Draw & Results
|Mon 14 Nov
|[Linda Hardie] vs [Gordie Kennedy] Preliminary
|6 – 0
|Mon 30 Jan
|[Steve Rankin] vs [Linda Hardie]
|12 – 0
|6 – 0
|[Wilson Burnett] vs [Andy Cameron]
|5 – 8
|4 – 4
|Tue 28 Feb
|[Andy Cameron] vs [Steve Rankin]
|6 – 5
|3 – 3
Donated by Charlie Gammack of Aberlour Curling Club, a local saddler, enthusiastic curler and great character of the game.
The unique curling trophy of the “Bell” is highly sought after but, even more importantly, has contributed significantly in fostering mixed curling in the Province.
Updates From the Rink
- Favourites Fall
There were a couple of stunning results in this week’s Moray curling League .
The last remaining East Province rink with an unblemished 2023/24 record, Jim Gault’s Aberlour were comprehensively defeated by Helen Downey’s Elgin team who pulled themselves up from the Division 3 basement with an outstanding win. The scoreboard showed just single shots scored over the first 5 ends as Downey held a marginal 3-2 lead, but the game changed decisively as the Elgin team scored a 3 at the sixth end and then a steal of 2 at the last to give Downey a thoroughly deserved victory. Front end Callum Buchan at lead and Marlyn Mackenzie at second were instrumental in setting up third player Graeme Mackenzie and skip Helen Downey to apply the necessary “coup de grace “. Leads are often unsung heroes and as well as being useful for taking dogs for walks they are the players who invariably set up their teams to score heavily or steal at the outset of every end. Downey has a diamond in Buchan whose other claim to near fame was just failing the final audition for a bit part in a Spaghetti Western.
Janice Rankin’s Moray Firth Ladies lost their chance to reduce the gap between them and Division leader Gault as they too were on the wrong end of an inspired opponent. Downey’s equally experienced Elgin Club colleague Andrew Allardyce was on fire as his team raced to a 10-0 lead before Olympian curler Rankin picked a consolation deuce to at least register on the scorecard. Allardyce was understandably ecstatic after his win and in an exclusive interview he told me “ The boys done well. We’re not going to get carried away and are just taking one game at a time, Brian”.
In Division 4 Jodi Best’s table topping rink were also in tip top form as they easily overcame the challenge of Buckie clubmate Jim Walls. On a scoreboard that looked strikingly similar to the neighbouring Allardyce versus Rankin game, Best skip ( I use the term advisedly) Sandy Howie steered his rink to an 8-0 lead before Walls was able to register his solitary one shot in a 9-1 loss.
The contest of the night meanwhile, was taking place on sheet E as Gemma Forgie’s Moray Juniors and John Key’s Gateway teams fought out a ding dong battle. Key and co were 3-1 up after 3 ends before the Juniors powered into a 5-3 lead going down the last. In a nail biting finale, Key couldn’t quite unlock the Forgie door counting just a single shot to give the Juniors the tightest of victories.
- MORAY PROVINCE OPEN KNOCKOUT SEMI FINAL LINE UP SETTLED
The four quarter final games in the Moray Province Open Knockout competition have resulted in two evenly split East v West semifinals. On a night when conditions outside were as slippery as those on the Moray Leisure Centre Ice sheet, three local East Province teams welcomed their three Inverness based West Province opponents. Andy Cameron had progressed from the East following Tom Pendreigh’s unfortunate withdrawal and was joined in the semi final draw by fellow East Province’s Alan Campbell. Campbell’s rink with young Ben Rankin throwing last stones were 3-0 down to Mike McInnes after 2 ends but rallied strongly to score at all the remaining ends in a 7-3 win.
The West’s two successes came in the very different shapes of Ali Asher and Ally Fraser.
Despite Asher claiming none of his rink had ever been east of Forres, I happen to know that plumbing brothers Robbie and Ross Cope once serviced an old boiler in Llanbryde and Alan Scott and Asher himself come Line Dancing to Elgin town hall twice a month. Meanwhile, back on the ice,the Nairn baker and soon to be President of Scottish Curling soon clicked into gear on pretty quick, if just a bit straight Elgin ice. East’s Wilson Burnett stole at each of the opening two ends to lead 3-0 before Asher’s team hit back with a count of 4. It was nip and tuck after 5 ends with the Nairn rink holding a slender 5-4 lead and the all important hammer. With a well protected Burnett counter on the button, Asher’s second player Robbie Cope played the shot of the night with an angled raise on his own stone to lie shot and leave Burnett with a very difficult route to the button to level the game. Lying 4 against, his draw came up short and handshakes were exchanged with a 9-4 Asher victory.
