UK Football

For most UK, U of L fans, it's a good-natured rivalry

Louisville residents Mary Masden and her son Josh Masden wait for the game to begin at Commonwealth Stadium Sept. 17, 2011. Photo by Amy Wallot
Louisville residents Mary Masden and her son Josh Masden wait for the game to begin at Commonwealth Stadium Sept. 17, 2011. Photo by Amy Wallot

For some fans, the importance of the University of Kentucky-University of Louisville football game can't be overstated.

"To me, if we don't win this game, it's done, the season is," said UK fan Jason Wright, who tailgates with his dad, Roy Wright, during each home game.

"It kind of sets the tone for the year," said Blake Preece, of Louisa, another UK fan who was tailgating with the Wrights outside Commonwealth Stadium Saturday afternoon.

But despite the game's significance, most fans said the rivalry is all about having fun.

Roy Wright was manning a deep fryer of fries and doling out steak sandwiches to all comers — even ones wearing red.

"We welcome anybody that wants to come," he said.

He said he had been disappointed so far this year but was still hoping the Cats would have a successful season.

"We try to be positive," he said.

"I have bets with employees in my office," said Chris Bostick, who works in Danville but was relaxing alongside a motor home outside the stadium on Saturday.

If Louisville won, Bostick said he'd be wearing red to work for a week.

"We make a lot of fun with it," he said.

So do co-workers Lindsey Davis, a UK fan, and Tom Smith, a Louisville fan, who were eating chicken dinners together Saturday afternoon.

"We're peacefully co-existing," Davis said, grinning. "After the game, we're not making any promises."

"Monday will be a hard day for one of us," Smith added.

Patrick Murphy and his wife Jerri are a house divided.

On Saturday, Patrick Murphy and 3-year-old son Connor were wearing red; Jerri Murphy was in blue.

"Baby sister's at home with Grandma, and she's wearing her Kentucky blue," Jerri Murphy said.

Or so his wife thought, Patrick Murphy said slyly.

The couple met while attending the UK College of Pharmacy, but having grown up going to U of L football games, Patrick Murphy said he never converted.

"I also sat in the middle of the student section wearing red," he said.

For the most part, it wasn't a problem.

"Somebody threatened to kill me one time," he said. "He was not sober and losing."

Patrick Murphy's dad, Gary Murphy, has been a U of L season ticket-holder for more than 30 years. But since 1994, the father and son have had season tickets to University of Kentucky football for one reason: the UK-U of L game.

"We enjoy football, no matter who's playing," Gary Murphy said. "Rivalry is good for the state. It drives the economic engine."

For example, he said, UK gets donations from him that it otherwise wouldn't get, because season ticket-holders are required to make them.

His hopes for Saturday's game were simple: "What you hope for is that no one gets embarrassed and no one gets injured," he said.

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