Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Manual Memories

My earliest childhood memories with my father occurred when I was five years old on Friday nights to see "Big Red" in the Fall of 1956. My father did not attend Manual, at the age of 16 he had to quit school and get a job. But my father had been a Manual fan since 1942. My father was also a Buick man. The new V8's of that day were quick off the line but the ride of a "Straight 8 Engine'" was smooth, more to my fathers style. Hence, the 1951, 4-door Buick Dynaflow we were in came quietly to a parking spot on the grass in the Kosair Hospital back lot with assistance from a Shriner with a big strange hat. My father handed the Shriner a dollar which seemed out of character since the old man considered a dime as the universally accepted amount for a tip or donation. I think the pre-game adrenaline rush got to him when he heard the "Marching 100 Drums Corps" as he hurriedly exited the Buick and grabbed whatever coin or cash he had in his pocket, it was the Shriner's lucky night.

I distinctly remember my father holding my hand tightly since I could hardly keep up with him as we quickly headed toward the stadium and J-walked across Eastern Parkway. I recall dropping one of my gloves once and yelling "I dropped my glove Daddy", the old man paid me no attention, never lost stride, made a great move off the sidewalk around some slow walkers out on to Burnett Street and back on the sidewalk in about 5 seconds! He was in exceptional pre-game form that night!

I can still remember looking up at the sky to the stadium lights reflecting from the clouds and hearing the muffled sound of drums from within the great, weathered stone walls of that storied old stadium. As we hurried to get in line for tickets, the band started the National Anthem. This was not a good because it meant the kick-off to begin the game was imminent. The pace would now go from a fast walk to a jog as we entered the main gate and passed what looked like 20 foot high walls. Once inside I remember the sound of the cinder track crunching under my fathers shoes within the large, looming shadow of the scoreboard, tall evergreen trees and bushes just inside the entrance gate. There was a sense of excitement growing as we quickly brushed by a kid asking my father, "program?" The Old man didn't need a program, he knew all of the Big Red players names and numbers by heart. The anticipation and excitement of my father now flowed through me as on the run, we exited the shadows into the illumination of the incredibly bright and high stadium lights to a panoramic vision of ............ Crimson Football!

The hugh stands full of fans, the game, the sounds, the smells, the band that would somehow produce the "Marching Manual" the length of the football field from the end zone during halftime...Amazing! Standing at the sideline gate at the end of the game to see, or maybe even touch a "Star Player"...I didn't know humans could be that big when I was a kid! After the game sometimes we went to Moore's Tavern on Preston Street. My father would order a rolled oyster, a beer... He always put a little salt in his glass of beer, and talked about the game with other Manual fans. I got a plate of hot French fries and a cherry fountain coke. My father would also bribe me with nickels for the pinball machine to keep my mouth shut to my mother about taking me to a tavern or drink beer in front of me...we kept it our secret. I still think hot French fries and cherry fountain cokes are the best at taverns. For all of these wonderful Crimson Memories during my childhood, I thank my father.

Dave Weston
Crimsons 69'

Sunday, June 21, 2015

 Old Goat Radio's Eric Baxter has now returned to coaching this season. He has accepted a position on Fern Creek's Football staff. Congrats Eric we will sorely miss you in the booth.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Years ago, I was standing around, Fat, Dumb and Happy ( FDH ), when the persistent Voice of a Change (VC) pounced on me. The VC spoke unbelievable words: "Manual has abandoned the goat as its mascot and has adopted the ram as the official mascot of the school."

FDH: "Why would they do that?"

VC: "The goat is not cool, and were living in a cool world these days where form always overtakes substance."

FDH: "For decades the noble goat has been the official mascot of Manual."

VC: "Not cool."

FDH: "What about the Navy? They have used the goat as long as Manual has used the goat, and no one has tried to change their goat to a ram."

VC: "Sorry, you are out of touch with reality."

FDH: "What reality? Since the Miter Club, as part of its initiation scheme, required candidates to walk around the school with a goat, the goat was numero uno." Because of uno cool the goat was pushed into the closet of ancient history. After centuries of neglect, from out of the red haze of forgotten glory, John Wright appeared and created the Old Goat Web Site, which is an amazing step in the right direction, but it was not without problems. There were generations of students and parents who never heard that Manual's Mascot was once the goat and they could not believe that, in our dotage, we returned to our roots.

Another question: How old do you have to be to be an Old Goat?‚

Well, John Wright has established some strict rules about age. No one under two years of age or over 120 years of age is eligible to be a goat. Other than that, everyone is welcome.