Ally Fraser’s Ardclach team held on in a game that was considerably closer than the 8-5 score might suggest. With a pickup of 4 shots at the second end, Charlie Watt jnr led 5-4 after five ends. Fraser countered at the next with a deuce and a chance to tie the scores at the seventh end was lost when Watt jnr just threw his last stone take out a bit outside the brush and wrecked on a guard to give up 2 shots. Now 3 shots ahead, the wily Fraser and co simply ran the Watt team out of scoring shots in the last end for their win.
Andy Cameron now plays Ali Asher and Alan Campbell plays Ally Fraser in the semifinals at Inverness Ice Centre on February 21st.
In East League business,Division 1 has split into a top 3 and bottom 3 situation, the top 3 at least 5 points ahead of the basement stragglers.
Buckie’s Alan Campbell still sits atop following a 13-3 demolition of Mike McDonald’s Forres rink.
Andy Cameron’s Aberlour team remain a couple of points behind Campbell,a count of 5 at the third end easing the Speysiders to a comfortable win over a short handed Tennis Club team.
Charlie Watt jnr kept his Forres team in the hunt with an 8-4 win over Wilson Burnett.The game was keenly contested, a Forres count of 4 at the fourth end together with some missed opportunities by the Fochabers lads allowing Watt to remain in the Division’s top trio.
In Division 2 Bob Stewart was a player short due to the wintry road conditions and despite a count of 4 shots to level things up after 4 ends,the Elgin team ran out of steam to allow the Sunninghill Mob their 9-4 victory.
- Fathers, Sons and Bunnets
There were three fathers and sons on the early session ice this week and the fortunes of each family were much varied. Clan Cameron’s Andy and Gavin gave their opponents a fair dusting , Burnetts Wilson and Gary got fair dusted while Steve and son Fraser Rankin had arranged to be safely separated by the width of an empty sheet of ice.
It was business as usual for Alan Campbell’s rink this week in the Moray Province Curling League. On ice that you might as well have asked Stevie Wonder to read, the first 4 ends were somewhat akin to a pre concert sound check with a 1,2 1,2 count for the Buckie team before Burnett managed to open his account with a solid pick up of 3 shots. Single shots exchanged over the last 2 ends gave Campbell his 7-4 win and maintained his 100% league record in a game that in all honesty was never as close as the final score might suggest.
It must have been early bath night in the MacDonald household as the Forres skip shook hands and was heading West well before the sound of the final end bell. Perhaps this wasn’t such a surprise as first thought,as the scoreboard took on the look of Andy Cameron’s phone number with the Aberlour team running up 14 shots to a solitary Forres counter.
Division 2 is the tightest of races, with the top 5 teams separated by just a single point.
Despite a loss to Owen Watson’s Juniors, Sunninghill are still League leaders. With both teams under the guidance of nominated skips, it was Ben Rankin who gained the plaudits with his team never behind , a count of 4 in the last end putting the cherry on the top of his curling cake in a 9-4 victory.
Bob Stewart is a man who looks as if his bunnet is grafted to his napper. Rarely seen bare headed, the rumour is that the grafted headgear once hid a luxuriant ginger Afro. Last season’s Darnaway skipper Eddie Milne,now Alan Douglas’s lead player on the other hand, is bald as a marble,his preferred dome covering giving him the look of a genial seasonal Gnome. In the Division 2 battle of the Bunnets, Stewart inflicted further pain on Douglas’s Darnaway rink with their own 9-4 win.The Darnaway lads are yet to pick up a League point and could only score 4 single shots as their Elgin opponents racked up a 3 and 3 doubles .
A single game in the West saw Nairn’s Gus Forbes pull level on points with Fiona Steel in Division 2 after a 5-3 win.
