Army Vs Navy Game - The Cradle of Black Friday

Army Vs Navy Game

This (in)famous football game in the world of sport also known as “Eternal Army vs Navy struggle” holds the secret of Black Friday origin. In the 1950s police in Philadelphia had used this term to describe the chaotic state that occurs on Friday in advance of the great football event taking place on the next Saturday(tomorrow). An avalanche of people, mostly suburban, would cover the streets causing the state similar to the emergency. There was a lot of alcohol on the streets which meant fighting. Traffic jams were an absolute must. In addition to this, shoplifters would take advantage of the situation and steal from stores. Police officers had to work extra time deep in nights to preserve the order. That’s the reason why law enforcement officers named this day “Black Friday”.

The First Army vs Navy Game

The first clash of titans happened on November 29, 1890, at West Point military academy located 50 miles north of New York. Despite the fact that the Navy had played organized football since 1879 the victory went into the hands of the Army with the result of 24-0. An interesting fact is that there was no chaos.

Between the date of the first game and November 26, 1927, they met on the field 30 times. After 1930 the game became an annual event. They had played at both academies but eventually, the event was moved to Philadelphia which was a rough equidistant for Navy and Army. Time of this event had been changed. In the beginning, the game had occurred on the day after Thanksgiving, but later the more near future the new date was set. Since 2009 the game is held on the Saturday of the second week of December and for both teams, it is the traditional endgame of the season.

The Institution of the College Football

In the first half of the 20th century, both teams were very strong and their games usually had the national implications. However, after 1950 there were only a few seasons in which the two teams entered the game with a winning record. Despite this fact, this game is considered to be the institution of college football.

Some Players Go Pro

As we have already stated multiple times this is a college game but some of the players go pro. Probably the most famous of them all is the quarterback that had won the two Super Bowl championships and earned his place in the hall of fame. We speak of course about Roger Staubach. On Super Bowl VI he won the title of MVP. Besides Roger, more known retired professionals are Phill McConkey and Napoleon McCallum.

Army Inner Rivalry

This game wouldn’t have such an enormous impact if there wasn’t a rivalry within the army. Both academies have a great history which assigns a great responsibility of preserving high standards.

The United States Military Academy

U.S. Military Academy graduates toss their hats during the Commencement at West Point, N.Y., May 23, 2009. DOD photo by Air Force Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison(RELEASED)

The United States Military Academy(USMA) also known by the names of West Point, Army, Army Westpoint, The Academy, The Point is a four-year academy federal service. It is positioned 50 miles north of New York. It used to be a fort built on the strategic high ground overlooking the Hudson River. The answer to the question about the academy’s foundation goes back to 1801. Almost right after his inauguration Thomas Jefferson started with making plans for establishing the United States Military Academy at West Point. The whole campus is officially recognized as a national landmark. Because of this, the campus is a very popular destination for tourists and as a bonus, besides visitors center, there is the oldest museum in the US Army. Each July around 1300 cadets enter the academy and 1000 graduate. After the graduation, most of the cadets are commissioned as second lieutenants. During their college time, they are obligated to commit an oath in which they bond themselves for a certain type of behavior. No lies, no stealing or any other types of dishonesty. This is also the first academy with an accredited civil engineering program and class rings. The rings are given to the cadets upon their graduation.

United States Naval Academy

The United States Naval Academy(USNA) also known as The Navy is, like the Army, four-year federal service academy. It was founded on October 10, 1845. That makes USNA the second oldest of the United States’ five service academies. Its function is to educate officers for commissioning into the navy or the marine corps. The campus is built on the former grounds of Fort Seven.

A Brief History of Fort Seven

Now Annapolis Maryland, Fort Seven was built in 1808. Although it was intended to defend Annapolis harbor during the war in 1812 it didn’t get any action. On October 19, 1945, the US Navy took the Fort Seven for own needs.

The navy campus is, just like The Army’s, one of the National Landmarks. Graduation rate is a bit higher than in the Army and approximately every year 1200 enters the academy while 1000 graduate. Students in training are called midshipmen. Tuition is, as in the army, covered by the United States in exchange for acceptance of active duty service obligation after graduation.

The Ceremony and Tradition

The ceremony that takes place right before the game is an example of a true spectacle. But even as such, it is just the top of the iceberg that is only giving a small hint of the tradition that is cherished in between these to great federal institutions.

The March-on

Both academies enter the stadium in a perfectly organized manner. Men and women dressed in uniforms, following procedure that they have been practicing for countless hours, march onto the field and form tight rows. The rules might have changed over the years but there is a precise number of airspace inches that must be made between the shoulders of the cadets. The salutations must be perfectly synchronized. Same rules apply for the national hymn that requires the salutation position of the arm. The eyes of the whole nation are pointed to the stadium. No wonder why many presidents decided to come and add importance to this event. Both Obama and Trump had tossed the coin which decided the name of the team that was to be given a privilege of the first attack.

