History learnin', Vol. I

You know what?  2011 is already getting to be just too depressing.  I had even almost allowed myself to begin to have hope for this season, and then our customary "mast snapping in half" happened almost right on cue.  Rather than continue to ruminate on the possibility of firing our coach and counting the losses this season will bring, however, I'd like to go in the other direction.

Let's delve into the annals of Georgia football history, recalling brighter, fairer days when the Georgia football program was in the ascendancy, which started on literally the first day of its existence.  I'm a big history buff, and one of the things I've recently discovered is the joy of sitting down and reading old newspaper articles of past events. Reading the accounts of the journalists themselves not only allows you to receive a first-person account of the games, but it transports you back to a different time, when society was radically different from ours today (not to mention the rules of the game), and it's interesting to see how some things haven't changed so much, as well.  :-)

If this piece is received well, I would like this to be a semi-regular FanPost feature during times when our team is down and we could draw a little strength by reminiscing about the "good old days."

To kick off this feature, let's start where one should always start... at the very beginning.

The first intercollegiate football game Georgia ever contested was against Mercer University on January 30, 1892.  The following excerpts are from an article in the Athens Weekly Banner on February 2, 1892.  I've chosen not to use the block quote function for all of this because it would be a big dadgum box, but everything below is quoted from the article as faithfully as I can recreate it. (You will note, for example, an alarming complete lack of use of the Oxford comma.)  Any non-original text I insert will be in italics.








Witnessed by Over a Thousand People - The University Boys Easily the Winners of the Match


Black and Crimson.

These are the colors of the University of Georgia, and they were proudly pinned upon the fair young ladies and gallant young men of Athens yesterday.  And they floated to victory and that a glorious one, too.

The match game of football between the University of Georgia and Mercer University was probably the first game its of kind (sic) between colleges ever played this far South and it naturally aroused a great interest.

The Mercer boys came in at twelve o'clock and brought with them two (rail)cars full of students and citizens of Macon, Madison, and other places along the line of the Macon & Northern.  They were taken in charge by the University boys and entertained at their different homes.  The Mercer colors, black and yellow, were seen on nearly two hundred breasts, and several young ladies from Macon were along to attest their faith in the Mercer boys.  It was a fine delegation of young men and young ladies, and a nicer crowd never came on a visit to Athens.

The University campus was decorated with black and crimson and on the field one goal was decorated in University colors, the other in Mercer colors.  Long before three o'clock the crowd began to assemble and the yells of the two colleges were alternately raised with a vim by the boys.  The University goat was driven across the field by the boys and raised quite a ripple of laughter.  At three o'clock there were over one thousand people on the ground, and the presence of so many young ladies from the city, the Lucy Cobb and the Home School added inspiration to the occasion.

The umpire, Mr. Frank Lupton, of Auburn, Ala, and the referee, Mr. Ike Cabiness, of Macon, stepped forth, ordered the teams into position and the game was on.

The following were the teams that confronted each other:

UNIVERSITY                              POSITIONS                                   MERCER

Frey                                             Center Rush                                 Brown
Howell                                        Right Guard                                  Anderson
Shackelford                               Left Guard                                     Chappas
Halsey                                        Right Tackle                                 Napier
Nalley                                         Left Tackle                                    Petit
Lane                                           Right End                                      Petit
Fricks                                         Left End                                         Nash
Gramling                                   Quarter Back                                Madden
Herty                                           Right Half Back                           Offerman
Kimball                                      Left Half Back                               Turpin
Brown                                        Full Back                                        Beggs

Substitutes:  University, Turner, Wrigley and Kemp; Mercer, Brown, Small and Crusselle.

Both teams presented a handsome appearance as they lined up for the contest.

The Game in Detail
The game starts, Mercer getting the ball, loses three yards on first pass, in gain on second, Schackelford gets the ball, gains four yards.  Herty makes an excellent run and touches the first down.  Brown fails to kick the goal.  Score 4 to 0.  (!!)

