National Virtual Club Bonspiel 2013
On Saturday the 2nd March, 16 teams from Eight Virtual Curling clubs, from all parts of Scotland met at Braehead to take part in The National Virtual Club Bonspiel 2013. Teams were already arriving by 7.30am and some of the furthest away teams had booked into a hotel the night before.
All teams taking part had to report by 8.15am but this was like no other bonspiel as players met up with opposition players from last year and even at 8am in the morning it was more like an old pal’s reunion. The leisure manager Bruce Harley opened the proceedings by stating how vital the Virtual club concept was to the future of Scottish Curling and he was delighted to have the bonspiel at Braehead for the 1st time. The chief umpire for the Day, Robin Turner, covered the main points of the format and rules and then it was onto the ice. All sixteen teams played two four end games in the morning and the Top 8 then proceeded to a high road section while the bottom 8 went into the low road section. All teams then played a further Two five end games in the afternoon using the Schenkel system. This meant that all teams would play 18 ends of curling and every player would deliver 36 stones and unless you were a skip, there was a lot of sweeping to be done. The quality and standard of curling throughout the day by all teams was excellent and it was hard to belief that everyone on the ice had only taking up curling over the last 2 or 3 years.
Once the dust had settled The top 2 teams in the Low road, with 4 points each and both with 6 ends were The Fife “2” team, which contained 3 youngsters, and The Braehead “3” team. A very close game ended up a draw on 4 shots each but as the Fife team had scored in 3 ends it meant that they won the Low road. However, all teams taking part scored at least one point and even the team in 8th place scored 10 shots through the day.
Only 2 teams, Kinross “1” and Braehead “1” in the high road were unbeaten after 3 games, which meant they would be playing each other in what would be a “Virtual” final. Kinross with 2 more ends were the slight favourites as they would only require a draw to win the competition. Several of the low road teams stayed on to watch the final and along with other Braehead Virtual members, both old and new meant a packed house behind the glass. The final turned out to be a game of incredible high standard by both teams and all the players taking part.
The Braehead team of Samantha Dale, Ian Watson, Robin dale and skip Chris Anderson threw down the gauntlet by picking up a one at the 1st end. Kinross scored a one in the second then stole a one in the 3rd end to go one in front after 3 ends. Spectators behind the glass were amazed at the incredible high standard now being played by all the players in each team with lead stones just short of the house and 2nds drawing in or tapping in their own stones. The 3rds were playing through gaps or coming round guards to lie shot and the Skips kept matching each other stone for stone. However in the 4th end it looked like Kinross was going to steal a two as an early stone just to the back of the 4ft was followed by a guard just short of the 4ft as Braehead tried to find a way round the guard stones at the front of the house. The Kinross skip played a perfect guard stone just clearing the hog line which left Chris with an extremely difficult raised tap on a corner stone. Well who would have believed it as Chris played the shot of the day to tap the stone at just the right weight and angle, and to the cheers of the Braehead supporters, it ended up lying right on the pot lid and against the Kinross stone. Typical of the day was the praise given by the Kinross supporters.
Well it was all to play for in the final end but Kinross had the last stone advantage. Once more stones were finishing exactly where the skips wanted and by the time it came to Chris to play his last stone the lead had changed several times. However, Kinross were now lying 2 shots on either side of the 4 foot, with guard stones out in front. There was just enough room for Chris to try a double take out but this was more like an Eve Muirhead or a David Murdoch shot. However, what an attempt by Chris, and as his stone came down the ice Robin Dale at 3rd called on the sweepers who managed to hold the stone on the centre line. It struck the target stone almost perfect but it just missed the other stone by a matter of inches. There was no need to play the last stone so it was handshakes and hugs all round by both teams.
Norman Cathcart, The RCCC local representative gave a short history of the Virtual club and how it all started at Braehead. He explained that One of the main driving forces was Yvonne Chalmers who was supported by Judith McFarlane, who was the CDO at the time and of course Norman Himself. Norman and his wife Margaret still come along to Braehead to provide regular coaching sessions. Yvonne had accepted the kind invitation of the current committee to come along on the day to present the prizes.
Report and photo by David Horne, CDO