Weekend Roundup 17-19 October

I am out of the country from tomorrow so I thought I’d get in a roundup of this weekend’s action before I go.

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The European Playdowns in Perth proved to be very exciting and we now know which teams will be representing Scotland in Champéry, Switzerland at the end of next month.

The women’s event was won by Eve Muirhead after she won all four round-robin games and then beat Lauren Gray twice in the final round to secure her team’s place at the Europeans.

Hannah Fleming’s team lost all their games in Perth – not something we are used to seeing from the young skip.

The men’s competition, meanwhile, went right to the wire after David Murdoch qualified from the round-robin alongside David Edwards, the latter needing a tie-breaker against Tom Brewster on Saturday afternoon.

So the best-of-three final was between David Murdoch and David Edwards and it was Edwards who won the first game 6-4 before Murdoch took the event to a deciding game with a 5-4 victory on Sunday morning. The teams met for the crucial decider in the afternoon and it was 6-6 after ten ends meaning the place in Switzerland would come down to an extra-end, Murdoch with hammer.

Sensationally, Team Edwards stole a two against Team GB’s Winter Olympic Skip from Sochi and earned themselves a well-deserved place at the upcoming European Championships – well done boys!

All the scores are here and you can read a report with pictures of the winning teams here.

The European Junior Curling Tour was in Oslo, Norway this weekend for the International Junior Bonspiel.

All four teams from the Royal Caledonian Curling Club’s Academy were in attendance – that’s rinks skipped by Cameron Bryce, Robin Brydone, Karina Aitken and Katie Murray.

Twelve junior men’s and fifteen junior women’s teams from Norway, Russia, Switzerland, Germany, Italy and Sweden were taking part alongside the Scottish representatives.

Despite Karina Aitken scoring a seven in one of her team’s games it was Katie Murray and Robin Brydone who managed to make the quarter-finals – Karina missed out in a tie-breaker.

Ultimately the quarter-finals proved to be as far as any of the Scottish teams would go but great to see them making the latter stages of these tournaments. Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller took the junior men’s title while Isabella Wranå of Sweden won the junior women’s tournament.

Full results are here.

Finally, Kyle Smith and his team are in Canada just now for the World Curling Tour’s Canad Inns Men’s Classic in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba.

As I type, they are fighting to stay in the tournament against Reid Carruthers of Winnipeg – watch this space to find out how they get on.

Event scores and lineups are here.

Images are © WCF, CCT and WCT

European Qualifiers Underway In Perth

Scotland will be sending two teams to this season’s European Curling Championships in Champéry, Switzerland at the end of November – one men’s team and one women’s team.

With that in mind, the European Playdowns are currently underway at the Dewars Centre, Perth to determine which teams will become Team Scotland for the trip to Switzerland.

Play got underway on Thursday 16 and will conclude on Sunday 19.

Four men’s and three women’s teams are in attendance and expect the competition to be fierce as we have Tom Brewster, David Edwards, Ewan MacDonald and David Murdoch in the men’s draw and Hannah Fleming, Lauren Gray and Eve Muirhead in the women’s.

Full team lineups can be found here.

The format of play is a double round-robin with a best-of-three final for both men and women. Entry is free so get along to Perth if you can to catch the action.

There have been six games so far and all but one of them have been won by just one or two points – David Murdoch and Eve Muirhead are the only undefeated skips going into Day 2.

You can follow all the scores here.

Image is © WCF

Weekend Roundup 10-12 October

There was plenty going on both at home and abroad last weekend but before I come to my roundup some of you may be aware that the ice rink at The Peak in Stirling (above) is currently closed after cracks were discovered in the wall.

If you weren’t already aware of the issue then you can read more about the closure here on the RCCC’s website, here on the BBC and here on the Active Stirling site.

The Peak is without doubt one of the finest facilities we have in Scotland and it is where our top curlers spend a great deal of time training so I hope that we will see the rink up and running again as soon as possible.

A post on the Scottish Curling Forum suggests that Waterfront in Greenock is also without curling at the moment – let’s hope local curlers from both parts of the country can get back on the ice again soon.

So, back to the recent action.

Basel, Switzerland was hosting the latest event on the Curling Champions Tour, the Women’s Masters.

