|Watt jnr, Charlie
Draw & Results
|Wed 21 Sep
|Abby Duncan [Gordon Fraser] vs Bob Stewart
|7 – 5
|3 – 4
|Alan Durno [Mike Watt] vs Charlie Watt jnr
|8 – 3
|4 – 3
|Mike Macdonald vs Willie Cameron [Gregor Ewan]
|2 – 11
|2 – 6
|Wed 26 Oct
|Abby Duncan [Gordon Fraser] vs Alan Durno [Mike Watt]
|5 – 3
|5 – 3
|Bob Stewart vs Willie Cameron [Jim Gault]
|10 – 5
|5 – 2
|Mike Macdonald vs Charlie Watt jnr
|3 – 8
|3 – 5
|Wed 16 Nov
|Mike Macdonald vs Abby Duncan [Gordon Fraser]
|9 – 13
|4 – 4
|Willie Cameron [Jim Gault] vs Charlie Watt jnr
|5 – 5
|4 – 3
|Bob Stewart vs Alan Durno
|3 – 12
|2 – 6
|Wed 23 Nov
|Bob Stewart [J Russsell] vs Mike Macdonald
|8 – 9
|5 – 3
|Alan Durno vs Willie Cameron
|13 – 0
|6 – 0
|Wed 07 Dec
|Willie Cameron [Jim Gault] vs Abby Duncan [Gordon Fraser]
|2 – 12
|2 – 5
|Alan Durno [Mike Watt] vs Mike Macdonald
|2 – 9
|2 – 6
|Charlie Watt jnr vs Bob Stewart
|8 – 8
|4 – 3
|Wed 18 Jan
|Charlie Watt jnr vs Abby Duncan [Gordon Fraser]
|5 – 7
|3 – 4
|Wed 25 Jan
|Willie Cameron [Gregor Ewan] vs Bob Stewart
|5 – 5
|3 – 4
|Charlie Watt jnr vs Mike Macdonald
|6 – 0
|5 – 0
|Wed 15 Feb
|Alan Durno [Mike Watt] vs Bob Stewart
|7 – 7
|5 – 3
|Abby Duncan [Tony Duncan] vs Mike Macdonald
|6 – 8
|5 – 3
|Charlie Watt jnr vs Willie Cameron [Jim Gault]
|6 – 4
|4 – 3
|Wed 01 Mar
|Willie Cameron [Jim Gault] vs Alan Durno [Mike Watt]
|7 – 10
|3 – 5
|Abby Duncan [Gordon Fraser] vs Charlie Watt jnr [G Kelly]
|4 – 8
|3 – 5
|Mike Macdonald vs Bob Stewart
|10 – 3
|6 – 2
|Wed 15 Mar
|Bob Stewart vs Charlie Watt jnr
|6 – 7
|4 – 3
|Abby Duncan [Gordon Fraser] vs Willie Cameron [Gregor Ewan]
|1 – 11
|1 – 6
|Mike Macdonald vs Alan Durno [Mike Watt]
|14 – 7
|5 – 3
|Tue 21 Mar
|Alan Durno [Mike Watt] vs Abby Duncan [Gordon Fraser]
|3 – 7
|3 – 5
|Mon 27 Mar
|Willie Cameron vs Mike Macdonald
|0 – 6
|0 – 5
|Bob Stewart vs Abby Duncan [Gordon Fraser]
|10 – 4
|5 – 2
|Charlie Watt jnr vs Alan Durno [Mike Watt]
|6 – 7
|4 – 4
Donated by Fochabers Curling Club to the Province in 1970 to commemorate the Club’s Centenary.
It was presented to the winners of Division 2 until 1993 when the Province Leagues were split into East and West sections with the opening of Moray Leisure Centre. Thereafter awarded to the Winners of Division 2 in the East
Updates From the Rink
- McInnes Pockets Knockout as Watt Sneaks Division 2 Title
As the 2022/23 Moray Province Curling season reached its conclusion this week, virtually all the silverware has now found it’s summer home.
Nairn’s Mike McInnes won the Open Knockout in his battle of the underdogs with Fochabers’ Alan Durno. Both teams currently reside in Division 2 of their respective Province Leagues and both had taken a number of fancied scalps en route to the Big Show. McInnes got off to a flyer, opening his account with 3 shots and led 6-0 after 3 ends.Durno could only pick up single shots and as the klaxon sounded, the Nairn rink were worthy 8-3 winners.
In the Province League East, Division 2 has seen the tightest finish in many a season as Charlie Watt jnr and Abby Duncan both lost their final game but Watt’s superior shots up total just allowed him to scrape ahead of both Fraser and Forres clubmate Mike MacDonald to win yet another Division title and climb into the top League next season . Watt jnr appeared to be in east street, leading 6-3 against the Durno team skipped by Mike Watt, but a steal of 3 by the Fochabers rink at the last end for a 7-6 win put a slight damper on the Forres celebrations. Charlie wasn’t worried for long however, as a couple of sheets away, Duncan’s Fochabers rink ,under the continued direction of Gordon Fraser were suffering a heavy defeat in their game against an inspired Bob Stewart. The Elgin skip could do no wrong on a tricky sheet of ice and a 10-3 victory was a dagger in the heart of his Fochabers opponents who had led the Division for such a substantial part of the season.
