Curlers are hoping to earn Stars and Stripes on tour

Bill Byers and John Hodge are all set for their trip to America.
Bill Byers and John Hodge are all set for their trip to America.

Two Borders curlers are just about to embark on a tour of a lifetime to the USA.

Bill Byers and John Hodge are taking in 10 states and visiting cities such Boston, Milwaukee, Chicago, Washington DC and New York as they compete against the best that USA curling can throw at them.

They are just two members of a 20-man team and in total the five Scottish teams will play 150 games in 23 days, as well as enjoying some ‘après curling’ along the way.

Touring parties from both Scotland and America travel to play for the Herries Maxwell Trophy on a 10-year cycle, and the same format is held with Canada for the Strathcona Cup.

The last team of Scots who toured the USA in 2007 brought back the trophy, so Bill and John will be hoping for a repeat performance.

Scots and Americans have been competing for the Herries Maxwell Trophy since 1952, with the current score over all the tours 7-6 in favour of the Scots. Touring teams are famously difficult to beat, having practiced hard before setting off and playing in the same team every day on the tour.

Both men played against the Americans who toured Scotland in February 2012, something that Bill particular relished. He said before jetting off: “I have enjoyed playing in Scotland against the tough competition of touring teams and I look forward to renewing friendships with as many as possible of the last USA touring curlers and to meeting new ones.”

Bill plays for the DAFS club through his work as water supply specialist with the Drinking Water Quality Regulator and also with Earlston Curling Club along with his wife Sheena. He is playing third and vice skip on the tour for team Mull and is also managing the tour website.

John plays for Duns and Swinton curling clubs along with his wife Janet and he is also the current president of Border Province.

John farms with son Alistair near Whitsome and is also a keen golfer at the Hirsel Golf Club in Coldstream.

He said: “I’m really looking forward to the friendly games, played with a competitive spirit, good fun and making new friends, both with fellow-tourists and our USA hosts.

“Alistair has also been getting me to do some of his manual jobs around the farm; there’s been plenty of lifting involved so it’s been a bit like a gym session. This should stand me in good stead for the games as I’ll have to do a bit of sweeping on the tour playing in the second position in team Islay.”

Both Bill and John are two of the keenest curlers at Border Ice %Rink and regularly play in the various competitions. The downside of going on tour is missing out on playing in some of their favourite competitions at Kelso – but just for this season. They follow many curlers from the Borders who have toured far and wide, with men’s tours also going to Canada and Switzerland and ladies tours going to both the USA and Canada and also Sweden. You can follow Bill’s updates from the tour at https://rccc2017tour.com/