BUXTON ‘Carl Hooper’ Cricket Club defeated Lusignan East Sports Club by two wickets to lift the East Coast Cricket Board (ECCB)-sponsored Trophy Stall Under-19 title, when the tournament concluded last Sunday at the Buxton Community Centre ground. Batting first, Lusignan Sports Club were bowled out for 88, with pacer Nando (only name given in the press release) creating the major damage, claiming 7-14. No batsman produced an innings of substance.Buxton, in reply, were reduced to 60-7 but Nando’s arrival at the wicket eased whatever tension was there. In a no-nonsense mood, he clobbered a maximum and two fours to seal the win.Buxton eventually reached 90-8.At the presentation ceremony Nando received the Player-of-the-Match trophy.President of the ECCB, Mr Bissoondyal Singh, congratulated both teams for reaching the final, adding that the competition was extremely competitive.He also expressed his sincere gratitude to Ramesh Sunich of Trophy Stall for sponsoring the tournament for the fifth consecutive year.As it relates to cricket and youth development, the ECCB president explained that the ECCB has put together a packed programme for 2017.“There will also be the employment of several full-time coaches and the East Coast will be divided into four sections as we seek to capture every village,” Singh said.He urged the young cricketers to continue to work hard and become role models, importantly to stay away from illicit drugs and alcohol.Vice-president of the ECCB and chairman of the Competitions Committee, Raymond Barton, congratulated the Buxtonions for their well-deserved victory.He also thanked the clubs and ground staffs throughout the East Coast for their cooperation and contributions, which aided in the successful execution of the tournament.
On the other side of the field, USC head coach John McKay, entering his 11th season at the helm of the Trojans, had an equally impressive resume. McKay hardly ever fell below a .700 win percentage on his way to a 127-40-8 career record. Alabama’s racial climate Governing with an iron fist, Bryant expected nothing less than perfection from his athletes. Throughout his 25-year tenure at the helm of the Crimson Tide, Bryant amassed six national championships, 14 conference championships and 323 career wins. USC and Alabama met again to open the 1971 season. The game was much different this time, however. Not only was the game played at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, but the Trojans were bested in a 17-10 game by a now albeit barely integrated Crimson Tide. In a Los Angeles Times article by Jeff Prugh titled “USC-Alabama Proved More Than a Football Game” published two days afterwards, Prugh wrote about his experience witnessing the shift that had already begun among the Crimson loyals. “In some ways, slavery never ended,” said John Giggie, an African American history professor at the University of Alabama. “It just simply was transformed into a program of white supremacy.” It is impossible to deny that the game of football, a language Alabamians understood, served as a vehicle to aid in the Civil Rights’ efforts of great men like Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X to prove that skin color should never dictate our beliefs of an individual or race. In hindsight While lynchings, bombings and burnings were still prevalent in 1970, some players felt a sense of security solely because they were USC, and they were here to play football. In the ensuing years, Alabama football continued to integrate and by the 1980 season, the Crimson Tide’s roster featured as many African American players as any other elite collegiate football team. For the remainder of the Bryant era, Alabama failed to fall below a .667 winning percentage. The University of Alabama resisted integration until 1963, when Vivian Malone became one of two black students admitted that year. George Wallace, Alabama’s governor, attempted to block Malone’s entrance to the university. “We just had so many horses,” Jones said in a postgame interview with the Los Angeles Times. “These guys are all so good that it really doesn’t matter who we have out there.” The 1970 USC football team made its way to Alabama, and although the team was apprehensive about entering the unknown of the deep South, its focus was on winning a football game. “They saw us as a group of people that could maybe help make their lives better down there,” Jones said. “You had those thoughts that [racially motivated violence] happens down here,” Jones said. “But we also had that feeling that we were absolved from that because we were USC, and this was more just football than it was the race thing.” In an environment so heavily influenced by beliefs on segregation, the USC-Alabama game became a critical meeting for the fate of collegiate football. Making the switch The face of the Trojans Though Jackson was a single, small speck in the massive dynasty that was Alabama football, Bryant’s decision was, for the most part, well-received by the Alabama community. Although he is mostly remembered for the awards he brought back to Tuscaloosa and his staggeringly great career record of 323–85–17, Bryant became the first head coach in the SEC to integrate a collegiate football team. “[Winning] takes away a lot of the opinions people had about you going into the game, whether it is a race issue or a [talent issue],” Jones said. No matter who was elected during this era, the governor became a figurehead for a population that was resistant to change. Wallace had lost his first governor race to John Patterson due to Patterson’s segregation centric platform. Though the game started as a friendly showdown between two of the greatest collegiate football coaches of all time, it would later become an unexpectedly significant match. Entering foreign territory While the team was traveling through Alabama, it was greeted by racial slurs and gawking stares from white members of the Alabama community, Jones said. Though it was met with criticism from the majority of Alabamians, USC’s fully-integrated football team offered a glimmer of hope for black Americans. “Bear Bryant and my dad were the closest of friends,” J.K. said. “Bear and his wife stayed at our house all the time in the offseason. They’d be at our house a lot.” Sept. 12, 1970, was the first game of the season for USC and