Improbable as it
sounds, one of the bumper football crowds of the season (45,000) was the one
that showed up in Lisbon, Portugal the other day. It was also one of the more
glittering crowds of the year, including as it did a good part of the grace and
chivalry of Portugal, not to mention exiled King Umberto of Italy. The game
will probably be known in history as the Navy-Navy Game of 1955—and doubtless
the credit for inciting it belongs to a gunner's mate on the destroyer Zellars
named George Roberts, who ardently believes in football.
In a sense the
Navy-Navy Game had its beginnings during the Korean War. It was then that
Gunner's Mate (first class) Roberts of Washington, Pa. began saving his pay.
Roberts, a 220-pounder with the instincts of a fullback, stubbornly believed
that the Zellars deserved a football team, and when he had $3,000 he blew the
whole works on uniforms. After that nobody could argue with him. Last month, as
a result, while steaming eastward across the Atlantic, the crew of the Zellars
challenged the aircraft carrier Valley Forge to a football game in Lisbon. The
crew of the carrier accepted.
For all her
majestic bulk, however, the Valley Forge did not have a team. Worse, she had no
equipment, and her crew had only three weeks to gird for the fray. Gunner's
Mate Roberts announced that he owned not one but two sets of football uniforms
and that he, personally, would be gratified to lend the carrier his
blue-and-white ones. Two days later the Valley Forge had a squad of muscular
seamen hopefully running signals on the flight deck, had ordered helmets and
pads from Naval stores in Norfolk and Rugby shoes from a Lisbon cobbler.
despite these humble beginnings, Captain L. W. Williams, commanding officer of
the Valley Forge, decided that if Lisbon were going to see a football game it
ought to see a big one—a show which would do the U.S. proud in Portugal. The
captain, who had been inoculated with midwestern football mania during a
pre-academy stint at Purdue University, radioed for permission to use Lisbon's
National Stadium, a huge suburban athletic plant which seats 60,000. The U.S.
Embassy agreed to bless the project, and both the U.S. naval attache ashore and
the crew of the Valley Forge at sea leaped to feverish preparation. The results
were surprising. Forty-five thousand citizens of Lisbon (who were admitted
free) traveled to the stadium on special trains and buses to see what their
newspapers had described as "a match of tackle, known as American
football." A U.S. Navy band played. So did a Portuguese navy band. Four
cheerleaders leaped and postured before the destroyer's rooting section. Four
girl cheerleaders recruited from U.S. families in Lisbon "performed a sort
of ballet to raise the spirits" of the sailors from the Valley Forge.
A goat, arrayed
in a blue blanket, was tethered on the sidelines. Then, while a Portuguese
announcer roared explanations over a set of loudspeakers, the game began.
"It looked," wrote one Lisbon observer afterward, "terribly
exciting. The players were hurling themselves on top of one another with what
seemed like an excess of zest. Fear was voiced that perhaps the last one would
be found crushed to death. The most baffling fact was perhaps that the ball was
seldom seen, but the piles of bodies always gave some indication of its
whereabouts. At the interval a detachment of marines gave a wonderful display
and drew applause from the crowd. When the game resumed, the superiority of the
Valley Forge team brought them to the touchdown line. There was a roar from the
Valley Forge, 12; U.S.S. Zellars, 0. Fullback Roberts, of losing team, didn't
mind. "This," he grinned, "is the day I've dreamed about."
THE LADY AND THE
In the war that
rages without and between the sexes, an important salient has fallen to the
deadlier of the species. A woman, Mrs. Louise de Somov, 54, of Hampton Bays,
N.Y., has won the Martha's Vineyard (Mass.) Striped Bass Derby for the first
time in its 10-year history.
Mrs. de Somov
("Lu-di Bell" to her friends, of which she had hardly any among the
disgruntled male surf casters) took first place by landing a 45-pound 9-ounce
striper at Zack's Cliffs on the south shore of the island. Her prizes included
a one-room redwood cabin, a plot of ground to put it on and a $500 U.S. Savings
Bond. To add bitterness to the male cup, Mrs. de Somov beat out her own
husband, Serge, who came in third with a 43-pound 9�-ounce fish.