Curling is Cool Day: Spotlight on JC’s Curling Team

Charlotte Duncan

Charlotte Duncan

21 February 2020

The Roaring Game. Chess on ice. Whatever you call it, curling is cool. As proud sponsors of both the 2019 World Mixed Curling Championship and the 2018 Scottish Curling Junior Championships and World Junior Curling Championships, Johnston Carmichael has a history with curling – and we even have our own team.

Formed in September 2018, JC’s curling team comprises 12 members - with varying levels of experience! As part of the Finance League at Curl Aberdeen, Team JC competes once a week against other accountants, bankers and lawyers in the North East. We caught up with some of our players to find out how they got involved and why they love curling.

Hi team! How long have you all been curling?

Gordon MacLure, Restructuring Partner: My long and undistinguished curling career started nearly 30 years ago and ended 25 years ago, until JC entered the Finance League in 2018 - at which point I (sadly) found out that, unlike a good wine, my curling ability had not improved with age!

Ally Miller, VAT Senior Manager: I’ve been curling for three years. My first experience of curling was as a participant in the Aberdeen Corporate Decathlon about five years ago in a previous role.

Mike Pitman, retired Business Advisory Partner: I tried it once around 40 years ago with my first post-university employer, then played again socially with Round Table about 20 years ago. When I heard the call for JC volunteers, I decided to come out of sporting retirement – and that's when I played more than once for the first time!     

Jane Mitchell, Business Advisory Senior Manager: I’ve been (consistently!) curling for the longest. When I worked for Clydesdale Bank I joined their curling league in the early 2000s, and have been playing ever since.

Adrian Johnston, Tax Assistant Manager: Along with David (Urquhart, VAT Manager) and Graham (Leith, Business Advisory Partner), I started curling when the JC team was formed in September 2018.

Sophie Mathers, Audit Manager: I started slightly later in October 2018, when I took the four-week beginners’ course at Curl Aberdeen. My boyfriend booked us on the course as a “surprise” but lucky he did, as I’m really enjoying it.

Morven Rapson, Audit Supervisor: This is my first season of curling. My grandad was a very keen curler and through him I played for a while when I was a child but I complained about the cold and gave up!

Iain Castles, Business Advisory Director: This is my first season of curling too. I’d never played before but had always fancied giving it a go so the JC team was the perfect opportunity. Most of the JC team members are “novices” so it’s a nice friendly environment to learn the game. Apologies to any team members who don’t consider themselves novices - but I’ve yet to see any evidence to the contrary!

How was the JC team formed?

Jane: After JC sponsored the World Junior Curling Championships in Aberdeen in 2018, we decided to form a JC team as a legacy of that sponsorship.

Ally: I formed a curling team in my previous role, so after I moved to JC it was only right that I organised our team too, given our sponsorships of the curling championships and our close links with Curl Aberdeen. My former colleagues were not best pleased when we finished higher up the league table than they did! That friendly rivalry still exists - but I have helped them out by playing for them when they’ve been short of a team member.

What do you enjoy most about being part of the JC curling team?

Sophie: I find that you rarely play the same people from match to match, so I love having the opportunity to meet new people and have a bit of fun.

Mike: Currently the JC team is favourite to be bottom of the league, so it’s definitely not about winning! The other teams are not overly competitive so it’s good fun (and fantastic when we do win the odd game!). With my retirement from the firm last year, it’s also a great way to keep in touch with JC colleagues.

Ally: What really makes me smile about the JC team is the passion. We started out two years ago with a brand-new team. Jane had been playing for the Clydesdale Bank and I had one year’s experience; everyone else was starting afresh so for us to not finish bottom of the league in our first year was a major achievement! Every week the JC players turn up in eager anticipation of that next win - whether it comes or not! We’ve taken on some new players in our second year, we've had a few new people out for training sessions, and there is such an enthusiasm for the sport that we may be able to run two teams next season.

Iain: I enjoy socialising with colleagues outside of work in a relaxed environment. It helps cultivate relationships within the firm as you get to know people you might not usually work with day-to-day.

Morven: I like how important teamwork is. Each member of the team is equally critical despite having different roles and objectives. That’s very much the case with working life too.

David: Yes - I like the fact that all four members of the team play an essential part, so must rely on and encourage each other. I enjoy playing alongside such a great bunch, and also getting to know other teams in the league who we have often crossed paths with in a professional capacity.

Adrian: I agree. I love the team spirit, all working together to achieve the same goal, as well as being able to foster connections with other professionals around Aberdeen.

So curling is not only a social activity, but helps with Business Development too?

Graham: Absolutely. Playing in the Finance League is a great opportunity to establish and maintain relationships with other accountants, lawyers and bankers in the area.

Gordon: Having common interests and experiences with other local professionals definitely helps create a more collaborative working community.

What has been your biggest curling achievement so far?

Jane: Our first season on the ice was September 2018 to March 2019, so as Ally said earlier, we were delighted not to place last in the 11-team Finance League! We won four decent games last season against some pretty experienced teams, and also drew in a couple. We’re currently halfway through the 2019/2020 season so it’s all to play for. I’m clearly more optimistic about our chances than Mike is!