WEBSTER GROVES (KMOV) — The annual game between the Kirkwood and Webster Groves football teams on Thanksgiving has been going on for more than a century.
The Turkey Day match brought the crowd together in force with family, community members and alumni.
Mike and Bill Southworth, as well as Ken Klinkhardt, all played for the Webster Groves football team over 50 years ago.
“It was always presented to us as being as important as a state championship,” Klinkhardt says.
“There was no state championship when I was playing,” says Bill Southworth.
“It was always fun to play the game and then come home and eat turkey,” says Mike Southworth.
Bill Southworth says the rivalry game has always been exciting as a player and is still exciting as a fan.
“Previously they used to have the whole pitch lined with temporary stands that would be set up for the game,” says Bill Southworth. “10,000-12,000 people.”
All these years later, supporting their community is still a top priority.
“It goes back a long time,” Klinkhardt says. “There were a few cancellations during the First World War. I’ve lived in Webster all my life, and when I was little I used to sit on a bike in the back of the stadium and watch other people play. It’s a tradition. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition.
Crowds filled the stands on both sides of the pitch, leaving only standing room for spectators to watch the game.
Derek Byers has brought his son to the game since he was in elementary school, and now he plays for the Kirkwood JV team.
“It’s really special,” says Byers. “We know a lot of people here. There is a special friendliness to Kirkwood and Webster Groves. It’s friendly competition, and it was really fun to watch him grow through school over those 12 years and to see him play now in his senior year.
Even after graduation, Byers says her family will continue to support Kirkwood for years to come.
“We had a pep rally last night in Kirkwood, and the alumni who attend, it’s really striking,” Byers said. “They are having such a great time seeing old friends reunite. It’s a big meeting for everyone.
Kirkwood won Thursday’s game 56-7. This Thanksgiving game was the last to be played at Moss Field in Webster Groves before it was under construction.
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