Chapter 100

Homecoming In Lexington: Centre-Kentucky-November 4, 1922

There were two ways to approach a Homecoming game. You could schedule a "patsy" and allow the alumni to watch you rack up a certain win, or you could schedule a powerful college which was well-known and loved throughout your area and nationally, realizing that even though you may lose, your stadium will be guaranteed to be packed.

Kentucky chose the latter, and picked Centre for its Homecoming opponent in 1922. The Colonels had won the last three games with the Wildcats by a cumulative score of 160-0


Centre  56

Kentucky  0


Centre  49

Kentucky  0


Centre  55

Kentucky  0

During those games, Centre had scored 23 touchdowns, converted on 22 extra points, and totally dominated the flagship Kentucky state school.

The Colonels had garnered so much national attention that Fox Films announced it was sending cinematographers to Lexington to film the game. LaRue de Gribble ( I promise you that I didn't make that up ) and Carl P. Pope first came by Danville to get Centre to sign a release, and of course, it was readily given.

While Centre was getting ready for the Kentucky game, sportswriters were still analyzing the Harvard game.

The week after the Colonels left Harvard Stadium, a decent Dartmouth team came to Cambridge and got beaten 12-3. The "Big Green" managed only 4 first downs all afternoon.

"How in the world did Centre get 17 first downs and lose?"

Kentucky had high hopes for 1922. The 'Cats were undefeated and had given up only 6 points in building a 5-0 record.

Kentucky  16

Marshall 0

Kentucky  15

Cincinnati 0

Kentucky  73

Louisville 0

Kentucky  40

Georgetown ( Ky.) 6

Kentucky  17

Sewanee 0

The Louisville score stood out. Kentucky fans thought, "We beat Louisville 73-0. Centre just won by just 32-7. This is the year!"

Of course, many weren't aware that the Colonels could have won by any margin Uncle Charlie had wished.

Kentucky's coach, W.J. Juneau, was obsessed with beating Centre as were all of the school's alumni. Getting totally wiped out during the last 3 games was hard to accept. Juneau, at the helm beginning in 1920, absorbed the last 2 losses by a total score of 104-0. The UK mentor was looking for any edge which he could find to help alter the outcome.

Kentucky coach Juneau, 1920-22

Juneau thought that perhaps having a peppy school song could be of benefit and he turned to Dr. Carl A. Lampert, the head of the Department of Music at Kentucky, to see what he could come up with.

Dr. Carl Lampert, UK's music department head

Lampert began writing what became "On! On! U of K," one of the most storied of all college fight songs ever. However, after he had come up with the tune, he struggled somewhat with the lyrics.

A problem he encountered was that when he got to one of the lines, "We will kick, pass, and run, 'til Old Centre is done," a phrase he had coined, he realized that as important as beating Centre was, he couldn't single out just one college in a song that could also be used against all of Kentucky's opponents in the future. Lampert's effort sat on the shelf for a year.

In 1923, one of the professor's students, Troy Perkins, was paid $5.00 to rework the lyrics which included changing the reference to Centre from " 'til Old Centre is done" to " 'til the battle is won," and it was his version which was settled on. 

Troy Perkins, lyricist for Kentucky's fight song, "On! On! U of K"

By the time of the next year's football season, the song had been adopted by Kentucky and was played at the dedication game of Centre's new stadium in Danville on November 3, 1923. 

Story the day after the November 3, 1923 game in Danville

The first known acknowledgement of what became the UK fight song

Few realize now that Kentucky's wonderful "On! On! U of K" had its origin as a desire to find something, anything, that could be of assistance in helping reverse the dominance of the little college in Danville over the larger state university in Lexington in the early 1920's.

( More about the song in Chapter 114. The entire lyrics can be seen in Chapter 125. )

Good news reached Danville that Tom Bartlett was doing well following his tonsillectomy and hoped to be home in a week, and back in uniform for the November 18 game with Auburn. The "good news" wasn't actually factual. Bartlett continued to have difficulties and had lost so much weight, and was so weak, that his football playing days were over, not just for 1922, but for his career.

The Kentucky game was a sellout. In addition to the permanent seating, additional bleachers were constructed to increase the capacity to 10,000. The Southern Railroad put together a special day train to carry the Danville fans to Lexington for a $1.88 round trip fare.

Special cars were also added to trains coming over from Louisville.

Centre was so popular and guaranteed such a crowd that the usual arrangement of the home team just paying the visitor's expenses, plus a modest, agreed upon amount, was changed to having the two schools split the gate, 50-50. However, some people thought that the admission price of $2.50 was excessive.

Jop pointed out that the Centre-Harvard reserved seats were only $2.00.

And we thought Jesse James was dead!

Centre's football team was now doing so well financially that it was announced that the athletic department was contributing $25,000 toward the construction cost of what it hoped would soon be a new stadium on Cheek Field in 1923. 

A contemporary account in the Lexington "Herald" set the scene for the game.