Teams from nine European countries and one from the USA were competing in the ninth edition of this tournament and three Scottish teams featured in the lineup – Teams Muirhead, Fleming and Gray.

Happily, all three teams made the quarter-finals where Eve Muirhead was rewarded with an all-Scottish tie against Hannah Fleming while Lauren Gray faced Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni.

Team Gray were unable to see off the Swiss team and missed out on the chance to face the winners of the Muirhead v. Fleming clash in the semis. As it was, Team Muirhead faced Tirinzoni in the last four but lost out 8-5.

The three Scottish teams won an impressive fourteen games between them over the weekend, only losing seven – our women’s teams would appear to be in good shape just now.

The event was ultimately won by Binia Feltscher and her World Champions in an all-Swiss final against Silvana Tirinzoni.

For all the scores check out the event website.

The Curling Champions Tour’s junior competition, the European Junior Curling Tour, was in Härnösand, Sweden for the Livechannel Cup and two Scottish teams were playing in this one as well – our teams really are getting around this season aren’t they?

Gina Aitken had her team of Naomi Brown, Rowena Kerr and Rachel Hannen in Sweden while Stuart Taylor was there with Ross Fraser, Bobby Lammie, Gregor Cannon and Alasdair Schreiber.

Team Taylor won all five of their group games which earned them a semi-final spot against Sweden’s Team Zip-Up(!) which they lost 7-6 after an extra-end.

The junior men’s competition was won by Norway’s Gaute Nepstad while Team Taylor lost the bronze game 7-2 to Sweden’s Team Riteice.

Gina Aitken’s team won all three group games which also got them a semi-final spot where they won 5-3 against Team Byman from Sweden. They then faced Sweden’s Team Rilea in the final which you can watch in full here.

As you can see (if you watch until the end) the girls lost out 6-4 to the Swedes but should be very proud of their performance – that’s first place and second place so far on the EJCT.

All the scores are here.

Stranraer was hosting the Scottish Senior Mixed Curling Championship over the weekend – the first national championship of the season.

Archie Craig and his team of Marion Craig, Robin Aitken and Yvonne Aitken won the event after beating Jim Cannon’s team 4-3 despite being 3-1 down with two ends to play – Robin Aitken was injured for the final and was replaced by David Hardie.

All the scores are here and a report is here.

The National Super League Finals were being played at Forfar and more information about the event was available here.

Dundee 1 (Cameron Bryce, Frazer Shaw, Callum Macfarlane and David Jones) beat Forfar 2 skipped by Duncan Menzies in the final.

Finally, Aberdeen was hosting the first of this season’s Under 14 Slam events on Saturday.

The final saw James Craik’s team taking on Lisa Davie and it was Team Craik who came out on top 5-3 after an extra-end.

A full report is here.

Photo is © Ted Edmunds 2011
Images are © CCT and RCCC

Zoetermeer Roundup

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Saturday saw the final games at the European Curling Championships ‘C’ Group in Zoetermeer.

When I last wrote about the competition, Ireland’s women were struggling on no wins and three losses but, happily, they did not go home winless as they won their last game of the week against Romania 7-6 – the final round-robin table looked like this:

1. Slovakia (6-0)
2. Netherlands (4-2)
2. Spain (4-2)
4. Slovenia (3-3)
5. Croatia (2-4)
6. Ireland (1-5)
7. Romania (1-5)

This meant that Slovakia played the Netherlands in the 1v2 game and it was the Netherlands who came out on top 8-5 after an extra-end, winning the gold medal and gaining promotion to the ‘B’ group.

Spain saw off Slovenia 8-4 in the 3v4 meaning it was Spain v. Slovakia for the silver medal and the remaining spot in the ‘B’ group. This time Slovakia prevailed with a 4-3 win and got themselves promoted.

Congratulations to the Netherlands and Slovakia – we’ll be seeing them in Switzerland at the end of November.

The men’s event proved to be fascinating and you’ll recall that Ireland’s men were doing very well – they continued this form to finish on top of the standings with Belgium after the round-robin:

1. Belgium (7-2)
2. Ireland (7-2)
3. Israel (6-3)
3. Slovakia (6-3)
5. Belarus (5-4)
6. Slovenia (5-4)
7. Iceland (3-6)
8. Serbia (3-6)
9. Luxembourg (2-7)
10. Bulgaria (1-8)

So Ireland qualified for the 1v2 game with Belgium – a fantastic achievement and ‘B’ group qualification in their hands.

