Saturdays in Athens: A game day in the life

 

I’ve been thinking lately about how my game day routine in Athens has changed over the years and how it’s about to change again. 

My wife used to accompany me to the games in our early years as UGA alums. Since my Dad was with C&S Bank in Athens and we could use their reserved parking lot downtown, we never really got into tailgating. With my Mom preparing lunch for everyone and a guaranteed parking spot, there wasn’t any need. We could be downtown in 10 minutes and then enjoy a leisurely stroll through beautiful North Campus, which wasn’t packed with tailgaters back in those days.

 

Georgiadogs.com

Georgiadogs.com

Tailgating finally became part of my game day routine when the bank lot went away and we started parking in various church lots along Lumpkin Street. By this time, my wife’s work schedule kept her from attending Saturday football games and so my son occupied the fold-up stadium seat next to me. Our tailgating was never very elaborate, though. No tent. No propane grill. No full bar (mostly just soft drinks in the cooler; I think occasionally one of my brothers brought a six-pack of beer). No bean-sack toss game. No satellite TV. We’d just pack fried chicken or sandwiches, and we used a tiny fold-up table for our drinks.  

Back then my Dad was still going to games, and for a while both my brothers, Jon and Tim, would join us under the pecan trees as well. Eventually, though, they began tailgating closer to the stadium with some of Jon’s friends from the gymnastics program. (If you’ve ever seen the Gym Dogs dressed up for a game, you’d understand why.) And once my Dad got to be about 80, he found the trek to the stadium too much and opted to stay home and listen to Larry. That was sort of a sad rite of passage for us.

My son continued to sit with me much of the time even after he entered college (I think the protection from the sun and rain that the overhang offers us was more of an attraction than my company), but sometimes he chose to sit (stand, actually) with friends in the student section. On those occasions, my daughter Olivia has eagerly joined me at games.

So the past few years it’s been just my son or daughter and me, and we didn’t really want to bother with tailgating. I’d read the paper sitting under a shady tree in the morning at the church lot, listening to the Redcoats rehearse across the street at the Woodruff Practice Fields, while young Bill was still asleep. Then in late morning we’d meet up at the Waffle House in Five Points or at the nearby Five Points Deli. Simple, quick and no packing or cleanup.

The WH staff is friendly and efficient, which is a good thing since the place is usually packed with a mix of barely-awake college kids (a steady stream from fraternity and sorority row on nearby Milledge), townie regulars and those of us just in town for the game (usually including some fans of the visiting team). One time the governor and his aides came in and took a booth. (I took the opportunity to lobby for saving the Hope Scholarship.) 

Usually while we’re there, Hairy Dog and the UGA cheerleaders pull up in a couple of pickups for their traditional stop at Coach Mike’s Corner in Hodgson’s Pharmacy across the street.  

Depending on game time, we’ve then either headed straight to the stadium or gone back to the church parking lot, where sometimes I talk football with the folks who sit next to me at the stadium while my son goes off to visit various tailgate parties. 

Occasionally I get to the Sanford Drive bridge in time for the Dawg Walk, but more often I arrive while the band is making its way into the stadium, doing the Redcoat Band Chant that brother Jon helped write back when he was a Redcoat. That really gets me into the game mindset. 

One year, when my son was living in Reed Hall, right next to the stadium, we often watched TV in his room until it was time to make the 2-minute walk to our seats. The location was great, but let’s face it, a dorm room isn’t the most comfortable hangout. Once he started living off-campus, his apartments usually weren’t located within walking distance of the stadium. 

This past year, though, was the best. I had the luxury of spending time at my son’s latest place, a strategically located house right around the corner from Foley Field, until it was time to head to the game. Air-conditioning and ESPN … now that’s the way to tailgate!

However, with my son now packing up for a move to D.C. next month after six years in Athens earning his undergrad and master’s degrees, my football Saturdays are going to have to change again. 

(I half-jokingly asked him if his roommates would mind me hanging out with them at that great house even after he’s gone. The look he gave me was all the answer I needed. Still, I could just imagine their friends asking, “Who’s the old guy in the front room?” “That’s Bill’s Dad.” “Who’s Bill?”) 

I’m already planning ahead for when my daughter gets to UGA and figuring how I can get her into that house.

In the meantime, I think I’ll keep the Waffle House routine going instead of tailgating. I don’t know yet how many games my son will make it down from Washington for, but my daughter is ready and willing to take his place … assuming her mom doesn’t bigfoot her and reclaim the seat now that she’s no longer working Saturdays.

