A Night at the Cuddies

THE runners and riders are warming up for the grand ICA race night taking place at Greenacre Downs on Saturday, October 19.

‘A Night at the Cuddies’ is being ably organised by top trainers Carolyn Hibberd and Gordon McIntyre – a potent combination who have a great track record at this course.

Money is the name of the game for the punters on the night, so bring plenty of the green stuff to ensure that firstly, you all have a good time and secondly, the ICA’s development plans for young curlers gets a welcome cash injection.

ECC2012-Irish-SweepersThere will be fun bonspiel on the ice, starting at 5.30pm, followed by a meal at 7.30pm, then the race night.

Cost for all three will be £20 but if you just want to come for the dinner and the racing it’s only £10.

Most of you will have already completed your sponsor sheet of owners names and horses (!!), but if you haven’t there is still plenty of time!

Each horse only costs a fiver and the winner of each race will receive a very, very valuable prize.

If you would like to sponsor a race as well and get to beam with pride when you see your company’s name of the race card it will only cost you £20.

But the main thing is for members and friends to a have a fun and sociable evening, while raising money for a worthwhile cause, at the start of the ICA’s 20th curling season.

Mixed messages








It’s half eleven on Friday night and Hazel and I are back at our rented abode stuffing our faces with pepperoni pizza after watching the Euro Mixed quarter-finals.

Scotland saw off Denmark, Germany downed Slovakia and Finland roasted their Nordic cousins Sweden to go through to tomorrow morning’s semis, meaning that the C Group that Ireland was in produced three of the eight quarter-finalists.

As the other three games had, finished  all eyes turned to the last couple of stones in the  last end of the Hungary Switzerland game. The Hungarians were one up, but the Swiss were lying two shots, on top of four and at three o’ clock on the four foot, guarded by a stone just short of the rings on the centre line. Hungarian skip Gyorgy Nagy had to pull off a monster of a shot by cold drawing to bite the one foot. A hush decended on Murrayfield as the stone glided down the ice. Was it heavy? Noooooo, Gyorgy did  it in style landing it plum on the edge of the pot lid, bringing a standing ovation from the crowd watching.

The ashen-faced Swiss were understandably gutted.

Now that the curling is over Haz and I had to get off our ars*s and tidy up our wee hoose in Corstorphine. Having used every available dish, cup and glass there was a mass washing up session and a load of laundry done. Newspapers two feet deep were chucked and a kilo of Pringle crumbs hoovered. A window cleaner even arrived.

We were so exhausted we had to have a wee lie down, but in the afternoon we took ourselves off to cheer on the Spanish in their play off against Hungary at half two. As were were watching the game, Jim and Kathie Nixon appeared and announced they were here to see Ireland. A day late I fear as we wus demolishing the Great Danes at half two on the Thursday not Friday. Poor crestfallen Jim and Kathie had to console themselves by heading off to Mackro.

Hard to think we have been here for a week now – feels like a month.

I’m off home to the remote south west corner tomorrow, so I’ll probably do a post mortem next week from the land that KFC forgot.

EMCC – Draw 7

EMCC2013THE Irish finally played the way they know they can today in the last draw of the championships here in Edinburgh – but it was too late in the day to salvage a play-off place.

But thumping Denmark 9-1 gave the team a bit of pride back after a torrid European mixed. The Danes, by their own admission, certainly helped the Irish cause as their skip, the affable Joel, could not buy a four foot draw. But, he was trying to pull off big shots at each end because the good tactics from the Irish team put Denmark on the back foot.

The killer blow was a three at the fourth end, when good draws behind guards by the boys and girls in green meant that the Danish skip only had a hit and roll in on a stone at the back of the 12 foot to salvage something. But he hit the stone square on the nose and Robin had the simple task of following him down to hit and lie for the 3.

The Danes were keen the get off the ice as they were straight back on again afterwards and shook hands at the sixth when they gave up a final single after Robin had just about frozen on top of their stone on the back of the button, lying shot by a whisker. Joel really had no shot on and only suceeded in clipping the Irish stone onto the pot lid.

So that’s that  – we all know the script by now – could have, should have done better.

Skip Robin commented: “Disappointing to beat such a good quality team in the last draw when we struggled so badly earlier on. Still, only one win away from the playoffs – a familiar story. I think to be honest we just didn’t match the stones well enough when it was crying out for that in practice. Such poor quality stones really shouldn’t happen at a WCF event. Too many silent take outs and missed draws for us as a team and lack of practice shone through. Still we threw an almost 100% game today against one of the favourites so there is life in the old dogs yet. Roll on the Seniors!”

EMCC – Draw 6

European Mixed Curling Championships 2013THERE was a spirited fight-back from the Irish team here at the European Mixed Curling Championships at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Ice Rrink before they went down 7-6 to Italy.