They started the game well taking a 3-0 lead after three ends but a steal of three by the Belgians in the fifth proved costly and Ireland were ultimately beaten 7-5.

The second chance for qualification would come against the winners of the 3v4 game and in this one it was Israel who saw off Slovakia 7-6 meaning Ireland would face Israel in their final game of the competition with everything to play for.

Ireland had beaten Israel in the round-robin (6-4) but unfortunately they picked the wrong time to lose two consecutive games as the Israelis proved too strong and took the game 7-3 and with it, promotion to the ‘B’ Group.

Craig Whyte from Team Ireland said he was disappointed to miss out on the qualification but that a medal was a good improvement on last year – watch this space for a report on his experience in Zoetermeer.

So, to clarify, here’s who won what:

Women
Gold medal – Netherlands*
Silver medal – Slovakia*
Bronze medal – Spain

Men
Gold medal – Belgium*
Silver medal – Israel*
Bronze medal – Ireland

*Qualifies for European Curling Championships ‘B’ Group

Many congratulations to Ireland for collecting a bronze medal and I’m sure we’ll be seeing them back in the ‘B’ Group before too long.

A cracking result for Israel too and testament to what can be done when a reformed national association really goes for it.

Photos from the event can be found here.

Image is © WCF

European Curling Championships ‘C’ Group

Sunday 5 October saw the start of play at the 2014 European Curling Championships ‘C’ Group in Zoetermeer in the Netherlands.

Seven women’s and ten men’s teams are in attendance all hoping to secure promotion to the European ‘B’ competition that takes place in Switzerland at the end of November.

The teams are playing a round-robin competition until Friday afternoon when the teams who are ranked first to fourth play a knockout round to decide the four nations (two men’s, two women’s) heading to Switzerland.

Women’s teams: Croatia, Ireland, Netherlands, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain

Men’s teams: Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Luxembourg, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia

You will see there is ‘home’ nation interest as both Irish teams find themselves in this season’s competition – here’s how they line up:

Men: James Russell (Fourth), Craig Whyte (Third), Alan Mitchell (Second and Skip), Arran Cameron (Lead), John Furey (Alternate), Martin Sutherland (Coach)

Women: Katie Kerr (Fourth), Margarita Sweeney Baird (Third and Skip), Hazel Gormley Leahy (Second), Clare McCormick (Lead), Ailsa Anderson (Alternate)

Did you know that everyone in the Irish women’s team except for Hazel Gormley Leahy is making their first appearance at an international tournament? Katie Kerr, meanwhile, has made the trip from the USA for this event – read more about her here and here.

I would like to wish both Irish teams the very best of luck in the Netherlands not least because in Craig Whyte they have a good friend and clubmate of mine!

I’ll also be keeping an eye on my Slovenian friends hoping they can get themselves promoted this year.

It is worth noting that ‘home’ nation interest also extends to the competition officials where we find Scotland’s Anne Malcolm as Chief Umpire, Ireland’s John Burns as a Game Umpire and Mark Callan from Scotland as Chief Ice Technician.

A special mention should go to the men’s team representing the Israel Curling Federation in Zoetermeer – Israel was a member of the WCF from 1999 to 2008 but rejoined the international curling community in 2013.

I have previously linked to this article about a recruitment drive that the ICF had in North America and it seems to have worked – see here.

If you follow the World Curling Tour at all then you may have noticed that a certain Team Freilich, listed as being based in Jerusalem, Israel, now appears on the WCT website – the very same team currently in the Netherlands.

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So from Israel to Ireland and a review of how the tournament has gone so far.

Ireland’s women have found it tough going with no wins and three losses after three days of play – they were defeated by Slovakia 10-1, Croatia 12-6 and Spain 8-6.

The men, meanwhile, have been enjoying more success than their female counterparts and are sitting on four wins and one loss going into Wednesday’s draw – they have beaten Belarus 12-8, Serbia 9-7, Israel 6-4 and Iceland 9-4 while their only defeat was against Slovenia 8-3.