Division 1 champions Andy Cameron came a real cropper against Bill Jaffrey’s Fochabers team for whom skip Wilson Burnett was in exceptional form. With the front end putting shots in the house on straight and sometimes negative ice, and Burnett throwing perfect guards and freezes, poor Andy was continually left with nigh on impossible set ups and a consolation 3 shots in the final end was at least a small exclamation point on his outstanding season’s campaign.
Kenny Oswald and Dave McPherson were fighting for Division 1 survival, and the Tennis Club lads’ narrow 8-7 win was just enough to keep them in the top League despite Kenny’s convincing 8-3 win over Buckie’s Alan Campbell . 8-3 up with 2 ends to go, Tennis Club skip Roy Thomson breathed a huge sigh of relief as his Sunninghill opponents fought back strongly but just fell short of the win that would have condemned McPherson to relegation.
In the West, Larry Kerr just kept his nose ahead of clubmate Mike McInnes to snare the Division 2 title. McInnes managed a good win against Ian Thomson and was hoping for a Kerr loss but Larry ensured his table top spot with a convincing win over Ricky Marwick who is sent back to Division 2 along with Gus Forbes after just a year in the top Division.
Next Wednesday Inverness Ice Centre hosts the season’s finale with the meeting of East and West Division 1 winners as Andy Cameron’s Aberlour rink take on West champions Ali Fraser’s Ardclach rink for the Nicol Quaich
- Division Titles Decided
As we approach the end of another curling season , a number of League Winners have already been decided. In Moray Province East Division 1, a table top clash between Andy Cameron and Alan Campbell resulted in a straightforward win and Division 1 title for the Aberlour rink. An opening count of 5 shots took full advantage of the first end hammer for Andy and another pick up of 2 in the third end effectively ended the contest with Cameron holding a7-1 lead. A single and then 2 consecutive steals breathed a bit of life into the Buckie team but Cameron’s rink snuffed out the response to run out 10-5 winners and deservedly snare his spot on the Champion’s podium .
Kenny Oswald kept his hopes of retaining Division 1 status alive with a solid win over the Sunninghill rink skipped this week by Georgia Clarke. A count of 4 in the last end confirmed a win for the Elgin team.
The Division 2 title is wide open again after long time front runner Abby Duncan came another cropper , losing heavily to Forres’s Mike MacDonald. Gordon Fraser has been driving the Duncan bus all season long, but another wheel has dropped off his wagon as a single shot at the opening end was the Fochabers’ rink’s only contribution to the scoreboard . Forres’s Charlie Watt jnr has risen quietly to the top of the League with a thrilling 7-6 win against Bob Stewart. Stewart must have been delighted to be leading 6-0 after 4 ends, but in the classic “ game of 2 halves” Watt woke with a bang and 2 steals of 3 in the final ends left his Elgin opponents wondering what went wrong. Mike Macdonald’s remarkable and rare count of 7 shots in end 5 stunned both the crowd and his Fochabers opponent and was instrumental in his 14-7 win to keep his team in the title race.
Division 3 winners are Owen Watson’s Moray Juniors rink who were never behind in their title clash with Alan Douglas. 3 consecutive 2 shot counts after an opening end deuce gave the Juniors an 8-6 win and what a week it has been for Watson and co. Sunday saw them reach the final of the Scottish Schools Championship where they gave a fantastic account of themselves all weekend to just be pipped by Perth Academy in the final.
Andrew Allardyce came out on top in his club clash with Helen Downey. Despite a pick up of 2 shots in the first end, Helen’s team struggled thereafter with the wily Allardyce scoring at each of the next 4 ends to win 10-3 and confirm his Division 3 status for next year.
Janice Rankin’s Moray Firth Ladies are Division 4 champions after a 9-3 win over Jodi Best’s Buckie team. Penalised several shots for a late start, Best’s team of newcomers and returning stars have nevertheless had a very encouraging first season , winning 4 of their 9 games.
In the West, Division 1 champion Ali Fraser dropped his only point of the season in an exciting 4-4 draw with clubmate Ruaridh Greenwood and Ali Asher confirmed his mid table position with a 7-3 win over Mark Fraser. In their basement battle, Jamie Cattell was a big winner over Gus Forbes. Despite loss of 1 at the first end , Cattell proceeded to score at each of the next 5 for a convincing 12-1 victory.
Mike McInnes is still in with a shout of the Division 2 title after a 12-4 win over Ricky Marwick albeit he is 4 points behind leader Larry Kerr and Ian Thomson pulled away from Fiona Steel with a 10-5 win over the Ladies.
- Big Wins in Moray East Curling League
There were a series of comprehensive wins in this week’s Moray Province Curling League.
Aberlour’s Andy Cameron maintained top spot in East Division 1 with a very one sided win over defending champions Elgin’s Kenny Oswald. Both teams were rather perplexed by the tricky ice that had more gouges on it than Al “ Scarface” Capone’s coupon. Cameron’s crew got the rub of the green with a count of 5 at the second end and after picking up scores at the next 3 ends, the game was a bogey with Aberlour sprinting to an 11-1 lead. Rueful handshakes were exchanged at a 14-3 win for the Speysiders .
