Braehead win The National Virtual Club Challenge
The National Virtual Club Challenge took place at Intu Braehaead Curling Rink on Saturday 29th March. The competition, now in its Fifth year, was formerly known as The National Virtual Bonspiel but was renamed following the generous gift of a new trophy and prizes from Kays of Scotland. Also supporting this year’s event was sponsors George Leslie Ltd, Civil Engineering Contractors.
During this season the number of Virtual clubs throughout Scotland rose from 9 to 12 with Ayr, East Kilbride and The Waterfront in Greenock joining the ranks. There was 24 teams taking part in the competition and it was great to see all 12 clubs represented this year, with teams travelling from as far away as Inverness and The Scottish Borders. Bruce Harley, Intu Braehead leisure manager, was delighted to welcome all teams and the various clubs to the competition.
Teams were put into two sections of twelve teams and had to play four four end games using a modified schenkle system. The first two games had been pre drawn while the following games were based on rankings, meaning that you had to keep winning to move up the table.
After the dust had settled Braehead 1 were top of Section A on seven points but only by scoring one more end than Braehead 2 who were also on seven points. These teams were closely followed by Kinross 2 and Lockerbie who were both on six points.
It was more clear-cut in section B, where Braehead 2 had won all four games to sit on the top of the section with eight points. Stirling, Highland 2 and Braehead 4 were all on six points but Stirling took the 2nd spot having scored more ends and shots than the other two.
The top team in each section then played each other to decide the overall winner.The teams in second spot also played each other to decide the 3rd and 4th places. As a result the final was between Two Braehead teams and the 3rd and 4th place play off was between another Braehead team and the Virtual team from Stirling.
The next six teams in each section also went back on the ice to play in a friendly three end game. This meant that the top 8 teams in each section had played a total of 19 or 20 ends of curling throughout the day. The other four teams in each section did not get another game but were encouraged to stay on to watch the final.
The East Kilbride Virtual club which was only formed a few weeks ago had managed to get two teams out to take part in the competition. Although both teams are fairly new to the sport and found the going tough they did manage to score a total of 13 shots and win 9 ends between them and East Kilbride 2 even managed a draw in one of the games.
The Edinburgh 3 team who travelled through with only three players, as the result of a late call off due to illness, did not manage to win a game but still enjoyed their day despite all the sweeping they had to do. They were delighted to pick up special prizes for all their efforts and hard work and for the smiling faces throughout the competition. Well done to all three teams for taking part and good luck next year.
The game for 3rd and 4th went all the way to the last end and Braehead 3 were ahead by 2 shots going into the last end but against the hammer. Stirling were lying one shot but it was almost impossible for skip Mike Gellatly to score a second shot as Braehead kept putting up guards. As a result Braehead 3 skipped by Glenn Nash finished in the 3rd place.
The two Braehead teams playing for the new Challenge trophy were Braehead 1, skipped by Kirsty Meikle and including Gordon Whitelaw at 3rd, Maragret MacAulay at 2nd and lead Madeline Sharp. The other Braehead team was skipped by Eleaner McDougal, with David Shanks at 3rd, Alan Barker at 2nd and Tim Tindall at lead.
Kirsty’s teams scored a two at the 1st end but Eleanor’s team came back with a one at the 2nd end. The deciding end turned out to be the 3rd end when Eleanor’s team were lying four shots with only three stones to play in the end. Kirsty’s 1st attempt to draw into the house through the gap, between the 2nd and 3rd stone, to sit on the lying stone beyond the T Line, drew a lot at the end to miss the lying shot and ended up at the back of the 12 foot.
With Eleanor’s team were still lying four shots, she attempted to put up a guard stone, but it drew too much and left Kirsty with another chance. This was to be the shot of the day, as Kirsty took slightly wider ice and watched her stone draw through the gap to nudge the lying stone back, her own stone rolling to the right and claiming the shot to go back in front by two shots. Eleanor’s team tried everything in the last end to get the two they needed to take the game to an extra end but some excellent guard stones prevented them the chance and Kirsty’s team were announced the winners.
Sheila Swan, National Curling Development manager, presented the prizes and commented on the high quality and standard of curling, despite that fact that there were so many relevant beginners on the ice. She reiterated the fact that it was terrific that all the Virtual clubs were represented at the event and congratulated the finalists and all the teams for taking part.
Thanks go to Kay’s of Scotland and this year’s main sponsors George Leslie Ltd, Civil Engineering Contractors.
Report and photo by David Horne, Braehead CDO
Pictured Sheila Swan presenting the New National Virtual Club Challenge trophy to the winners;- (left to right) – Madeline Sharp, Margaret MacAulay, Kirtsy Meikle and Gordon Whitelaw.