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On this day in sports history


The Greenville Standard


Fifty years ago today was my first trip to Tuscaloosa on April 18, 1970, for the A-Day game.

The Alabama Football bug bit me during the 1969 season. That was not a good season.

Alabama finished 6-5 and Coach Bryant almost left Alabama for The Miami Dolphins.

I told my daddy I wanted to go to A-Day. He said Ok. Before going to Tuscaloosa, The Birmingham News did a fan poll for The All-Sixties Team.

Later on you will understand why this was mentioned. That Saturday we had two other people going with us, Jon Mark Glenn and Bobby Ward.

The way we traveled to Tuscaloosa is not the usual way we normally go now. The Braggs Road (Alabama 263) must not have been completed at the time.

We drove to Prattville and got on Highway 82 and headed to Tuscaloosa. It seemed like it took forever getting there.

Part of it probably was excitement. I remember getting on the outskirts of town. At the time going into Tuscaloosa, you went in on Greensboro Avenue. That was Highway 82.

The curve on 82 was not there at the time. I remember going over where I-20/59 is.

It was being built at the time. Then I remember going over the tracks where the railroad station is.

Every time I go into Tuscaloosa, I go that way. When I cross the tracks and look at the station I think of the first time doing that.

We turned onto University Boulevard and we hit what is now the strip and finally saw the wall of University of Alabama. Touchdown.

The first thing we did was drop by the baseball game. Alabama was playing Ole Miss. The shortstop for Ole Miss was Archie Manning, the Super Star Quarterback.

We stayed long enough to watch Archie at bat. He was put out at first on a throw from the shortstop. Archie could not outrun a thrown baseball like he could a defensive lineman.

We headed over to the coliseum and we walk into Memorial Coliseum which is now Coleman Coliseum.

There was a crowd in the lobby. My daddy noticed Coach Bryant was there. This was the first I met Coach Bryant. I didn’t want to wash my hand.

At that time, working with the football team or Coach Bryant knowing me did not cross my mind.

Eight years later that happened. The reason we were in the Coliseum, The National Alumni Association was having its annual dinner.

They were honoring The Stars of the Sixties. The Stars I remember being selected were Bill Battle, Alvin Samples, Billy Neighbors, Steve Bowman, Dennis Homan, Mike Fracchia, Mike Ford, Darwin Holt, Mike Hall, Lee Roy Jordan, Donnie Sutton and Joe Namath.

Speaking of Namath, he was there. He was late. We had dinner on the floor of the coliseum.

When Namath showed up, like all the kids there I tried to get his autograph. I was 12 at that time.

After the dinner, we headed to Denny Stadium. My Daddy was working for the Montgomery Advertiser; he sat in the press box.

This was a night game. The power went out before the game started. We were standing near the elevator, waiting for the power to come back on.

Coach Bryant and his assistant Carnley Laslie came up. I stood there watching them. I couldn’t hear what they were saying.

On a sad note, a few weeks later Coach Laslie passed away in his sleep.

We headed into the stadium, Mr. Bobby, Jon Mark and me. While watching the game, Mr. Bobby noticed this lady sitting by herself. He went over sat by her and started talking to her.

Come to find out, she was a widow with three children. Her late husband was Curtis Lynch Sr.

He played at Alabama from 1952-55. When he passed away, his first son was six, daughter three and second son three months old.

That happened in October 1966. Miss Linda told me later, she trusted me for vouching for Mr. Bobby. Later on that year they got married and stayed married until he died in the 1990’s.

The 60’s team was introduced at halftime. The A-Day game was a shootout with The Crimson winning 40-39. After the game, we I had two cousins, who were in school at the time, Allen and John Dukes, and we stayed at their house in Cottondale.

Every time I hear this song it reminds of staying there, Eli’s Coming by Three Dog Night.

The next morning we headed home. When I hear this song, “Make me Smile” by Chicago, it reminds of being on Highway 82.

I was looking forward to this year’s A-Day because what was mentioned 50 years earlier. Covid 19 is the reason why.

I will be happy when this will be over, hopefully soon. Next year A-Day will be back, with probably a record crowd.

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