Alan Campbell’s win over Elgin Tennis Club kept the Buckie team in the honours hunt,2 points behind Cameron with a game in hand. Skip Steve Rankin was relentless against his Elgin opponents, racing to an 8-0 lead before a consolation 2 shots at the last just about salved the ball boys’ wounds.
Bill Jaffrey’s game against Donald Ross was closer than the final score might suggest. A strong front end repeatedly set up good positions for the Fochabers’ four and skip Wilson Burnett converted counts of 3 at the fourth end and a decisive deuce at the sixth to move his team into what should be a safe mid table spot.
Alan Douglas was in terrific form and took his team to a share of the Division 3 lead with a comfortable 11-1 win over Linda Hardie. The Darnaway Destroyer was 8 shots up before Linda managed her single shot and 3 more shots over the last two ends gave the final score somewhat of an Admiral Nelson look.
The Match of the Night was a terrific contest between experienced Andrew Allardyce and youngster Owen Watson. Trading exclusively in single shots, the teams were tied at 3 each as they went into the last end . The wily Allardyce with Mike Kemp at the helm sat 1 shot to the left of the button partly guarded by two stones out front. Watson ,with last stone, spotted a small gap between the guards but his mid weight take out just wrecked and an audible sigh of relief from the Elgin rink signalled the tightest of victories for Allardyce and co.
In Division 4 Katie Gordon was 3-1 behind after 3 ends but rallied strongly, never losing another shot and picking up a 4 in the sixth for a solid 9-3 win.
In Moray Province West Division 1, Ardclach’s Ali Fraser maintained his 100% record . Fraser’s team scored at each of the seven ends played for an 8-0 win .
Ali Asher was just about as ruthless as Fraser in his Nairn derby against Gus Forbes. A sixth end single was Forbes’ sole response in Asher’s 7-1 victory.
Newly crowned Scottish Seniors winner Mark Fraser was an absentee in his Dalcross rink’s 9-4 loss against Ruaridh Greenwood and both teams, along with Asher, are now locked in second place ,4 points between Ali Fraser’s Ardclach pacesetters.
In Division 2 Nairn’s Larry Kerr is in pole title position 4 points ahead of the chasers after an 8-4 win over Fiona Steel and Ricky Marwick’s 7-3 win over Ian Thomson moves him into second place and the second promotion spot.
- Success for Ewen in Battle of Fionas
Fiona Ewen and her Fochabers rink of Jodi Best,Anna-Louise Fraser and Christine Wood have won the Province Rosebowl with a convincing win over Nairn Ladies’ perennial finalist Fiona Steel. In a rematch of the 2019/20 final, Ewen more than made up for that previous disappointment with a solid all round 11-3 victory. The big swings on both hands may have caught out the Nairn girls who play all their curling out of Inverness,but a well worked second end 3 gave them early hope of another trophy. Thereafter however, Ewen’s front end of Wood and Fraser were instrumental in setting up good positions leaving Best and Ewen herself to either guard counters or chip up front stones.
It was a story of getting a shot in early and then defending the position and Ewen’s team had this down to a tee frequently leaving Steel nigh on impossible last stones , trying to get to opposition rocks via a front curtain of protecting stones. Probably the shot of the night,was Ewen’s remarkably bold angled back weight chip out of an opposing stone lying in second position for a 2 shot count in the fourth end.A further three 2 shot steals propelled the Fochabers team to a win that was actually much more competitive than the final margin might suggest.
In the Open Knockout semi finals it was one win apiece for East against West and so the final will be between two Moray Province curling legends. Alan Durno for the East and Mike McInnes for the West.
McInnes’ match against Andy Cameron hinged on the second end when Cameron’s team missed two takeouts for his opponents to lie 3 shots guarded. Andy’s last stone draw only succeeded in promoting a front stone to give McInnes a 4 shot steal and a 5-0 lead. A single and a stolen 2 gave the Aberlour team a comeback sniff but 3 shots was their final tally as handshakes were exchanged at 7-3 with McInnes lying another 2 shots as Cameron ran out of potential game winning stones.
Ali Asher never quite got to grips with the swing on his sheet as the wily Clochan farmer Alan Durno, throwing lead stones and skipping, guided his quartet to another Province knockout final. With Dad Alan , a first sighting of the season from son Neil and Matthew Smith all playing a canny drawing game and fourth player Mike Watt tidying up, poor Asher could never get any ends built up and found himself playing tricky shots to save ends and merely pick up a single. One apiece after two ends, the game was all but over with a well executed 3 shot count in the third for Durno and then in the fourth , Asher played a hit and lie against 3 opposing counters but sat open leaving Mike Watt the same shot to lie 3 again. Ali now needed to repeat his first shot for a single score but was a touch light and wicked off a guard to lose a 4. 8-1 was too big a deficit to make up and after an exchange of singles the teams left the ice for a quick getaway and their bedtime hot chocolate .
In Province East League Division 2, Abby Duncan finally lost his first points of the season in an 8-6 defeat by Mike MacDonald. Regular rink caretaker Gordon Fraser’s previously unblemished record took a knock as stand in caretaker Tony Duncan, though winning 5 of the 8 ends played, lost a 4 then a 3 to the cunning Forres tactician.
Charlie Watt jnr played the shot of the night as his angled double take out left his Aberlour opponent Jim Gault with no more than a last end single as Watt won 6-4.
