History learnin', Vol. I(b): The agony of defeat

(No, not the agony of Georgia's defeat. I said this feature was intended to make us feel better, not remember that we suck.)

In my previous post on this topic, I shared the Athens Weekly Banner's account of the first football game ever played in the South, which was a 50-0 Georgia victory over Mercer University.  The author painted a glowing picture of an excited crowd of well over 1,000 persons watching a good-spirited football game in which the Mercer boys were just simply outmatched.

I am an "equal time" kind of person, though, and I felt it only appropriate to share the perspective of the Macon area's collective reaction to the South's first football game. Without further ado, here are some excerpts from the Macon Telegraph story on January 31, 1892  (again, my additions are in italics):





Mercer Boys Did Splendid Work and Only Need a Little More Training in the Science of the Game - One Man Hurt.


ATHENS, Jan. 30 - (Special) - There was a hard fight in the football game here this afternoon between the Georgia University and the Mercer University teams.  It is true the score stood fifty to nothing in favor of the University of Georgia boys, but Mercer has a good team, well selected and with constant practice and a good trainer to help them to work up a few weak points, Mercer will play good ball.

The visitors arrived on a special train this morning at 12 o'clock, about one hundred and seventy-five strong, including a splendid delegation of the "lung brigade" besides the football club.

At 3:30 this afternoon the teams walked into the field amidst great cheers, including


of their respective clubs. (Don't ask me why it was laid out this way... that's just the way the paper did it.)

The members were clad in osnaberg (sic), which showed signs of having been through the rub on previous occasions.  The members were as follows:

For Mercer:  (same lineup)

The "Varsities" were: (same lineup)

Mercer played the first half-up of the game with the south goal, the "Varsity" taking the north goal, and the game started as follows:

Mercer being in possession of the ball, held it by means of "downs" with no advantage gained for six minutes.  It then passed into the possession of the "Varsities," and in short order Herty made a touch down, which gained four points for his side.


and when points were made the field was filled with excited spectators whom the officers could not keep behind the lines.

Places were again resumed and a hard fight followed.

... (Play-by-play that is substantially similar to the previous article, except for the following)...

... Herty got in another touch down by a magnificent run, dodging his opponents after his blockers had been left, broke through the excited crowd, ran under a flight of steps and scored with a Mercer man right at his heels.

It was good work all around.


The game was then called and the game stood.  University of Georgia five points (sic); Mercer University nothing.

The excitement was intense and enthusiasm ran high.  The "Varsity's"(sic) worked their wedge schemes "and criss cross" to perfection, which their opponents didn't exactly get on to.


She is powerful and understands blcoking (sic) very well. They are a fine set of boys and made a good impression here.


The Mercer boys returned at 11 o'clock last night not one whit discouraged at their defeat.  They say that the experience has been worth a great deal, and they will go to work again at practice with a zeat (sic).

While all the team worked manfully they all concede that Madden and Chapman played grand football, and that Capt. Dave Beggs is well up to his work.  The boys are enthusiastic over the treatment they received at the hands of the Athens boys and people who treated them royally.

Offerman will be about again in a few days, but his "honorable scars" will be remembered by the whole team. (He sprained his ankle during the game.)

-------------- (End of Article) ----------------------


As you can see, from literally the first time football was ever played in the South, the winners have always "spun" the game as a "magnificent, well-attended, important affair," and the losers have always complained and made excuses about (insert excuse here)... in this case, how their team didn't really have enough time to practice, and that Athens' police can't do a damn thing about crowd control, either. I mean dang, from that account of Herty's "touch down," it sounds like he had to run through campus to score, not just matriculate the ball down the field.

I'm sure there was a beef or two about "the home-field clock," as well, and probably crowd intimidation, what with such an unruly bunch, but apparently the journalist had the good sense to say at least something nice.  And of course, "with just a little more practice, our team will be a whole lot better."   Not to mention that the person who wrote the article apparently learned grammar and spelling in 1892-era Bibb County... but whatever.

See... the more things change, the more they stay the same.  :-)

(And, alas, there were no intemperance advertisements in this paper. There was an interesting discussion about some Yankee senator from Pennsylvania's resolution to annex most of what is today northern Mexico... but we like to shy away from politics here.  Other than, of course, to say that Yankees have some pretty weird ideas.)

Go Dawgs University Varsities!

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