Alan MacDougall has played for England since 1995 when he controversially switched his Scottish shirt for an English one, and how glad are we that he did? He’s played 86 games for England and this year will pass the 100 international games mark when he skips his men’s team in the European Curling Championships in Champery, Switzerland (November 2014).
Alan talks about his experiences as an England player, his world junior gold medal for Scotland and his curling tips – take note!
Name: Alan MacDougall
Years curled: 32
How did you first get into curling?
God brought me to curling – it was either Sunday school or curling at Greenacres at 8am on a Sunday morning. Curling sounded more fun…
Where do you now play most of your curling?
What is your best curling memory?
Hmm… Probably drawing to the one foot to beat the US in the semi-finals of the World Juniors in 1991.
What has been your proudest moment whilst representing England?
Winning the Bronze at the European Mixed Championship… That or narrowly missing out on a semi-final spot in the World Men’s curling championship in Hamilton 1996 with Alistair Burns
Who is your inspiration?
There are so many good curlers now, but historically, I always liked the delivery of Mike Hay, the take-out ability of David Smith and the shot making of Hammy McMillan.
Who do you think the best curler in the world is?
This is a very difficult one to answer. There are so many good curlers – including many from Canada that we never see on the international stage. But for consistency at the top level it is difficult to beat Torger Nergard (Norwegian third).
Describe your pre-match routine.
The older you get the harder it is to step on the ice ready! The day starts early – I hate oversleeping. If I oversleep I always feel “groggy” and I never quite get my Tee weight. The draw at the Europeans is quite good for me – as we are normally up by about 6am. Thereafter it is just about focussing on the game we are about to play, deciding on the game plan and stretching to loosen up the muscles.
Have you ever had a curling related disaster?
Herniated disc at Lockerbie after sleeping in an awful bed in an awful hotel, when trying to play a heavy strike down the very slow outside edge of sheet 1.
Do you have any tips for juniors and less experienced curlers?
- Never give up
- When deciding on your own shot selection always think about what you will leave your opponent
- Play to your own team’s strengths and abilities and;
- Practise, practise and more practise (I find that making pressure shots is all in the mind – if I have played the shot a hundred times during practice then I will be confident to make it in the game, but if I have not practised then the nerves and self-doubt start to creep in to play).
What do you do when you aren’t curling?
I work a lot… I also swim and play a bit of golf and I enjoy spending time with my family. I also enjoy good wine and good company.
Interview by Anna Fowler.