The First Alabama-Auburn Game! The Great Rivalry is Born, 1893

January 11, 1893, Monday – Birmingham Weekly


Auburn and Tuskaloosa to Meet in the Arena


On the Birthday of the Great and Good George Washington

Auburn, Jan. 6.— (Special Correspondence.) —The great foot ball match to be played between Auburn and Tuskaloosa, on February 22, is all the talk now in athletic circles here. Enthusiasm runs high and there is a fixed determination to down the university boys. The strength of the “varsity” eleven is not underrated, but they will certainly have a lively tilt for the wreath of laurel.

The combatants are worthy foes—Greek meets Greek. Worthy sons of Alabama meet other worthy sons to re-enact the days of the Olympic Games of Greece, or when the young Roman, stripped and oiled, heaved the discus in rivalry with his fellows.

So far the Tuskaloosa team is an unknown quantity in the foot ball arena. This is their first year, but report comes of excellent practice games and the Auburn boys are bracing for a heavy fight. Forewarned, forearmed.

Last year the Auburn team won a brilliant battle from the University of Georgia team in Atlanta. The scene was inspiring. All Georgia, as it were, had its heart set on the university. The affair became one of the leading society events. The old alumni, gray headed statesmen, mature matrons and lovely girls, all came in multitudes. A more brilliant assemblage has never witnessed an athletic contest in the south. The score stood 10 to 0 in favor of Auburn, and it goes without saying the Auburn boys enjoyed their spoils.

This year the Auburn team has played three games, losing two. As to these two defeats, it may be said, that it was absolutely impossible to do anything with the North Carolina team. They are descendants of Goliath. There is not a team in the south that they will not bowl down like ten pins. Indeed they have done it, and are the champions of the south. The game with Trinity was brilliant while Auburn defeated the “Techs” with a much heavier score (26 to 0) than did Vanderbilt. So Birmingham will see a lively tussle on the 22d of February.

All New York goes out on Thanksgiving day to see Princeton and Yale pursue the flying sphere across the checkered field. All Birmingham will go to see Auburn and Tuskaloosa on the anniversary of great and good George Washington’s birthday. The immortal hero, indeed, may be forgotten in the exhilarating, contagious fun of the generous contest between the brawn and muscle of the sister institutions.

As a matter of fact, the Magic City will witness a contest that for pluck and dash, excitement, rare and glorious pleasure, is altogether unequalled by aught that has yet come within her borders.

A few of her citizens have already seen something this fall of foot ball; but beyond doubt, the impending contest will eclipse all previous exhibitions. Tuskaloosa boys will be there. Auburn boys will surely be there; and the encircling hills of old Jefferson will ring with such shouts as have never been heard before.

It is sincerely to be hoped that the public spirited citizens of Birmingham, (the progressive spirits, indeed, of our commonwealth) will rally to the patronage of this, the first effort at intercollegiate foot ball in the state.

The game is generally unknown. But once understood it will come to stay. It is a manly game, and recommends itself to every lover of outdoor sports.

Nothing is better for the physical development of the boy than the training preparatory for a contest. Regular diet, according to the most scientific principles of physiology; regular hours; total abstinence from all tobacco, and from all alcoholic beverages—these are only a few of the good points that commend the game from the standpoint of morals and health.

Then, the game itself is a splendid mental discipline. A fool cannot play successful football. Mere fat does not count. Skill, coolness, pluck, endurance, and all those qualities that are necessary for the real battle of life come into play on the foot ball ground.

Let us have foot ball. Away with the fossiliferous idea that men must stalk about in a staid, solemn, stilted, “Sir Oracle” fashion in order to play at being learned and wise. A sound mind in a sound body is the old reliable maxim, and in these days of increasing competition the sounder one’s body the more probable one’s success. From time immemorial the foot ball field has been the great nursery of health and vigor in the English public schools. Wellington is said to have learned to fight Waterloo on the ball fields of Eton.

And as a matter of fun, foot ball is “par excellence.” It can’t be beat. All Birmingham, of course, knows base ball. Base ball is child’s play to foot ball. Instead of one or two men batting and running, imagine twenty-two stout, knotted frames struggling, swaying, pushing, pulling at one great leather ball with all the vim and fury of twenty-two tigers. The excitement is hair-raising, nerve-thrilling, side-splitting—in a word, magnificent.

On with foot ball! Let us all be there, and give the great sport such a reception as will insure its permanent establishment in our state.

From “The Lost Century of American

[Spelling of “Tuskaloosa” is from the original publication.]


Thanksgiving Football in 1878, articles from The New York World

November 11, 1878, Monday – The World: New York


    The three victories won last Saturday by Harvard at Cambridge, Yale at New Haven, and Princeton at Philadelphia, merely strengthens the belief produced by their previous successes of the season, that the real struggle for the foot-ball championship is confined to the teams of the oldest and largest colleges. The earlier matches played by these, with the teams picked from the smaller bodies of collegians, are largely in the nature of practice games preparatory to the three decisive contests with one another.

