Thirty two curlers, twenty four of them in wheelchairs took to the ice in Hamilton on the dreich Monday morning of 28th November.
It was the world’s first ever haggis curling tournament, sponsored by Lanark butchers Damn Delicious. The South Lanarkshire Wheelchair Curling Club, and guests the Upper Ward Ladies Curling Club engaged in battle. It was a tournament of skill (and lots of chance) as they aimed across the rink at an eight pound haggis.
Lockhart Steele the Ice Rink manager (and weel kent curler), and SLWCC coach Ian Archer presided over the action as teams vied to see who could get their 44lb stone closest to the frozen beastie. (Said Tinto-reared haggis was kept in the freezer for 72 hours before the match, just in case it tried to fly off during the game.) Certain curlers, but they were losers, alleged that the judges appeared to make up some rules as the game progressed. That was part of the entertainment, as the giant critter went sliding about the ice on a metal tray.
After the stones came in from all four corners of the ice for around 90 minutes, the judges settled on the two teams who’s combined efforts had been best. A short knockout match between them left the team of Bill Masterton, Steve Sutherland, and Garry Marshall winners with their Upper Ward team mate Jan Drife. And in the subsequent sudden death playoff it was Jan from Crawfordjohn who emerged with a very special title…”World’s First Haggis Curling Champion”.
Club members headed for the restaurant where Mike Shannon of Damn Delicious handed each of the winners their prizes… a prime Tinto Haggis. Then Jan received an engraved Lanark Glass crystal trophy (one to dedicate to future family curlers) declaring her world championship triumph. Wheelchair Club Chairman Arthur Bell said: “No matter how far some curlers knocked the haggis there was always someone even more determined to do better. It was huge fun, which is after all what amateur sport should be about.”