The leaves, turned brown and lifeless on their branches, tumble to the ground by the thousand. The brick pathways, perpetually slick from a muggy mix of rain and fog, lend themselves to approximately 3.2 embarrassing moments per day. The older citizens of our fair city, the wet weather playing upon their arthritic joints, are getting closer and closer to plowing into an entire crosswalk of oblivious students. And the weather — well, forget the weather; Williamsburg will probably be 60 degrees from now until well after the earth crashes into the sun. What does all of this mean, you ask? Well, apparently we have reached yet another mid-November without a nuclear holocaust or a collision with a giant asteroid (score one for Bruce Willis), and for the second consecutive year our football team limps into the season finale hoping to escape with a final win at home.
p. Our opponents in this weekend’s game, the University of Richmond Spiders, come to town looking similarly unimpressive, sitting at exactly .500 for the season. Some things don’t change, and it looks as if this match-up is one of them. The Tribe-Spiders game is touted as “the oldest rivalry in the South” by the University of Richmond website, and also has the distinction of being the fourth-oldest rivalry in the country. This weekend will stand as the 116th year that the two teams have faced off against each other. Overall, we have claimed 59 of the total victories to Richmond’s 51, five ties adulterating the record, occurring long before my base of knowledge begins (plus, I really don’t feel like looking it up. Ah, the glories of having your own column.)
In anticipation of this weekend, I decided to pay a visit to the wild and crazy people over at the Special Collections department of Swem Library (I shouldn’t poke fun — they were all really awesome, and I’m the one who pored over old, grainy microfilm) and check out The Flat Hat’s coverage of the game – 1981 style.
p. Remarkably, little has changed in 25 years. The opinions section overflows with articles decrying the actions of an evangelical republican president, the school was still older than dirt, and the “Friday the Thirteenth” movies sucked then, too. A smarter paper would just pick and choose a couple articles, change a couple details, and voila — a new paper in five minutes. But no, that’d be too easy; the editors have to make up complex reasons not to metaphorically bang our heads against the wall — imaginative phrases like “journalistic integrity,” and “grammar.”
p. As for the game, the William and Mary Indians — this game occurring before the mascot switch to the more PC, but evidently not bulletproof, Tribe — came into the game looking weak, sporting a 4-6 record on the season. In a seeming fit of athletic schizophrenia, the two previous weeks had seen the team get creamed by Harvard’s Crimson and tear the East Carolina University Pirates to pieces. Richmond, although entering the game with a meager 3-6 record of its own, had an ace in the hole.
p. Heisman Trophy candidate Barry Redden lead the charge for the Spiders, his last season before embarking on a nine-season NFL career. Unfazed, Indians quarterback Chris Garrity simply outplayed the Spiders, throwing for 328 yards and adding more of a buffer to the 11 school passing records he had upon graduation.
The game this year mirrors the one from a quarter century ago in many aspects — two rivals, already bloodied from a rough season, will do battle for some of the oldest bragging rights in the country, and this time, if I’ve done my math correctly, the victorious team will have exactly .86 percent more to be proud of than before. Now, with so much at stake, how could you not be excited?
p. Brad Clark is any macropod that isn’t large enough to be classified as a kangaroo, but doesn’t have any other name. He also writes columns for The Flat Hat.