Brew­ster re­vives Olympic am­bi­tions as Muir­head pow­ers re­lent­lessly on

The Herald - Herald Sport - - RUGBY UNION, CURLING - KEVIN FERRIE

EMO­TIONS may have spilled over at the end but af­ter lead­ing his new team to vic­tory over the one he was with when they reached an Olympic fi­nal two years ago, Tom Brew­ster was at pains to stress that there are no hard feel­ings.

The Aberdeen-based 41-year-old could have been for­given for feel­ing dif­fer­ently since he had been the skip who steered the emer­gence as se­nior cham­pion play­ers of Greg Drum­mond, Scott An­drews and Michael Good­fel­low, only to be ousted and re­placed at the head of that team by fel­low vet­eran David Mur­doch, a friend, oc­ca­sional team­mate and life­long ri­val.

The frus­tra­tion felt at los­ing a se­cond suc­ces­sive Scot­tish Cham­pi­onship fi­nal mo­men­tar­ily over­came Drum­mond who showed how much a de­feat, which has po­ten­tially se­ri­ous ram­i­fi­ca­tions for what is now Team Mur­doch, meant by thrash­ing his broom against one of the stones and rip­ping the han­dle from it.

Of­fi­cial­dom may frown, but ob­servers of a com­pet­i­tive dis­po­si­tion will un­der­stand, just as Brew­ster philo­soph­i­cally ac­cepts that those seek­ing to max­imise their chances of suc­cess did what they felt they must in 2014.

“It’s not their fault,” he said of his re­moval as skip and ef­fec­tive rel­e­ga­tion to the role of al­ter­nate (trav­el­ling re­serve for the Olympic cam­paign).

“There were loads of cir­cum­stances and that was the way the coach felt the team should go and I medalled, too.

“I’ve got that medal at home and I take great pride in the fact that five years ago we won this cham­pi­onship and that started the road for them and my­self and Dave (Mur­doch) came along and has rightly taken over the team.

“At the end of the day they’re all full time and I wasn’t will­ing to move down to Stir­ling when I had a young fam­ily and a great job with great em­ploy­ers. It was a huge de­ci­sion, but I’m pas­sion­ate about the sport and it’s my life re­ally.”

While his 40th birth­day has come and gone since that trip to Sochi in 2014, Brew­ster has not let his am­bi­tion to play in a Win­ter Olympics fade, and has con­se­quently helped build an­other po­ten­tial dream team with Glen Muir­head — older brother of Scot­land’s fe­male skip Eve — as his third, while Hammy MacMil­lan — part of an­other curl­ing dy­nasty — leads and Ross Pater­son, flam­boy­ant and sea­soned in equal mea­sure, is their se­cond.

Af­ter a cagey start to the fi­nal they took con­trol with a three at the fifth end and, as the week’s form team – hav­ing lost just once in 10 pre­vi­ous games – never looked like re­leas­ing their hold, a 5-4 fi­nal score be­ly­ing the ex­tent of their se­cond-half con­trol of the 10-end fi­nal.

Hav­ing led his for­mer team to World Cham­pi­onship fi­nals on the back of his two pre­vi­ous Scot­tish ti­tle wins as skip, Brew­ster be­lieves they can do well in Basel in April, al­beit he knows it will be an­other step up.

“I don’t see why not, but there are some re­ally solid teams there with huge ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said of the prospect of go­ing one bet­ter than col­lect­ing sil­vers in both 2011 and 2012, cit­ing the vastly ex­pe­ri­enced Ul­srud and Edin rinks from Nor­way and Swe­den re­spec­tively, as ma­jor ob­sta­cles to suc­cess, along with the in­evitable threat posed by the Cana­di­ans and tough op­po­si­tion from both Switzer­land and the USA.

As a group they have more than Brew­ster’s ex­pe­ri­ence to lean on since MacMil­lan’s father was world cham­pion in 1999 with Muir­heads among his team, while be­fore they head to Switzer­land both the lat­ter’s younger sis­ter and his girl­friend, Anna Sloan, will team up at the women’s World Cham­pi­onship.

Along with Vicki Adams it will be their fourth to­gether — lead Sarah Reid joined them last sea­son af­ter Team Muir­head claimed their bronze medal at Sochi — and, ranked fourth in the world, they will be among the favourites.

Un­beaten through the round-robin stages at the na­tional cham­pi­onships this time around they cruised into the women’s Scot­tish Cham­pi­onship fi­nal on the back of eight suc­ces­sive wins, but were made to work for their ti­tle af­ter op­po­nents Team Gray seized the mo­men­tum at the fourth end of the fi­nal by claim­ing a three.

Muir­head’s re­sponse was in­stant and con­clu­sive as a sin­gle to tie things up at the in­ter­val was fol­lowed im­me­di­ately af­ter by a stolen dou­ble at the sixth and when that was re­peated at the eighth they had an all but unas­sail­able 8-4 lead which they held un­til the end.

Their World Cham­pi­onship is in Swift Cur­rent, Saskatchewan, scene of fond mem­o­ries for Muir­head since, on the back of four World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onship wins as a teenager, it was there she an­nounced her­self at se­nior level by skip­ping Scot­land to the fi­nal in 2010.

Pic­ture: Tom J Bry­done

GET IN: Tom Brewster, left, and Hammy McMil­lan cel­e­brate their Scot­tish ti­tle win.

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