Ed Smith: Our very own Brier champions

Published on March 18, 2017

Newfoundland and Labrador's (from left) Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker and coach Jules Owcharhold hold the Brier Tankard after defeating Team Canada 7-6 to win the Tim Hortons Brier curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John’s, March 12, 2017.

©Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Hey, you all — first things first! Hallelujah! Amen and all praise! The boys did it! Men’s curling champions of Canada!

Ed Smith column head

I am convinced that it was my prayers to the Almighty, who also Skips the universe, that carried Brad Gushue’s rock the last six inches to win. OH and I just about came off the bed.

Congratulations Skipper Brad, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker. You have made us all very proud and added yet more depth to that already illustrious title of Newfoundlander and Labradorian. Thank you, b’ys!

But can you absolutely believe it?

Here, at Mile One Stadium, so-called because it’s the easternmost beginning of the Trans-Canada Highway. Here, where Canadian superhero Terry Fox dipped his foot in the ocean to begin his courageous and inspiring walk of more than 8,000 kilometres (the length varies slightly, depending on the route taken) across one of the longest highway systems in the world.

Just as an aside, OH and I spent a memorable night with Terry Fox in the middle of the Gulf of St. Lawrence a few years ago. OK, so Terry Fox was the name of the icebreaker that came to tow us back to North Sydney after the Marine Atlantic ferry broke her rudder trying to break through the ice late in the day. You have to take your name-dropping where you can find it. An association with Terry Fox is a big thing no matter how you get it.

I think I just digressed slightly from the first line. My regrets. Back to work.

I cannot believe that despite everything I said at the beginning about this being a unique corner of the universe for several reasons, there were people, not all of them fans, who were complaining that the Brier crowd, all 95 per cent of them, was cheering too loudly! Some teams could not hear the instructions from their skips, for heaven’s sake. The 95 per cent of fans who had travelled long distances, like the crowd from Springdale, were not there to be quiet and serene, although normally the Springdale contingent could be poster people for your more prayerful church congregations.

How low would they have had to keep it, you! A friend was sitting near some people from Fogo Island who you might say were a mite loud. Tell that lot to keep it down because the boys from Northern Ontario could not hear!

Which reminds me of a little incident involving the likes of me — and OH. We were sitting in the wheelchair section of one of the most beautiful theatres in Toronto, just waiting for “Phantom of the Opera” to begin, when an usher appeared and told me I would have to move because the people behind me could not see.

“Is this the wheelchair section?”

“Yes, it is.”

“And this is where you told me to sit?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Where do you want me to sit?”

He indicated a spot at the back of the theatre very near some large pillars.

“Where would my wife sit?”

“She would have to stay here.”

“In that case,” I said, “I will stay with her.”

“But sir” — he was clearly not a happy camper — “what about the people who cannot see?”

Clearly he did not know where I was from.

“Simple,” I said. “Move them.”

And I settled down next to a beaming OH to enjoy a great show. Never saw the usher again.

Some of the offended at the Brier were heard to suggest that the crowd was just a little unsportsmanlike. I did not hear that myself. Tell you what I did hear, and I saw practically all the games, was the best part of 7,000 fans applauding good shots — and there were a lot of them — by all curlers. I was struck by that fact.

There was a suggestion that some curlers were unsportsmanlike to other curlers. Granted, I saw only the televised versions, but I neither saw nor heard any hint of anything like that. At one point I thought the curlers on one team were getting down on each other a bit, but that was all.

The other significant thing happened at the beginning of the championship game on Sunday night. When our boys marched in, they were given the only kind of reception you would expect — an extremely loud one! But did you notice that when Team Koe paraded in, they were given a rousing cheer as well? And it was well-deserved, as they are one of the world’s great curling teams.

I was impressed and pleased with the level of sportsmanship by fans and players alike.

Who did you expect us to cheer for, anyway? The boys from every corner of the nation except our own?

Are you forgetting who we are?

 

Ed Smith is an author who lives in Springdale. His email address is edsmith@nf.sympatico.ca