- Marquee Week For Gault
Congratulations to Aberlour curler Jim Gault, who, fresh from winning the National Pairs Championship in Kinross at the weekend, maintained his 100% record in the Moray East Province League Division 3 with a big 9-1 win over Linda Hardie. The Forres team’s only counter came sandwiched between a 4 shot deficit after 3 ends and an additional 4 shots lost over the last 3 ends.
Elgin Curling Club colleagues Helen Downey and Andrew Allardyce always seem to be involved in the tightest of Derby clashes and this latest one was no exception. 3-0 ahead after the opening 2 ends, Allardyce was pinned back to 3-2 before forging ahead again to a healthy 7-2 lead after 5 ends. The doughty Downey however, came bouncing back and a deuce and then a sensational 3 shot steal at the last end was enough for handshakes to be exchanged with honours even. Interestingly ,Downey’s lead player Callum Buchan tells me that in another life, he once finished runner up in Britain’s Got Talent and only just failed to make the Final Cut for Boyzone.
Katie Gordon and her Moray Juniors gave Janice Rankin’s Ladies a bit of a lesson , racing to a 6-0 lead after 4 ends before stand in Ladies’ skip Julie Stewart took her team in hand closing to 6-4 going into the last end. Katie kept cool though, and used her hammer advantage to perfection to score a single shot for a very well played win.
Newcomer Steve Field and his Gateway Club rink have hit the top of Division 4 and his win over Buckie’s Jim Walls was down to an excellent start , scoring at each of the first 3 ends to lead 5-0. A loss of 3 in the fourth merely put a small dent in the Field machine as the Gateway gang racked up counts in all of the next 4 ends for a big 10-3 victory.
In the other Division 3 Gateway versus Buckie game, the spoils were reversed as Sandy Howie skipped Jodie Best’s rink to a close win over John Key’s Gateway team. Sandy is of course Moray’s premier fishing correspondent but despite this remains a cheerful character and ,if he was knitted,would be everyone’s favourite Teddy Bear. Meanwhile, back on the ice, the game’s only deuce and a single steal were enough to see the Buckie team take both points in a very tightly contested game.
In the West of the Province Mark Fraser has leapfrogged to the top of Division 1 after a comprehensive 10-2 win over Larry Kerr.
Master baker Ali Asher kept his Nairn team in contention with a solid win over clubmate Mike McInnes. Never behind, the pieman’s counts of 3 in the third and then 3 again in the final end left MacInnes scrabbling for the crumbs in a 9-3 defeat.
In Division 2, Jamie Cattell lies on top of the pile after his 9-5 win over Gus Forbes. Despite losing the ends won count 4 to 3, Cattell’s scores of 3 in the second and 4 in the fourth were enough to overcome his Nairn opponent.
Ricky Marwick’s greater experience was enough to turn the tables on Ernie Nicholson, as , despite finding himself 5-0 down after 3 ends, the former rallied to force victory from the jaws of defeat scoring all his 7 shots in the final 4 ends of a veritable “ game of two halves”.
Fiona Steel kept her promotion hopes high with a good win over Ian Thomson’s Dalcross rink. Tied 2-2 after 3 ends, the Ladies never lost another shot and consecutive counts in the last 3 ends gave them their 7-2 win.
- Campbell Climbs to Summit.
There was a full curling programme this week at Moray Leisure Centre in the Moray Province East League. After the season’s third round of fixtures only 2 teams in the Province have unblemished records. Jim Gault’s Aberlour rink and Alan Campbell’s Buckie team.
In a rearranged Division 3 game, the experience of Gault and co was just a bit too much for Katie Gordon’s Juniors whose first end single shot was their only counter in a 15-1 defeat.
In Division 1 , Campbell found himself behind after an uncharacteristic loss of 4 shots in the second end, but consecutive counts of 3 and then 4 took the Buckie outfit clear and a further deuce in the sixth was enough for a table topping 10-6 win. With their best team out, the Campbell rink are extremely strong right through the rink with Rutzler and Seton at the front end and skip Campell always reliable at third. Fourth player Steve Rankin is as energetic as a squirrel on speed and his experience in top quality curling is a further intimidating factor for most opponents. McPherson’s Tennis team are always steady and give most teams a decent run for their money. The normally sartorial Roy Thomson was uncharacteristically nervous this week as he constantly seemed to be changing his attire. Starting in red, he had changed to grey by the third end and had also removed his bunnet, perhaps conscious of the fact that when he stood next to lead player Martin Brown, the pair of them strongly resembled a pair of forest dwelling elfin twins . Second player Colin Anderson and Dave McPherson meanwhile clearly buy their garb from Scarecrow.com.