    As the Yale faculty consented last Wednesday to allow the players of that college to leave New Haven on the days required by Harvard and Princeton, nothing but good weather seems now wanting to insure a series of interesting matches.

    The Princeton men will go to Boston next Saturday and the Yale men on the Saturday following, to play with Harvard, and if the visitors should both be successful, the closing match at Hoboken on Thanksgiving Day will have all the charm which belongs to the combination of a championship contest. If Harvard wins both the Boston games the final meeting between the two defeated teams will at least be an exciting struggle for the second place. In any event, therefore, metropolitan lovers of sport will have an opportunity to amuse themselves on Thanksgiving Day.

December 16, 1878, Monday – The World: New York


    The rapid growth in the popularity of foot-ball has been a noteworthy characteristic of the undergraduate athletics of the past three years, and the present season in particular has seen a great advance made at the several colleges towards attaining uniformity in the practice of the pastime.

    Though the three oldest and largest ones have exhibited the strongest teams, and though the “championship” has been gained by the college where the game has longest had a prominent position in the calendar of sports, the “new men” nevertheless feel greatly encouraged by the general result of the intercollegiate meetings, for they have pretty generally done themselves credit and pushed the victors to do their very best as a condition of success. Nearly all the matches have shown excellent playing on both sides, and the contests have been much closer than a mere record of the scores would indicate. Next autumn, undoubtedly, the sport will be more vigorously engaged in than ever before.

    Spite of the disagreements which were developed early in the season, both in respect to the numbers which ought to belong to each team and in respect to the dates of the games, the contests of Harvard, Yale and Princeton for the championship were characterized by an unusual amount of good nature, and the final result has been accepted pleasantly by every one.

    The Princetonian of December 5 says: “On Thanksgiving Day our splendid team won the last of the long series of victories with which the past few weeks have been crowded, and gained the championship to which a long season of hard and unremitted practice had fully entitled them. Though our victory was a very decided one, the Yale team certainly proved themselves gallant antagonists. They played strongly and, at times, skillfully. Their comparative weakness lay in lack of skill not in want of strength. While our men were quite their matches in point of strength, they were more than matches in point of skill, passing the ball more surely and supporting each other more carefully….”

From The Lost Century of American Football and The First Decade of College Football

Carlisle Native American Football Team 114 Years Ago

November 4, 1897




The strength, spirit, and enthusiasm of the play of the famous Indian foot-ball team from the school at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is the most interesting feature to-day in the foot-ball world. Their condition is so amazing that they play from beginning to end without appreciable loss of strength. Almost without armor, they move with a dash and quickness unequaled by any of their opponents. When the university men call time, so as to patch up wounds, take refreshments, and catch breath, the Indians throw handsprings and turn somersaults.

In this picture Mr. W. T. Bull, formerly a noted full-back at Yale, is teaching the backs of the Indian team how they should plunge through the line when an opening has been made between centre and guard. The group in the background of the picture is composed of players and substitutes taking note of the lesson. These Indians have learned all of the old university tricks and have others invented for them by Mr. Bull. There is little doubt that they can beat all the teams in the country except those of Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and Pennsylvania, and possibly Cornell.

From “The Lost Century of American Football

Football 159 Years Ago Today

October 18, 1852, Monday – The New-York Times


In almost every University in America there is some contest to decide the strength and agility of the Freshman and Sophomore classes. In Yale, it is the Foot-ball Game.

On Wednesday, 13th inst., at 4 o’clock, P.M., the rival classes met for the purpose of contesting five games. Each class numbers 114 youths; and this year, their apparent strength was so nearly equal, that it was generally conceded that if the Sophomores conquered, as is usually the result, it would be through artifice.

The Freshmen gave the first kick, and then a general rush was made for the ball, around which they formed a dense crowd for 15 minutes, each class striving to their utmost ability without gaining a single rod. At this crisis the ball was kicked from the crowd, over the side bounds, where any one who could get it has the right to one kick. A Sophomore obtained this right, but, not being expert himself, he communicated the ball to the leader of his class, a powerful fellow, who ran several rods with it, when he was overtaken by a more athletic Freshman, but succeeded in throwing the ball nearly over the goal. One or two more kicks, and the umpires decided that the Sophomores had won the first game.

After contesting the second game for nearly an hour, the umpires finally decided that one of the Freshmen, having caught the ball, was entitled to a kick at it. This the Sophomores were unwilling to allow, but claimed a victory, and challenged the Freshmen to commence the third game. The Freshmen determined to abide by the decision of the umpires, and refused to commence the third game until their second was fairly (as they claimed) ended.

It is but justice to the Sophomores to say that one of the umpires decided the second game in their favor. Darkness here ended the fierce conflict.

The Freshmen have since challenged their rivals to play the remaining four games. But the Sophomores are determined not to play again unless the Freshmen will commence at the third. Here the matter will probably rest, as neither party is disposed to compromise.

Hundreds of spectators witnessed this trial of strength, in which the combatants manifested as much interest and invincible courage as was ever exercised upon the plains of Mexico by the American soldiers; and it is also worthy of note that in this contest also, one brave hero fainted, and was borne bleeding from the field.

From: “The Lost Century of American Football