Mercer has ball on twenty-five-yard line.  They punt it.  Kimball catches and runs. Frey, in a (illegible), secures the ball, passes to Brown who makes good run. Kimball loses five yards. Herty gains nine yards.  Kimball then gains ten, but runs out with ball on fifteen yard line.  It is brought in fifteen yard line.  Shackelford grabs ball on a pass, "bucks" the centre for ten yards, Kimball gets ball, Anderson secures it.  Frey takes ball and Anderson for four yards.   Mercer has the ball, passes to Offerman, who loses five yards.  Kimball gets in good tackle, and Mercer loses sixteen  yards by good work of Gramling and Shackelford.  Kimball makes very excellent run and scures second touch down.  Score 8 to 0.

Ball is punted to Brown by Herty, but he makes a step.  Herty gets ball immediately and secures third touch down, punts out to Brown who makes a fine kick to goal.  The University boys raised a yell and the score stood 14 to 0.

Kimball makes splendid run, Mercer gets ball in centre.  Mercer kicks.  Brown catches and makes a kick of sixty-five yards.  Schackelford makes a pretty play by grabbing Mercer man with the ball and pushing him back of his own goal, making safety.  Score 16 to 0.

Mercer brings the ball to the 25 yard line, Madden makes good kick, Herty catches and makes good run, touching down on the 30 yard line.  University gained fourteen yards, Kimball runs outside and drops ball.  Mercer's men are quick and secure it.  They bring it in fifteen yards and try a punt.  Brown catches and takes ball to ten yard line.  The crowd is enthusiastic.  The Mercer boys at this point do their best work.  The two clubs played good ball around the ten yard line for fully fifteen minutes, Howell, Kimball, Offerman, Halsey, Madden and Atkinson doing good work.  Kimball at last secures ball and touches it back of goal.  Ball is punted to Brown, who makes a pretty kick and secures goal.  Score 22 to 0.

Offerman kicks from center.  Grambling (sic) catches and gains. Brown makes splendid run to ten yard line.  Referee says only four minutes left.  Herty makes University team work.  Herty grabs ball and bucks center for a touch down, punts to Brown who catches and kicks goal.  Score 28 to 0.  First half up.

By this time the game is irretrievably lost to Mercer, but the black and yellow were not tamed In their enthusiasm. They were true "grit" and when the time was called they lined up like men and went at the second half with a will.

The goals have been changed.  University has the ball.  They work their impenetrable "V," Brown carrying the ball, carries it to the four yard line.  Umpire decides upon a foul, and ball goes back to centre.  (A 46-yard penalty?  Dude.)

... (More play-by-play)...

The final play was when Lane made good interference on a pass, ball going to nine yard line.  Halsey and Fricks made good tackles.  Brown secures ball and brings it within six yards of goal.  Herty takes it and makes the last touch down. 

The game was won and the score was 50 to 0.

Enthusiasm was supreme, boys were riding around on a sea of shoulders, even the goat was ridden.

The Mercer boys took defeat very gracefully, and were escorted to the train by the University boys and went off amid the yells of both crowds.


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


How 'Bout Them Black-and-Crimsons!! Starting a winning tradition from the very first game!  I also have the following observations:

1) It seems that even in 1892, the "inspiration" brought by the presence of many fair young southern ladies was well appreciated at University of Georgia football games. Truly this was a great tradition from the very beginning.

2) Dr. Charles Herty was apparently not only the coach, but he also played in the game.  There was no student on the team named "Herty" according to Georgia's historical records, so one can only assume that the "Herty" mentioned in the article is the coach himself.  I guess eligibility rules hadn't been invented then!

3) 4 points for a "touch down," and the kick after is worth 2 points, for a total of 6 possible points.  Uh... yeah.

4) Yes, for those who didn't already know, our first mascot was a goat!


And speaking of interesting things, on a totally unrelated note I found the following notification/advertisement on the same page as the story detailing the football game:

Archdeacon Farrar, of London, says that he will give $500 for proof of a single case, in the church or out of it, where a person has been cured of intemperance without practicing total abstinence.

That would be $500 in 1892 dollars, mind you.

And with that, I open it up to the floor!  What do you think about this?  Is it worth doing regularly?

Go Dawgs University!

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