SASKATOON — Hugh and Gayle Lyburn were enjoying their winter vacation in Texas in February when they learned their journey south would need a detour to Saskatoon.
The parents of Allan and William Lyburn were at a friend’s house watching the Safeway Championship final and when Rob Fowler beat Mike McEwen 10-6, they knew they had to follow up on their promise to their children that they would watch them from the stands at the Tim Hortons Brier.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for the world,” said Hugh, who is sitting with the family members of the Brandon-based team. “It’s their dream and our dream. We’ve been curlers all our lives and it’s been our dream to come and support the boys in the Brier.”
The support from the Lyburn family isn’t just found in Saskatoon. Allan and William’s eldest brother, Drew, returned home from a three-year stint in Oman with Britain’s Royal Navy and taught friends and family members back in Scotland how to watch Brier broadcasts online.
Hugh, who emigrated from Scotland to the Alexander area with William and Allan in 1982 to get back into dairy farming, said there’s a lot of support for Manitoba overseas and Allan — Manitoba’s third — appreciates it.
“It’s great,” he said. “I’ve got a couple uncles on my mom’s side watching us. They don’t know a lot about curling, but they’re just happy to see us on TV. Then my older brother, he curled quite a bit when he was younger and he’s happy to see us on TV. He’s pretty proud.”
As for Hugh and Gayle, they’re just enjoying the Brier atmosphere and the success of the Fowler foursome.
“This is it,” Hugh said looking around the Credit Union Centre. “I’m just sucking it all in. It’s beautiful.”
• • •
Fowler’s team keeps ending long Westman droughts at the Brier. It was the first Brandon-based squad to reach the Brier since Brian Fowler in 1987 and the first Westman-based team in the event since Deloraine’s Duane Edwards in 1990. Friday’s 1 vs. 2 Page playoff game also ended a 30-year drought for a Westman-based team playing in a Brier playoff game. Mel Logan’s Souris team was the last to do that in 1982, when they dropped the semifinal 8-5 to Northern Ontario’s Al Hackner.
Doug Armour, who was the third on Logan’s team, loved his time at the 1982 Brier — played at the Keystone Centre — and is proud of Fowler’s team for making the playoffs.
“I really feel good for them,” he said by telephone from Souris. “I knew they could do it. I watched them in Dauphin and I thought if they could get on that same type of roll they were on in Dauphin, they would scare the heck out of everybody. I knew they’d make the playoffs and we’ll see what happens.”
• • •
Jamie Koe and his team from the Yellowknife Curling Club made history Thursday night when they became the first team representing Yukon/Northwest Territories to reach the playoffs at the Brier since the playoff format was adopted in 1980. Koe and his team of Tom Naugler, Brad Chorostkowski and Robert Borden finished fourth at this year’s event with a 7-4 record.
The previous best performances by a team from the Territories came in 1985 when Al Delmage went 6-5 and lost a tiebreaker and in 1975 when Whitehorse’s Donald Twa finished in a tie for second with an 8-3 record in the Territories’ Brier debut.
Koe took a lot of pleasure in his accomplishment, but he’s hoping to get beyond today’s 3 vs. 4 Page playoff game (1:30 p.m., TSN) against his brother, Alberta’s Kevin Koe.
“It’s unreal,” Jamie Koe said. “We’re from the north. We don’t get to play that much ... and we know everyone back home is just going nuts right now and that’s pretty cool. … We’re playing well and getting some breaks. When you’re playing well, that’s what happens and hopefully that continues.”
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 10, 2012