Alan Durno and Bob Stewart had a battle royal with the Clochan Farmer racing to a 6-1 lead before his Elgin counterpart hit back with consecutive 3’s to lead by 1 going down the last.
A remarkable , big swinging draw to the button by Fochabers’ fourth player Mike Watt saw his team claim a share of the spoils in a 7-7 peel.
Katie Gordon’s Moray Juniors meanwhile were giving Jodi Best’s Buckie newcomers a severe lesson as 4 consecutive scoring ends saw the youngsters run out convincing 11-2 victors.
- FAMILY AFFAIRS IN MIXED KNOCKOUT
Clan Cameron and the Rankin Family will contest this year’s Moray Province Mixed Knockout Final . Father and son Andy and Gavin well supported by Louise Marshall and Susan Mackenzie came from behind to beat Wilson Burnett in a game that was closer than the final score might suggest. Burnett’s team steadily collected single shots and a fourth end deuce to lead 5-3 after six ends but there was always a feeling that they were tampering with a time bomb and sure enough,in the seventh end the bomb exploded with Cameron counting 4 to take a 2 shot lead into the last end. Finding a way to a locked in opposition counter proved to be an impossible task and Burnett had to shake hands on an 8-5 loss.
It was a different story on the adjoining sheet as a full hand of Rankins blanked an unfortunate Linda Hardie. With Dad Steve and Mum Janice calling the shots and siblings Ben and Zoe paddling the canoe, the contest was virtually decided by the third end after counts of 4 then 3 propelled them to a 12-0 victory.
In Moray East League Division 1 , Aberlour’s Andy Cameron has climbed to the top of the League following a 12-7 win over Elgin Tennis Club. Despite winning only 3 of the 8 ends played, a ruthless Speyside team scored heavily with a 4 and a 6 to effectively put the match beyond McPherson’s ball boys and raced to a 12-2 lead after 5 ends. The Tennis club with skip Roy Thomson resplendent in his red Noddy outfit won the last 3 ends to put a more respectable sheen on the final scoreboard.
If one were to borrow a tree analogy, and quite frankly I don’t know why one wood, the match between Elgin’s Kenny Oswald and Fochabers’ Skip Wilson Burnett would be billed as the Birch sapling versus the mighty Oak and at the bell, the gap between their respective teams was somewhat akin to the inverse proportion of their trouser size.
Back in the world of reality,Oswald finally picked up his first win of the season with a 9-4 victory over his Fochabers ‘ opponent . An opening end loss of 3 apart, the Elgin team of Susan Mackenzie, Jim Barron ,Louise Marshall and Skip OswaId never looked in any danger, scoring at all of the next 4 ends to extinguish any lingering Fochabers’ hopes. OswaId himself was in particularly fine form, nominating and successfully playing several terrific shots on ice that seemed to change a bit in the second half of the match.
In Moray Province West Division 2, Nairn’s Mike McInnes scored a comprehensive victory over Dalcross’s Ian Thomson to reach the joint Division lead. Locked at 2 apiece after3 ends, McInnes and co powered away , winning the last 3 ends to ensure a solid win.
- BUCKIE STUMBLE WITHOUT CANADA BOUND CAMPBELL
Four games were contested this week in the Moray Province East curling league. With regular skip Alan Campbell absent in Canada as part of the Scotland Strathcona Cup touring team, his title chasing Buckie rink skipped by Steve Rankin slipped up big time against Bill Jaffrey’s Fochabers team. Powered by a very consistent front end of Gary Burnett and the ever reliable Fiona Ewen, the Speysiders nonetheless must have thought they were paid up members of the Lucky White Heather Club as a series of wicks, rubs and poorly thrown rocks went their way over the first few ends. A 5 against the hammer in end two was ample proof that the fates were with them and a count of 4 against at the sixth end was really their only scorecard blemish as another 5 at the last gave them a somewhat flattering 15-6 victory.
Meanwhile fellow title contender Andy Cameron was picking up both points against Sunninghill’s Donald Ross to slip past the Buckie team into league top spot.Cameron was always in command following an opening end count of 3 , and 2 more single steals gave him a comfortable lead before the hoteliers hit back to make it 5-3 after 5 ends. Another 3 and a double steal sealed a 10-4 win for the whisky town rink.
Dave MacPherson was another absentee as his Tennis Club team under the expertise of Roy Thomson dealt yet another blow to defending champion Kenny Oswald. The Elgin four were 5-1 up after 3 ends but 3 consecutive doubles allowed the ball boys to pip their opponents who have struggled to match last season’s form and are yet to find their first win of this season.
Honours were even in the Division 2 contest as Gregor Ewen, skipping the Aberlour team went toe to toe with Elgin’s Bob Stewart. Aberlour second player Ade Firth looking for all the world like an extra from a spaghetti western in his New Year’s Zapata moustache and lead Nicole Allan provided the grunt to complement the subtler skills of Skip Ewan and third player Jim Gault in a thrilling 5-5 draw. This leaves 4 of the 6 Division 2 teams on 4 points, just one win behind second placed Alan Durno, but all trailing runaway leader Fochabers’ Abby Duncan
- Duncan Maintains 100% Division 2 Record
After the International excitement of last week’s match against the USA touring curlers it was back to League duty in the Moray Province East League.