Prisoner Exchange

This is a very special and elsewhere hardly seen occurrence. The Students on their junior year change academies at the beginning of the semesters and exchange back on the game. The semester is known as “a time in enemy territory” and was invented as a reminder that at the end, both academies play for the same theme.

Kidnap Bill the Goat

Famous Bill The Goat is the mascot of the Navy. It’s not so unusual for students to try to kidnap the mascot of their opponents. Allegedly, in 1995 a group of army cadets sneaked into the navy diary farm and kidnaped the mascots. This incident had even gone to the Pentagon which eventually concluded that such behaviors were not to be tolerated. But that statement did not put the tradition into history. In 2007 the goats were kidnaped and cadets went so far that they had even published a youtube video of their operation.

Paying respect to the fallen

After the end of the game, cadet and midshipmen players come to the center of the field. Then both teams turn towards the stands where the fans of the defeated team are. After that, both teams turn to the side of victors.

Now you have a hint or two why this college game is such a big deal and has an enormous impact on the people.

How Did the Game Cause the Black Friday?

Thus far, we talked about the game and tradition, but not about the things that caused the creation of the term.

As we have already established the term Black Friday was given life by the Philadelphia police officers. Chaos, shopliftings, fights. However, there are rumors about some more precise situations which led to the creation of the name of the famous shopping day.

Local Legend – The Black Gold River

Sometime around the 1960s two twin brothers from the suburb had got into their truck and went to Philadelphia. They were ex-convicts who had brought the one-sided decision that this is going to be their last felony. Their friend, a shady track driver, had given them a tip that his colleague, ex-marine and hard army fun, was going to leave a tank full of oil parked below a little hill outside the town. Roger, that was the ex-soldiers name, wanted to attend the game by all means necessary. Last three days he had driven from morning to midnight in order to create the required time-space. But he still didn’t have it. It was well known that traffic jams can last a whole day. Sometimes even more. But in the end, he found away. Somewhere along the road, he stole a bicycle. On the morning of the game day, he parked a truck with oil tank between the hill and little woods. Then he got drunk and before sitting on a bicycle that was supposed to allow him fast travel, he had called a colleague to tell him of his plans.

It didn’t take long for twins to find the truck. Funny thing was that Roger had even forgotten to lock the doors and pull the key out of the wheel. Brothers winked to each other while entering the truck. They smiled while heading for a highway. To bad, they didn’t pay attention to rearview mirrors. They would have seen that the oil is leaking from the tank. And would have done something about it. Because Roger forgot many things. One of them was to commit a routine check of the tank. And before the twins knew it, the police was on their tail. In their desperate try to escape, they pressed the gas as hard as they could. But it was no match for the police cars and a chopper that soon came to join the chase. Law enforcement officers didn’t want to risk crash because of the oil tank so they just followed the truck until it ran out of gas. Before that happened gallons and gallons of oil had spilled on the highway asphalt making a real black gold river. When the track had gone out of gas and stopped the police officers who went out of the cars slipped and fell down. They were all black, covered in oil from head to toe. That didn’t stop them to get up and continue with their attention. While they were entering the track with guns pointed at the twin’s heads, one of the brothers said: “And I thought Fridays can’t be Black”. Allegedly, this joke had spread mouth to mouth in between police officers who from that point on called the great game day Black Friday. This did go to news but it was completely neglected in front of the game result and unsuccessful presidential coin toss.

The Theory of Racism

According to some historical speculators, at the beginning of the 1900s, racism was still strong in Philadelphia. And although all the citizens were free folk regardless of their skin color, some white fractions did everything they could to harm Afro-Americans. The rumor has it that Black Friday wasn’t a police reference that was pointing to a chaotic state, but the skin color of all police officers who were made to work on the hardest day of the year. Yes! Allegedly, some racists used their influence to make blacks skinned officer finish the hardest work. And some people claimed that their grandparents had told them that before world war 1 you couldn’t see a single white–skinned cop in uniform on a day of the Army vs Navy game.


The Reality

Theories are nice, but when they go too wild it is better to stop them with some indisputable facts.

  • Popular football game
  • Enormously large crowd
  • Store owners that see a mass-selling opportunity
  • Alcohol

The presence of only one of the listed factors is more than enough to make chaos. So, this is a circle tale in which end brings us at the beginning. On the day of the game, thousands of people combined with gallons of alcohol led to fightings, shopliftings and traffic jams that were giving a hard time to the police.

What’s the record between Army and Navy?

This question is a must after reading this big text about the game.

  • Seven times was a tie.
  • Navy has 60 wins
  • Army has 49 wins

We will update the changes and keep you informed.

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