Home   Sport   Article

Moray curling: Ally Fraser and team add Open Knockout to ever-increasing trophy collection

By Bill Jaffrey

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.

Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!

Ardclach’s Ally Fraser underlined his credentials as Moray Province’s premier curling team this week as he added the Open Knockout to his already burgeoning trophy cabinet to stand beside his recently bagged West League Division 1 silverware.

Three open knockout wins in the last four years and five league titles in the last six years are testament to the dominance of the Nairnshire lads.

On a sheet of ice that was as frustrating as it was bewildering, the Fraser rink’s greater experience with Grant Fraser at lead, Neil Campbell at second and Neil MacArthur steady at three, eventually won out over a very young Andy Cameron outfit.

There were huge, unnatural swings and several run backs which made shot-making difficult and unpredictable.

After some early end sparring it was three shots apiece after five ends with Cameron’s young trio of Lilia Clarke, Owen Watson and Fraser Rankin drawing pretty well on ice that made hitting particularly tricky.

The Ardclach team’s big competition experience kicked in and third player Neil MacArthur managed to find a decent line for his down weight strikes to set up skip Fraser’s sixth end draw for two shots to edge ahead.

In the seventh end, a couple of Ardclach right wing counters proved difficult to find and Andy Cameron’s last stone draw was just a bit heavy, running too far and leaving Fraser with a three shot steal and another Knockout title to his name.

In the Province League, it was decision time in East Division 1 with all three title contenders involved and it was Forres’ Charlie Watt who emerged triumphant.

He completed the remarkable feat of reaching the summit of the league from the foothills of Division 4 in four consecutive division winning campaigns.

Going into the title-deciding week, Watt was only third favourite. A point behind front runners Andy Cameron and Alan Campbell whose 6-6 draw gave the Forres rink their chance to snatch the glory and this they duly did with an 8-5 win over Dave McPherson.

At 4-0 down after the opening two ends and 5-2 behind after five ends, it looked like the Tennis Club lads were intent on spoiling the Forres party.

However, with Stuart Heppenstall and Lyall Pirie drawing well and third player Gordie Kelly doing the business, Watt’s team counted four in the sixth and added a two shot steal at the seventh.

The winning team. Left to right: Stuart Heppenstall, Gordon Kelly, Charlie Watt Jnr (skip) and Lyall Pirie.
The winning team. Left to right: Stuart Heppenstall, Gordon Kelly, Charlie Watt Jnr (skip) and Lyall Pirie.

It was now just a question of running MacPherson out of stones in the last end and, after a couple of sticky moments, it was skip Charlie Watt that removed the MacPherson counter to take the applause, the league title and complete his fairytale rise to the top of the Province pile.

The Moray Province season concludes next week with the Nicol Quaich, the annual showdown between Division 1 winners from the East and the West and gives newly-crowned East champion Charlie Watt a tilt at serial winner West champion Ally Fraser.

Moray Province Open Knockout Final

A. Fraser 8 A. Cameron 3

Moray Province League East

Division 1

A. Cameron (Aberlour) 6; A. Campbell (Buckie) 6

C. Watt Jnr (Forres) 9; D. McPherson (Elgin Tennis Club) 5

Moray Province League West

Division 1

M. Fraser(Dalcross) 5; A. Asher (Nairn) 3

Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.

This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More