Duke football equals family fun

[private]Football season kicks off next Saturday and the excitement around Duke is palpable. I have some very strong and pleasant memories of Duke football. As a young boy, my father took me to games at Wallace Wade Stadium (some of those games before the horseshoe was renamed) a couple of times a year. Those trips were always a great day so I thought I’d share a couple of memories.

Duke hosted South Carolina on September 30, 1967, and the game started fast. My father and I were in our end zone seats with the Duke kick returners lined up right in front of us as South Carolina kicked off to start the game. Duke failed to handle the kick and the ball bounced into the end zone where the Gamecocks covered it for a touchdown. There were only a few seconds gone off the clock and Duke was down by a touchdown. South Carolina went on to win 21-17. Duke may have lost on that particular afternoon, but as an eight year old rabid Duke fan, I still had a great time.

In the early days, we always sat in the end zone general admission seats that sold for $1 back in the sixties. On one Saturday afternoon, I don’t remember the year or who was the opposing team, every point scored in the game was scored at the closed end of the stadium right in front of us. Our seats were worth every one of those hundred pennies that day.

During the 1974 season, I went to the Purdue game with an older friend who lived across the street. The previous Saturday the Boilermakers had defeated Notre Dame in South Bend. My friend and I had seats on about the 35 - 40 yard line on the East side of the stadium. Duke defeated Purdue 16-14 and as time expired everyone in the stadium was chanting, “We want Notre Dame!” I’m not sure why we wanted the Fighting Irish, they went 10-2 in 1974, but it was exciting at the time.

My last trip to Wallace Wade Stadium was almost 32 years ago in 1976. Tony Dorsett and the Pitt Panthers traveled to Durham. Pittsburgh won 44-31 as part of their 12-0 season. But 1976 turned into 1977 and I was off to the United States Navy traveling extensively and living overseas.

So with the 2008 season about to start I encourage all readers in North Carolina to take advantage of the opportunity for some great family fun and take in some of the games at Wallace Wade. We need fathers and mothers and grandfathers and grandmothers to gather up those youngsters and take them to a Duke football game. I will not be making it back to North Carolina this year, but I have a three year old grandson and I will be taking him to a couple of games in the future.[/private]