In Division 2 Abby Duncan is clear at the top after another good win . Gordon Fraser must be the League’s finest caretaker as he once again steered the Duncan ship to a fifth straight victory in the continuing absence of Skip Duncan. Leading 5-1 after the third end and seemingly in total control against Forres’s Charlie Watt jnr ,even a loss of three at the sixth end couldn’t prevent the Fochabers four adding both points to their unblemished league tally.
Alan Douglas’ Division 3 title aspirations took a dent as the wily and experienced Andrew Allardyce put one over on the Darnaway team. A 6-1 Allardyce advantage after 5 ends still managed to withstand the loss of 2 consecutive deuces and a cleverly played last end allowed the canny Elgin skip to ease away to a tight victory.
Snow White herself must have raised a cheer as Helen Downey just missed out on a jackpot eight ender with a score of 7 shots in the second end against Forres’s Linda Hardie. The Forres team sheet read like a Jane Austin novel as Bennetts ,Carol and husband Carl bookended the foursome .Literary references aside, there was no recovering from that early hammer blow and the Forresians ran out 5-11 losers.
Division 4 produced unquestionably the result of the night as the Buckie rink of newcomers skipped by fly tying Sandy Howie defeated Janice Rankin. An early trading of deuces had the making of a tight tussle but Howie and his newbies found ice conditions to their liking, a count of three at the last end giving them a convincing 9-4 win.
Jodi Best ensured a fine night for the Buckie Club as her rink of rookies scored heavily through the mid match ends to take the points in a 7-4 win against Katie Gordon’s Moray Juniors and move her team up into title contention .
In the Province East v West Open Knockout quarter finals there were East wins for Alan Durno over Ali Fraser and Andy Cameron over Mark Fraser whilst Mike McInnes’s win over Bob Stewart and Ali Asher’s draw shot challenge win after a 4-4 peel against Alan Campbell were the West victors.
- Rankin At Top of Tree At Christmas Break
As the final stone of the year slid to a halt at Moray Leisure Centre to count a single shot and rubber stamp a convincing win, Moray Firth Ladies retained their 100%record and still sit proudly atop Division 4 of the Moray Province East League. While Eve Muirhead further raised curling’s national profile with her third place in the BBC Sports Personality of the Year,our own Olympic champion Janice Rankin steered her Ladies to the top, scoring at each of the opening 4 ends to open up an 8-0 lead over Buckie newcomers skipped by Jodi Best.
A big 4 shot count gave the underdogs a whiff of hope, but too late and hands were shaken on a 9-4 loss.
Katie Gordon kept her Juniors in the honours hunt scoring a total of 10 shots over the middle 4 ends in her 11-5 win over Buckie’s Jim Walls.
In the Division 3 table top battle between Darnaway and Moray Juniors it was Alan Douglas who came out ahead and the teams are now joint Division leaders. In a Christmas cracker of a contest the youngsters lead 4-2 after 4 ends before Douglas picked up a decisive 3 at the fifth end. An exchange of singles over the last 2 ends gave the Darnaway rink the tightest of victories and a share of the Divisional lead at the Christmas recess.
Curling resumes in the New Year with a 4 rink match between teams representing Moray Province and the USA team who will be arriving in Elgin in early January as part of their Scottish Tour.
- W/C 5th December Match report
As winter finally arrived in Moray ,this week’s Province curling featured just 3 Division 2 matches and saw Abby Duncan’s Fochabers rink pull away to a 2 point lead at the top of the league. The continued absence of boss man Duncan has done no harm to the form of the leaders , as stand in skip Gordon Fraser led his team to a convincing 12-2 win over an undermanned Willie Cameron outfit. Looking more like a Polar explorer than a crack curler, Fraser maintained his 100% success rate this season and is surely due for a generous Christmas gift from his absent team skip.
Alan Durno was another skip in absentia and his experience was missed as deputy Mike Watt was always up against it in a 9-2 loss to Mike MacDonald. The Forres team were never behind and a spurned opportunity for a count of 3 at end 6 from their opponents allowed MacDonald to pull away with 2 deuces in the last 2 ends for his victory.
The game of the night was a nail biter between Charlie Watt jnr and Bob Stewart.
The lead changed hands several times as Watt jnr found himself 2 shots behind going into the last end. A fabulous hit and roll left him lying 2 and Stewart’s last rock just had too much running and slid past the head. With last stone Charlie had a chance to bump up a front stone to win the game but the angle was not quite there and a share of the points was a fair reflection of both team’s efforts.
- Elementary for Watson
Owen Watson’s Moray Juniors rink continues to set the standard in Division 3 of the Moray Province East Curling League as they maintained their 100% record in a crushing 9-1 victory over Linda Hardie’s Forres team. With Gwyn Edward’s at third and the Rankin boys, Ben and Fraser powering the front end the Juniors scored at 6 of the 7 ends played, whilst Linda’s ladies could only count a consolation single at end 6.
Alan Douglas was another dominant winner , picking up scores at all but one end to keep his league aspirations alive in a 9-8 victory over Helen Downey.
