Murrayfield Curling, 11th December 2011
The last meeting between these two sides saw Edinburgh University’s first ever point in the Linlithgow League that had not come from penalty points. The team that played in that 5 v 5 peel agreed that it was a pleasure to play in and it had been the embodiment of good curling.
Sunday’s game, however, was anything but.
With a stronger and more experienced team than played in the first encounter, hopes were high for an Edinburgh victory.Â Only Ted Edmunds remained from that team, playing lead alongside former club President Ben Thomas, drafted in at the last minute as cover for the ill Michael Nicholson. Current President Alison McAteer assisted skip David Jenkins in the head.
Intimidation is a strong word, but when stepping onto the ice next to the final of the Scottish Mixed Doubles Championship and then to find that one of your opponents for the afternoon is Jennifer Dodds, it is hard not to feel like you are at a disadvantage even before a shot has been thrown in anger. Miss Dodds is a very talented young curler who Edinburgh remembered all too clearly -Â her Strathclyde team scored a seven against the University team in a thrashing at the Universities Open back in April. Just one week before Sunday’s game, she qualified for the 2012 Scottish Junior Championships.
The first end began slowly with Edmunds, unaccustomed to playing lead, hogging his first stoneÂ It was left to Jenkins to draw a port to score but he was unlucky with his effort and the Ladies stole a one.
The match began to turn against the University in the next end as the Ladies’ quality shone through. Thomas’s draws both went straight through the house after some lovely guard play from Edmunds. McAteer played some solid strikes but Jenkins couldn’t reduce the number of Ladies’ expertly buried stones and they counted four.
A much better end from the University followed as Jenkins was left to play some draws which he executed very skilfully. The measure was required, though it was clear the University had scored at least one. After McAteer and Dodds did the honours, the University counted two and were back in the match.
With the hammer in the fourth, however, the Ladies tied up the game with a five. Edmundsâ€™s guards proved very attractive to the Ladies who just kept burying behind them leaving the University no shot.
Despite heads starting to drop, the University were lying for much of the fifth end. Jenkins drew for a chance of three but was slightly too heavy and ended up drawing into the already placed University stones. Out came the measure once again and it transpired that Jenkins’ eagerness to get points on the board had led to a steal of one for the Ladies. At 11-2 down, it was looking like a rout.
Mercifully, that proved to be the end of the Ladies’ scoring as a much more open sixth saw a single scored for the University after a miraculous triple takeout from Thomas â€“ having clipped and removed a guard on the way down, his shooter proceeded to clear out the Ladies’ counters in the house. If this had been snooker, he would have been tapping the table.
In what proved to be the final end, Edmunds began to have flashbacks of that afternoon in Stranraer as, apparently out of nothing, the Ladies once again filled the house. With his last stone of the game, Jenkins drew in to lie shot. With the hammer, the Ladies had to hit and lie to take a SEVEN. They had been very effective with this type of shot during the match and the University team couldn’t bear to look as they expected their worst ever defeat in the competition.Â But someone was looking down on the University, the team thought, as the shooter went sailing past Jenkins’ stone and left the University with just a seven point defeat and not a fifteen point one.
Despite the team never really finding their feet in this game, and perhaps relying on more than their fair share of luck, it has been an encouraging end of 2011 for the University in this competition with further progress expected in the New Year.