Monday, October 11, 2010

Scottish Senior Mixed Championship

Stranraer ice rink played host to the 2010 Scottish Senior Mixed Curling Championships. A strong-looking entry list contained past champions and finalists with a wee surprise when Colin Hamilton showed up to skip his dad’s entry. Iain had injured his knee and was unable to take part. Some newcomers took to the ice as well, including Dick Adams, former World Junior Gold Medallist. Was it that long ago, we all wondered!

The weather outside was unseasonably warm and one or two, with time on their hands during a bye, quietly wished that they had brought their golf clubs! A walk along the front had to suffice.

A final throwback to the past: Hammy and Janet – still more than actively involved in the business of course – were in charge for the weekend. The rest of the family management team had flown the coup, though quite why a wedding in South Africa or a foreign curling competition were deemed more important than looking after this gaither-up of talent from all over Scotland had your correspondent momentarily nonplussed. Only momentarily, mind you!

The outside conditions meant that skips had to pay attention to the wee rubs and fall backs on the ice. This was like manna from heaven to these grisled veterans, mind you and they all settled to the task man-, and in some cases woman-fully!

The competition started with four leagues – two of four teams and two of five. Winners of the leagues went through to the semi finals of the main competition and the runners-up to the semi-finals of the low road. Murrayfield’s reigning champions, skip Lindsay Scotland, third Johann Steele, Second Alan Stanfield and lead Sue Scotland found themselves up against a strong-looking Hamilton husband and wives team of Archie and Marion Craig and Robin and Yvonne Aitken. Lindsay and co never really got going in this one and the game was over almost before it began! A big steal of five for Archie in the sixth end led to handshakes all round and an early bath.

The other semi final was a cracker! The crowd were enthralled by the play of all eight players on the ice and the pendulum swung first one way, then the other. Dick Adams, Louise Kerr, Jak Kane and Lindsay Galloway must have thought that Dick’s skinny double at the seventh to score a three and take a one-shot lead into the final end had swung things their way, but Gary Macfarlane, Jacqui Crawford, Gordon Crawford and Fiona Macfarlane are made of sterner stuff. They played a cracker of a last end. With Gary’s first stone to come, they lay game, but their first shot was at the back of the four foot. Gary played a perfect draw to cover the route into the shot and lie top eight. Dick could not get in for at least second shot and the game was over. It had taken a fair while to play out the eight ends, mind you – it had been a drawing game and sometimes these things happen. Gary and his cohorts had precious little time to gather their thoughts and prepare themselves for the final.

Meanwhile, in the low road, Colin Hamilton skipped George and Catherine Edington and his mum Jean to a win over Trevor Dodds. Lockerbie’s Jim Black skipped Kate Burnett, Irving Davidson and Sheena Black to a straightforward win over Ian Nicholson.

So to the finals!

In the main event final the Macfarlane team had barely come off the ice in their semi before having to back on and face a rejuvenated and refreshed Craig team. Archie and his team are ruthless at this level if they get a lead – and a lead they got fairly early on. They ran out 7-2 winners after seven ends and so were crowned Scottish Senior Mixed Champions for the first time. The Macfarlanes and Crawfords can be quietly proud of their achievements too though and the memory of their semi-final win will live long in the memories of those lucky enough to have been there to see it.

In the low road final, Colin Hamilton quietly played to the strengths of his team and in their third game of the day, managed a cracking win over Jim Black’s team. All I’ll say is this and I hope I get it out on paper right, so as not to cause offence where none is intended! I hope I can play half as well as the Edingtons and Jean Hamilton when I reach their age. Colin? He’s just a young thing barely past his teens!

A cracking weekend then down in the south west corner of Scotland. The banter and laughs were always to the fore and though the competition was hard-fought, as you would expect of those present, the fun was never far away.

Here’s to next year!

Janet McMillan presents the trophy to (L-R) Robin Aitken, Marion Craig, Archie Craig, Yvonne Aitken, Robbie Scott, President Royal Caledonian Curling Club. Photo courtesy of Colin Hamilton.

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