Charlie Watt jnr got back to familiar winning ways albeit with a touch of good fortune as opponent Andy Cameron’s attempted last stone inturn draw just fell out to rub off Watt’s back 8 foot counter and give the Forres team a 2 shot steal to leapfrog to a 7-6 victory.
Wilson Burnett and Mike McDonald shook hands on a 6-6 draw. 4 ends apiece and a mirror image scoreboard showing a 3 and 3 single shots was a fair reflection of a hard fought contest.
In Division 2, Sunninghill are setting the pace after skip Angus Gunn steered the hotel based team to a comprehensive victory over Darnaway’s Alan Douglas. Douglas’ last end 3 was scant consolation after a miserable mid game slump, as Gunn picked up 10 of his counters between ends four and seven.
In the absence of Alan Durno, currently standing in as a Sean Ryder lookalike in the Happy Mondays reunion tour ,Mike Watt skipped his Fochabers rink to a convincing win over Bob Stewart. Mid match counts of 4 and 3 then 2 single steals were enough to keep team Durno in the mix at the upper end of the Division.
Durno’s old Fochabers mucker Abby Duncan found himself 4-0 behind after 2 ends as last week’s Province Points winner Owen Watson’s good form continued, but a count of 4 in the third end and then a 3 shot steal put Duncan back on track. The teams were tied at 7 apiece going down the last, but , holding the hammer, the Fochabers skip’s vast experience came to the fore as he eased his team to a 9-7 win with a count of 2 .
- Watson Wins on Points
Moray Juniors were well represented on the podium in this week’s playing of the Moray Province Points competition. After 9 rounds of specified individual curling shots, Owen Watson picked up the Heather Little Trophy with a clear 2 point lead over runner up Ardclach’s evergreen Neil Campbell. Gwyn Edwards finished in third spot and thus was the night’s leading lady curler. Owen became the first Junior to win the Moray Province Points competition and both he and Gwyn are an absolute credit to the Moray Junior Club and its dedicated coaches.
Meanwhile , on Division 2 League business Alan Durno was a big winner over Darnaway’s Alan Douglas. Douglas picked up his consolation shot at the last end as the Fochabers’ team dominated the contest right from the off.
In Division 3 Janice Rankin’s Ladies retained their 100% record as stand in skip Julie Stewart steered her rink to a convincing 8-3 victory. 5-1 ahead after 4 ends, Helen clawed back a couple of single shots before the Ladies pulled away again to pocket both points.
Linda Hardie and Andrew Allardyce had a terrific scrap with the scoreboard showing exclusive counts of just single shots. The wily Allardyce had collected 3 of them before the Forres girls opened their own account and then just held on at the final end to pip Hardie by the odd shot in 7.
Jim Walls started like a train in his Division 4 game with John Key winning the first 5 ends to lead 8-0. He then somewhat hit the buffers losing a 4 as stand in Gateway skip Cameron Smith brought his team back into the contest. It was too little too late though as Walls closed out the game with a last end single and a 9-4 win
Moray Province Points
1st O. Watson ( Moray Juniors) 33 points
2nd N. Campbell (Ardclach) 31 points
3rd G. Edwards ( Moray Juniors) 28 points
- Campbell Edges Ahead In The East
Alan Campbell and his Buckie rink are 2 for 2 in the Moray Province East Division 1 League after a comprehensive win over Forres’s Charlie Watt jnr. Watt’s post game expression was one of bewilderment , reflective of a team unused to losing after serial seasons of League promotion victories . 2 single scoring ends against 2 deuces and 2 big counts of 4 against, were the cause of the Forres skip’s demeanour after a 13-2 drubbing.
Not so bewildered but just about as heavily defeated, Wilson Burnett shook hands with Andy Cameron on a 12-4 defeat. Cameron’s Aberlour are last season’s Division 1 champs and their class showed as front end John Sharpe , despite sporting more bandages than King Tut and the ever elegant Lilia Clarke repeatedly set up third player Gavin and Andy Cameron to race to a 6-0 lead after 4 ends. Burnett and co were never at the races and in particular,their lead player could have have been outplayed by a half chewed bannock. Virtually their only highlight was a well played hack weight take out through a narrow port which gave the Fochabers’ skip a consolation 3 at the penultimate end.