One thing’s for sure: I’ll continue to be in place at the stadium before the Dawgs gather at midfield for their pregame walk toward the East End Zone to the strains of the Redcoats playing the “Krypton Fanfare.”

It’s one of those goosebump moments that fandom is all about.

What’s your game-day routine?

34 comments Add your comment

RxDawg

June 12th, 2009
11:34 am

When I used to live in Williams St. condos (right beside Blind Pig) I’d wake up with some coffee and cereal and pop on gameday. After some morning nourishment, it’d be time for some cold beer. Then we’d play Gun’s n Rose’s Welcome to the Jungle, and blast it throughout the parking lot. It sorta became our home game anthem. Then it was a nice stroll throughout campus and downtown going to various tailgates that friends would have. Sometimes we would have large organized tailgates at the pharmacy school. Good times..

These days I don’t make it to many games unfortunately. The cost of going combined with life makes that HD picture on the tube look pretty comforting. Every now and then a good buddy calls up and offers a ticket. Then I drive up and pay more to park my car 2 miles away from the stadium then the ticket costs..

athensdawg

June 12th, 2009
12:00 pm

i have gone from a cooler and smokey joe out of the back of a truck to having a motorhome….and back again.

the motorhome enabled us to go to all the away games as well. …when you are lucky enough to be running with the motorhome crowd, every weekend is just like jacksonville.

the only problem is that when you are able to go in style, it is amazing the number of leeches that you attract….

but…like anything in life, it’s not all about the stuff. now i’m back to pulling the cooler and smokey joe out of the trunk. what’s nice about that is that you realize who your real friends are, because that’s who keeps showin up. and that’s what it’s all about…..

Josh

June 12th, 2009
12:33 pm

I’m fifteen years old and have only been to 2 games!(Tech last year and New Mexico State 2002?) Tickets for sale are greatly appreciated!

Ben

June 12th, 2009
12:37 pm

At UGA my tailgating experience is always with the “egg” grill and a bunch of friends right in front of the library on north campus. Many alcoholic beverages are consumed and many brats are eaten. Heck, we even tailgate for the G-Day game. We always tended to park early at a church lot so we could be on the green by 8am for a noon kickoff or 10:30am for a 3:30 game. Night games, we’d usually head out to a bar around noon, have a few drinks, then hit our tailagting spot around 3pm. After the games we would usually head to the Village Idiot or Georgia Bar.

It was actually quite different from when I finished my other degree at FSU… there my hose was 1/2 a mile down the street from the stadium, so we would get a keg of beer and make a TON of food at the house and then park cars to cover the expenses. Anyone who parked there was welcome to the beer and food as well. We would always hang there until right before the game started.

DawgFan

June 12th, 2009
12:39 pm

My oldest daughter went to University of Virginia and while ACC football is admittedly now where nears as exciting we always had fun going up to the games to tailgate and spend time with our daughter and her friends. When she was a sophomore( or second year as they say in charlottesville) we discovered this company called Collegeweekends.com (http://uva.collegeweekends.com/default.aspx) which basically has a bunch of gameday short term rental properties in town and a bunch are near the stadium. Anyway having a place near the game where we could entertain always made the experience a lot more fun and the good news is these guys just launched a site for Athens (http://uga.collegeweekends.com/default.aspx). So if you can’t get your daughter into the same house around the corner from Foley field maybe these guys can help you tailgate in style once again :)

Dorsey Hill

June 12th, 2009
12:42 pm

I make it back for 3 to 4 home games a year. If I can get in Friday I do like to go by and see the stadium the night before the game. When its all lit up and empty, to me, it just a beautiful sight. Generally on Saturday its just tailgating with friends and my game day buddy Jack…and a little Coke.

However, my favorite game day experience was one of the few times, as an adult, that I stayed completely sober. Having bid a substantial amount of money at an auction I bought what was called “The Mark Richt Game Day Experience” at a charity event. Me and a friend who went in on it with me spent the morning at Butts-Mehre, got to meet Coach, but the highlight was riding the buses to the stadium with the players and walking with them during the Dawg Walk. Being part of the Dawg Walk, as a lifelong Bulldog fan, was an indescribable and unforgettable experience and worth every penny. There’s nothing better than being a Dawg on a Saturday afternoon in Athens.

BTW: Watching the game on TV is no substitute for being in Sanford Stadium. My 50″ HD is nothing compared to being anywhere in that building on game day.

