We received a comment from an anonymous person who took us to task for giving the players from Gloucester Catholic and Gloucester High a Cheer recently in our November column for good sportsmanship. He/she said that Gloucester Catholic players taunted the players from Gloucester High and the person insinuated that GCHS players and the school administration should be ashamed of themselves for behaving so poorly. We received no other comments on the topic.
The person wrote, in part, "Good sportsmanship? GC (Gloucester Catholic) had four or five unsportsmanlike conduct, sang "Na Nanna hey, hey, goodbye " and spit on the G at midfield. Catholic sold their soul to the devil."
We did investigate and found that there was some unsportsmanlike conduct by several of the Gloucester Catholic players according to a police officer at the game. He said the Rams were penalized for their behavior. He added that this annual meeting between the two teams has always been a heated and emotional game.
And yes he said the Gloucester Catholic players were singing that song before they went out and shook hands with the players from GHS. He said he saw no one spit on the emblem in the middle of the field.
Click here for a video of the players singing the song on the Courier Post website.
You will also find interviews with a player from each school who describe the passion they feel leading up to the annual game which has been a tradition for seven decades if not longer.
From the Courier Post interview with the Gloucester Catholic player named MM. When asked what it was like playing that game, he said, " Playing Gloucester High is like something I can’t put in words. We’re kind of bred to hate them and they’re kind of bred to hate us. I didn’t grow up in Gloucester but once I got here I knew I had to beat Gloucester High. You get bragging rights the rest of the year. If you beat them."
Asked about the atmosphere on Thanksgiving morning MM said, "The atmosphere makes you play on a different level. The worst player on the field plays twice as good as they usually do. The people on your side love you, the people on their side hate you. You just go out and do what you need to do without even thinking, your muscles are relaxed it’s just a great game to play."
SC, the Gloucester City High School player echoed basically the same comments. He said, "I just like the atmosphere, the tradition and everything that goes on in the rivalry between Gloucester and Gloucester Catholic. It’s just a different feeling. When we’re playing a team like that on Thanksgiving in front of family and friends, basically the whole town is there. Thanksgiving is probably my favorite game of the year.
As a lifelong Gloucester City resident and a Gloucester Catholic alumnus, Class of '63 I remember the Pep rallies both schools held at the Charles Street football stadium where the game was played until the new school was built in the 1960's. It was always a heated contest. No political correctness back them. There was trash talk on both sides of the field.
One incident I remember well happened in our senior year. Some of my classmates and some of the senior football players got in trouble got in trouble for stealing the Lions stone monument from in front of the school. high. It took some mighty big guys from GCHS to lift that monument up and off its pedestal. The Lions players and seniors in retaliation somehow got into Gloucester Catholic building and removed the Rams mascot costume from the storage locker. Both items were returned before the Thanksgiving day game.
The police officer said, "In general, as a GC alumnus, I was disappointed with the display of a few of their players. I would hesitate to label the whole team because of the actions of a few, but, anything you tolerate, you encourage. This seems like it may be getting blown out of proportion to me, but I may have missed some of it also. Just my personal opinion, of course."
We didn't attend this Thanksgiving game, but we have been to many others. This game started back in the 1940's. Every year the meeting between the two sides is passionate. When you are playing with so much emotion there is bound to be some players who go to extremes. But what we have noticed is once the game is over the two sides have always come together and laughed about their antics afterwards.
Thank you to the players from this year's teams and from all the previous Lions and Rams teams for providing the fans with such a great rivalry.