Also asked is whether this is strictly a Manual football location. Well, the focus is Manual football, but the site contains information about other schools and other sports, and it is sure to grow as time passes.

Does it cost anything to be a goat? Actually interest and attitude are more important than money. However, if you can turn loose of a few bucks it would help keep the site up and running. I send John $20.00 a year to defray the cost of keeping the site running, but any amount would be appreciated.

Also, you can join us at any athletic event and complain and moan with the rest of us. If you have a keen sense of justice, leave it at home. There is no justice for the Goats. However, if you want a stimulating discussion about the great teams of the past and unrealistic hope for the future, you have found the right group.

Don Heavrin

My Earliest Memories

My earliest memories as a child was not going to visit Santa Claus. It was dressing up in a Manual football uniform with horns painted on my helmet by my father John 62.' The first game I remember was the 1969 Thanksgiving Day game against Male at the Fairgrounds. Manual won 20-6. I can still picture the fans running over on the field to celebrate. From that point on I was convinced there was no other team in the world I wanted to play on.

I have sat in the stands in Manual Stadium as a child,on the bench as a player, in the stands as an enthusiastic fan, and a proud parent of a Cheerleader daughter Tami 01 and her little sister Tiffani 07. My enthusiasm for football corrupted a early childhood friend Tim Roller who would have had normal childhood if not for my conning the kids in my neighborhood to play football. I drug him to Manual games as a kid. After he graduated from PRP in 84 he was curious as to why I was still supporting the big red in a time when the wins on the field where few and far in between. After the Buddy Pfaadt era ended in 1981 and the school became a Magnet school in 1984, it seemed the good days were gone forever. The 1985 season ended with an 0-10 record. It started many freshman and although they did not win a single game, they played with passion and courage.

At this time there were few fans in the stands besides parents. There were some guys I had recognized over the years who like me sat through every game home and away, rain or shine. Don Heavrin, George Secrest, Mike Jutz, John Wright, John Warren, David R.Wright. Yes there are two David Wrights. It was during this winless season that we began to congregate and talk of better days of past and the hope that one day Manual would become a powerhouse again. It was during this season that the “Old Goats were born. That bunch of freshmen in 1985 that went 0-10 finished 10-0 in the 1988 regular season thrashing an undefeated Male team 28-0 at Cardinal Stadium.They finished the season as State Runner-up 13-1. The next season Manual fell to 1-9 even losing to Atherton 19-14. Manual would not have a winning season again until 1992.

When Jerry Mayes was hired in 1995 he took over a program in that many believed could never compete with Male and St. X ever again. The Old Goats believed. He rebuilt the program the right way, bringing in a tremendous cast of assistants. I have met many of the kids in the program when my oldest daughter was a student. They are all great kids, many winning scholarships at such schools as Northwestern, Harvard, etc.

Since Dr. Keepers has taken over in 1991,we have the resurgence of the Alumni Association, The Hall of Fame and an academic reputation second to none in the State of Kentucky. Since Joe Nichols became the head coach in 2001we have seen the program continue to improve. His first team went 9-2 beating Male 20-13. What a night to remember ! Our first win against our Old Rival since 1988. How many programs out there can say they have defeated Male and Trinity and pushed St. X to the wall the last 10 years ? We now have a very talented team that entertains every week no matter who we play. The anticipation builds every week during the seasons of what good things may come. We have a tremendous academic program and all the athletic teams are very competitive, especially my beloved football team. All the alumni and friends of the school since 1892 should be very proud. Now BEAT MALE !

Whats an Old Goat?

An Old Goat is a Manual Fan that

Has seen so many games it has become a blur!

Has spent thousands in support of Manual!

You will see at the next game!

An Old Goat can remember when

Male High was the only opponent to be feared!

Male vs Manual was the biggest game in town!

St. X vs Flaget was the second biggest game in town!

The media gave all out coverage for THE GAME!

Even kids in the County knew the TRADITION!

Alumni would send their kids to Manual!

Alumni still attended games on a regular basis!

