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Talking old school with alumni from the ‘50s and ‘60s

The University of Ottawa, formerly known as Ottawa College, is built upon traditions and leaks history from every nook and cranny.  Tabaret Hall used to be a high school in the ‘50s and ‘60s, where students were guaranteed admittance to the university after graduation.

“Back in those days if you showed up, you played football,” said Joseph Mangot who attended the U of O from 1953–56.

His favourite moment was during a game against McGill University, in which he ran headfirst into one of the players from the other team.  “I could feel the tingling all the way down in my toes,” he said.

Tabaret graduate Ray Jones was at the Panda Bowl on Oct. 5.  Jones was the sports editor for the Fulcrum from 1963–65.

“My favourite part of the year was definitely the football season,” he said. “It didn’t matter if you won the Vanier Cup, some trophy—the season was always determined by the result of the Panda games.  Every year that I was there, we beat Carleton.”

He explained that in 1965 he’d written an article about the chant Carleton University fans had prepared and had been singing at the games.  It was called “Dirty Frogs” and targeted the French-speaking nature of the U of O.

Both Mangot and Jones spoke fondly of Matt Anthony’s coaching.

“He was a great football player.  Had a good soul.  He put up with a lot of inadequate people, like myself,” joked Mangot.

There was also history on the field with the Gees’ current football coach Jamie Barresi, who was a quarterback in the ‘70s.

“Coming into the game today, I was excited because it was a revival of the games,” he said after the match. “[The Panda Bowl] was really good this year; the way people actively participated, the fans got involved but were well-behaved.”

Barresi experienced the Panda Bowl in the ‘70s, when the rivalry between the two schools had progressed far beyond silly chants about frogs.  It wasn’t uncommon to see condoms filled with water thrown between the stands at Lansdowne, even in the ‘60s, when they’d begun separating Gees fans and Carleton fans on each side of the stadium.

“Of course, most of the time these grenades would end up falling on the field and on the players,” said Jones.

One thing stood out while speaking to U of O alumni: some things may never change.  Jones explained a tradition that was upheld by the Fulcrum, which in his day predominantly was staffed by arts men: he sang the very lyrics that the Students’ Association of the Faculty of Arts still roughly sings to this day.  It’s better to be an artsmen than an enginner.

The Panda Bowl is another tradition that will never change.