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.]