Sunday, August 31, 2008

First game memories . . .

Seemed to be a lot of folks dropping out like flies at the GSU game Saturday. The heat and humidity were terrible, and with the 12:30 kickoff, it could be that a lot of our "tailgain' brethen" didn't have didn't have enough time to get properly hydrated (some may call it lubricated) before they entered the stadium. I've heard that many swooned in the stadium and that both the North and South concourses were lined with heat prostrated victims before halftime. This problem was compounded by the fact that our concessionaires ran out of ice at halftime.

Thank goodness we didn't have an opponent that required our full attention and support to secure the win.

Such was not the case back in 1965, when both yours truly and Vince Dooley were sophomores - I, as a student and Vince, as the head coach. On opening day, Georgia, coming off a remarkable 7-3-1 campaign including a Sun Bowl victory over Donnie Anderson's Texas Tech team, was playing the reigning National Champions, Ala-damn-bama coached by the legendary Bear Bryant. Just a year earlier, the crusty Bryant had welcomed young Vince to the SEC with 31-3 shellacking in Tuscaloosa.

It was the custom, back in the day, to come to the games in your "Sunday best". I was looking good in my wool herringbone sport coat, wool slacks, and white starched shirt with red/black striped tie. I was also sweating like Percy Sledge writing a love letter before kickoff, because that beautiful opening day back in 1965 was much like this past Saturday. My date for the day was my current wife (the lovely Ms. 'fish) who I don't remember speaking to me after the second quarter. Then again, I don't remember much of anything after the second quarter.

My running mate for the day was the infamous Dorsey Hill (you might recall Lewis Grizzard later making him an institution as "The World's Greatest Bulldog Fan" in his many articles and books). Since Hill was two years older and I was still a pledge, my main job was to first, get the whiskey into the stadium, and secondly, keep our cokes liberally blended from kickoff until the final gun. I did a good job . . . I think.

It was a great game. UGA took an early lead. Alabama came back and tied the score in the second half, 10-10. Reality set in when Alabama, led by Steve Sloan, took a 17-10 lead with three minutes left in the game. It was about that time that Hill suggested we might need a fresh drink with which to leave the stadium, since this one looked like it was about over. On first down, I missed a two yard gain to our own 27 yard line pouring the bourbon in the cup. I then missed the second most famous play in UGA history with my head between my knees stirring the drinks . . . Kirby Moore to Pat Hodgson to Bob Taylor - the Flea-Flicker play. I looked up in time to see Taylor cross the goal line. I then kicked my damn drink over seconds later when Kirby hit Hodgson in the back of the endzone with the two point conversion to win the game, 18-17.

True story . . . that was the last drink I have ever had at a UGA football game. EVER. I'll drink before and celebrate afterwards, but old 'fish will never run the risk of missing history again while mixing a drink :>)

Lot of similarities between that year, 1965, and this one. Naysayers have groused for years over the fact that we haven't played a regular season, non-conference game more than 200 miles from Athens (GT, Clemson, and USC). We did in 1965 - two weeks after the Alabama game we traveled to Ann Arbor to defeat Michigan, 15-7. This year, 43 years later, we shut the critics up by traveling to Arizona State. That was the first time in history UGA played a team with a black athlete . . . I've got a few humorous stories about that game from my good friend, Doug McFalls, who was the Captain of the '65 team. As usual, Erk was the master motivator. I'll share 'em later.

Thanks to the moderators for allowing me to share a few thoughts and memories to this forum. Look forward to talking to y'all later.



Otto said...

Solid gold!!

Good stuff Fish.

Bop said...

This post just made my day.

Thanks for sharing.

Ally said...

Great story! That reminded me so much of hearing my Mom & Dad tell stories about their gamedays at UGA.

Thanks for that - keep 'em coming!

Anonymous said...

i love a post that uses the words crusty, lubricated, shellacking, Ala-dam-bama, groused and herringbone. no doubt i'll be looking forward to your next post, which hopefully will continue to draw from your prodigious vocabulary.

p.s. in your opinion, what is the most famous play in Georgia history?

'fish said...

Milhouse - thanks for the kind words.

As to the most famous play in UGA history? Don't think it's an opinion really. More of a fact . . .

"Left 76". George Haffner called it down from the box upstairs. Charlie Whittemore wagged it onto the field. Buck Belue called it in huddle and then threw the pass. Lindsay Scott caught the pass and took it to the house to move us to #1 in the nation - a position we would not relinquish in a magical season: 1980.

Oh yeah . . . Munson made couple of calls that day, too: "Run Lindsay", "I came right through a chair, a metal steel chair", and finally, "Man, is here going to be some property destroyed tonight!!!"

Let's hope we make some more memories this year while Larry is still there to paint the verbal picture. Not as eloquently or as accurately, but with more heart than ever. Reflecting a standard to which all true Dawgs aspire - he's out there to FINISH THE DRILL. May God bless him and the team he loves.


Anonymous said...

First game memories are always a good topic. Mine was 1992 UGA vs. now defunct Cal St Fullerton and a beat down was handed to the titans. But by far my favorite first day memories was my eldest son's first game back in 2006. This one also coinsided with Matt Stafford's first start. JT did great and we have the socks, pictures and ABH paper haging in a shadowbox. I walk by that everyday and love the headline still that rings true for Stafford and JT, it reads, "New Dawg Unleashed" By the way that game was a 34-0 drubbing of UAB.