HIT THE LINE HARD: Greenville, Belding’s historic football rivalry goes back 108 years


By Ryan Schlehuber "Scoop" • Last Updated 2:40 pm on Monday, April 10, 2017

The Belding-Greenville football rivalry game has been an ongoing event since at least 1897. Overall, the teams have played at least 108 games since then. (File photo)

 

It may be official, or unofficial, but whatever the fact may be, Bob Dumond knows the historic football rivalry between Greenville and Belding has long passed the mark that many people believed was going to be next year.

HIT THE LINE HARD
By Ryan Schlehuber

In February, Belding Area Schools Superintendent Brent Noskey abruptly announced the school’s football team will no longer schedule a game with its longtime rival, Greenville, which was arguably one of the oldest, ongoing high school football rivalry games in the state.

Many people, both in Belding and Greenville — including The Daily News — were under the assumption, had the two teams met once more, it would’ve been the 100th meeting between the two teams.

According to Dumond, a Greenville native and a passionate historian of the rivalry game, the 100th meeting actually happened eight years ago, in 2008, a 21-16 Yellow Jackets win.

Thus, had the two teams continued its rivalry game next season, it would’ve been the 109th overall meeting and the 93rd consecutive game played.

The reason for the confusion perhaps comes from the list of game results compiled by then-Greenville football coach Dave Moore, who, according to Brian Zdanowski, Greenville’s athletic director, compiled the list when he took the coaching job 14 years ago. Moore gathered results from old yearbooks, the Michigan High School Athletic Association, newspaper clippings and “old timers” from Belding.

On the list, however, were some years with no game results.

In the 108 games Belding and Greenville’s football team has faced each other, Greenville holds a 63-38-7 advantage over its longtime rival, winning four of the last five meetings.

In 1919, for example, the list was left blank, however, through Dumond’s research, Belding and Greenville actually faced each other twice that season, a 12-7 Belding win and a 13-0 Greenville win.

The list Moore created went as far back as 1900, citing Belding won but there was no score. The list then didn’t have any other results until 1916.

Through hours and hours of research of old school yearbooks and old newspapers he found at the Flat River Community Library, Dumond was able to fill in much of the gap of those missing games between 1897 to 1916:

• 1897: Belding 12, Greenville 0

• 1898: Belding 10, Greenville 0

• 1899: Belding 15, Greenville 0

• 1900: Belding win (no scored reported)

• 1901: Belding 0, Greenville 0

• 1902: Belding 35, Greenville 0

• 1903-1907: No scores reported

• 1908: Belding 6, Greenville 0

• 1909: No score reported

• 1910: Greenville 5, Belding 0

• 1911-1915: No scores reported

• 1916: Belding 29, Greenville (game one); Greenville 19, Belding 7 (game two)

At least as far as anyone knows currently, when the football rivalry game started in 1897, Greenville’s first win over Belding wasn’t until 1910, a 5-0 score.

On Nov. 5, 1904, the Greenville and Alma high school teams played at Harvard. A Greenville player, Henry Loding, was injured in a head-on collision during the game and died that evening.

The Greenville team, according to the Greenville Independent, “promptly disbanded after the casualty at the Harvard game.”

Up til then, Greenville had played four games, facing Grand Rapids Central, Alma College Reserves, Mount Pleasant and Alma, going 2-2 in that span.

Occasional games were reported after that disbandment, such as the outings in 1908 and 1909, and football finally returned to Greenville in 1916.

The 1917 issue of the Hi-Life, Greenville High School’s yearbook, included only a sentence about the matter: “Football was taken up last fall (1916) for the first time in several years.”

I don’t know if the game, had it been played this coming season, lost a little luster now that we know it’s not the 100th game, but I’d still like to see it played one last time to give it a proper send-off, one last grand hurrah.

I’ve only lived in this area for the past nine years, but I quickly learned how big this rivalry game is between these two communities, and I’ve certainly come to love it.

As to whether the rivalry should continue, well, that’s for another column. But I will say I agree with both sides of the argument.

