Saturday, October 12, 2013

On The River Clyde

After playing on Hollywood Curling ice for the past 5 years, I finally had enough of the s-curves, 17-second ice, and fucking A sheet. So, I packed up the wife and moved to Scotland. I figured, if the closest dedicated is 2,000 miles away, what's another 4,000?

So now, we're based in Glasgow, curling in malls and on farms. Oh, and I'm doing a bit of learning at Hogwarts, too.

It's been about a month and I've notice a few key differences:

No one uses a broom bag around here. I'm used to all sorts of bags around the club, especially the custom ones my pal Cindy makes. But nope, the closes I've seen is a cover that's shaped like a broom. Perhaps it's because all the cars are small, or people ride the bus? At least for those reasons I found it's easier to not use one myself.

Signals and terms are different. Sure, I know the word "barrier" means "board" or "bumper" weight, but holding your arm horizontally across your chest? To me that's t-line, a draw. But here it's barrier. There's also holding your broom up horizontally and sliding it through your hand. My team never used that back home, but I understood it to mean t-line to others. Maybe I was wrong, because they use that to signal a guard. You know what else works? Tapping where you want the guard to go. Also, the needless over gestures of calling for a draw, by placing the broom vertical in the spot, and tapping the top. Works just as easy by tapping the spot a couple times and then lining up the broom. It's no wonder I've yet to play 8 ends in a game. I've also played with one guy who just put the broom down, and I had no idea what he wanted to do.
I won a trophy, 6 days in.
Speaking of running out of time, they ring a bell, like a school bell, 15 minutes before the end of the game. It's on a timer and goes off no matter what. I had a thought we could do that with the hockey buzzer back home, but figured it might be too loud and distracting, especially if someone is in mid delivery. Now, I see it can be done, because that bell can be quite loud. But here's the kicker, that bell means that this is the last end. So, if it's the skips is getting ready to throw the hammer stone and the bell rings, that's the last rock of the game! Back home, any kind of warning usually means finish this end and play one more, typically at the 20 minute mark.

Most clubs have their own sweaters. Not that different from back home, except that everyone will wear them to club days. So you can spot the clubs on the ice by the sheets in all red, green, blue, or whatever. It's kind of interesting.

Example of club sweaters. The Canadian Curling Club at Greenacres.
That leads to the biggest thing, club structure. I guess it becomes a thing when you've got clubs that have been around for 100 years. They'll hop from facility to facility over the years. What happens is you have an eight sheet rink like Braehead and you've got 22 clubs or something like that playing there. They'll pay money to the rink, and operate their club, next to another club a sheet over. This in itself isn't that crazy, I think of it like a club having a Tuesday night men's league, or Wednesday night open league. However, when I hear clubs lamenting over getting new members, it's totally insane.

The rink hosts try curling sessions frequently for free. The thing is they don't know where to put these people who want to play. Some of these folks end up in the "Virtual Curling Club" (think beginner league), where they can stay for up to three years before finding another club. How exactly does one find another club? Some clubs are men only and many have average ages in the 60s. It just seems so disjointed. Though, good luck convincing another group to fold into another. That there is a universal truth.

Anyhow, I'll get used to it all and have some good curling along the way.


  1. We do the hockey buzzer thing at Dakota CC in MN, with finish the end and play one. It works fine.

    1. I should add that it can be distracting but the scoreboard timer counts down to it so everyone knows if it's about to hit.

    2. That's a good point. If everyone can see the clock counting down, they'll be better prepared for the buzzer.

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