Alabama. At the time, the matchup was seen as a clash of two of the nation’s best collegiate football programs, and USC ended up routing Alabama 42-21. In hindsight, the game between Paul “Bear” Bryant’s all-white Crimson Tide and John McKay’s fully integrated Trojans, featuring its all-black backfield, served as a catalyst for the rapid integration of Southeastern Conference football programs. “When [Wallace] lost to Patterson, he swore that he would never lose a race again over black questions,” Giggie said. “So he came out very aggressively in the next election that he won on his ‘segregation now, forever’ campaign.” “[Alabama] hadn’t seen anyone like [Cunningham]: 6-foot-3, 210 to 215 pounds, [good] speed,” Jones said. “They were outmatched for someone like Cunningham coming through the holes that were wide [open].” But Bryant’s legend status wasn’t restricted to his university. To this day, Alabama has never had a professional sports team. Alabama football is the state’s professional sport. This setting allowed Tide coaches to become household names. The face of the Tide The game’s spectators witnessed a blowout. The Trojans were bigger, stronger and faster. Cunningham posted 135 yards on 12 carries, topped off with two touchdowns en route to a 42-21 USC win. Jones dismantled the Alabama defense on bootleg keepers while aiding USC in a 559-offensive-yard effort, which he heavily attributed to the strong talent among the Trojans. Donning a suit and tie with a houndstooth emblazoned fedora to accompany his 6-foot-3 stature, Paul “Bear” Bryant was, unmistakably, the face of Alabama football. Sam Cunningham blocks for Clarence Davis in the Trojans 1970 game against Alabama. (Photo courtesy of USC Athletics) The addition of an 11th regular season game in 1970 created a spare game on the schedule. The historic USC-Alabama game was born out of friendship. Bryant also co-hosted the Bear Bryant Show, an hour-long weekly talk show. Although the show primarily analyzed Alabama football, Bryant also spoke about God, family and the country, furthering himself as an icon among both football fans and members of the Alabama community. Bryant’s show ran in the same time slot as NFL football yet consistently had better ratings than the live professional football games. As a matter of fact, USC had its first black player in 1925 — guard Brice Taylor. McKay’s 1970 team was not only fully integrated, but it also featured USC’s all-black backfield, consisting of Cunningham at fullback, Jimmy Jones at quarterback and Clarence Davis at running back. At this time, both the Trojans and Crimson Tide were widely respected as football powerhouses, but the teams could not be more different, as McKay’s Trojans sported a fully integrated squad. “[My dad’s] view, in general, was that he truly didn’t care what color you were,” said J.K. McKay, John McKay’s son. “It didn’t matter. They were football players.” In 1970 and 1971, USC had its worst two seasons in nearly a decade, finishing 6-4 in both. Heading into the 1970 season, USC was highly regarded, coming off a 10-0-1 season and Rose Bowl win. Alabama was sporting its worst season in the Bryant era. Regardless, both teams were seen as football powerhouses. Players, coaches, football fans and analysts have had nearly 50 years to reflect on the historic game that took place that September night in Birmingham. At the time, it was football: The University of Southern California versus the University of Alabama. Jones believes that a crushing victory aided in alleviating some of the racially-driven preconceived notions many fans had. “He is a legend and probably was a legend even by that time,” said Ken Gaddy, the director of the Paul W. Bryant Museum in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. “He was bigger than life, even at that time.” “If Coach Bryant was for it, then everybody else was pretty much for it too,” Gaddy said. “That made it easier for other people to accept and move forward.” “‘You know,’ said a man in a plaid shirt. ‘I sure bet the Bear wished he had two or three of them n—- boys on his team NOW. They were huge,’” the article read. “The reason [the University of] Alabama had resisted integrating itself was because this integration was seen as a bellwether for integration,” Gigge said. “If University of Alabama was to remain all white, that would be a sign, a symbol, of the state’s efforts to maintain segregation as normal, as customary, as effectively the law of the land.” “You see images on television, and the civil rights issues at that time were pretty intense. I understood that but never really thought about it,” Cunningham said. “My focus was to play a football game against a very good college football program.” Jones said that as the USC team bus navigated the streets in the predominantly black neighborhoods of Birmingham, people went out onto their lawns and porches to cheer and give well wishes to what was more than just a football team. Looking back at it, the game stood for much more — integration versus segregation. The following year, Bryant made the switch, as running back Wilbur Jackson, born and raised in Ozark, Ala., became the first black football player to play on a football scholarship at the University of Alabama. Two years after the conclusion of the 14-year-long Civil Rights Movement, segregation was outlawed by the federal government, but in the Deep South, both political figures and a majority of the white population were still resistant to change. When USC ran out of the tunnel that September night, however, the Trojans were greeted by a stark white crowd, as black Americans were still not allowed to enter Legion Field. The black community didn’t let that stop them from watching the game that would ultimately lead to the SEC’s integration. “They were on rooftops and the hills where they could look into the stadium,” Jones said. Those close to the situation have a tendency to overstate the impact of USC and Cunningham’s effect on integration in the South. “You don’t realize at the time [that] it’s happening,” said Sam Cunningham, USC’s fullback from 1970 to 1972. “You realize a day later or a year later, and that’s what happened to me. I realized what we were involved in and how it was a special game.” Football is a game, but for one September night in Birmingham, it was so much more.