Crosstown ri­vals

The Compass - - SPORTS - Ni­cholas Mercer Ni­cholas Mercer is a re­porter/pho­tog­ra­pher with The Compass. He lives in Bay Roberts and can be reached at nmercer@cb­n­com­pass.ca.

There were times we’d get bored play­ing each other. That’s when we’d turn to drum­ming up in­ter­est in a crosstown matchup with an­other area of town.

When I was a kid the big thing was for the neigh­bour­hood kids to get to­gether for a game of street hockey, sand­lot base­ball or a rougher-than-av­er­age foot­ball game.

Ev­ery now and then, there would be a game of bas­ket­ball at the lo­cal courts, but that was a rare oc­cur­rence.

Most times we’d form teams and play amongst our­selves, each one of us se­lect­ing the name of a favourite pro player in the process. That was who we’d ‘be’ for the re­main­der of the con­test.

The re­ally su­per­sti­tious kids among us would also pick that player. For ex­am­ple, a friend of mine would al­ways choose to be Mario Lemieux.

This one time his se­lec­tion of Lemieux was met with an ‘I’m Luigi’ from an­other kid on the same team.

Okay, it was me but what did I know?

There were times we’d get bored play­ing each other. That’s when we’d turn to drum­ming up in­ter­est in a crosstown matchup with an­other area of town.

Whether it was in school or just throw­ing down the gaunt­let in the school­yard, it wasn’t dif­fi­cult lining up a game with your crosstown ri­val.

Living down by the Basil­ica in Har­bour Grace, our big matchup came from the boys fur­ther up Wa­ter Street. When I moved to Bay Roberts, my ri­valry game shifted to the east end of the com­mu­nity.

In both in­stances, there were many a heated game as we bat­tled for pride. If mem­ory serves, we took a good share of the matchups.

I re­mem­ber one par­tic­u­lar game of foot­ball from my days in Har­bour Grace. The Wa­ter Street boys had chal­lenged my group to a game with the pigskin.

Pulling a group to­gether, both sides met in the yard of the United Church manse. Drawing goal-lines, we let them have the first pos­ses­sion. Af­ter all, they were the vis­it­ing team.

It was a Spring Sun­day af­ter­noon with a slight breeze when we kicked the ball off. The game was full tackle and be­tween ram­ming each other into the side of the house or one of the trees in the yard, we damn near tried to kill each other.

They took this par­tic­u­lar round. They had this guy we couldn’t catch. He’d run di­ag­o­nally and it was a job to catch him.

Oh well, we were al­ways bet­ter at street hockey any­way.

Re­gard­less, they’re fond mem­o­ries that got me think­ing about to­day’s street hockey.

Are there still those crosstown ri­val­ries hap­pen­ing where street lines up against street with noth­ing but blood on their minds?

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