Army vs. Navy 1943
In the midst of WWII, American troops stationed in Sydney, Australia welcomed a much-needed distraction in the form of an Army versus Navy football game. While it might have seemed unorthodox to hold the game on a military base during the height of wartime, the match no doubt served as the morale booster American troops sorely needed, as well as symbolized a celebration of American and Australian alliance.
The football game, the centerpiece of a host of celebratory events across the country, was set to take place on a significant day: Independence Day, 1943. To say the match was taken seriously would be an understatement: players and their coaches were given 3 full weeks of leave to prepare for the game.
But what is American football without mascots? A gracious Australian by the name of Mr. H Bowden supplied two of his show animals – a mule named Jinny and a goat named Joey – to serve as the symbolic Army mule and Navy goat. As the story goes, Joey had a habit of wandering off, which is why just days prior to the game, the people of the inner Sydney suburb of Newton were combing their neighborhood streets in search of the little goat, who eventually wandered back of his own accord.
On the afternoon of Sunday, July 4th, the highly anticipated game began. The people of Sydney, unfamiliar with, but certainly intrigued by American football, arrived at the stadium in droves. An estimated 33,000 spectators packed the arena, with another few thousand climbing the stadium fence to gain free admission. In the end, the Army team prevailed in a 14-0 victory. All proceeds from the game were donated to comfort funds for Australian soldiers: a move that in its own small way cemented the alliance between the American and Australian troops.
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