From where I sit, the first home football game at Williams-Brice Stadium every year takes me back in time. It makes me think of the first time I went to a South Carolina football game. What do you remember about your first time? Which game was it?
Many of you probably grew up as Gamecock fans and went to games with family at an early age. If you’re my age or older, you recall there were very few games on television back then, and you had to go to the game or listen to Bob Fulton call the game on the radio. I grew up in Connecticut, where college football played second fiddle to the NFL. So, my first experience at Williams-Brice Stadium was as a USC freshman in the fall of 1988. Off the top of my head, I couldn’t remember who the Gamecocks played, so I looked it up. It was North Carolina (ironically, Mack Brown’s first game in his first stint as head coach of the Tar Heels), and it was a 31-10 victory for the Gamecocks. I really don’t remember much about the game itself, other than I thought running back Harold Green was awesome. I remember thinking those garnet helmets and black jerseys were pretty cool as well, yet I don’t recall a single play from the game … and it’s not because of any libations in the parking lot.
What I remember more is the experience.
When I went to New York Jets and Giants games growing up, we never really tailgated. We just went to the game and went home. That seems so weird now. Tailgating with my new-found friends all those years ago was a great experience that I didn’t really want to end. Fortunately, one of my friends told me I needed to get inside early for “2001.” I didn’t know what that meant, but I trusted his judgement.
To this day, I still have to be in the stadium in plenty of time for the grand entrance that never gets old. Now I do it with my son and enjoy the experience through his eyes.
A lot has changed in and around Williams-Brice Stadium since 1988, but the child-like amusement and wonder of seeing the Gamecocks take the field to “2001” and the roar of the crowd always brings me back. I remember hearing the Carolina Band, “The Mighty Sounds of the Southeast,” for the first time and how cool it sounded inside the stadium. You don’t have that at NFL games. Being in the student section, I quickly learned the various chants and cheers specific to our team. I remember that the student section back then was in the endzone opposite of where it is now. It was so loud! I remember hearing the story about the upper deck swaying.
Now, I’m a much older and crankier version of myself in 2023, and I wait in the lines for food and drinks, and then stand shoulder to shoulder with people I don’t know for three hours while baking in the sun, realizing for the 300th time that I didn’t bring sunscreen. It’s still great.
From where I sit, which is now in the East stands, having those memories and creating new ones with my son every year is something that lasts longer than the thrill of victory or the agony of defeat. Although, winning makes for a much more pleasant car ride home.
So, what do you remember about your first game at Williams-Brice Stadium? Hit me on Twitter @SCBrad92 and share the memories!
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