Tuesday, April 16, 2013

1897 VMI loses to St. Albans

Jim Moran III
St. Albans, Radford VA
Jim Moran was a football player for St. Albans College at Radford Virginia, left guard.  He's writing to his brother, Brud, about the VMI/St.Albans game and he included a newspaper clipping.  Jim gets chatty and mentions the death of uncle Johnnie although I haven't been able to identify who Johnnie is. He talks about his lack of money and how the captain of the football team is out to get him.

He also mentions the wedding of "Holbrook" and Lillian Gardner.  Lillian Louise Gardner was the daughter of Alfred Emmitt Gardner and Annie Payne Edwards making them cousins of the Morans.  Holbrook was Joseph Landis Holbrook, the son of Frank M. Holbrook and Buena Vista Hill.   Joe was the editor of the Dresden Enterprise.  Lillian and Joe had three children, Louise, Forrest (who was a girl, she married Guy Smith), and Joe Carmack Holbrook.

Radford, VA
Sunday '97

Dear Brud:
Haven't very much time in which to write you this letter but will write enough to let you know I got back from Lynchburg safe and with very few injuries.  I will inclose (sic) what one of the papers had to say about the game.

Page 1
Thank you very much for the stamps. I am sure they came in at the right time for I was broke and not a stamp did I have.  Tell Papa I received his letter with money and thank him very much, will write to him in a few days.

It looks as if a fellow can spend more money in this town than any place I ever saw.  It looks like it cost me a quarter every time I turn around.  I saw in the American where Holbrooks and Lillian Gardner were united in the holy bonds of matrimony.  I suppose it was a very swell affair for as you know the young man has a very large income.  I was very sorry to learn of Uncle Johnnies death-'but every dog has his day", "the good and bad must die alike".

Your last letter was a letter like I like--something long and newsy.  Don't be surprised if I ever write and tell you that I have had a fight and have been bruised up to some extent.  There is a fellow here from Memphis (the captain of our foot-ball team) who has got it in for me for some unknown cause.  I suppose it was/is because we both go to see the same young lady.  I can't think of no other reason.  Miss Myrtle has give me the "S.B." it does not grieve me much.  I would like to be with you a few hours for I have a whole lots of things to tell you.  I will have to stop as it is late, write soon and another long letter.

Give my love to all.

I am your brother

----------Enclosed Clipping------------
November 26 1897
St. Albans School Defeats the V.M.I. in a Close Contest
A Touchdown in the first Half made the Radford Boys the Winners--The Cadets Fought Gallantly to the End, But Were Unable to Score--A Fast Game.

Under lowering clouds and in a damp cold wind, the boys of St. Albans School, of Radford, and of the Virginia Military Institute, battled for supremacy on the football field in the city yesterday afternoon.  Despite the threatening weather, a large crowd went out to the grounds in Rivermont to witness the game, and as everybody was charged with the electric enthusiasm of the occasion, there was enough yelling and shouting to satisfy anybody.  Many of the young men carried large horns and other instruments for making a loud noise, and when one side or the other seemed to have an advantage, there was a din that would have made the old baseball rooter green with envy.  Efforts were made to keep the crowd within bounds, but during the last half of the game, and in fact before the first
half was finished, the ropes around the grid-iron had been broken down and hundreds of people were streaming over the field.  At times the players were closely surrounded by a multitude of people, which to some extent handicapped them, but, as it happend, was about as bad for one side as for the other.

When the battle was over, it was found that the casualties among players were of no consequence.  Hoss, of St. Albans, who played at left tackle, had to retire from the field in the second half, but he was lame before the game began.  His place was taken by A.L. DeLong.  The most serious accident happened to a spectator, Mr. Stith Floyd.  He was standing at one side watching the game, when one of the players fell against his knee.  He was very painfully injured, and it was feared that one of the bones in his leg had been broken.

V.M.I Kicks off
It has been announced that the game would begin at 3 o'clock, but it was 3:20 o'clock when the V.M.I. who had the kick off, sent the leather sphere whirling into St. Albans' territory.