Robert

June 12th, 2009
1:04 pm

Bloody Mary’s by 8:00am. I always tailgate at the Phi Delta Theta fraternity house across from the Miller Learning Center. Prime location, too bad Adams is going to tear it down, probably giving the tailgate rights to his cronies. Usually got a grill and a cooler full of beer. Been a student for the past 6 years, so I am lucky to have not missed a home game during that span.
NOTHING beats a game day in Athens.

Pi$$onaDAWG

June 12th, 2009
1:21 pm

Didn’t your son know that you are not supposed to get all your degrees from the same school? Congrats on his Degrees though. My sis went to 3 different schools to complete 3 degress to get her Doctorate because it is better to hear how different minds work and help educate a person to think on different levels.

Michael Scharff

June 12th, 2009
1:22 pm

Used to be we could park for free in the Forestry lot down the hill from the Education building. Then, it got to be where we’d have to leave Augusta 6 hours before game time to try and get a spot. Three years ago, my Dad ordered a season parking pass. Now, we leave the AUG about 4 hours before kickoff. We pack a few sandwiches and sodas/waters. We sometimes will stop at the TEP house for the alumni cookout, but we will have to see if this continues this year in the new frat house on River Road. Then, to the Bookstore, followed by the Dawg Walk, then to the same six seats my Dad has had in our current location for about the past thirty years or so. After the game, hot foot back to the car and home ASAP.

RAMBLE ON!!!

June 12th, 2009
1:44 pm

LMAO, “Been a student for the past 6 years”…you forgot to mention that you’re currently a Junior now.

BHWAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHA

Saint Simons

June 12th, 2009
1:53 pm

saturdays in Athens on game day looks like the Jerry Springer show!!!!! hahahahahahahahahhahahaha

Sugar Hill Dawg

June 12th, 2009
1:58 pm

I was in Delta Tau Delta (Prince Ave. – nowhere close to campus) back in the day (71 – 75), so we’d drive over to the Art School, hang with my mom and her Duluth buddies (eat and drink their stuff – sweet!), mosey over to the stadium about 12:30 every home Saturday (always played at 1:00 in those days), attempt to stand upright during the game, then back to the Art School to finish off whatever my mom had left. My son’s a sophomore at Auburn now (in the AU Marching Band), so my wife and I tailgate near the rehersal field, wear orange and blue (refused to do so in November – Red and Black only!), stumble through their fight song, always sing “Glory, Glory to Old Georgia” when they play the Auburn version (getting some pretty weird looks in the process), etc. I love the college football experience, even the East Alabama version!

WinderDawg

June 12th, 2009
2:21 pm

Thats ok Saint Simmons, gameday in Atlanta looks like the Holiday Day Inn Lounge, EMPTY!!!!!!

Robert

June 12th, 2009
2:23 pm

RAMBLE ON!!,
Before you laugh to much, I took 4 1/2 years to get my bachelor’s (why not get the extra football season) and now I am working on my masters while also working. Jerk.

Cuz

June 12th, 2009
2:27 pm

On the rare occasions I make it back to Athens I do one of two things. I either go by the AGR house for some good barbeque and fellowship with my old and new college brothers. There is usually a cool beverage or three before the game. Or if I am with my family we rendezvous at the Blind Pig for burgers before the rush to the game.

Mostly I stay at home and watch the game with my daughter Baylie. Baylie loves the Dawgs but she is in a wheelchair and the handicapped spaces at Reed by the stadium are sold to high dollar alumni. That kinda bites that handicapped spots are not for the handicapped on game day. I can only wrestle that wheelchair up and down those hills about once a year and it needs to be a late season game so they don’t have to call the paramedics for me. Most games Baylie and I cook something on our grill, have our own tailgate and watch the game on TV together. Maybe not Sanford Stadium, but precious memories no less.

how2fish

June 12th, 2009
2:34 pm

Used to go with a good friend, that lived near Athens, he was a true fan born and bred a bulldog never a rabid we’re unbeatable etc, looked at each years team with a fair and balanced eye..loved the Dawgs win or lose , rain or shine..he even made ever Tenn/Ga during that terrible stretch where Tenn owned us..his best friend was a Tenn alum when Tenn came to Athens he and I set up tables got the food and his pals came in on a rented bus..never forget the time they got off the bus singing the Ga fight song…Tenn lost that night, my pal never let them forget it ..until he passed away 4 years ago and I haven’t been to a game in Athens since. But I’m thinking this year I’ll make it back to a game or two…hell Gary would understand. College football is the greatest thing in sports and SEC football is the best for…fans, teams, spectacle . I used to enjoy going to the Tech games, but it got so lonely…

Robert

June 12th, 2009
2:36 pm

Cuz,
Sorry to hear about those parking spaces. I find that appalling, something should really be done about that. You and your daughter should be able to enjoy a gameday and see the Dawgs without a hassle.

