Chapter 46

More Pre-Game Events

At the same time the Colonels were in Nahant, there was a surge to buy an additional 10,000 "rush" tickets that the Harvard Athletic Association had decided to make available. The term came from the fact that the tickets carried no assigned seats and were sold at the last moment. A holder, when admitted, literally had to "rush" to either the newly constructed end zone bleachers, or climb up to the parapet on the roof above the colonnade or just stand anywhere a spot could be found that wasn't blocking someone's view. It was "first come, first served" type of seating.

When these seats were added, it guaranteed a crowd of 50,000, and still many more could have been sold, such was the demand. George Trevor, writing in the New York "Sun," offered his thoughts on why Centre attracted so much attention, and why there was such true affection by Bostonians and people throughout the East for the Kentuckians.

There is Uncle Charlie, coach, umpire, psychologist, revivalist, shoemaker, tailor, and Father Confessor, now devising original plays, now bandaging limbs, now patching helmets, now darning jerseys; there is the "Kentucky Colonel" stuff, the bands blaring "Dixie," the mint-julep background, the aroma of bluegrass, the Southern Belles waving gold and white pennants; there is the elemental lure of the Kentucky hills, of picturesque moonshiners, who have no connection with the college; beyond all of these is the neverĀ­ failing religious appeal-the anecdotes concerning pre-game prayers in the dressing room, the Centre warriors kneeling with bowed heads as they sought Divine Guidance.

The Louisville "Courier-Journal" devoted an editorial to the Colonels on the morning before the game.


Centre is in Boston today. That much could be gleaned by reading its railroad tickets. But this doesn't denote the real destination of the boys. Their long trip to the East terminates on a few square yards of soil in Harvard Stadium. Centre will be treated to handshakes, receptions, and team parties. But its heart will lie in that little patch of green behind the goalposts in the big Harvard horseshoe.

Geographically speaking, the hinterland of the Harvard goalpost has often been discovered, but it never has endured a permanent settlement. Penn State camped there last Saturday several times, and our own Centre made two distinct voyages there last October. But the land has never become common property. Some of the brave alumni of Harvard claim it is consecrated ground, as brave alumni will do. But Kentucky expects to see Army Armstrong's explorers plant the Centre flag there tomorrow.

Centre learned much at Cambridge last year, notably that eleven men cannot play four quarters of hard football successfully against a team that is constantly reinforced and refreshed by substitutes. Harvard wore Centre down last year with its flow of "subs.It is heartening to see that Centre has a solid twenty-five-man squad this year, and to see that the second-string compares favorably with the first line.

This year has been particularly rich in classical sporting events, and the CentreĀ­-Harvard game is a fitting climax. Somehow or other, the West and South delight in the prospect of a Harvard trimming. When the team expected to do it comes from a remote and Lilliputian College in Kentucky, the joy is equal to that in Israel when David's forward pass decided the game against Goliath.

Kentucky hopes that Centre never stops until it reaches the green, back of the Harvard goalpost, and that it makes a permanent settlement in that jealously guarded territory.

The Boston "Herald" published a cartoon which implied that all of the Harvard talk about the team being weakened by injuries was overblown. A Crimson coach is telling the trainer, Have the team report in full splints and bandages! There's a photographer from one of papers outside.

The trainer replies, We better wheel the fullback out on a cot, hadn't we?

Regarding injuries to the Harvard team, Bo was asked by a reporter what he felt about the reports being circulated.

You won't hear any Centre men are saying that he hopes those reports are true. We pray otherwise that they aren't. Outside of the feeling of keen sympathy that we should have for the injured, let us consider that there is more credit and glory in playing the game right and being beaten by a physically fit Harvard eleven than there would be in defeating a maimed and crippled opponent.

Much was made about the fact that Centre was going to start four freshmen in the line. Sportswriters just couldn't believe that any team would come into the Stadium with four "cubs" in the trenches and have any hope of emerging victorious. George C. Carens, writing in the "Evening Transcript," was typical.

It is inconceivable that Centre can win tomorrow. Harvard has a sound defense for forward passes. It appears that an aerial attack is the only hope of the Southerners, for their opponents will be better versed in gridiron knowledge, which should prove advantageous.

Take the Kentucky team's line, for example. There are four freshmen slated to start. The middle section of the country is notoriously weak in line play. That is the link that may be unable to hold the Crimson surge. It doubtless has prevented any undue elation on the part of the Centre veterans at the prospect of facing Harvard tomorrow.

If Centre's line outmatches Harvard's, then the Crimson may bow, but it is difficult to imaging Harvard losing to Centre.

Arthur Duffy, in his "Post" column, "Sport Comment," reported the results of a poll that he had taken in the sports department of his paper. 

Harvard   14       Centre    0
Harvard   10       Centre    3
Harvard   21       Centre    7
Harvard   31       Centre   14 

Grantland Rice in his "The Sportlight" column published his predictions for the week's top games.

Grantline Rice predicts a Harvard win, 21-7.

Duffy had mentioned in his column that Centre had allowed some Harvard fans to watch the Colonels' workout at the Stadium. 

When someone asked Uncle Charlie if he wasn't afraid that some Harvard scouts would be around, Uncle Charlie answered in his usual customary drawl, "Oh, we're not worried about Harvard scouts. Harvard has regular fellows. They wouldn't resort to such tactics on the eve of the game, and we expect them to be miles away."

The truth, of course, was that Centre hoped that Harvard  would indeed receive reports of the practice session which contained multiple passing and trick formations that morning. It was exactly what Centre planned to avoid the next day, especially in the first half.

Centre hoped the Crimson defense would always be set up to prevent a passing attack.

The Colonels would run, and run again, and punt if necessary. It was going to be a different game plan, different in what Centre was capable, but as Uncle Charlie  had said in his conversation with Army and Bo at the Gilcher Hotel, "I like it! It's exactly the opposite of what they will expect. I love to spring a surprise on our opponents! I like it!"

After returning to the Lenox from Nahant, the players changed into suits and walked the several blocks from the hotel to the Harvard Club, located at 374 Commonwealth Avenue. 

The Club was hosting a party for the Centre visitors and had the Centre "5" set up to entertain. The Colonels were nearly overwhelmed with the pats on the back, hands out-stretched to shake, and the sincere, "Best wishes" and "Good luck" from their gracious hosts.

Meanwhile, another party was being held at the Belmont Springs Country Club, hosted by Howard Reynolds, Centre's great advocate. Reynolds had invited the Centre and Harvard coaching staffs along with Dr. Ganfield and other prominent Kentuckians and friends he had made on his trips to Danville. An honored guest was Ralph D. Paine who handed out signed copies of his just printed, hardcover edition of "First Down, Kentucky!"

Site of  party the night before the game for Centre and Harvard hosted by the Boston "Post" sports editor, Howard Reynolds