With the Irish fans in the stands, the team of Robin Gray, Louise Kerr, Johnjo Kenny and  Hazel Gormley-Leahy were so close to getting their two at the last end to take the game to an extra end, but Robin’s attempt at a hit on the Italian stone lying second shot through a port just clipped one of the guards.

The team were playing a must win game to give themselves a hout of a play off spot on Friday morning. But it was the same old and worrying familiar story – loose shots in the early ends of the encounter cost the team dear. The loss of a four at the second end was particularly unforgivable.

The rink played a better second half of the game and put the pressure on the Italians in the closing ends, but, with one game to go, the standard of curling the team played is not good enough I’m afraid to say – and I’m one of the team!

EMCC – Draw 5

EMCC2013-Bill-JJIN a must win game against Finland in the fifth draw in the European Mixed Curling Championships at Edinburgh’s Murrayfield Ice Rink, the Irish team of Robin Gray, Louise Kerr, Johnjo Kenny and Hazel Gormley-Leahy went down 7-3 to Finland.

The loss of three shots at the sixth end proved to be the killer blow and came to late in the game for the Irish to muster a reply. After losing a single in the seventh the teams shook hands.

Fuller report on the last two games tomorrow.

EMCC – Draw 4

EMCC2013-JJTHE Ireland team had gone 10 ends without reply when they lost a one to Slovenia in the fifth end of their fourth game here in the European Mixed Curling Championships here in Murrayfield Ice Rink, Edinburgh.

The inexperienced opposition, at the cusp of their curling life as a country, were out of their depth and just at the championships to gain international experience.

But with the pressure off the Irish team could relax and, as always, in those circumstances the simple shots were easy to make.

It was effectively all over after the team scored a four at the first end but the delight and relief when the Slovenians scored was heart-warming. Final score 13 -1.

Skip Robin Gray said: “The team played well and made some good shots but it doing that when the pressure is on and there will be tougher matches ahead – ones we need to win to keep our play-off chances alive.”

EMCC – Draw 3

IRELAND had an easy win over Turkey in Tuesday’s first draw here at Murrayfield Ice Rink in their third game. The team played really well from the first end, scoring a three  (should have been a four but Robin’s last stone hit just rolled out). After that the team stole over the next five ends as the opposition struggled tactically.

The team were transformed from last night and with no pressure on the shots flowed from their fingertips. There were no issues with stones, the ice was keen with a good swing and the team grew in confidence as the shots on the board clocked up end by end.

Skip Robin Gray: “It’s amazing how simple curling is when you do the basic things well. The challenge now is to maintain that level of concentration for the rest of the tournament.”

EMCC – Draw 2

THE Irish mixed team went down 7-2 to Slovakia last night in a game the whole team would want to forget as quickly as possible and move on.

Perhaps it was the pressure of having coach Bill there but none of us played well in a game we were more than capable of winning. As we stuggled with the weight and the stones on sheet D, the Irish team’s chances of getting a win on the board was scuppered in the second end when Robin’s draw dug in short and the Slovaks drew for three.

The only real hightlight was our redoubtable skip showing he still can pull shots out of the top drawer when he played a hack weight hit and roll through a port for a one in the third end to save losing five or six.

That was the only moment worth writing about to be honest!

EMCC draw 1 v Austria

TEAM Ireland lost 5-3 to the youthful Austrian team here in their first draw in the European Mixed Curling Championships at Murrayfield Ice Rink.

The team showed their ring rustiness over the first few ends and there was a dicey moment when skip Robin Gray’s last draw in the sixth end only cut out two of three Austrian counters. This gave the Austrians clear water between them and the Irish with the score at 4-1.

However, the team showed its experience at international level by keeping cool and engineering a good two at the seventh end.

The Irish then kept the pressure on the Austrians in the last end by getting cover out front. Two excellent draws from the skip saw them in a game-winning situation when lying two. But Austrian skip Sebastian Wunderer nailed his last stone hit for the win.

Skip Robin Gray said afterwards: “We were very rusty and  lacking in match practice of practice plus our inability to match the stones correctly cost us dear.

The team are now heading off for some R&R before facing Slovakia tonight at 8.30pm.

D-Day at the Mixed

After the Saturday at the European Mixed was a wipe -out, we all had high hopes for a fresh start with playable curling ice on the sunday morning…..alas, it was not to be. Early Facebook posts told us that the ice was not ready after all and the morning practice had been cancelled.

With a team meeting at 5pm, the team took themselves off to the zoo to see the pandas. Guess what? No pandas.

No ice…no pandas….what a day.

Anyway, it’s 9pm and we hear that the first draw has just started. We have to be there at 11pm for a practice and our first game is tomorrow at 12.30pm v Austria.

The new draw is on the Euro Mixed website… but that may change!