On Friday, I had the thrill of a lifetime. I spared two games in the Granite Men's Invitational playing with Alf Phillips Jr., Ray Turnbull and Terry Braunstein, all Brier winners, all legends, all with great stories. As I explained to a golfing friend of mine, this was like playing a round with Hogan, Snead and Nelson.
We split our two games, winning the first against Gareth Watson, the bonspiel's chairman, then losing in the second to John Francis and his Thornhill gang. We had lots of chances in the second, but curled pretty much like dogs, taking nothing away from Francis and his squad.
What was remarkable about these two games was just how competitive these three of these legends still are. All three are in their 70s and all want to make every shot. Now I wouldn't say they slip into the hack with the greatest of ease, nor is sweeping a priority with them. But they all still slide pretty well and you can see how they get mad when they miss shots. Of course it all stays on the ice and once the game is over, the stories started flying. And oh can these guys tell tales.
Turnbull and Braunstein, who have been curling together longer than I've been alive, can go on for hours. Alf also has his fair share too. For a loudmouth like me, it was tough to get a word in edgewise.
By the way, Turnbull says he hasn't yet started to miss the broadcasting. He thinks he might when it comes around to the Season of Champions time, but as he told me while we were nursing our beers, "It was time."
I couldn't stick around, but Vic Rauter came in later and served as emcee as the three entertained the crowd at the stag dinner on Friday night, part of what is a pretty remarkable bonspiel the Granite puts on. If you've never been to the Granite Club -- home of the very first Brier, then you're missing something.