For all the latest scores, news, pictures and information I suggest you visit the comprehensive event website here.

Zoetermeer is one hour ahead of the UK if you are planning to follow games as they happen.

It wouldn’t be an international event post without me mentioning some kind of statistic, interesting scoreline or piece of trivia so spare a thought for the Dutch women’s team who, on home ice, scored a five against Slovenia but still lost 10-7.

Images are © WCF, ICF and ICA

Weekend Roundup 3-5 October

Three Scottish men’s teams were in Basel, Switzerland over the weekend for the Swiss Cup, part of the Curling Champions Tour.

Kyle Smith’s team did not make the playoffs and David Murdoch’s rink lost out to Norway’s Thomas Løvold (7-2 in five ends) in a game that would have seen them make the final stages but for Tom Brewster and his team of Glen Muirhead, Thomas Muirhead, Ross Paterson and Hammy McMillan Jr. their weekend could not have gone any better.

Team Brewster beat Jiří Snítil of the Czech Republic 6-5 after an extra-end in the quarter-finals before seeing off Sweden’s Niklas Edin 5-3 in their semi-final.

This meant that Sunday’s final was between Team Brewster and the Swiss outfit skipped by Sven Michel. After the first end was blanked, Team Brewster stole a two and never looked back from there seeing the game out 5-2 – well done boys!

This means that Tom Brewster and co. have become the first Scottish team to win this event since David Murdoch in 2007.

Team of the weekend for sure and how great to see them adorning the event homepage here.

Be sure to ‘like’ their Facebook page too – this team could go far.

The Scottish Curling Tour was in Dumfries for the Sulwath Open and this event was won by Team David Edwards after they beat David Hardie 4-1 in Sunday’s final.

If you don’t already follow Team Edwards’ excellent and entertaining blog then I highly recommend it – you might spot that they have a new lead for this season in Billy Morton.

Some pictures of the boys with their trophy and smart new playing kit can be seen here.

A report on the event is available on the SCT website here.

The latest leg of the Under 21 Slam, the Kinross Junior Classic, was being played over the weekend and there were prizes to be won for both junior men’s and junior women’s teams.

Robin Brydone and his team of David Baird, Callum Greenwood and Thomas Halder won the junior men’s final 4-1 against Team Kerr Sands while the junior women’s title went to Rebecca Morrison who had Amy Bryce, Carolyn Baird and Becca Baird in her team – they saw off Team Sarah Wood 7-5.

Pictures and a full report are available here.

Images are © CCT, SCT and RCCC

Weekend Curling 3-5 October

There is plenty of curling action to follow this weekend including the start of the European ‘C’ Group Championships but I will cover that in a separate post.

32 of Europe’s top male curling teams are engaged in Curling Champions Tour action this weekend with the Swiss Cup in Basel, Switzerland that began on Thursday and concludes on Sunday.

Eleven of the teams are local but there is good representation from the rest of the continent with teams from Austria, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Sweden and, of course, Scotland.

Teams Brewster, Murdoch and Smith are all flying the flag over in Basel and here’s how they have been getting on:

Tom Brewster and his team beat Team Ruch of Switzerland 4-2 and Team Wunderer of Austria 7-3 before losing 4-2 to Norway’s World Champions skipped by Thomas Ulsrud. They have since followed this up with three straight wins (8-4 and 8-5 v. Teams Baumann and Kapp of Germany) and most notably against Team Murdoch 6-4 – no doubt a very satisfying victory for Team Brewster that saw them make the playoffs.

Team Murdoch have been doing things the hard way despite starting with three wins against Switzerland’s Team Attinger (6-4), Team Løvold of Norway (6-1) and Germany’s Team Kapp (4-2). A 7-5 loss to Ulsrud’s Norwegian World Champions was followed up with a win against Team Snítil from the Czech Republic (5-2) but then they lost the aforementioned battle of the Scottish teams. They are currently playing Team Løvold once again to stay in the tournament – it’s 2-2 as I type.

Kyle Smith’s team have unfortunately already been eliminated from the event after collecting just two wins (7-1 v. Team Šik from the Czech Republic and 5-3 v. Switzerland’s Team Hess) and three one-point losses to Team Schwaller of Switzerland 7-6, Germany’s Team Kapp 6-5 and Team Baumann of Germany 4-3.