NewnanDawg

June 12th, 2009
2:39 pm

It is wild to think of all of the tailgating changes over the years. I started going with my parents in HS because my older brother and sister were already in Athens. Once I got to school there, I lived my freshman year in Reed just to be close to the stadium (and have a bigger room than the dorms w/ a/c) but would walk to my Dad’s spot on Hull because he gave my friends and I free beer and his crowd was a blast. I worked Saturdays in the car biz for several years after graduating, but never missed a GA/FL game and would rush up for some Sat. night games. The last 5 years we’ve had a motorhome and a flexible schedule, so it’s been awesome; every home game and only a rare miss on away games. We own a small business that has suffered in this economy, so we’ll have to cut back this year; might sell the motorhome and we cancelled our OK State and Arkansas plans. One thing I won’t even consider giving up though, I’ll celebrate my 25th consecutive Jax trip and 40th b-day at the same time. Let’s hope it’s a good one.

A lot of years, a lot of adjustments, but when the team hits the field, it’s that same awesome feeling.

Go Dawgs!

Robert

June 12th, 2009
2:45 pm

NewnanDawg,
I always celebrate my birthday (Oct.28) on GA/FL weekend as well, what a blast, except when we lose like 2 years ago when the game was on my birthday. Miserable.

Ken

June 12th, 2009
2:46 pm

I would consider a Tech game on a Thursday night but the bugs brand of football is weak compared to old Jeopardy re-runs. Vanna White has an arm that any bug quarterback would be envious of.

Gator Growl

June 12th, 2009
2:55 pm

Well I’ll never forget my trip to Athens back in 1995 as the Gators played between the hedges because of the construction of the Jax stadium for the Jags. Had no tickets, but I wasn’t gonna miss this historic event for anything so a girlfriend and I headed up a couple days early with plans to pick up another friend who actually lived not far from Athens in Madison, Ga. We already decided we would just be happy to be there partying and listening to the game in the parking lot if we couldn’t snag tickets! We arrived in Madison the night before and when we went out to eat, we were stunned that the entire restaurant and seemingly town had been invaded by Gators! Our waitress told us she had never seen anything like it as every few minutes you could hear someone the echo shout of “Go Gators!” in the place. Amazingly, we found out most other Gator fans we talked to had came up with no tickets as well!! The day of the game on the way up, we really lucked out as a well dressed man was on the side of the road selling his 4 ticks! I tried to negotiate the price and buy just three but he said I was a Gator so I had to pay HIS price and buy all 4 tickets, take it or leave it!!! Happily, I took it, even though it lightened my wallet quite a bit.
But what a day it was, beautiful blue sky with a football chill in the air (low 60’s), the Campus at UGA was beautiful and the atmosphere was electric. Great Great atmosphere. I have to admit,Georgia people DO know how to do it right and the women really dress to the nine’s! And I will never forget on the way to the stadium, a large group of brash young Bulldog fans was shouting and jeering Gator fans as they walked by. As we walked by one of the young men shouted directly at us “FLORIDA SUCKS!” For some reason, I just had one of those very rare quick witted cool moments when I turned around to him and his group and calmly replied, “Not today.” There was no reply from the group, only nervous laughter, as though they knew what was coming…

Robert

June 12th, 2009
2:57 pm

Gator Growl,
I’m from Madison. Who do you know here?

NewnanDawg

June 12th, 2009
3:05 pm

Cuz – sorry to hear about the parking situation, but it sounds like you two have adapted it into your own awesome tradition – good for you!

That 1995 game GG talked about; if I recall correctly, the day was salvaged when we all went downtown that night and watched the Braves win the World Series. The students scaled the monuments and filled the streets of Athens. It was wild. Do have it right that it was the same day?