In a Division 4 Buckie club derby, it was a win for the newcomers skipped by Jodie Best over Jim Walls’ rink. “ Newcomers “ is rather a misnomer as the team sheet was bookended by Jodie at skip and that experienced “ newcomer” Jim Royan at lead. Walls family rivalry aside, a tightly contested game saw the Best four just about hold on for the closest of wins.
In the absence of skip Janice Rankin, Julie Stewart held the reins as her Moray Firth Ladies rink lost out to the Juniors of Katie Gordon. 3-0 behind after 3 ends and 4-2 down with 2 ends to play, Katie’s team kept their composure to pick up a single in the sixth and then a steal of 4 in the last end to put a gloss on a very competitive 7-4 win.
If Roy Thomson is the Neymar of Moray Province then Tennis Club skip Dave McPherson is the Harry Maguire. Very good in the head but prone to the occasional defensive lapse, the big Aberlour businessman had a man of the match performance this week against Donald Ross’s Sunninghill mob. In a rearranged Division 1 match the excitement was palpable as the hotel team were never behind in the match and led 4-3 as they went into the final end.
McPherson and co however,kept their best till last and picked up a well engineered double to sneak away with the points in a 5-4 win.
- Cameron and Campbell Tied At The Top.
Buckie’s Alan Campbell and Aberlour’s Andy Cameron are joint top of Moray Province East Division 1 after the latest round of matches in the Moray Province Curling League.
Campbell lost a single at the first end but scored at each of the remaining 5 to run away to a 9-1 victory against Dave McPherson’s Elgin Tennis Club outfit. In Campbell and fourth player Steve Rankin, the Buckie rink have perhaps the strongest top end in the Province league and their huge combined experience proved too much even for the multi talented Tennis lads.
Rather surprisingly, the whole league table now separates Andy Cameron and last year’s title holder Kenny OswaId. In a very tight game the difference between the teams proved to be Cameron’s count of 3 in the sixth end and ,holding the hammer in the last end with the scores at 4 each, Cameron retained his cool to pick up a single shot and both league points. Talking of tight games, Donald Ross and Bill Jaffrey shook hands on a 7-7 peel as Fochabers’ skip Wilson Burnett played an absolute blinder to hit and hide to sit 2 in the last end with the head half guarded by their own short stone. The ice had proved to be trickier than a weasel’s Y-fronts and Sunninghill skip Angus Gunn’s last takeout just pulled across to wreck on the guard and Burnett needed no second invitation to draw for three shots and a share of the spoils.
In Division 2, past Royal Caledonian Curling Club President Alan Durno was anything but charitable in a 13-0 whitewash of a rather weakened Aberlour rink,still missing Willie Cameron. Elgin skip Bob Stewart was another absentee leader as his team opened proceedings with scores at the first 3 ends to lead Mike McDonald’s Forres rink 4-0.
The wily Old McDonald ( who, incidentally does seem to have some kind of a farm)fought back in a big way with counts of 5 in end 6 and then a 2 shot steal in the next and despite losing a 3 at the last, the Forres four ran out narrow 9-8 winners .
- Juniors in Hot Form in Abbreviated League Programme.
Following the unfortunate withdrawal from the League of the Moray Wheels rink, only 3 games took place in Moray Province East this week.
In Division 3 Owen Watson’s Moray Juniors are a team on fire at the moment. Watson, Edwards and a pair of Rankins just about outsmarted an experienced Andrew Allardyce in an exceptional game of high tension curling. 4-2 down to the wily Allardyce after 5 ends, the youngsters rallied well ,picking up a single and then sealing their come from behind win with a double at the last end in a nail biting cliché filled victory.
It was a case of Nelsons in Alan Douglas’s big Darnaway win over Forres’s Linda Hardie. All the 1’s gave the final score a very binary look as Linda opened proceedings with a single at the first but could not add to her tally thereafter as the Darnaway Dump Truck ,driven by Douglas and Rendall and pushed along by Milne and Wilson scored at each of the next 6 ends in an 11-1 win.
Division 4 newcomers Jim Walls and co were under the tutelage of our favourite Canuck Jodi Best, but competing against Gold Olympian Janice Rankin is no stroll in the park and the MFL rink showed too much skill and experience in easing to a 6-2 win.
Watson in 3 and Rankin in 4 now sit atop their respective Divisions and it would be a brave man who would risk his pocket money betting against either of these two picking up silverware come March.
- Cameron Cashes In On Hallowe’en
Aberlour’s Andy Cameron advanced to the quarter final of the Moray Province Open Knockout with a big win over Wilson Burnett on a strangely mild Hallowe’en at Moray Leisure Centre this week. The Fochabers rink could not hit the proverbial barn door and were only able to avoid a whitewash courtesy of a single shot at the last end in a 10-1 drubbing.
Steve Rankin was another big knockout winner, casting a spell on Eddie Milne in a 9-2 victory. The night’s only close contest saw experienced skip Alan Durno narrowly prevail against young pretender Charlie Watt jnr. On tricky negative ice and tied at 5-5 in the last end, Charlie’s team looked to be sitting pretty with a well guarded counter as Durno’s fourth player Mike Watt made ready to play the game’s final stone. With a big swing on the out turn and the shot stone covered by a long guard, the wily Watt laid a beauty that passed the guard and swung perfectly to chip out Watt’s stone and give his team a 2 shot victory.
