Scottish senior title for Norman and Jim

Stranraer curlers Norman Brown, Jim Cannon and Hugh Aitken could be heading to the world senior curling championships in Sochi Russia in April after winning the Scottish seniors’ title, sponsored by OVD rum, at Hamilton in the most dramatic of fashions.

But it was not to be for defending World and Scottish senior champion Christine Cannon from Wigtown Curling Club, who lost the ladies’ final 6-2 to Kay Gibb from Aberdeen, the first time her team have been defeated at the Scottish Senior finals in three years.

In the men’s championship, Norman Brown from Stoneykirk Curling Club and Hugh Aitken from Limekiln Loch Curling Club, playing with Gordon Muirhead, David Hay and Mike Hay from Perth, topped their section on four wins and one loss. In Sunday morning’s semi-final they downed Ken Horton 7-4 before meeting the defending champions, skipped by Keith Prentice, in the final.

With a score of 2-1 in Team Prentice’ favour in the third end, Keith Prentice split the house with his last stone to lie two shots. Gordon Muirhead (playing last stones for Team Hay) opted to hit and stick but rolled out, giving up a single shot to go 3-1 behind.

The fourth end saw a couple of missed opportunities from both sides and left Gordon Muirhead with only a draw to the one foot to score one. His stone looked like it may just have made it but after careful checking from both vice-skips, it was determined to be another shot to Team Prentice.

The fifth end saw Team Prentice take 1 to go 5-1 ahead and in the sixth end, the house was clear before the last stone and there was some discussion from Team Hay about whether to blank or take one; they opted to blank in order to retain the last stone advantage for the seventh end.

Team Hay had an uphill battle on their hands but after scoring one in the seventh, they played a fantastic eighth end, getting two centre guards up and utilising them well. Keith Prentice faced four stones against with his last shot and had to remove two for the championship win. His stone removed just one opposition counter and the shooter rolled out, giving Team Hay a score of three and levelling the game at five-all; what a turnaround and a great game for the spectators.

The extra end saw Team Hay utilise their centre guards. With Keith Prentice’s final stone of the game, his only option was a draw to the one foot; it was swept all the way and finished resting on Team Hay’s shot, but marginally short. It was to be a steal of one for Team Hay, after a turnaround of five shots in three ends, to secure the 2015 Scottish Curling Senior Men’s Championship.

This was Norman’s second senior title having won it previously in 2013 and Jim Cannon’s first. The team of six will now have to decide, because of work commitments, who is available to go to the worlds in Russia.

In the women’s championship, defending champions Christine Cannon, Margaret Richardson, Isobel Hannen and Janet Lindsay sailed regally through their section in top spot with six wins out of six. They then won their semi-final again Isobel Waddell comfortably 5-2 after scoring a five in the third end.

Christine, Margaret and Janet were now trying for their third Scottish title in a row, but in the final their unbeaten record finally came undone after they found Kay Gibb and her team of Carol Scott, Elinor Ritchie and Margaret Archer in terrific form.

In the fourth end and at a score of one-all, Christine faced one opposition stone and lay second and third shots when playing the last stone of the end. Christine attempted a hit for a score of three however the stone overcurled, catching a guard and giving up one shot. The fifth end saw Team Gibb’s third player Carol Scott play a lovely hit and roll to lie four shots and the pressure was really on for Team Cannon. With Christine’s last stone, she faced three opposition counters and was marginally heavy, giving Team Gibb a score of three to go 5-1 ahead.

The sixth end saw Isobel Hannen play a lovely freeze into the one foot followed by lots of stones from both teams into the control zone. With only one stone to play, there was no route for Team Cannon to score two and they had to settle for one shot.

The seventh end saw Team Gibb execute some great shots from the outset with Carol Scott making a hit and roll into the four foot to lie four shots. Christine Cannon played a great tap-up however it sat in only second stone position and Team Gibb took one to go 6-2 ahead.

Team Cannon utilised their corner guards well in the eighth end but Team Gibb ran them out of stones to win the 2015 Scottish Curling Senior Women’s Championship with a final score of 6-2.

Christine said afterwards: “We have had a great run and it is disappointing that it has come to an end but I am looking forward to playing with a new line-up next year.”

Other Stranraer curlers playing were Hammy McMillan and Dick Adams, who were beaten in the men’s semifinal, as was Kate Adams in the women’s semis; Andrew McQuistin, playing with Billy Howat from Ayr, finished bottom of their section with just the one win.