You can follow the event here and here.

The Scottish Curling Tour is in Dumfries this weekend for the Sulwath Open.

Sixteen teams are in attendance including two from China – great to see I’m sure you’ll agree.

You can find all the latest scores here and more information here.

Finally, the second of this season’s Under 21 Slams, the Kinross Junior Classic, is being played at the newly-refurbished Kinross Curling.

Sixteen junior men’s and eight junior women’s teams are playing and you can follow all the action here.

Images are © CCT, SCT and RCCC

Weekend Curling 26-28 September

The first women’s event on this season’s Curling Champions Tour began yesterday (Friday) in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Stockholm Ladies Curling Cup sees twenty of the world’s best female teams competing in the Swedish capital and apart from the likes of Feltscher, Homan, Jones, Sidorova and Sigfridsson there are two Scottish teams to be found in the lineup.

Eve Muirhead is there with her team of Anna Sloan, Vicki Adams and Sarah Reid while Lauren Gray skips a team consisting of Jennifer Dodds, Vicky Wright and Mhairi Baird.

The teams have been split into four groups of five with the top two in each group progressing to the playoffs.

Team Muirhead began with a 7-3 win over Ontario’s Sherry Middaugh but then lost two games in succession – 7-5 to Switzerland’s Michèle Jäggi and 5-4 in an extra end to Anna Hasselborg of Sweden.

Team Muirhead’s final game was against Sweden’s Jonna McManus and they won that one 6-3.

Lauren Gray’s team started with a 7-2 defeat to Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni but followed this up with a win against another Swiss team, skipped by Melanie Barbezat, 5-3. They then lost 7-6 to Germany’s Imogen Oona Lehmann and 9-2 to Margaretha Sigfridsson of Sweden.

This means that Team Muirhead finished on W2 L2 and Team Gray on W1 L3 – sadly we will not be seeing either team in the playoffs.

Something that really caught my attention was the game between Olympic Champion Jennifer Jones and Isabella Wranå’s young Swedish team. The local girls had a day to remember as they defeated Jones and her team 8-1 after just four ends – incredible stuff when you consider that this was the Swedish team’s only win of the weekend.

The event website is here where you can find links to live games.

EDIT: The event was won by Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson who defeated Rachel Homan of Canada in the final.

The first event on this season’s Scottish Curling Tour calendar is being played at Braehead this weekend with the Braehead Open.

28 teams from Scotland, Sweden, China, Wales, Ireland and Estonia are in attendance playing in a Schenkel format and there have been some big scorelines already – 18-0 and 21-1 for example.

I’ll let you find out who was on the wrong end of those though! Scores from Braehead are here.

EDIT: Tom Brewster’s team of Glen Muirhead, Thomas Muirhead, Hammy McMillan and Ross Paterson won the event after seeing off Stuart Taylor in the final.

Finally, I should be bringing you details of the Under 17 Slam from Lockerbie but the RCCC’s website appears to be offline at the moment.

Watch this space…

EDIT: Norma Lockhart was very kindly keeping me updated over the weekend while the RCCC’s website was offline – Team MacNay won the Low Road while Team Whyte took the High Road. Full results are here and a report is here.

Images are © CCT, SCT and RCCC

Kinross Refurbishment Complete

Some great news from Kinross Curling this week courtesy of Eileen Thomas:

The curling community of Kinross celebrated the successful refurbishment of their rink with a bonspiel on Saturday 20 September.

During the April to September off-season, Kinross curling rink has been given a major overhaul costing over £1M.

The building was stripped back to its steel frame, the floor excavated and then rebuilt. A new concrete floor was created with various layers including heating to avoid ground heave, insulation and 13km of pipes carrying the refrigerant. The walls and roof are now insulated and a new ice plant, boilers and ducting for air and heating have been installed. A new electricity sub-station also had to be built.

Two years ago the facility, built in 1977 as an extension to the Green Hotel, was facing closure as the refrigerant used in its ice plant is soon to be outlawed under EU regulations and the building required major investment to remain fit for purpose.

