For many years, they’ve been competing at crib at the Mersey Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion in Liverpool. Twice, they came in second at the provincial finals – but that wasn’t enough to get them to the nationals.
Until this year, when they joined up with relatively new players Bruce Clattenburg and Louis Conrad.
They won the provincials and then, last month, they hit the nationals in Manitoba, coming in second nationally.
“My husband is very optimistic,” says Gwen Lowe. “Third time’s the time he says, so, well, we picked up the right partners and the rest is history.”
She says Lloyd taught her to play cribbage when they got married. She was 19.
It took her 50 years to make the nationals.
Lloyd laughs when he’s asked what it felt like when their team won the provincials in Middleton.
“I was happy,” he says. “I told her third time is trying time; I told these guys the same thing. And we got a chance to go (to Manitoba). It was very exciting.”
The foursome went to Winnipeg to play against all 10 other provincial legion champs.
[Liverpool team heads to Manitoba for national cribbage finals]
When asked if they expected to come in second place at that tournament, Louis Conrad says they certainly didn’t.
“We (he and Clattenburg) haven’t even played for a full year yet.”
Clattenburg says he and Conrad just started to play together and they found out that the Lowes needed a partner.
Conrad says he promised Clattenburg that, if they won the provincials, Conrad was going to carry him out to the car.
“No, I carried him,” laughs Clattenburg.
The foursome got a free trip to Winnipeg.
“We met some nice people and very good card players. They were tough for sure,” says Conrad.
“First time a team ever went from this branch that far, so it felt pretty darn good,” says Conrad.
They say it’s the chemistry of the particular foursome that got them that far.
“These guys are just good card players,” says Gwen Lowe. “They just started the game but they do very well at it.”
Gwen Lowe’s cheese.
“I always take a lunch. Lloyd is diabetic so I always carry food, and for awhile they were having a bit of trouble, and it was time to bring out the food and have a snack and, after they had some cheese, they started doing good, so they said from now on ‘bring the cheese!’."
And how does their notoriety go over at the Mersey Branch of the legion? Are they celebrities now?
“Just amongst ourselves,” says Gwen Lowe.
“We’ve probably got a target on our head now. We’re the team to beat, but aside from that it’s just life as usual,” says Conrad.
They’ve played since they’ve been back, but they haven’t won.
“I guess we need 70 teams to beat,” laughs Gwen Lowe, referring to the provincials.
The team is not done competing, however. They are headed to Prince Edward Island to play in the Atlantic Legion Cribbage Championships.