The game of the night was undoubtedly the ding dong battle between Mike McDonald and Dave McPherson. 5 apiece going into the final end, the Forres team had a good counter pretty well protected and held last stone advantage. Tennis Club skip Roy Thomson just failed to get to the shot stone and McDonald breathed a sigh of relief to edge to his 6-5 win.
Owen Watson’s Juniors played twice in the week, winning a rearranged match against Alan Durno 10-4 but then losing a very tight game against Bob Stewart in a nail biting contest of 8 single shot scores. A single steal for Stewart in the fourth end and another single steal at the seventh was enough for the experienced Elgin outfit to notch up their victory.
In Watson’s win over the Durno deputising Mike Watt, a 5 shot pick up in the opening end set the Juniors up and running before Watt and co came right back into the contest to win the next 3 ends and trail by just a single shot. That however, was the high water mark for the Fochabers’ rink as Watson then cleaned up the last 3 ends for a terrific 10-4 victory.
Abby Duncan and Donald Ross took a point each after a gripping 6-6 draw. 3-0 ahead after 2 ends, the Fochabers’ lads then gave up a 4 but went into the final end 6-5 leaders. Sunninghill skip Angus Gunn is not a man to get easily spooked however and with last stone advantage got the single he needed to leave the ice with his share of the points.
Next Tuesday 14th November sees the playing of the delayed 2023 Moray Province Points competition when each Province Club can nominate 2 members to compete for the Heather Little Trophy,an individual, skill based throwing of a set of pre determined curling shots .
- Fine Week for Juniors
The Moray Province Curling season resumed after the October holiday break with a full Division 3 and Division 4 programme and what a fine pair of results it was for the 2 Moray Juniors’ rinks. Katie Gordon notched up her second win of the campaign with a very tight win over the Forres rink of Linda Hardie. The Forres girls edged ahead to lead 3-2 after 3 ends but Katie’s team held firm and 3 single end pickups were just enough for the Juniors to hold out for an excellent 5-4 victory. Juniors’ mentor Janice Rankin and her strong Moray Firth Ladies also made it a brace of current season wins , overwhelming Andrew Allardyce’s Elgin crew. The Ladies were imperious in the first 4 ends and led 8-0 before their Elgin opponents managed to make a scoreboard entry with a deuce and then a single steal. A last end single shot gave the Ladies an impressive looking 9-3 win. Jim Gault’s Aberlour made it 3 teams with full points in a crushing 13-2 win over Helen Downey. To rub in further salt, the Elgin team’s 2 shots were gathered off the ice as penalty shots rather than hard won on the ice sheet.
In Division 4, Gemma Forgie made it a winning double for the Junior Club as her rink of Robert Macandie,Isla Ure and Erin Bryceland gave John Key’s Gateway team a harsh lesson , scoring at every end in an 11-0 victory. Credit must be given to both these teams who are both new to competitive curling and who are very quickly learning the game .
In the Buckie club derby, bragging rights were grabbed by the Jim Walls as his slightly more experienced team overcame Jodi Best with a fine 9-1 victory. Jodi picked up her only score in the fifth end and a final end 3 was the cherry on the top of the Walls’ cake to propel his team to the top of Division 4.
- OPENING SALVOES FIRED IN DIVISIONS 1 AND 2
The top two Divisions in Moray Province East kicked off this week with a loss for defending Division 1 champions Andy Cameron’s Aberlour rink who went down in straight sets to Elgin Tennis Club. In the absence of skip Andy, son Gavin was in command , but the Speysiders could only count 3 single shots as the Tennis lads , under the control of the smartly dressed Roy Thomson started strongly with a count of 3 in the opening end to ease away to a 7-3 win.