The Kinross Curling Trust, a charitable body with around 400 curlers as members, arranged to take over the running of the curling rink from the owners via a long lease and set about raising the required funds for the refurbishment.

The largest contributor was sportscotland who gave a grant of £400,000 and a grant of £125,000 was received from Perth and Kinross Council. At the opening bonspiel, Trustee Doug Ritchie particularly thanked the fundraising efforts of members of the Kinross Curling Trust, saying: “The key to securing external funding has been the contributions from curlers and local bodies – around £390,000 in total through donations and loans – a magnificent achievement.”

The Kinross Curling Trust has already successfully run the curling rink for one season prior to the refurbishment. Mr Ritchie, who is the Trust’s Business Manager, said: “We enter the new season with a state of the art ice hall which should enable us to provide very high quality ice and excellent curling.”

Kinross Curling Trust plans further improvements in the future, such as disabled access to the upper floor lounge.

Eighty members of the Kinross Curling Trust took part in the Opening Bonspiel, a fun, social event, on Saturday 20 September.

A formal opening ceremony for the refurbished facility will take place in November.

To see how the rink looks now I suggest you take a look at these pictures – what a difference.

Great to see all the hard work paying off and here’s to many years of curling in Kinross.

Photo is © Andy Macpherson 2014

Blythswood Celebrate 150 Years

My ever-dependable contributors Hugh and Christine Stewart have sent me a piece regarding the 150th anniversary celebrations of Blythswood Curling Club.

Many congratulations to the Club on reaching this milestone and I hope you enjoy reading about their history:

It was exactly 150 years ago on 12 September 1864 that Blythswood Curling Club was founded when thirteen local men met in the Red Smiddy near Inchinnan to establish the Club. One of the founders was Lt. Colonel Archibald Campbell who later became Lord Blythswood from the Blythswood Estate in Renfrew where he lived, hence the name of the Club. Blythswood House was located on what is now the 15th hole of Renfrew Golf Club.

Lord Blythswood was a remarkable man. He joined the army at sixteen and fought in the Crimean War. He was a Tory MP and Lord Lieutenant of Renfrewshire. He was an amateur scientist and had a laboratory at Blythswood House. He experimented with cathode rays, X-rays and radioactivity.

Those thirteen original members established traditions that are kept alive by the modern day members. Then, as now, the members were enthusiastic about the game and enjoyed playing it. In the 19th century that meant travelling in the winter to wherever there was ice. The club did have its own pond on the Blythswood Estate but the club minutes also record games at Lochwinnoch, Paisley, Bishopton, Greenock, Port Glasgow and various locations on the River Cart. Nowadays things are probably a bit easier but members do still have to brave the journey up to Greenacres no matter the weather!

Then, as now, the club played against many other local clubs. In 1887, for example, Blythswood played Erskine for two bags of meal and one ton of coal. Erskine won the meal and Blythswood won the coal! These early relationships continue today with friendly matches against other teams and in local league games.

Then, as now, the club valued the social aspect of membership. In the early days the club frequented establishments which are no longer with us such as Mrs. Woodrow’s Inn, Booth’s Hotel and the County Hotel in Renfrew. In the more recent past Friarshall Hotel in Paisley was a frequent meeting place but since its demise the River Inn in Crosslee has been the venue for Annual General Meetings and dinners.

Finally, then, as now, the club was optimistic about its future. In the early days the number of members attending an AGM could be as low as four or five but the club always managed to keep going. At other times the numbers reached over forty and there was a waiting list for membership. Today Blythswood is going against the trend of many clubs and is maintaining its membership.   

The club would love to recruit new members so if you are interested, please email their Secretary: joyce-wilcox@ntlworld.com

At the Renfrewshire Council Reception, Provost Anne Hall welcomes and congratulates members of Blythswood Curling Club

President Pandy Courtney expresses the thanks of the Club and presents the Lady Provost with a gift

Members and guests who attended the Reception with President Pandy Courtney (centre, front row) with Provost Anne Hall on her right and Vice President of the RCCC Billy Howat on her left

President Michael Burton of Renfrewshire Province presents the Club with an anniversary gift

Members and guest teams from Renfrewshire Province clubs who played in the anniversary bonspiel at Greenacres

Photos are © Hugh Stewart 2014
Image is © Blythswood Curling Club