Locals to be a part of history at Battle at Bristol

September 7, 2016 GMT

It’s seldom any of us get to be a part of a history-making event. But this Saturday in Bristol, Tn., approximately 14 locals will be able to say they did. The group will be able to tell their children, grand-children- and anyone else who has an ear to hear- about being a part of the largest crowd EVER to witness a college football game in person when the Tennessee Volunteers face the Virginia Tech Hokies on the infield inside what many refer to as the ‘Colleseum.’ “To me, it’s more about being at the event and not just watching the game,” said Mike Wallace, a Corinth native who is among those making the trip to East Tennessee. “I’m not sure how well we’ll be able to see the game, but it’s just going to be great to be there and witness the game.” For the record: the recognized current record for attendance at a single college football game is 115,109 set three years ago at Michigan Stadium when the maze and blue beat rival Notre Dame. “The Battle at Bristol”- as it’s being billed- will seemingly shatter that record by approximately 35,000 fans. That’s about the size of M.M. Roberts stadium-“the Rock- at the University of Southern Mississippi. Todd Taylor is also going to the game and has a bit of a different perspective on attending the game. “I just hope we (UT) get the win,” he commented.”If we don’t win the game then it doesn’t matter how many people are there.” “Nothing else matters,” he continued. Taylor does have another objective after the game is over, though. “I have a large collection of signs I’ve collected through the years. Normally after an event like this there will be somewhere outside the stadium where you can get these signs that say ‘I was there’, or something like that, he said.”I wanna bring home a sign from the game to go in my collection.” Being born and bred in Corinth, Wallace- an Alcorn Central grad- wasn’t raised a Volunteer fan. According to him, the conversion took place about 10 years after he graduated from ACHS. Sometime in the late 80’s I became a fan of Tennessee football by going to the mountains and driving by the stadium and just being up in that area. I just love it there.” Wallace attended his first UT game in 1999, the year after Tennessee beat Florida State for the national title. The game pitted the Vols against their state rivals- Vanderbilt. “Tee Martin was the quarterback and Tennessee won the game.” Taylor, on the other hand was raised on UT football. He was born and raised in Memphis and graduated from Memphis Prep. “My dad was a big Tennessee fan, so I was raised to cheer for the Vols from a young age,” he declared.”I remember my first game was in 1978 when Tennessee played Memphis.” Back in those days UT played at least one game in Memphis every year. Before the Liberty Bowl existed they would play at the old Crump stadium. “A man that lived down the street from us that worked at the UT-Medical center would bring us tickets for the games. My first game in Knoxville was in 1989 when Tennessee beat Georgia. There were big-time players all over the field.” That particular year the Vols were loaded, with future NFL stars such as Reggie Cobb and Chuck Webb. Andy Kelly was the QB for that team. “Growing up in the 70’s, Tennessee wasn’t all that good so beating Mississippi State was a big deal back then,” Taylor reminisced. I remember in 1979 when Jimmy Streeter was the quarterback when Tennessee played Notre Dame. Taylor also made the trip to Arizona the year the Vols won the national title. “I’ve got one of those signs from that game, too.” Planning a Tennessee game in this size venue has been rumored since around 1990. But it wasn’t announced as a ‘done deal’ until three years ago. That’s when Wallace and Taylor- both UT donors- put in a request for over 20 tickets between them. Now, the time is here. “We’re all looking forward to making the trip and being a part of all the festivities,” Wallace pointed out.” It’s gonna be big, that’s for sure.”