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Michael Denihan, Groundskeeper and Factotum, Peers Into Past and Affirms, "There Were Giants in Those Days"


For '28 consecutive years, Michael Denihan, ground-keeper at Soldiers Field and general factotum for the University athletes, has not missed a first team football or baseball game. Ever since the days when Harvard men with moustaches and moleskins touched up their nags to get to practice on time, "Mike" has been on hand to keep the field in trim or to guard the gates against inquisitive strangers. He has watched the greatest of Harvard teams and the most mediocre as they charge past into the mist of years.

It has long been traditional for "Mike" to appear at Yale games with a small crimson flag given to him in 1908 by D. D. Haughton '99, after the University had defeated a powerful Yale eleven 4 to 0 on a drop-kick. This flag waved at properties moments has spelt source of confusion to Eli cohorts for the last decade.

Fondly musing on the early days of football Mike said in his inimitable Hibernian dialect, which we dare not attempt to transliterate:

"Sure, I remember when the boys came to the field with everything on but their grandmother's feather-bed. They used to have three downs to make five yards in, and they only tried line bucks. If a man was under one of the pile-ups, they either buried him between two planks or used him for book-binding. Yet nearly every lad in the college came out for the team, and the squads were just as big as they are now.

"The men were much bigger tougher, and older than the boys they have now. But as big as they were. Yale was always a little bigger, not that we didn't beat them just the same!

"The grandest football game that ever I saw, we staged in the Stadium last year against Yale. We were the under dog, playing one of Yale's greatest teams, but she came up just the same and fought the Elis off the field. That's the kind of a game I enjoy!"

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