Heads, they win

TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

Three coins for three three-time Alberta Brier-winning skips. You've heard of three coins in the fountain? How about three coins in the Brier Patch?

That's the concept to celebrate Alberta's 100th birthday party at the Brier, and it's tickled the three like a corn broom used to tickle the ice.

Only three skips have done it - Matt Baldwin, Ron Northcott and Randy Ferbey - and they all got the call to be honoured with their famous faces on a coin, the legal tender for the purchase of libations in the Brier Patch at the 2005 Edmonton Brier.

"I've never had a pocket full of Randy Ferbey coins before,'' said Randy Ferbey. "I'm having a lot of fun with this. When they told me I was going to have my own coin at the Brier Patch, I said 'Great, because I do spend a lot of money in there.''

Baldwin said he's going to have fun with his for as long as he can still play golf.

"I'm going to get a bunch of them and use them as ball markers. They're not a hell of a lot of good for anything but to prove you're a famous person,'' joked the oldest living Brier-winning skip from his winter home in Palm Springs, Califorina.

"Lately, with all the guys I golf with down here, I'm in need of proving I was a semi-famous person a million years ago. These guys down here don't know what curling is and I can't wait for one of them to look at my ball marker and see my face on it,'' said the 78-year-old, who won his Briers in 1954, 1957 and 1958.

JUST CAN'T PUT IT INTO WORDS

"I just feel so good about this I can't put it into words. This ranks right up there to being the honorary chairman of the 1999 Edmonton Brier and being invited to be a part of throwing out the first rock of the 75th Silver Anniversary Brier in Saskatoon and looking up to see Ernie Richardson was down at the other end holding the broom.

"Curling is a pretty neat sport. I'm continually mesmerized that they never forget the older guys. I'm so honoured that they'd include me with these other guys. I could hold my own with Ron Northcott, but I don't know about these Ferbey guys.''

Uh, try the flip-flop of that.

"It's kind of amazing,'' said Ferbey. "It's a total shock to me. I don't put myself in the same shoes as Matt Baldwin or Ron Northcott. It's an incredible thing to be a part of something like this, with two greats of the game like those guys.''

HAVING YOUR FACE ON A COIN

There are all sorts of honours in the world of sport but how do you feel when somebody calls you up says they want to put your face on a coin?

"My kids said, 'What?' said Northcott."They said, 'It's the Edmonton Brier'. You're from Calgary. They have to be kidding.'

"You never expect someone to call you up and tell you they're going to put your face on a coin. So , yeah, I was a little surprised. But that it was Edmonton doing it ... that made it totally shocking.''

Just as shocking to both Baldwin and Northcott are the ballistic ticket-sale totals - now over 262,000 - with a dozen days to go before they'll be here to watch the first draw and go to the Brier Patch and plunk down a coin with their face on the front to buy a beer.

It's expected that almost everybody will take one of each of the $4 coins home as a souvenir to provide a possible $50,000 of revenue for the local organizing committee, which made $14,000 in 1999 using 'Hectors', a coin honouring the late Hec Gervais.

Most of those fans probably won't remember that it was Baldwin, at the Edmonton Gardens in 1954, who essentially did for the Brier what the 1948 Calgary Stampeders did for the Grey Cup.

"In 1954 we had more fans than they'd ever had before. But it boggles my mind to think what they're going to end up with when it's all over,'' said Baldwin of the 32,000 at Edmonton's first Brier.

"The thing that happened in 1954 was that I was 27 and it was considered really something for a guy that young to win. Then Ernie Richardson kicked in, then Ron Northcott ...

"Before I came along, nobody slid. They tossed them out of the hack and went about three feet and stood up.

"I think the Brier became something very important to Canada back then, but now it's the whole deal with the attendance, the TV cameras, the Brier Patch and people using coins with my face on them to buy their drinks,'' said Baldwin.


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