Georgia Football: Everyone remembers their first game

ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 9: Fans of the Georgia Bulldogs cheer for the band prior to the start of the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium on October 9, 2004 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
ATHENS, GA - OCTOBER 9: Fans of the Georgia Bulldogs cheer for the band prior to the start of the game against the Tennessee Volunteers at Sanford Stadium on October 9, 2004 in Athens, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) /

Many Georgia football fans remember their first time walking into Sanford Stadium. Many this Saturday will be going to their very first game. For them and the rest of us, It is one of the most unforgettable moments in our lives. It made me want to go to the University of Georgia. But not for football, it was for the coeds. They have always said that the Football team is the front porch of a university. For me, it was all the pretty girls. I was a weird 5-year-old.

It was September 4th, 2004—the start of the new season for the Dawgs. Fresh off a disappointing end to the season in the SEC championship the previous year, the Dawgs were looking to win the SEC and the national championship. With the two Davids (Greene and Pollack) returning for their senior years, they looked primed for a shot in the BCS title game.

I did not know any of that then; if I did, it did not change my excitement about going to the game. Seeing the sea of people clad in red, the loud, obnoxious fans, and the Redcoat band was all I needed to raise my excitement. Also, that day, I got my first football cards. I don’t remember why they handed out Georgia football cards, but some guy shoved them in my face, and I took them. I still have the two cards today. One is David Greene, and the other is David Pollack. They are probably not worth anything, but I still have them because they remind me of my first Georgia game.

Before the game, we only had two tickets, and my grandfather came with us. So we needed a third. This was a time before smartphones, so ticket apps did not exist. I am sure many readers of this blog remember holding up their fingers for however many tickets they needed and then beginning to negotiate with a scalper. I, at the time, did not understand how the system worked. I just saw people putting up their fingers for tickets, and we needed to get tickets for my grandpa.

Soon, I was hassled by scalpers, maybe because they saw an easy victim. My dad, who was busy trying to barter, was confused about why I was holding up four fingers. I just assumed that was code for “I need tickets.” I was laughed at by both my dad and my grandpa, but soon after that, I was taught the lesson about the finger system to get tickets. We got the tickets but had to negotiate for one extra ticket.

My dad is a loner from being an only child, so he sat alone. My grandfather and I would go to section 108, row 50. Little did I know then, but those seats would be where I saw most of Georgia football games. But before we made it to our seats, my grandfather stumbled down the stairs. On top of the concourse, I laughed hysterically at the grace of fall he took. Later, I was told by him it wasn’t all that funny. Nineteen years later, I am writing this and still find it funny.

As many of you know, early September inside Sanford Stadium is one of the hottest places on Earth. I don’t recall the temperature, but I remember sweating and constantly asking for a Powerade. I was five, and I was very impressionable by the Powerade commercials. The commercials had some dude sweating like crazy playing basketball. The guy playing would get tired, and someone would always hand him a cold Powerade. Then the sweat would disappear, and he would dunk over five people. I thought that would happen if I got my hands on one.

Finally, after a full quarter of begging for a cold Powerade, my grandpa gave in. He grumbled when they told him it was three dollars. Only if he knew how much drinks were today. I don’t remember a whole lot about the play of the game. The star to me was Hairy Dawg and UGA. I could care less if David Greene was throwing it to Sean Bailey.

So once I met Hairy Dawg and saw UGA over the hedges, I was ready to go. It was too hot. My grandpa was tired of dealing with me and the heat, so he was prepared to leave before halftime. Finally, once the second quarter ended, we met with my dad and left to return to Alpharetta.

The game was a blowout. I was sweaty; I didn’t understand anything happening, but I enjoyed every minute of the experience. From then on, I went to every Georgia game I could attend. Georgia football has taken me to California, Louisiana, Indiana, South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. There is no better place to watch a football game than Sanford Stadium.

I have a kid now. She’s way too young to go to a football game yet. But, when the time is right, you better believe she will be going to Georgia games with her dad, Just like my dad did with me and my grandpa did with my dad. Georgia football is important to a lot of people. It is passed down through the generations like a family heirloom. It is the one thing that keeps the generations connected even though the past is now deemed insignificant. When people compare Southern football to religion, they aren’t that far off. Going to your first Georgia football game is like a sacred pilgrimage.

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