The boys from Radford took the aggressive from the very start, and by steady gains carried the ball down into V.M.I. territory.  Their crowd of admirers went wild and danced up and down the lines, shouting encouragement.  They made steady gains, and when finally checked were close by the V.M.I. goal.  Bronston, Izard and Fife made fine runs, and worked with might and main to win victory for their team.  Time and again these three men broke through the V.M.I. line for good gains, and finally Bronston, getting the ball, ran around the V.M.I. right end for a touch-down, but as he went some distance outside of the line, it was not counted, and the ball went to V.M.I.

Several punts were exchange.  Izard made a try for goal from the field but
missed, and the ball was brought back to the twenty-five yard line.  V.M.I. struggled desperately to advance the ball, but on the third down were compelled to resort to a punt.  fife fell on the sphere, and agian the boys from Radford made a fierce onslaught on their opponents.  After the exchange of several punts, in one of which Steger tried for goal, the ball went to St. Albans on downs.  Then it was that the young men from the mountains seemed endowed with extraordinary strength.  They fairly plowed through the ranks of the enemy.  Bronston made a brilliant run around V.M.I.'s left.  Izard and Fife both added fine runs to their credit.  When within two yards of the V.M.I. goal, the ball was snapped back to Izard, who plunged through left tackle for a touch-down.  Izard failed to kick goal, and the score stood 4 to 0 in favor of St. Albans.  When time for the first half was called, the ball was on the V.M.I's forty yard line.

The Second Half
After ten minutes play was resumed.  In this half, the St. Albans boys played on the defensive, evidently not being willing to run any risk of losing the advantage they had gained over their formidable opponents.  From the moment that the whistle sounded the men to their places, the V.M.I. boys got the ball and kept it almost entirely until the end of the game.  Time and again, they had the leather sphere within a yard or two of the St. Albans goal, but just when the coveted victory seemed to be almost within reach, the Radford team would make a stubborn resistance, get the ball on downs, and put it out into the open field.

The punting of St. Albans was, with few exceptions, very poor, and once or twice nearly proved disastrous. Shaner, who played left half-back for V.M.I., won the plaudits of the crowd by his brilliant and aggressive work.  He was a regular steam engine, and when he struck the St. Albans' line something had to give way.  He made repeated gains.

The second half of the game was one of the finest spectacles ever seen on the football grounds in this city.  The teams were almost evenly matche, and St. Albans seemed to have a little the advantage in weight.  Only once or twice during the second half was the ball in V.M.I.'s territory.  On the contrary, it was nearly all the time within a few yards of the St. Albans goal, but when time was called for the close of the game, the score stood 4 to 0 in favor of St. Albans, being just what it was at the end of the first half.

Particularly noticeable in the V.M.I. playing was the quarter-back trick and the flying wedge, by both of which the ball was repeatedly advanced.

It was fine game, and taking everything into consideration, was as clean and orderly as any ever played in the city.  There was considerable squabbling, but so far as noticed there was no evidence of violence.

W.R. Abbott, Jr., of Bedford, was referee; Phillip Meade, of the Alleghany Institute, Roanoke umpire; Robert Groner, time keeper, and R.P. Clapp, of St. Albans and Dexter Otey, of the V.M.I., linesmen.  The game was played in thirty-minute halves, with an intermission of ten minutes.  The lineup was as follows:

The Line-Up
Albans.              Pos.                V.M.I.
R.H. Fife.......left end..........S.H. Meem
E.E. Hoss......left tackle...J. Harding
J.H. Moran....left guard.......C. Rice
W.M. Miller....center.........A.C. Crump
F.Chumbley...right guard....Derbyshire
W.G. White...right tackle....W.D. Scott
H. Bronston...right end.........Briscoe
W.A. Shibley...quarterback...Montgomery
W.B. Izard.....left halfback.....H. Shaner
Mallery.........right halfback......Marshall
S.N.Keller........full back.....J.O. Steger

The St. Albans team and the large crowd that accompanied them left for Radford on a special shortly after the game.  The V.M.I. boys missed their train and had to remain over in the city until today.

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