Rarely in this column do curling team’s front ends receive much attention and two of the best showed their form in this week’s Moray Province League battles.
Many people seem to mistakenly think that Andy Cameron lead player John Sharpe is Welsh. However,I can exclusively reveal that he is as Scottish as you and I and was in fact born in Aberystwyth.
Issues of Nationality aside, on Wednesday,Sharpe laid the foundation as the Aberlour rink raced to 13 unanswered shots before a consolation 3 at the last , at least gave a slightly less bitter taste to the Elgin Tennis Club’s late night hot chocolate.
Highlighting another member of the front end union, at second in Bill Jaffrey’s Fochabers rink, Fiona Ewan is arguably the team’s most consistent performer and was instrumental in an against the odds win over last year’s East champions Kenny Oswald. On ice that was very much in favour of a drawing game, the Fochabers rink opened with a 3 before falling behind as the Elgin unit scored at each of the next 3 ends. Another 3 at the fifth and then a steal of 2 saw the Speysiders go down the last with a healthy 4 shot lead . Lead player Gary Burnett and then Fiona Ewan shored up the front of the house to allow skip Wilson Burnett to play a killer last stone draw and Kenny could only score a single in an 8-5 Fochabers win.
Steve Rankin’s Buckie rink went one better than Andy Cameron with a 14-3 demolition of an understrength Sunninghill team. Many people mistakenly think that Buckie lead player Tim Rutzler is Welsh but again ,I can exclusively reveal the he is as Welsh as you and I and was born in Ashby-De-La Zouch. Rutzler was the unheralded star as three separate counts of 4 gave the coasters an easy victory to consolidate their position as joint League leaders.
- Week Beginning 24/10
Curling resumed this week at Moray Leisure Centre following the October school holiday break and what a cracking opening match it turned out to be.In Moray Province’s equivalent of the U.E.F.A. Supercup Ally Fraser’s West Province winning Ardclach rink just held off Kenny Oswald’s East winning Elgin rink by a single shot to pick up the Nicol Quaich and are thus crowned Moray Province Champions of season 2021/22.
On difficult and rather disappointing ice, the game started with a bang as Oswald scored a second end 3 in response to his opponent’s opening end 4. Things settled down thereafter and Oswald’s perfectly laid draw to the button pulled his team level at 5 shots each after 4 ends. Hitting on the negative ice was proving hazardous and so heads were pretty congested around the button and Fraser played an absolute beauty to tap and lie 2 for a 2 shot lead going down the last end. With last stone and lying 1, OswaId had a chance to tie the match , but his well weighted draw just fell against the handle to wreck on a front stone and an audible sigh of relief heralded the Ardclach team’s tightest of victories. Congratulations to what is most probably Moray Province’s finest team who had got to the semi finals of the Scottish Province Championship the previous weekend.
East League business opened with 2 Division 2 club derbies as Charlie Watt jnr put one over on Forres clubmate Mike MacDonald with a convincing 8-3 win. MacDonald could only pick up 3 singles in reply to Watt’s opening deuce and seventh end 3 to give the youngster his first Division 2 success.
With both skips absent, the Fochabers’ Durno versus Duncan derby was once again in the hands of relief skips Mike Watt and Gordon Fraser. Clochan farmer Durno ,fulfilling a longstanding obligation as guest lead breakdancer for the Piccadilly Rats in Manchester and Duncan were not particularly missed as the game was a veritable cat and mouse affair with single shot scores at each of the 8 ends played. Things could have gone either way and , tied at 3 apiece after 6 ends it was Watt who looked as if he might be the likelier victor with counting stones around the house. However, the wily Fraser, rather akin to a Dickensian Artful Dodger took singles at the last 2 ends to leave Watt and his team dejectedly looking as if they had just had their pockets picked.
Elgin’s Bob Stewart maintained his good form with a big win over Willie Cameron’s Aberlour. Cameron was another absent leader, currently nursing a dodgy shoulder, and, quite frankly, a chicken has a healthier pair of wings than Willie.Stand in Speyside skip Jim Gault picked up a 3 in the second end to briefly lead but a third end 3 of his own and another 3 at the last gave the Elgin rink both points.
- CLOSE GAMES IN FULL PROGRAMME OF CURLING
There were a number of real humdingers in this week’s Moray Province East Curling .
Tennis Club’s Dave MacPherson opened his Division 1 account with a stunning victory over last year’s champion Kenny Oswald. 5-4 down but with the hammer in the last end, tennis club fourth player Roy Thomson stayed cool as a cucumber to take a two and leave the crack Elgin rink pointless. Meanwhile Aberlour’s Andy Cameron and Sunninghill’s Donald Ross fought out an intriguing 7-7 draw. A sixth end 4 put the Speysiders into a 7-5 lead, but the canny Hotel rink skipped by a rather weary Angus Gunn kept their cool to take a 1 and a single steal to give them a share of the spoils. Alan Campbell’s Buckie team were never ahead in their match against Bill Jaffrey until a 4 at the last rather spoiled the Fochabers combo’s night. 5-2 ahead after 4 ends, the Buckie rink stayed in the contest , picking up singles to go into the last end all square. Unfortunately for the Fochabers team, they now found themselves unable “to hit a cow’s bottom with a banjo” and lost a 4 despite holding last stone advantage.
