(Editor’s note: This is republished as it appeared in The Sampson Independent, Dec. 26, 1982)
Saturday, Sept. 30, 1922 was a beautiful day in eastern North Carolina. On that day some 60 years ago, four young men from the newly formed Ingold Consolidated High School attended a football game between Wake Forest College and the University of North Carolina. The game was played in nearby Goldsboro
In organizing this trip to see a football game, two brothers, Adron and Leland Trantum, had an ulterior motive. They had both played a little sand lot football in Hagerstown, MD before their family to North Carolina. When a consolidated high school was established in their little village of Ingold, they saw the possibility of their new high school fielding a football team. The company they chose to join them to see the game in Goldsboro was carefully selected. Bill Wright and Chevis Melvin were picked, not only because they were close friends but because it was calculated that they were of a temperament to appreciate the game and would help sell the idea to the other boys in the school.
Bill and Chevis were enthusiastic. By pooling their money, the four pals were able to purchase a new football before leaving Goldsboro. That same football later served the Ingold football team for both practice and games for at least a couple of seasons
Fortunately, there was a nice level field just behind the school. Practice started immediately. A total of 12 and occasionally 13 turned out for practice every lunch hour. About 5 minutes was devoted to eating the lunch that each student had brought from home, and the other 55 minutes were devoted to football. There was no coach, and there was no record of a team captain. A book of rules and the sand lot experience of the Trantum boys provided the fundamentals and the foundation for the team. Except for those who had witnessed the game in Goldsboro, no one on the team had ever seen a football game.
Opponents? Where was opposition to be found? There were no football teams in Sampson County. A search by members of the squad hit pay dirt when Bill Wright saw a yearbook of the New Bern High School. It revealed that a year or two before, New Bern had beaten Warsaw High something like 56-0. A letter to Warsaw High requesting a game brought a quick reply expressing regret that their schedule for the season was complete, but their coach suggested a practice game be scheduled for a Wednesday afternoon. The suggestion was quickly pondered and promptly accepted.
Uniforms? With the help of girls from the school, members of the squad promoted several box parties to raise money. And the fellows were not above pooling their funds so they could bid up the boxes of those girls who had sweethearts interested in those particular boxes and were anxious to get them. Enough funds were raised to order equipment from the Montgomery Ward catalog: pants and sweatshirts (in lieu of jerseys) for twelve, as well as helmets and shoulder pads for the center, guards, and tackles. Each player provided his own shoes, usually an old pair to which he added “cleats” of his own manufacture. Thus the team was properly “outfitted”.
Enough money was left over to purchase lime for lining the field and 2 X 4 boards for building the goal posts. Members of the team did all of the work.
Things were really beginning to look up: a game scheduled with Warsaw, uniforms on order, and a field on which to play. Unfortunately, Murphy’s Law raised its head: “If anything can go wrong, it will”.
The day of the game arrived but the uniforms had not. So in the overalls used for practice sessions and hand-cleated shoes, the team from Ingold took the field against Warsaw for a practice game using 10-minute quarters. Warsaw was victorious 66-6. In this game, a 12-man squad represented Ingold, including one substitute.
But the spark had kindled the fire. Later that season and the next, new teams appeared at Clinton, Teacheys, and Shady Grove high schools. By playing some schools twice a season, Ingold was able to make up a fairly complete schedule for a season.
In 1923, Ingold’s opening game was with Warsaw. This time the score was 26-7 in favor of Warsaw. A feature of the Sampson County Fair in the fall of 1923 was a game between Clinton and Ingold high schools. The game was played in Clinton at the old fairgrounds on Spivey St. (which is now part of the Clinton Cemetery).
The biggest challenge facing the inexperienced Ingold squad was the fact that they just didn’t have enough players for one team to practice against another. This problem was partially resolved by a “scrub” team, made up of young men from Ingold, Garland, Ivanhoe, and other nearby towns. When the High School team had an open Saturday, the “scrub” team provided opposition. There were some experienced players on the “scrubs” that gave the regular team some stiff competition.
A school bus was provided to transport the team to games away from home and use of the school auditorium was permitted for the box parties to raise money, and of course, use of the area for the playing field. Members of the squad were responsible for preparing the playing field, and they or their parents paid any remaining team expenses.
The second year, Mr. R. C. Barrett, the principal of the school, made an effort to help the team by devoting some time to coaching, and the editor of the Clinton newspaper came to Ingold on several occasions to help coach the squad, as well.
The third game played between Ingold and Warsaw (including the practice game) was won by Ingold.