With its row on row of seats packed with people flaunting blue and white for Kentucky, and gold and white for Centre, Stoll Field presented a picturesque scene approaching perhaps the tournaments of the olden days.

All of the seats in the bleachers and boxes were sold several days in advance, as were the temporary bleachers which were erected at the east and west ends of the field to care for the crowds that thronged the field. Trees, telephone poles and roofs of houses facing Stoll Field were utilized as observation posts. The fences surrounding the field were literally lined with onlookers.

Beautiful girls from all parts of the state were in the stands and boxes, wearing the colors of their respective schools, and they made many bright splotches of color in the crowds. Blue, gold and white ribbons could be seen as far as the eye could reach, and each fan was loud in praise of their favorites.

I think that every student from Centre, and most from K.C.W., went to the game on the train. We'd had a big pep rally the night before at the courthouse. Howard and the Centre "Six" played the school songs and some of the popular tunes of the day, and we all sang along.

We had sheets with the words of the cheers written on them so that we could all join the cheerleaders when they got started. In those days, cheerleaders led cheers, they didn't just get out and dance around and do flips and things like that, as they do now. They led cheers. I don't know why they still call them cheerleaders now, because they should call them dancers, or acrobats, because they perform, they don't get people involved like we used to get going.

Of course, I didn't need a sheet to holler along with my favorite cheers.

I can still hear one of them, just like I shouted it out so long ago.

Fight- Centre fight!

Fight with all your might!

Fight! Fight! Fight!

 Fight! Fight! Fight!


It didn't take a genius to remember that cheer. All you had to think about was to stop after seven "Fights."

As game time approached in Lexington, the spectators noticed a new object on the Centre sideline.

A fan had bought the team a sulfur-crested cockatoo. The bird had a yellowish crest which you could call gold if you wished, so it was called gold. The rest of the feathers were appropriately white except for a yellowish "wash" under the wings. The benefactor had requested that the bird be displayed at the football games, and Roscoe was made the handler.

The creature didn't exactly follow in the tradition of other winged mascots such as a "War Eagle" or "Hawk" or "Falcon," but it was a bird, and it had the name "Colonel," and it was going to have to suffice.

"Colonel" was on the sideline at Lexington. There is no report of his ever appearing again. Whether he flew to freedom or ended up confined to a cage somewhere on campus isn't known, but he had his moment, however fleetingly.



Kentucky came out fired up, determined to show the Homecoming crowd that it deserved its sterling 5-0 record. The 1st half was a real surprise, and the Wildcats played the Colonels more than evenly.

During the initial quarter, Kentucky's quarterback, Turner Gregg, kicked a field goal and the 3 points were the first that the Wildcats had scored on Centre since 1916, a period covering 4 games, 16 quarters, and over 240 minutes of play.

It was newsworthy that the Wildcats had broken through for some points, even if it was only a field goal!

The Kentucky fans were astonished, not only from looking at the scoreboard, but from watching the fierce defense that their team was playing in shutting down the Colonels' offense. Centre couldn't mount even a semblance of a drive, and the half ended with the Wildcats up, 3-0.

"This is the year!"

Kentucky had 5 first downs. Centre had but two. No one could remember Centre being beaten statistically by an in-state team- forever.

"This is the year!"

Red Roberts played erratically during the half. I remember thinking that he was making mistakes, not playing his usual game. I realized later what had happened when Hump explained it to me.

Before the game, the Kentucky students had started a song to the tune of, "The Old Gray Mare," but instead of "The old gray mare, she ain't what she used to be," they sang, "The old Red Roberts, he ain't what he used to be," and it made Red furious.

Red was usually the most even-tempered person in the world, but this got under his skin, and he went running all over the field on every play trying to take out all of the Kentucky players instead of concentrating on his assignments.

Hump said he was playing hard, but not smart, trying to prove that the students were wrong.

At the half, Uncle Charlie kind of got on Red according to Hump. He said maybe the Kentucky students were right, but he could prove they weren't by settling down and playing smart.

The outcome of the game was not only determined by action on the field but in the locker room at the half

Hump said later the Chief came up to Red and said, "Red, you've not had a good first half. You're the best man on the field. Why if I were your size, I'd be the heavyweight champion of the world."

And Red just looked down at the Chief and said sort of seriously, "What's the matter with your being the bantamweight champion?"

In a special dispatch to the "Courier-Journal," the halftime activities were described.

A large part of the student body formed the letters "U.K." on the field, and motion pictures were taken while the band played "My Kentucky Home," with all of the crowd standing up during the entire halftime.

The rest of the students then marched around the field, in and out of the human formation of the big "U.K." in a burlesque of the Centre "lock-step," and the crowd went wild. Five moving picture machines took motion pictures, and airplanes hovered over the field, doing stunts. It was one of the most wonderful displays ever seen in Kentucky.

When our team ran back out after the half, the students sang the song about Red again. That proved to be a mistake.

Red played one of his best halves ever. He led Herb Covington and the other backs on nearly every play, just taking out the men directly involved, not running around trying to block everybody.

