Republished with permission of Caldwell Bailey ’01, original written in November 11, 2000 issue of The Oracle
Fifty years ago, J. Carter Walker sat down to reflect on Woodberry Forest’s half-century-old rivalry with Episcopal High School. In his mind were all the tests The Game had persevered, and the tests that were yet to come. Archibald R. Hoxton, the principal of Episcopal High School for many years, also had the future on his mind, and expressed his hopes, divine and otherwise, in a few notes. The two men’s thoughts, first published in the Fiftieth Game program, follow below.
A FIFTY-YEAR FOOTBALL SERIES
The story of the Woodberry Forest-Episcopal High School football games reads like a romance. In November of every year for half a century, without a single omission, the teams of these two schools have met for their annual game. This unbroken record for so many years, wellnigh amazing as it is, does not tell the whole story. At the halfway mark, that is in 1925, each school had won eleven games and tied three; and now in 1950, with forty-nine games of this remarkable series behind us, the two schools are again exactly even in games won and lost.
The unbroken series has withstood two world wars, five economic depressions, and one furious epidemic of influenza, the like of which this country had never known before and has not seen since. In a few days the last game of the first half century of this remarkable series will be played at Woodberry Forest. Let us hope and pray that in the ensuing fifty years these far famed games may never be interrupted by war or economic disaster or pestilence, or by any misunderstanding between Woodberry Forest and its grand old rival.
Many persons, coaches, players, and others have contributed handsomely to the preservation of a rivalry that may be unmatched by any other between either schools or colleges. Among these, in the value of the service rendered. I would assign the first place to Mr. Hoxton, for thirty-two years the beloved Principal of the Episcopal High School, a famous athlete in his own right in his younger years, a fine sportsman, an able administrator, and a wonderful friend. Next after him I rank Mr. L.W. Dick, long-time Athletic Director at Woodberry Forest. Among the friends of my long life I think of no two more lovable men than Archie Hoxton and Leonard Dick. To them both I pay this tribute of admiration and affection, in grateful recognition of their contribution to the building of a tradition that has become the priceless heritage of these two great schools.
J.Carter Walker, Headmaster Emeritus, Woodberry Forest School
As I look back over the half century of athletic contests on the football field between Woodberry Roest and Episcopal High School, the faces and forms of as grand a group of lads as ever lived, from both schools, pass in review across the state of my mind’s eye and, were it not that there are so many-and none could be omitted-I would like to list their names and positions in this letter!
Fifty years hence, when the one hundredth game is played, my hope is that the teams will be tied again in games won and lost. It may be that my good friend, Carter Walker, God bless him, will be granted a leave of adsense by the Angel Gabriel on that day and, also, it may be that I, wherever located, shall be able to wheedle a pass out of my Guardian Angel, so that the two of us my meet at Hanes Field on the fourth Saturday in November 2000 A.D.!
More power to you, Woodberry, and to you, E.H.S.!
A.R. Hoxton, Headmaster Emeritus, Episcopal High School
Since J. Carter Walker and A.R. Hoxton wrote their notes to the 50th Game crowd, no doubt more world shaping events have occurred than they could ever have imagined. Since 1950, the Game has continued through the Vietnam War, the Civil Rights movement, the Cuban Missile Crises and until just recently, a nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union. Disco, Woodstock, Beatlemania, the Gulf War, a Presidential assassination, and the first resignation in the history of the Presidency…
While these are but a few examples, the magnitude of these events has shaped our time, and the Game has continued through each period, unscathed. The commitment of both schools to the tradition of the Game, and to continuing the rivalry through troubling times has truly made it one of the important examples of steadfast determination in the South, if not the nation.
While the Episcopal-Woodberry rivalry manifests itself in the form of a yearly football contest, the simple desire to play a football game would not be enough to see the Game through a century. The Game represents a conscious effort to continue where others have gone before, to carry on tradition in a time when tradition is slowly dying out. While many people look to future in search of inspiration, in search of the promise of a better day, perhaps we should look back, that in days past we have lost some of the values that sustained such a rivalry through such hard times in the first half of the 20th century.
But at the same time, many of the traditions here at Woodberry, that make it such a unique experience have gone unchanged since even the Game’s inception. The Honor System, commitment to the education of boys, the confire, and a sense of pride in your school-all of these things have continued and flourished since that ugly day in 1901 when the Goons stole the first victory.
While pestilence and great economic depression no longer loom on the horizon thanks to modern medicine and the Federal Reserve, there are certain to be more trials to come for this great event, and we hope in the next 100 years that the tradition of the Game will continue, along with all that it has come to stand for.
–Matt Miller and Caldwell Bailey, Editors-in-Chief