Alan Campbell, looking like a mobile advertising hoarding in his Canadian curling jacket,eventually overcame stand in skip Greg Stephen in the Buckie versus Forres clash. A neat looking scorecard showed 5 counts of 2 and It was 6 apiece after 6 ends then 8-6 for Campbell as they went into the final end with the Forres team holding the hammer. A clutch of short stones gave skip Campbell the chance to play a perfect in turn draw round the cover to lie shot, leaving Stephen nothing but a Hail Mary. The Forres skip nearly pulled off an angled wick off his own outside stone but just slid across the top of his opponent’s counter to lose a wonderful match 10-6.
If you fancy a flutter on a dark horse for the title, then how about putting a shilling on serial promotion man Charlie Watt jnr? The Forres man was always ahead against Wilson Burnett’s Fochabers’ rink. A well thought out last stone double takeout and lie in the third end gave the Forres team a count of 5 and a perfectly played last 2 stones gave him another count of 3 in the sixth end to put the polish on an 11-5 victory.
It was Sweet Sixteen for Sunninghill as Angus Gunn ( neither sweet nor sixteen) skipped the Donald Ross rink to a big win over Bob Stewart’s Elgin team. Stewart was another Skip absentee and a loss of 6 in the fifth end and 3 counts of 3 against , made up the bulk of his Elgin team’s 16-5 defeat.
It was good to see Abby Duncan back on the ice after missing all of last season and the vastly experienced Fochabers’ gunslinger ensured his team picked up counts at 6 of the 8 ends played as the village people opened their league campaign with a 7-2 win over Darnaway’s Alan Douglas.
Any aching curling muscles now get a chance for recovery as we slide into the Tattie Holiday recess.
- New Brooms in Season Opener
As the leaves turn and think about dropping, the new Moray Province Curling season commenced with the addition of 4 new teams across the Province. In the West second Division Ernie Nicholson’s Dalcross rink had some baptism of fire in a 14-1 loss to Gus Forbes whilst Fiona Steel’s experienced Nairn Ladies came from a 4-0 deficit to overtake Ricky Marwick in an 8-4 victory. In the Division 2 Dalcross Derby Jamie Cattell came out on top with a solid 11-5 win over clubmate Ian Thomson .
In West Division 1 there was a comprehensive demolition of Ally Fraser’s champion’s rink as namesake Mark shut out the title favourites in an 8-0 drubbing and Larry Kerr overcame club colleague Ali Asher in a 7-1 win.
In the East, Janice Rankin’s promoted Moray Firth Ladies continued where they left off last season, scoring at each of the first 5 ends before Forres’s Linda Hardie picked up a consolation 3 at the last end. Jim Gault and his strong Aberlour outfit were too streetwise for Andrew Allardyce with 3 counts of 2 shots as the Elgin rink could only reply with singles at each of their 3 scoring ends. Katie Gordon’s Juniors gave the battle hardened Elgin rink of Helen Downey a lesson, leading 6-1 after 5 ends before Helen picked up a couple of singles in her 6-3 loss
In Division 4 there are a total of 3 new teams including 2 from the Moray Gateway Club.
This is basically a club for new curlers who meet for coaching every Tuesday at Moray Leisure Centre and have entered the Province League for a taste of competitive curling.
These 2 sets of newcomers fought out a club derby this week and it was a case of the pupil beating the Master as Steve Field’s team got one over on Gateway organiser and coach John Key. Steve and co must have been cock- a – hoop to lead 5-0 after 3 ends before John picked up a 3 at the last end to put a less bitter hue on the scoreline.
Next week there will be an opportunity for all those interested in having a go , to attend a Try Curling session at Moray Leisure Centre and a phone call to M.L.C is all that is required to book a place.
- Minutes of Moray Province AGM 3 May 2023.docx
- Minutes of Moray Province AGM 3 May 2023.docx
- MP match secy report 2022-23.docx
- Moray Province Presidents Report for Season 2022-23.docx
- MP match secy report 2022-23.docx
- Moray Province Presidents Report for Season 2022-23.docx
- Moray Province Accounts 26Apr23.pdf
- Moray Province Accounts 26Apr23.pdf
- MPCDG AGM minutes 2023.pdf
- MPCDG AGM minutes 2023.pdf
- 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.
- STRATHCONA CUP TOUR
(MEN’S TOUR, SCOTLAND TO CANADA) 11th Jan to 4th Feb 2023.
Curling Canada extended an invitation for sixty (60) male curlers to tour Canada as their guests for approximately three weeks in January 2023 to compete in the Strathcona Cup, one of the oldest international curling competitions in the world.
