Game Day- October 23, 1920
The 10,000 unable to get seats validated Howard Reynolds desire for a sellout, assuring future intersectional games.
The Centre team and fans awoke to a pleasing forecast on Saturday morning. The papers reported there would be a moderate, fresh wind from the north, just enough to set the clouds drifting and flooding the stadium with sunshine, and, The man with a heavy coat and sweater will perhaps be following the calendar rather than the actual weather conditions.
The team had an 8:00 breakfast together in the Arlington dining room. Uncle Charlie wanted his players to relax before the ride out to the Stadium, so the Colonels walked as a group to the Boston Common and then through the 50-acre park toward Beacon Street.
Along the way, they were stopped frequently by Bostonians who wished them well in the upcoming game. It seemed that every occupant of the city knew about the team and why they were there.
On leaving the Common, the Colonels turned left onto Beacon and strolled past the rows of edifices which lined the beautiful street on the Back Bay. After walking seven blocks, they turned left on Gloucester and in another two blocks, headed back east on Commonwealth Avenue, a boulevard lined with four and five story classical townhouses and apartments with arched windows, wonderful fanlights, and rusticated stonework. Even though their minds were focused on the game, they couldn't help but marvel at the beauty of the great architecture that graced the wonderful neighborhoods of Boston.
Townhomes along Commonwealth Avenue in the Back Bay
"It's a little different than Danville," they all agreed.
Then it was back to the Arlington. A light lunch was served and the squad retired to a meeting room for one more chalkboard session. Thad McDonnell taped the player's ankles using the special technique that Coach Moran had used so successfully over the years.
Chief Myers had written the team's creed in big letters across the top of the chalkboard.
BELIEVE! ACHIEVE! SUCCEED!
The room was quiet as the Chief began to speak. He recounted how hard the team had worked to reach this moment. He especially recalled how his boys from Fort Worth had known that they could reach great heights even as they practiced on a dusty Texas football field because of their belief that he had instilled into each of them.
The Chief had never given a more heart-felt, eloquent, pre-game speech.
He then turned the time over to Uncle Charlie who gave a few last minute instructions, drawing the sequence of the first series of offensive plays on the board.
"From then on Bo, you'll have to call the signals from what you feel and see out there on the field. But let's start this way to get into the flow."
It was then to the team buses for the ride to Harvard Stadium. The vehicles were led by two motorcycle policemen with siren's blaring. The buses had gold and white banners taped to the sides- CENTRE COLLEGE COLONELS. It seemed that everyone who turned to look at the escorting 'cycles quickly smiled and waved and gave the universal thumbs up- good luck!- sign.
The players could hear the many shouts of encouragement through the open windows. "All the way, Colonels!"
"Take it to them boys!" "You can do it, Colonels!"
And the one that they didn't really understand. "Beat Harvard!"
M.I.T. students or grads, or those who were from Boston College, or Boston University, or even Holy Cross, would have liked nothing better to see the Crimson beaten.
It was a matter of wanting to see the college that they perhaps hadn't been able to enter, for whatever reason, brought down to earth, especially if that leveling could be accomplished by a little school from Kentucky.
As the team buses were carrying the squad to the Stadium, the crowds were already beginning to find their way to Soldiers Field. The Boston elevated was running extra trains from the Andrew Station in South Boston, opened in 1918, to Harvard Square Station in Cambridge, opened in 1912. Those arriving by the subway along with the Harvard student body and Radcliffe girls walked down Boylston Street ( now John F. Kennedy Street ) over the Anderson Memorial Bridge which took them right onto North Harvard Street and into Soldiers Field and the Stadium.
The open field around the Stadium began to be dotted with cars, though most fans arrived by mass transit or by foot. Slowly, the seats began to fill. Those who wished to see the game, but didn't have an assigned seat, first filled the temporary, general admission, end zone seats. After they were taken, the five story towers which anchored the open end of the Stadium provided stairwells for fans to climb to the top of the colonnade where they first occupied the area opposite the 50-yard line, and then filled the roof all of the way around the Stadium.
Centre's buses ground to a halt outside of the locker room. A cheer went up as the team stepped off. The Colonels smiled but made no comments as they filed into the building. The demeanor of the team was deadly serious. Each member knew that they were about to embark on the most important day in their young lives.
After everyone suited up, their cleaned uniforms removed from the hooks in their lockers, the quietness was broken as the speeches began. The Chief again exhorted the Colonels to "go out and win one for Old Centre."
Uncle Charlie reminded his players that they were now about to step out on the field "where the greatest moment that Centre has ever experience is about to unfold."
