aitken and her team of Naomi Brown, Rowena Kerr and Rachel Hannen.  They were ably assisted by fifth player Karina Aitken and coach David Aitken.  To improve from eighth place last season to second this year - well, all deserve great credit.

The final game proved a step too far for the Scots, though they had their chances against a Canadian team that, from time to time, were lethargic in their shot-making.  Gina was honest in her post-game assessment and, when asked what she would change in the final if she had another chance, she said, "make a few more shots".

The Canadians went through the competition undefeated - a fantastic performance.  Their impressive skip, Kelsey Rocque successfully defended her title and not many curlers have done that.

Well done to Gina, Karina and David from all C & B members and welcome home!

Friday, 6 March 2015

Lymphoy Cup Round Seven Results and Final League Table

Well, all the questions have been answered and the league table completed.  Brian Fleming, already crowned champion after last week's round, went on the rampage against the train-less Katie Wood.  The game was on sheet seven, perhaps the most difficult sheet in the rink and once a team gets up, it is really difficult for the other team to get back.

Jenny Barr had a tough one against a resurgent Shona Watt and, just to demonstrate how close the table was in the mid-table, she dropped from 3rd place to 6th in one night!

John Steven, Susan Kesley, Karen Munro and Donald Kennedy secure the Glenbrook Quaich

Andrew Galloway accounted for John Steven in a really tight game, but John, Susan Kesley, Karen Munro and Donald Kennedy hung on to their second place by just one end.  On the next sheet, Robin Copland and Mike Wood fought out a really tight game that went to the last stone of the last end.  When Mike came to play his last, an angle-raised take out around a guard, any result was on the cards - win, lose, or draw for both teams!  In the event, Mike's stone ran a bit straight and he didn't catch enough of the target stone.  Sadly for Robin, Bob Barr, Betty Gibb and Sheena Munro, they fell an agonising end short of winning the Glenbrook Quaich and must be ruing their poor start to the competition.

Here are the last game results.

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Barr J       10 5 4 3 9 2 3 7 3 4 5 4 3 7 3 12 3 5 5 4 4
Wood K 5 10 3       7 6 5 6 4 4 1 18 1 4 10 2 5 8 5 4 9 2
Steven 9 3 5 6 7 3       11 2 6 4 8 3 6 4 4 13 5 4 4 7 3
Copland 7 3 5 4 6 4 2 11 2       5 5 4 9 6 4 7 5 5 5 5 3
Fleming 5 4 3 18 1 6 8 4 3 5 5 3       6 5 4 6 3 5 11 2 4
Watt 7 3 4 10 4 6 4 6 3 6 9 3 5 6 2       6 7 4 7 2 5
Wood M 3 12 2 8 5 3 5 13 3 5 7 3 3 6 2 7 6 3       4 11 1
Galloway 4 5 3 9 4 5 7 4 4 5 5 3 2 11 2 2 7 2 11 4 5      

And now the final league table.

Position Team Played Ends Shots U/D Shots Points
1 Fleming 7 28 35 59 13
2 Steven 7 28 17 53 8
3 Copland 7 27 -2 39 8
4 Galloway 7 24 0 40 7
5 Watt 7 27 8 45 6
6 Barr J 7 25 0 40 6
7 Wood K 7 22 -33 32 4
8 Wood M 7 17 -25 35 4

Good competition with lots of highs and lows.

Here's to the Tom Holmes tomorrow!

Gina Aitken Marches into the 1 v 2 Play-off at WJCC

Gina Aitken and her team of Naomi Brown, Rowena Kerr and Rachel Hannen have qualified for the 1 v 2 page play-off game at the World Junior Curling Championships in Tallin after a great win over England in their concluding round-robin game. 
From Left: Gina Aitken, Naomi Brown, Rowena Kerr, Rachel Hannen, Karina Aitken and coach David Aitken
 Photograph courtesy of the World Curling Federation

The girls finished their round-robin campaign in joint second place, tied with Sweden on 6 wins and three defeats.  they qualify in second place on account of their victory against the Swedes earlier in the week.

You can read a full story on the Royal Club website here.

Gina in action this morning against the 'Auld Enemy'!
Photograph by Richard Gray/ World Curling Federation

They have a tough game in the 1 v 2 play-off against Canada's so far undefeated team skipped by the reigning World Junior Ladies Champion, Kelsey Rocque.  That game is at 14.00 local time, so 12.00 UK time tomorrow (Saturday).  The winner progresses to the final and is guaranteed at least a Silver Medal.  The loser plays the winner of the 3 v 4 page play-off game and the winner of that game goes forward to the final.  The loser, astonishingly, drops down to a Bronze Medal game.

Why astonishingly?  Well, if you lose the 3 v 4 page play-off game, that should be curtains, in the humble opinion of your correspondent but the WCF, in their wisdom, want the Bronze Medal to be "won".  Well, that's OK until I give you, m'lud, the Silver Medal winner, who has just lost the final.  Rubbish!

All this means that Gina and her team are only guaranteed fourth place at the moment; interestingly, so are Canada!

Ah, the joys!

In any case, good luck to Gina and her team mates as well as fifth player Karina Aitken and coach (and former World Junior Champion himself, of course!) David Aitken.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Coronation League Success

It is good to report another Coronation League success for Currie and Balerno CC's entry, skipped by Brian Fleming, with John Steven, Dave Munro, Joe Barry and regular substitute (I suppose we should now write "fifth player"!) Andrew Cargill.