Gator Growl

June 12th, 2009
3:32 pm

Robert…her name was Teresa Miller (now Golden) but she moved back to Florida, near Orlando, over 10 years ago. OMG, it’s scary the way time flies, isn’t it! Seems like only a few years ago when we went up there. Also it was the night before the game, I remember those sirens going off in the town because of rough weather and tornado sightings! That was very spooky and a little scary! We’re not used to those down here in Central Florida (I’m near Tampa)! But a very nice town, very quaint and very very nice people up there. I was impressed.

Gator Growl

June 12th, 2009
4:02 pm

Newnan Dawg…I do remember that the Braves were in the World Series and come to think about it, there were ALOT of Braves hats at Sanford that day so I think you’re right on…

Houdawg

June 12th, 2009
4:05 pm

So out here in Houston …. my gameday routine is obviously different from years gone by. I just rush to the sports bar to watch with some Dawg fans out here. But, back in the day ( before & during the teenage years ), I was a bit too poor to afford tickets on a normal basis. My uncle worked for the Athletic Dept for a few years & would get me those wonderful sideline passes. It was the early Dooley years and I’ll always treasure ‘em. Even rode the team bus a couple of times & carried the ball bags onto the field …. now THAT’S a memory !

In the teen years, I’d make a game if I could ….. then go immediately after to The Varsity ( Downtown ), get way too many dogs & chili steaks & settle down at one of the three TV areas to watch Bud Wilkinson / Chris Schienkle cover that ” other ” game going on.

Those were the days, but thank goodness for cable, etc., that allows us all to keep up with the Dawgs all season nowadays ….. !

Sweet Little Auburn Girl

June 12th, 2009
4:25 pm

I always enjoy going to Athens and hanging dwontown at all the bars and resturants. Yes there is more to do in Athens that the whole state of Alabama. But now we just watch Bama lose 21 football games in one day. That is one record that Bama has for sure! Roll Tide Roll!

Sanford Drive

June 12th, 2009
4:26 pm

Athens and Ole Miss are my favorite tailgating spots. I have also been to UT, AU, UA, Clemson, SC, Vandy, and GT. Those locations hardly compare to UGA or Ole Miss. Haven’t been to UF (obviously) so I can’t really say anything about the Swamp. However, JAX never dissapoints, and I will be upset if that game is ever moved.

Hope everyone enjoys their tailgates as much as I enjoy mine.

Saved

June 12th, 2009
10:21 pm

My first game was Georgie Teck – Alabama in 1961 with my Dad. Teck led 15-0 at half. Final score….16-15. You figure out who won. (GIT grads…Alabama won.) My first Georgia game was Kentucky in 1962. Georgia won, and I was saved from a lifetime of futility by NOT being a Teck fam. Hallulah! I’ve enjoyed many afternoons and evenings in Athens since, including 4 years as an undergrad, even with those rare losses to GIT. Go Dawgs.

The Truth

June 12th, 2009
11:33 pm

^It’s Georgia Tech*, retard.

dawg3fan4

June 13th, 2009
12:43 am

Best tailgate, before they started charging to park there was a gravel lot down the railroad tracks from the stadium. Used to tailgate with a group of friends that one year had a hog roast for the GT game. The “chef” got there Thursday night before the game to start cooking on the barrel grill. The hog was rumored to be 200+ lbs, not sure but it was d$%* big. That Saturday most of us arrived to the lot around 7am and around noon when the line opened up to anyone and everyone within smelling distance of the smoke rising from the grill was welcomed to it. The line was clear across the lot. Whiskey was flowing, most certainly Crown Royal as that is what most of the group drank(and still do). Great group of guys that I join most anytime I can make it up to Athens for the games. Could tell stories about tailgates in Jacksonville but that is for another day.

Jim

June 13th, 2009
3:55 am

Sold my tix for the first time in 21 years I will not have season tickets. Their are some things in life that are more important….not to mention tailgating is no longer fun around Athens. I still love the DAWGS and will watch every game on TV.

Savannahdawg

June 14th, 2009
4:49 pm

Been tailgating at the Ethno Botanical Garden since its inception. Good crop of Pamama Red but the Aculpauco Gold leaves a lot to be desired. Been with the same core group since early 80’s and this year we welcome the first mwembers of the third generation ( my son and daughter-in law are having twins). Group begins arriving around 06:30 AM. Always plenty of good food and cold beer. The Cruise Director insists that all coolers be lined up staight and that proper beer pong rules are observed.. The group has grown and changed over the years. Death, arriage, divorce, transfers and lay-offs take their toll but the ritual and fellowship are always something to look forward to. Can’t wait till September.

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