When he ran the ball, there was no stopping him. On defense, it seemed he made every tackle.

The students didn't sing the song again. Red made believers out of them, and he made believers out of the Kentucky team before the afternoon was over.

Kentucky's 3-0 lead held up through the first 6 minutes of the 3rd quarter, and then the Colonels simply wore down the Wildcats with a relentless attack. Hump, Covey and Red alternated line plunges, moving the ball behind their hard charging line.

Hope Hudgins was back in action after missing the Louisville game due to his broken nose suffered in the Harvard game and contributed several significant gainers.

Herb Covington leading Hope Hudgins against Kentucky in Lexington

Ed Kubale, Bill Shadoan, Ben Cregor, Minos Gordy and Frank Rubarth took absolute control of the line, assisted by Terry Snowday and Hennie Lemon at the ends. Kentucky fought valiantly, but the Wildcats were helpless. At the 'Cats' 31, Covey fired  a perfect pass to Lemon who was tripped up one the 1 yard line.

Red took it over on the next play. Lemon's kick made it 7-3, Centre.

Kentucky couldn't move the ball on their next possession and the Colonels were off again. Lemon got 25 on an end-around. Line plunge after line plunge forced the Wildcats back on play after play, and again, Red broke through for a short gainer and scored.

Hennie Lemon made it 14-3. The Kentucky partisans were noticeably more subdued as it was apparent that their team was being not outfought, but overwhelmed.

Another long drive in the 4th quarter ended with Hump carrying it in, and after Lemon's 3rd perfect kickit was Centre 21-3.

"This is the year!" changed to, "Maybe next year."

After Centre kicked off, the Wildcats again hit an impregnable defense, the Colonels simply racking up every Kentucky attempt with vicious gang tackling. Following another punt, Covey hit Hope Hudgins and the little back hauled in the 20 yarder and stepped across the line. Covey missed, and the score was 27-3.

Covey's passes and runs were major 

Centre was driving and was on the Wildcats' 4 when the final whistle blew.

Red Roberts had dominated during the final 30 minutes, his 225 pounds unmovable on defense. He was either running over Kentucky players when he carried the ball, or brushing them aside or flattening them when running interference for his teammates.

Toward the end of the game, the Centre fans picked up on the Kentucky student's song that had so riled up the big redhead.

Old Red Roberts IS what he used to be,

IS what he used to be-

IS what he used to be.

Old Red Roberts IS what he used to be,

He'll be for many games more.

There was a cheerleader named Yeager who wrote out the words and asked us to pass them around, and after a lot of us had read the lyrics, he signaled and we started singing.

I can hear it to this day.

He'll be for many games more,

He'll be for many games more.

Old Red Roberts IS what he used to be, 

He'll be for many games more.

I couldn't sing then and can't now, but I was chiming right in there with everybody else.

Red later said he could hear us singing, and it made him feel awfully good.

The statistics painted the picture about how totally the Colonels controlled the 2nd half. At Harvard, Centre had won the stats and lost the game. There was no such dichotomy in Lexington, Kentucky on November 4, 1922.

Centre had 21 first downs during the 2nd half to Kentucky's 3, making the margin for the Colonels 23-8 for the game.

The Colonels completed 5 of 16 passes for 104 yards. The Wildcats connected on 2 of 8 for 11 yards.

On the ground, Centre rushed for 258 yards, the Wildcats, 139, and the total yardage found the boys from Danville up 362 to 150.

It was a measure about how Centre had outpaced their great rival, Kentucky, during the post-World War I years, that Wildcat fans left Stoll Field feeling that their team had made great progress. They were correct in a way. 27-3 was better than 56-0. It was better than 49-0 or 55-0. Kentucky wasn't there yet, but the 'Cats were closing the margin, albeit slowly.

It was indicative about how much the Colonels had so thoroughly outclassed Kentucky during the last 4 years that the headline about the game in the Lexington "Leader" the next morning felt it was significant to point out that the Wildcats had scored!

Equally telling was that Kentucky was so gratified that the Wildcats had even put some points on the scoreboard after having been blanked totally since 1917 that there was a photo published later in the 1923 yearbook, the "Kentuckian," showing the scoreboard after the kicked field goal which had resulted in the 3-0 lead at the half. 

Photo featured in the story about the game in the "Kentuckian," the 1923 yearbook of Kentucky

                                   Stats for the game 1922 Centre-Kentucky game later placed on front of the program for the game 

A couple of days after the Centre-Kentucky game, the Danville "Messenger" carried a "correction" in the November 7 edition. It seemed that the Danville Women's Club had held a pageant and Mrs. Henry Meier was mistakenly reported to have played "The Spirit of Ignorance," when actually she had filled the role of "The Spirit of Christian Education."

It wasn't divulged exactly how such a grievous error could have been made, especially when the paper had originally reported that Mrs. Meier "played her part well, and deserved special mention."

Apparently, Mrs. Meier was not amused.