STREATOR, Ill. — In 1964, brothers John and Bob Mohan – then of Streator, Illinois – decided to get their friends together for a football game on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. At the time, John was a senior in high school and Bob was in eighth grade.
On Saturday, November 26, the tradition continued for the 47th consecutive year. Weather for the game was less than ideal, with temperatures in the low 50’s and rain that never stopped; the field was muddy and people were sliding all over. The rain may not have stopped, but that didn’t keep over 20 participants from all over the country from participating in a game of football.
It’s normal for people to travel from as far east as Pittsburgh and as far west as California to play in the annual game. The game no longer matches up the brothers’ friends; for many years now the old guys face off against the young guys. This year the cut was 34 years old, which actually put me on the “young guys” team with the opportunity to play the line and face-off with one of the originals, John Mohan, who still plays at the age of 64. John has hinted of retiring after the 50th game, but we will see! This year’s game brought about a number of firsts in Toilet Bowl history: two safeties and a two-point conversion. The rules committee is not sure how a two-point conversion was possible but it allowed the old guys to score the final point of the game and tie the young guys.
As younger people continue to get involved in the game, usually someone asks how the game got its name as the “Toilet Bowl”. Bob Mohan is always happy to say “we named it for the way we play.” The game features a toilet and a trophy on the sidelines. The toilet has been signed by most participants and the trophy was fittingly named “The Brass Ball Award”, which honors the players who have been hurt during past games. Only seven names appear on the award and it appears no new names will be added after this years game. The trophy is also decorated with pictures and two hats – one that includes a quote from long-time participant, the late Randy Spiers. The quote reads, “I just want to be able to know that the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I am going to be playing in the Toilet Bowl for the rest of my life.”
Following the game, participants head to the Broadway Tap in Streator for a post-game celebration and to catch up. Memories from past Toilet Bowls are frequently discussed and laughs can be heard throughout the entire building. The group also decides who will get to hold onto the toilet until the next year. Usually the winner is an original member who did not show up and the toilet is then delivered to their front yard.
As is always the case, this years game was a success. More than a game, it’s an opportunity for family and friends to reunite one day each year in the same place. The best way I can describe it is special.
Do you participate in similar events and traditions? Let us know, we want to hear your stories.
The Good in Sports salutes all Toilet Bowl participants and wishes all of them the best of luck in 2012!
All good things must come to an end: Texas-Texas A&M
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – It has been said that all good things must come to an end, and that reigned especially true Thursday night in Texas – a place where football is considered a religion by many. The long-standing Texas (Longhorns)-Texas A&M (Aggies) rivalry came to end with a thrilling, last-second field goal by the Longhorns to seal the deal on bragging rights for many years to come with a 27-25 win over the Aggies in College Station.
One of the oldest rivalries in college football, the two teams met for the 118th time on Thanksgiving; the rivalry dates back to 1894, with Texas holding the winning record at 76-37-5.
The end of the era comes as the Aggies sought out and accepted an invitation to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC) in 2012, after the Longhorns landed a $300 million deal from ESPN to launch the Longhorn Network.
Though the very essence of rivalry is one of hatred and angst, a rare, but beautiful moment was had between the two teams during the 1999 season when the two teams became brothers, if only for a short time. On November 18, 1999, 59-foot logs that were set up in College Station for the annual bonfire held before each Texas-Texas A&M game, collapsed, killing 12 A&M students.
On the A&M campus, a bonfire memorial service was held both at the site of the collapse, and at the A&M Reed Arena. Meanwhile, 100 miles west, the Longhorns canceled their annual Aggie Hex Rally and instead held a tribute to the fallen Aggies at the Texas State Capitol. The bells on the school tower rang out in tribute, and the Longhorn band played The Spirit of Aggieland.
Eight days after the tragedy, the two schools met in College Station to play ball. Before the game, 12 white doves were released and four F-16 jets, piloted by A&M graduates, did a flyover in the missing-man formation. The Longhorn band played Amazing Grace at halftime, allowing a time of remembrance. A&M flags flew high, alongside UT’s – a moment of semblance rarely seen between the two schools. The Aggies would go on to win 20-16 in incredible, last-minute fashion.
So while many fans across the state, and the country, are saddened by the end of the most storied rivalry in Texas’ history, we can look back at a time when the two teams joined together and remember the brotherhood that only sports can bring.
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