"You're going to see over 45,000 people in the great Harvard Stadium. The impression that you make will forever remind each of them about your college, about Centre men. Play hard. Play clean. Show each and everyone what Centre men are made of."
"You can do it, men! You can do it!" Chief Myers leaped to his feet. "Believe! Believe! Believe!"
Moran pulled a large number of telegrams from his leather briefcase.
"These are from all over Kentucky, all over the South. Each of them is wishing you success on the field this afternoon. Let me read one in particular, the message from Governor Morrow of our great Commonwealth."
"Today you will bring honor and glory to all of Kentucky by your actions on the field against Harvard. On behalf of our citizens, I wish you great success in your historic undertaking. I shall not be there in person, but I shall be there in spirit, as will all of Kentucky."
Bo then asked the Colonels, the Praying Colonels, to kneel. It was his honor and duty as the team captain to offer the prayer before this, the most important game that he or anyone else had ever played.
Once again, it wasn't a prayer for victory. During the previous day's session with the press, one player had been asked by a curious reporter just exactly what was said during the pregame ritual.
"It is a private prayer. We know that God doesn't favor one team over another. We simply pray that we play with courage. We pray for each other. We pray for our opponents. We pray that there are no injuries, that we play with honor. And we give thanks to the Almighty that we have been given the ability to represent Old Centre. It gets pretty emotional at times, I guess. But it's part of our spirit, and I consider myself fortunate to play for a team that feels that prayer is an important part of our lives."
Bo gave a long and emotional benediction. There wasn't a dry eye in the locker room when he finished with, "May God grant the blessing of the Almighty on our endeavor today. Amen, and amen."
Then there was the blur of the Gold and White as they streaked out of the dressing room and came around the temporary bleachers and onto the field. A huge, spontaneous roar erupted as the crowd saw the Colonels emerge. It was 2:30, just 30 minutes till the kickoff.
Every Centre fan who had been at the Arlington had been given a yard long, gold and white streamer prior to leaving for the game. Extra ones had been brought to the Stadium for those who were arriving from other locations and were sitting in the Centre section, directly on the 50-yard line. The Colonels' fans were on their feet, waving their streamers wildly, cheering for their boys from Kentucky.
Another roar drowned out the Centre partisans as the Crimson of Harvard, 38 strong, led by captain Arnold Horween, trotted out on the turf and jogged to the opposite end of the field. The Crimson band, formed the year before to bring spirit and enthusiasm to the school's football games, marched in behind their team, playing the college's fight song, "Soldiers Field."
O're the stands in flaming Crimson
Harvard banners fly.
Cheer on cheer like volleyed thunder
Echoes to the sky.
See! The Crimson tide is turning
Gaining more and more.
Then, Fight! Fight! Fight!
For we win tonight!
Old Harvard, forevermore!
Harvard head coach, Robert T. Fisher, led nine assistant coaches, all Harvard alumni, onto the field, trailed by the Crimson team manager, assistant manager, and the veteran trainer, "Pooch" Donovan. It was quite a contrast to Uncle Charlie, Chief Myers, and trainer/manager, Thad McDonnell.
"Can you believe this?" Bo shouted to Army, pointing to the stadium. "Did you ever think we'd be playing in front of all these people?"
"Look sharp, boys! Look sharp," Uncle Charlie said as the offense ran through its drills."
George Swinebroad, Jr., from Lancaster, Kentucky, led the Centre faithful in cheers.
He was dressed in all-white down to his white shoes, with flannel slacks, and a wool sweater with a gold "C," shouting into a gold megaphone with a white painted "C."
Fight, Centre Fight!
Fight, Centre Fight!
Fight, Centre Fight!
Fight, Centre Fight!
Fight! Fight! Fight!
Fight! Fight! Fight!
As the scene was unfolding in Harvard Stadium, crowds were forming all over Kentucky to listen to the re-creation of the game that was going to be sent telegraphically throughout the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
With Main Street roped off, it seemed that the entire population of Danville and Boyle County was massed in the street.
At 2:55, referee Robert W. "Tiny" Maxwell called for the team's captains, Arnold Horween and Bo, to join him at midfield for the toss of the coin to determine who would kick. As the shiny Morgan silver dollar flipped in the air, Bo called "heads" and the coin landed obverse up in the grass.
"We will receive," Bo said.
A cheer arose from the crowd when the huge, 300 pound plus Maxwell placed Horween's back toward the open end of the horseshoe, lined Bo across from him, and then stood beside the Harvard captain and carried out a kicking motion.
"They kick- we receive-great start!"