The Coronation League is a prestigious Province league competition and C & B has enjoyed much success these past few seasons.

Congratulations to all.

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

East Region Young Farmers

The East region Young Farmers played their curling championships last week.  The final was an all-Edinburgh affair and confusingly Edinburgh A lost to Edinburgh B, if you see what I mean!  In any case, Currie and Balerno curlers were well to the fore.  Gavin Barr played lead in the winning team, while Kerry Barr, Laura Barr and Jane Barr were all in the runners-up team.

Winning team, Edinburgh B: Gavin Barr, James Baird, David Baird and Colin Howden.
Runners-up, Edinburgh A: Kerry Barr, Mhairi Baird, Laura Barr and Jane Barr
Many thanks to Debbie Kerr at Murrayfield for the pictures and story! 

Gina progresses at World Junior Ladies Championship

Gina Aitken and her team, Naomi Brown, Rowena Kerr and Rachel Hannen have had a strong start to their 2015 World Junior Ladies Championship.  So far, they have managed to record wins against host nation Estonia, Czech Republic, Sweden and the USA.  You can follow their progress on the Royal Club website here.

Exciting news for all you retirees out there!  Check out this link!  Gina's round 5 game against Russia will be webcast live at 12.00 on Tuesday 3 March.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Henderson Bishop Champions

First, some background.  You can read Bob Cowan's article on Andrew Henderson Bishop here.  In the article, Bob writes, the trophy he presented and which bears his name is played for as the premier ladies' event in Scotland each season, aside from the Scottish Championship.  So, the Henderson Bishop is no ordinary curling championship; no run of the mill competition.  Club members should be very proud of the achievement of Jenny Barr, Susan Kesley, Fran Stretton and Morna Aitken who, as Murrayfield 1, won the competition last week.  Interestingly, and as a wee aside, the last time Murrayfield won the competition, none other than our own Shona Watt was in the winning team skipped by her mother, Barbara.

Here is a photo of the winning rink.

From left, Morna Aitken (lead), Fran Stretton (second), Susan Kesley (third) and Jenny Barr (skip)
Here is Jenny's report in full.

Monday started with Lockerbie, past winners and one of last season's semi-finalists.  We knew this would be a tough game and it was, ending in a peel.  Murrayfield 2 faced last season's winners and sadly lost their game.  Super sub Annie Barr joined Murrayfield 2 in place of Maggie Barry who was unfortunately still unwell.  On Monday evening, we were treated to a civic reception by the Scottish Borders Council and then all eight of us went for a quick bite to eat.  One or two wines may have been consumed!

Tuesday morning saw Murrayfield 1 play Murrayfield 2.  This was a very close game, with Murrayfield 1 having to draw the four foot to win the game.  Murrayfield 2 then had their bye and got busy with their evening headwear for the race night in the ice rink.  Murrayfield 1 played Waterfront.  We knew that we were in a tough section where ends would likely come into play.  We finished up with seven of the eight ends played and were pleased with the result.  Lockerbie meanwhile were drawing with Dumfries.

Tuesday evening was spent in the ice rink at a carvery supper and short race night.  Well done to Margaret and Betty for their "Blue Peter" skills with our hats!  Annie Barr returned home and past-president Katie Wood arrived to replace Maggie on day three.  A great evening was had and again, one or two wines may have been consumed.

Wednesday morning saw Murrayfield 1 with their bye and what should have been a long lie - not so in the noisiest hotel in the world!  Murrayfield 2 played Lockerbie and had yet another peel.  Wednesday afternoon saw a re-run of last year's final with Murrayfield 1 playing Dumfries.  We knew that if we won one end then we would at least qualify for the low road; a win or peel would put us in the high road.  It was a very close game and the skip's first stone at the 8th end ensured that a peel was the best result that Dumfries could achieve; Murrayfield 1 was through to the high road semi-final.  Murrayfield 2 played Waterfront in a game that was very sociable!

Wednesday night is the most formal event of the week with blue blazers, top table and speeches.  At the dinner, the draws for the high road and low road semi-finals takes place - all very exciting.  It was a great evening with a lovely three course meal, some wine (again!) and lots of chat and laughter.  The draw was made and it pitted us against another previous winner, Ayr, skipped by former Scottish champion and Olympic Gold Medalist, Margaret Agnew (nee Morton).  It wasn't the semi-final we might have chosen for ourselves, but Maggie told us that she wasn't that keen to play us either!  We left the party at a sensible time, though apparently others were up partying until the wee small hours.

Thursday morning and what can we say!  Great play by the whole team saw the first end set up well and a last stone hit gave us a three.  We followed that with a stolen one.  Ayr's heads went down and we were able to keep stealing ends.  Their final stone at the seventh was short against three of our stones; we stole a three and they shook hands.  We were into the final!

All of the other semi-finals - both in the high and low roads - were really close games.  In the other high road semi-final, Borders 2 came through, so they were our opponents in the final.

In the final, we played well in the first few ends and found ourselves five-one up playing the seventh end.  The Borders 2 skip played a fantastic shot with her last stone in the seventh end to score a three; the noise from the packed bar and cafĂ© was incredible - we all thought the viewing windows were going to land on the ice with all the banging and cheering.  We were one up with last stone playing the last end; we all kept calm and played our stones well.  Our first skip's stone ensured at least an extra end for us and our second hit gave us the title.  We were absolutely delighted!

All in all, it was a great week with fabulous hospitality from Borders Ice Rink.  Everyone there enjoyed themselves both on and off the ice.