Parents came to games even after their child graduated!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Old Goats Day One
Well, it was my first time out with the “Old Goats” as Trinity beat the Rams! In attendance was Mike Jutz, who I remember from the old days. I met Tim Roller and George Secrest. I rode to the game with Dave and his Dad. As I was early to Dave’s house, I chatted with Paula in the living room, then we stepped outside for a moment. Their daughter came out on the porch too. We went back in and I sat down in the same seat that I had been in and crunch! I thought what was that? I moved and there was his daughters glasses, broken. Paula started laughing and I felt terrible!
Then Dave came in late as usual. He put on his good looking red Manual shirt. He handed me, still in the package, the old goats shirt that I had ordered. It was too wrinkled to wear. Off to his Dad’s house to pick him up.
Running a little late, we still got a good parking place! As we are walking in, the first person I recognize was Shelby, a Manual cheerleader and friend of my daughters. We continue our walk to the concession stand for supper. We stop to buy a Trinity program, $5.00, are you kidding me never mind! It’s a good thing Tim Roller bought one, we all just looked at his. We go to the restroom and as I was relieving myself I think Dave was peeking over at me because I swear I heard him say “wow”! After washing our hands, yes Old Goats have good hygiene too, we got some rubber hamburgers brats and drinks. I think at the end of the season we should tell which football team has the best food! As we walk up to the top of the awesome Trinity Stadium I run into a couple of Okolona baseball friends. One of them is a coach, Tim Sievert, we all call him King Sievert because all the parents want their kids to be on his team. I take my spot on the top row while meeting Tim and George. I take my seat and look around for some other classmates. I didn’t see anyone that looked familiar except my daughter and her friends. I know Manual is not the same school I went to from 1978 to 1981. Manual started to change my Junior year when YPAS opened up. That is another story, back to the game.
Manual was looking good although I am not a fan of the black trim color in the uniforms. This was the first game I had been to since 1988. Manual lost to Trinity in that game too! As I listen to these guys talk and holler they seem to know a lot about football and especially Manual Football. I do believe one day they will take over the press box and call the offensive plays! When the game started, the Old Goats stood up! I looked up at Dave and he said “oh yea we stand the whole game”! Tim and George were talking about some more shirts they were going to order for the Old Goats. As I put my order in, I’m wondering, “ I know one day they will escort Tim and George out but will they get us all because were wearing matching shirts”? Anyway, we will cross that bridge later. The September 1st, 2006 night was a little on the chilly side and a good night for Manual football. We came out on the losing end but the first night with the Distinguished “Old Goats” was a great one!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Manual has a pantheon of football coaches who won lots of games and State Championships Neal Arntson, Ab Kirwan, Ray Baer, Mike Basrak, Tom Harper and Charlie Bentley but none of those legends won as many games as Joe Nichols.From 2001 through 2009 Joe's teams won 66 games and lost only 38 qualifying for the KHSAA playoffs every year but 2003. His first team, led by fellow Hall of Fame inductee Keenan Burton, beat Male High 20-13 ending a 13-year losing streak against the ancient rival. The 1988 Crimson squad, winner of 13 games and runners-up for the State Title, had last beat the Bulldogs that year. The victories came so far apart that no one around Manual was familiar with the old tradition of the losing team presenting the barrel at the winner's victory assembly. With a surprise 9-2 record in 2001, Joe was named Coach of the Year in 4-A football.
The following year, sporting an 8-4 record, Joe was named Paulie Miller High School Coach of the Year. He was named District Coach of the Year by the Kentucky High School Football Coaches Association in both 2004 (7-4) and 2007 (10-2). Under his tutelage played five future NCAA Division I players Keenan Burton, Byron Tinker, Andrew Robinson, Andre Henderson and Dave Ulinski. Burton also played briefly in the NFL.
Joe grew up in Sellersburg, IN, graduating from Providence High School. about 20 minutes away. He starred at Providence, playing both linebacker on defense and fullback on offense.I broke my ankle my senior year and missed 3 games, said Joe, which hurt his chances of playing big time in college. I had offers from the University of Evansville and a couple of other schools. Joe enrolled at Indiana University Southeast, then transferred to Hanover where he played in J.V. games, but due to a technicality with his transfer was not allowed to play for Hanover's varsity. Joe re-enrolled at I.U.S., but football was still in his blood. He made a return visit to Providence High only to connect with Head Coach Gene Sartini who gave him the chance to coach the freshman team for three years while he finished his degree.
In the summer of 1995 he was hired as freshman head coach at Manual under first year coach Jerry Mayes, now Manual's principal. Joe became a defensive line coach and was promoted to defensive coordinator before Mayes highly recommended him for the head job in 2001 when Jerry left to go to Pleasure Ridge Park High as assistant principal. The rest is history. Nichols left Manual following the 2009 season and was hired as head coach at Fern Creek High where he served the last four years recently retiring to spend more time with his children.