Former foes now friends

KEN WIEBE -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:43 AM ET

Bill Hodgson was sitting in a hotel lobby in Fredericton some 30 years ago when he ran into an old friend.

Mike Riley was the third for Manitoba's entry at the Brier that year and had no idea Hodgson was playing lead for Northern Ontario.

"Mike came up to me and said 'Geez, it's nice to see you here. You came a long way to watch the Brier,' " said Hodgson. "I said 'Well Mike, I'll be doing a bit more than watching; we play you in the first game.' "

"They beat us and went on to win the Brier," recalled Doug Holmes, second on the Manitoba team at the 1975 Brier. "We became friends subsequent to that and here we are, 30 years later, on a Manitoba team together."

These days, Hodgson and Holmes make up the front end of the Granite rink skipped by Doug Harrison, which will compete in the Canadian senior men's and women's curling championships that begin Sunday at the East St. Paul Curling Club.

Hodgson, who was transferred from his job in Thunder Bay, Ont., to Winnipeg in 1979, had no idea he'd have to wait 30 years before competing in his next national championship.

"I've lost a couple of finals and a couple of semifinals with different people over the years," said Hodgson. "I'm tickled pink."

Holmes is coming off his first provincial title since 1975.

"We've played some pretty capable teams and as you well know, getting out of Manitoba is tough," said Homes. "Jeff Stoughton, Kerry Burtnyk and Vic Peters have done it more than once recently, but back in our vintage there were eight or 10 teams that on any given day could win the province. It was very difficult to break that nut and win the purple heart."

Howie Restall, who calls the game but throws third stones, is quite familiar with several teams in the national field and has a score to settle with one in particular.

"There's a guy playing third for Alberta by the name of Marv Wirth, and I lost the Canadian mixed finals in 1990 (to him)," said Restall.

"This is going to be my revenge, I hope."

The only other time Restall has worn the Buffalo was as a fifth for Stoughton's rink in Hamilton in 1991.


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