Backyard Brawl Part II | Journal-news


I left you hanging in last month’s column, describing my trip to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to watch Pitt’s football against West Virginia known as the Backyard Brawl. The game was September 1, but my deadline was before that.

You probably know by now that WVU lost.

My trip was on the River Riders Elite Coach with the Eastern Panhandle WVU Alumni Chapter and the Mountaineer Fan Club who have at least one other WVU football trip planned. We left the Pill and Pill law firm in Martinsburg at one o’clock for a seven o’clock game. We arrived around 4 p.m. The bus was parked at the Duquesne Incline car park right in front of the stadium. What I mean by “directly across” I mean the parking lot was directly across the river from the stadium.

I walked to my seat in 53 minutes. This included crossing two bridges and walking to a seat at the end of the stadium. The one way distance of my walk was 2.13 miles!! I walk every day so it wasn’t a problem.

My place was good. I was up in the end zone. Unfortunately, it was the student section of Pitt. Big problem. I heard a caller to a Mountaineer sports line that the Pitt fans around him were “cordial.” He obviously wasn’t sitting in Pitt’s student section. If I had a hundred words to describe the fans in my immediate area, “cordial” wouldn’t have made the list. “Obnoxious”, “turbulent”, “drunk”, “rude” are words I would have used for all but one Pitt fan.

The boy sitting next to me was very nice. It was more than likely because the minute he sat behind the seat, I reminded him that I had paid a lot of money for my ticket and expected respect. If he didn’t treat me well, I told him I would call the police and get him out. From then on, he was “cordial”.

WVU played extremely well. The WVU crowd, although scattered in all parts of Steeler Stadium, was large and boisterous, especially during the recitation of the famous (but censored) word of cheer against Pitt. Attendance was announced at 70,266, the largest crowd to ever see a sporting event in Pittsburgh.

Towards the end of the game, I started to worry. They had announced that the bus would leave one hour after the end of the game. I knew my walk was at least 53 minutes. I also knew that I would have to negotiate my way through seventy thousand fans leaving at once. I decided to leave with six minutes on the clock to beat the crowd out of the stadium. When I left WVU, I had gained 7 points. Pitt had the ball on his own line from about ten yards. The WVU defense had been handling them most of the game. No problem.

I walked out of the stadium with ease. It was a tight match. No one left earlier than me. Little did I know then that I had sacrificed seeing the games that cost WVU the match. I felt good that I was not going to miss the return bus.

In fact, I was the first to return to the bus. Talking to the bus driver who didn’t expect to leave Pittsburgh so late. He lived in Front Royal. After dropping us off at Martinsburg he had to clean the bus, empty the toilets, refuel, drop off the bus, pick up his car and drive home.

The bus did not leave the parking lot until 12:40 p.m. due to some others waiting. I could have stayed the whole game (it ended around 11:10 a.m.), but I obviously didn’t know that when I left the stadium. At that time, it was clear to navigate the roads. Most have slept. I do not have. We got back to Martinsburg around 3:50am. I arrived in Charles Town at 4:23am. I imagine the bus driver got home after sunrise. I was quite tired. I think he does too.

The trip reminded me of something I should have remembered from all my years of attending sporting events. It’s never a great experience to try to cheer on the visiting team in the enemy team’s stadium.

Would I go there again? Absolutely!! But it would have to be for a WVU home game in Morgantown, where all Mountaineer fans would be “cordial” since I was one of them. It’s a great way to follow WVU football and not have to travel to and from the game.

As Paul Harvey would say, “Now you know the rest of the story”.


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