The Tourists will be split into three tours known simply as the East Tour, The West Tour and The Central Tour, they will be led by R.C.C.C President Mike Ferguson, the Non-Playing Tour Captain (Edzell C.C.)
Before going into further detail I will bring to your notice Moray Province (Area 13) have two well kent faces going on this tour and both are well-deserved, Tom Pendreigh Dalcross C.C. for many reasons and typically taking on a admin position as Third Tour Captain, the other being Alan Campbell (Buckie CC) for when he was younger and put a lot of time and effort into coaching. (I hear a rumour he is retiring so maybe Moray will benefit from his coaching abilities) although he is getting involved with umpiring I can’t see the two clashing. He is going to have a busy tour being Second tour Secretary.
Rather than selecting bits and pieces regarding the Tourists and the Hosts I will put the link to both their websites and then you can take on board by reading all the detailed preparation required for such an event and keep track of what’s going on when and where throughout the tour.
Canadian website: http://www.strathconacup.ca/
Scotland website: http://sct2023.scot
- Try Curling @ Moray Leisure Centre
? Try Curling at Moray Leisure Centre! ?
There is a great curling community here at Moray Leisure Centre with qualified coaches ready to show you the ropes!
We will be holding regular Try Curling sessions for people age 8+ throughout January & February
£5 per session
? DATES & TIMES
Tues 17th Jan 14:00 – 16:00
Tues 17th Jan 18:30 – 20:30
Tues 31st Jan 14:00 – 16:00
Tues 31st Jan 18:30 – 20:30
Tues 7th Feb 14:00 – 16:00
Tues 7th Feb 18:30 – 20:30
? HOW TO BOOK
Visit this link ? www.morayleisurecentre.com/try-curling
All equipment is supplied including brushes and sliders. All you need is warm, loose fitting clothing and clean, flat, rubber soled shoes (trainers are ideal) to change into for curling. Delivery sticks allow stones to be delivered from a standing position or wheelchair and are available for those with mobility issues.
- 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.
- 2nd round ties were played on Monday 24th October
Dave Macpherson’s team came up against last years winners team Campbell, a tight and close affair was likely and this proved to be the case.
The Campbell unit taking 3 shots in the final end to run out winners 6 shots to 4.
Wilson Burnett’s team got of to the best possible of starts taking the first 5 ends from the Wylde team, the Wyld’s team picking up 2 out of the last 3 ends suggesting more to come from this team in the upcoming games. Final score 13 / 2 to Burnett.
The Govan v Nicol game, two seasoned foursomes was a very close game with it again being a tie that went to the last end.
Gavin’s team picking up a two to run out winners by the narrow margin of 6 shots to 4.
Andy Cameron continued his good early season form with a hard fought 6 shots to 3 win against Greg Stephen’s unit, steals in the 2nd 4th and 5th ends being key.
Donald Ross’s team held their nerve with against a very spirited Howie team the tightest game of the evening saw the Ross team hang on for a valuable win by 6 shots to 5.
- Games played 3/10/22
After the postponement of the first draw in this years Superleague play got underway a couple of weeks ago.
The Wilson Burnett v Donald Ross pinched/used an old football line in this being a game of two halves.
The Burnett team started super hot out of the blocks and raced to a 6/0 lead only to see this gradually pegged back by the Ross foursome with the end result being an honourable peel 6 shots a piece.
Game two, Gavin Nicol versus Cameron was always going to be a tight and be a hard fought game. So it proved with Andy Cameron using the hammer in the last end to great advantage to come away with 7 shots to 5 victory. ( good to see 8 ends being played!)
Govan versus Howie saw Sandy’s unit struggle to get onto the board until the 5th end, they were already 6 down but a good end of 3 for them closed the game up significantly. The Govan team closed out the game over the next two ends to come out winners 9 shots to 3.
The talented Moray junior rink of Owen Watson had a tough night coming up against a very much in form Greig Stephen foursome, they will bounce back strongly for sure but ended the night on the wrong end of a 3 / 8 defeat. Well dome guys another 8 end game!!
The last tie of the night was another game decided on the last end with the Sunninghill team scoring a 3 to come away with a 6 shots to 4 win against Alastair Wood.
- 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.