In Division 3, Linda Hardie marked her very welcome return to the rink with a remarkable 8-7 win over Andrew Allardyce. Despite a 6-0 deficit after 3 ends, the Forres skip fought back strongly with a fourth end 4 and a pair of deuces to pip the Elgin rink by a single shot.
Owen Watson’s Juniors had a great night picking up all their shots between an opening single and last end 3 against an experienced Helen Downey.
Division 4 saw new team Janice Rankin’s Moray Firth Ladies gain their second victory of the campaign, winning comfortably against Lynne Robert’s Wheels team. The wheels picked up a terrific 4 to lead 5-2 afternoon 4 ends, but ran out of gas thereafter, losing a 5 and a couple of 2’s in an 11-5 reverse.
Sandy Howie was delighted to skip Jim Walls team of competition beginners to a good 9-5 victory over Katy Gordon’s Juniors. The newcomers were powerful mid match, scoring 7 shots over ends 3,4 and 5.
In the Open knockout Preliminary round, Eddie Milne pipped Mike Kemp in a nail biting 7-6 win and now meets Alan Campbell in the East section quarter final whilst another shock defeat for Kenny Oswald gave Charlie Watt jnr passage to his East quarter final against Alan Durno.
- 5 A Side in Division 1 Opening Thriller
There were only two games in the Moray Province League this week and what a doozy the top match turned out to be !Last season’s champs, Elgin’s Kenny Oswald and runners up Buckie’s Alan Campbell , skipped by Steve Rankin served up a veritable ding dong.
The Buckie outfit took a single with the hammer in the first, but King Kenny responded with a count of 3 in the second. It seemed as if the Rankin mob had now assumed control of the match as a single followed by another and then a deuce against the head gave them a 5-3 lead. Oswald could only manage a 1 to trail 5-4 going up the last without the hammer.
On keen, fairly straight ice, the Buckie rink lay 3 as the Elgin skip played his last stone,drawing perfectly through a biggish port to lie shot but just behind the tee. Rankin merely had to follow his opponent’s draw, but just pushed his delivery wide and it could never draw back onto the centre line, wrecking on short stones to allow Oswald’s rink to share the spoils.
In the other game, despite counting 3 at the second end,Bill Jaffrey’s Fochabers rink never thereafter troubled the scoreboard as a superior Aberlour outfit led by Andy Cameron eased away to a 10-3 win.
Meanwhile, in Inverness, the West Division 1 game between title holder Ardclach’s Ally Fraser and top Division newcomer Nairn’s Jamie Cattell resulted in a regulation win for the crack Ardclach rink. Fellow top League newcomers Nairn’s Gus Forbes were also handed a harsh lesson by their more experienced club colleagues Ali Asher. Forbes managed just 2 singles as the Nairn baker relentlessly raced to an 11-0 lead after only 3 ends . A further 4 applied the coup de grace to the Forbes boys. Habitual title contenders the Greenwood gang accounted for Dalcross’s Mark Fraser. In a very tight game, Ruaridh Greenwood put a shine on the score with a last end 3 for his 8-4 victory.
In Division 2 Larry Kerr had a straightforward win against Nairn Ladies skipped by Margaret Pottie. Singles for the Ladies at the first and last ends bookended Larry’s 11-2 win.
The game of the night was a terrifically tight tussle between Ian Thomson and the missing Ricky Marwick. The Nairn team obviously missed their skip as they just missed out in an intriguing 6-5 loss.
- Week Beginning 19 September
Despite the unseasonably mild weather and early evening daylight, the curling season has resumed at Moray Leisure Centre.
Division 2 proved to be a more challenging environment for serial winner Charlie Watt jnr. The Forres rink opened their account with single shot scores against the head at the first two ends before an experienced Alan Durno outfit skipped in the farmer’s absence by Mike Watt levelled with a two and three more doubles in the latter ends to ease away to an 8-3 win. Abby Duncan was also in absentia as stand in skip Gordon Fraser steered his team to a comfortable victory. 5-0 up after 2 ends and another deuce in the fourth end was too much for a spirited Bob Stewart who, despite single scores at the last 3 ends ,fell just short.
Aberlour’s Willie Cameron made it a trio of absent bosses as Olympian Gregor Ewen and sidekick Jim Gault were instrumental in handing Mike MacDonald an opening night thrashing. Only 3-2 down after 4 ends, the Forres rink could not trouble the scoreboard further as the Aberlour juggernaut ran away to an 11-2 win.
Division 3 provided the week’s most exciting game as Forres’s Linda Hardie came back from a 3-0 deficit to lead Elgin’s Helen Downey 5-3. Helen could only manage a single shot at the last end to be pipped at the post in a 5-4 loss. Alan Douglas found himself 4-0 down against Andrew Allardyce after the first 2 ends and although the Darnaway rink fought back strongly, they were always just behind as the Elgin team eased to a convincing 8-4 win.
In Division 4 it was a story of Master against Apprentice as Janice Rankin, skipping a new team of Moray Firth Ladies was too powerful for the Juniors skipped by Katie Gordon. The Juniors managed two single shot ends but a count of 5 in the third end and a couple of late end doubles gave the Olympic Gold Medallist a big opening game 11-2 victory.
Division 1 will open hostilities next week.