Are you ready for some football?
This Saturday, for the 113th time, U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen will face off against their archrival U.S. Military Academy Black Knights in what has become known to legions of football fans simply as the Army-Navy game.
The teams first met Nov. 29, 1890, on The Plain at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., where the much more experienced Navy team dominated with a 24-0 victory.
Since then, the series record stands at 56 Navy wins, 49 Army wins and seven ties. Navy is riding a current winning streak of 10 consecutive years.
There have been occasions over the years when the two teams did not meet.
Army canceled its entire football season in 1909 due to the death of a cadet in a game against Harvard; World War I interfered in 1917 and 1918; and because neither school could agree on player eligibility standards, the 1928 and 1929 games were called off.
But the longest break in action came after the 1893 game when a duel nearly occurred between a Navy admiral and an Army general, which resulted in each school being restricted to playing home games only. After a five-year cooling-off period, both teams took the field once again, but always in a neutral location, and often in the city of Philadelphia.
Saturday's game will once again be contested in the City of Brotherly Love at Lincoln Financial Field, beginning at 3 p.m. Besides being seen by hundreds of thousands of people on network television, the game will be heard around the world via satellite radio, Army Sports Network and Navy Radio Network. It will also be streamed live on the Internet.
The Middies will take the field wearing their new predominantly white helmet displaying an anchor logo on each side with a metallic gold stripe embellishment. Cheering them along on the sidelines will be Bill the goat, the Navy's team mascot.
Why a goat?
For centuries, ships sailed with livestock to provide Sailors with fresh food and early ships often carried goats to eat garbage and to supply milk and butter.
According to the U.S. Naval Academy website, legend has it that a pet goat died aboard a Navy ship and officers decided to preserve the skin for mounting upon returning to port. On their way to the taxidermist, two young ensigns who were entrusted with the skin stopped by the Naval Academy to see a football game. At half time, one of them dressed up in the goat skin and amused the crowd.
Navy won the game and, although there were brief periods with other mascots, the goat eventually won the spot and has served without interruption since 1904.
A crowd of more than 100 peopleSailors, Academy alumni and fans aboard NAS Patuxent Riveris expected to attend the Annual Army-Navy Game Eggs and Legs Breakfast at River's Edge from 7:30-9 a.m. Friday to rally support and show their team spirit.
"The tradition of eggs and legs began years ago at the Naval Academy when a Supply Corps officer had to come up with a last-minute meal to feed the busloads of Midshipmen traveling to the Army-Navy game and the only thing available were chicken drumsticks and eggs," explained Mike DeManss, USNA Class of '73 graduate and president of the Greater Southern Maryland Chapter of the USNA Alumni Association. "Southern Maryland fried chicken legs with scrambled eggs became a standard breakfast at USNA and was commonly called 'eggs and legs'. We continue to honor that tradition."
Those who don't make the breakfast can still join in the celebration at the Lexington Restaurant and Lounge on Great Mills Road where local fans traditionally gather to watch the game on big screen televisions.
One final tradition that follows the game: both teams singing each other's alma maters.
"It's tradition for the losing team to sing their alma mater first," DeManss said.
So, let's go Navy, make Army sing first.