By Isla McGraw
Curling was invented in Scotland in the Middle Ages, with the first written mention to a contest using stones on ice coming from the records of Paisley Abbey, Renfrewshire, in February 1541. Nowadays Scotland’s curling teams, both men and women, have taken home gold in the World Curling Championships, with the latest gold medal claimed in 2023 by the men’s team. Despite the country’s success in the sport, many Scots know little about how to play.
In the Beginning…
Partick Curling Club was formed in 1842 at Greenacres Ice Rink as a male only community group championing the team game involving players sliding granite stones on a sheet of ice toward a targeted area segmented into four circles. The club also played in an outdoor rink behind Curlers Rest pub on Byres Road in 1848 and from there it grew into the society that stands today.
Alan Rattray, the match secretary, organises fixtures and teams and is the coordinator for all the clubs’ activities. With his interest in curling stemming from his time at Glasgow University in 1993 (he played on the University Curling Club for three years) in the years following, Alan met someone involved with Partick Curling Club who invited him along, and his passion for the sport was reignited.
Alan highlights that being part of this community ‘creates friendship and allows you to socialise with people who have a shared interest with you, while keeping you fit and active’. He continues ‘People come in and start curling and they have never curled before, but they find it’s a great way to get involved in something and they tend to like the social aspect of it as well’. The curling season begins in September and lasts until the end of March.
Weekly Meet Ups
The community group congregate every week with matches scheduled in the daytime and evening. The league structure is constructed by Alan and is based on when members wish to play in order to fit it in around their lives. The club has 45 playing members across all levels, both men and women of all abilities.
Internal games, known as bonspiels, are held within the club as a friendly tournament encouraging all members, whether they are a beginner, intermediate, or advanced player, to participate in the league. Competitions also take place between the different curling clubs where players have the choice of playing against outside groups.
The community created on the ice also exists outside the rink, with the club hosting get togethers for members to socialise. A BBQ kicks things off in September, and a formal dinner, which usually takes place at the West End’s Leonardo Inn Hotel, comprises of a prize giving to conclude the curling season.
The club is looking to raise awareness of the sport and sustain and grow the number of curlers from the West End of Glasgow, in areas like Partick, Kevlindale, Jordanhill, Bearsden, and the South Side. Giving people the opportunity to come along and try curling out for themselves with no added pressure is one of the main aims for Alan and the club.
All Abilities Welcome
Alan says, ‘This is a friendly and sociable club for all abilities, whether you’re good, bad or indifferent, nobody really cares – it’s all about enjoying yourself and having something to look forward to in your week, and you never know you might just catch the curling bug.’
In terms of the future of curling in Scotland, Alan says, ‘Curling is the hidden gem of Scottish sport because we’re actually really good at it, we’re at a highly elite level, it just needs more awareness to help us raise the bar.
‘A lot of people will see it on the telly every four years when the Olympics come around but hardly anybody will know where to go to give it a try.’
With that, the club are urging people to give the sport a go whether you’re a returning player or starting from scratch, everyone is welcome. Your first visit to the rink is free with no commitment to sign up to a club membership, it can simply be a place to socialise while keeping active. If people discover a love for the sport, there is scope to continue whether that be through a membership or simply playing in the games you’d like to participate in.
Partick Curling Club run several come and try sessions throughout the course of the season. To find out more information, visit their website at partickcurling.com or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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