Hopefully, in the next two years, the two schools can come together at least one more time for one last game.

How great would it be to bring back alumni, have pre-game parades in both communities, enjoy fun family tailgating and hold a great ceremony honoring the history of the Belding-Greenville rivalry just before kick-off? And to have the Orange and Black clash with the Purple and Gold on the field one last time would give proper closure to a historic rivalry that I believe deserves a grand ending.

Hopefully, Dumond, or someone like him, will learn more about the years in which we have no information on the rivalry game, which would give us a few more morsels of history on this great game. To me, that unknown history keeps this rivalry alive in its own way — there are still things we can learn from this rivalry.

I guess, for now, that’s the only thing I can look forward to. As a fan of history, however, I will certainly always enjoy reading about this game’s past and talk with locals on what they remember about this great football rivalry.

•••

What may have been the last meeting between the two rivals, Greenville beat Belding last fall, 49-6. It was the 108th game between the two teams and the 92nd rivalry game played consecutively.

NEWSPAPER CLIPPINGS OF BELDING-GREENVILLE FOOTBALL RIVALRY

1897 

The Greenville high school team played foot ball with the Belding high school Saturday. Belding 12, Greenville 0.

1898

The football game between Belding and Greenville high school teams played here resulted in Belding 10, Greenville 0.

1899

Greenville and Belding high school teams played foot ball Thursday afternoon. Belding won 15 to 0.

1900

The football game Saturday between Greenville and Belding teams was easily won by Belding. Greenville was outclassed and had no showing. IF the Greenville boys had had previous training, the result would not have been so mortifying. Bret Rarden was severely injured in a knee by a kick from a Belding player. Some Belding players exhibited themselves as adepts in kicking and slugging which is not complimentary to their manliness.

1901

A Greenville high school team tried to play foot ball with Belding high school team Friday. 0 to 0.

1902

Greenville and Belding played football Saturday. A Greenville eleven of pickups went to Belding to fill an engagement made by the Lowell team. Belding 35, Greenville 0.

1908

The Greenville high school foot ball team and a like team from Belding played ball in Greenville Saturday. Score 6 to 0 in favor of Belding.

1910

Greenville and Belding football sports played a game at Greenville Thanksgiving day. Score: Belding 0, Greenville 5.

1919

DIDN’T WIN THIS ONE

Greenville Foot Ball Team Defeated By Belding: 12 to 7.

The Greenville High School foot ball team lost the first game of the season to Belding High Friday. The game was played on the Belding gridiron and the score was a 13 to 7 affair.

Even though the game was lost there was a senior dance given in the evening at the High school gym, so that the season was auspiciously ushered in. The music for the terpsichorean festivities was furnished by high school talent.

DEFEATED BELDING THIS TIME

Greenville does a little better than evening the score

This Greenville High School foot ball team is getting to be some husky team, and they are playing a brand of ball that is winning them games right along. Last Friday they turned the tables nicely on the Belding High school team which defeated them September 26 in a score of 13 to 7, by not allowing them to cross the Greenville goal line.

Greenville started matters by kicking off. There was hardly any ground gained by either side during the first quarter, the players being held pretty well in the center of the field during the whole quarter.

In the second quarter Bud Ranney intercepted a forward pass by Belding and made a run of twenty yards and just before time was called Arntz took the ball over for a touchdown.

Goal was kicked by Fowler. The score at the end of the first half was Greenville 7 and Belding 0.

In the third quarter things looked a little dubious but the Greenville line stiffened and Belding was held until time was called.

There was also some football played in the last quarter. Belding opened with the ball in her possession but was held from making any gains. A few minutes before the game closed Arntz succeeded in getting over for another touchdown making the score 13 to 0. Greenville failed to kick goal.

During the first half Rev. S.C. Parsons officiated as referee and Roy Ranney as umpire, the gentlemen changing positions during the second half. Rev. H.B. Johnson officiated as timekeeper.

These newspaper clippings from The Daily News were researched by Greenville resident Bob Dumond.

About the Author
Follow Us
Rate this Article
VN:R_U [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)