The story of how the third oldest football rivalry in Ohio is constant throughout decades of change.
This is Dover vs. New Philadelphia.
Over the last two years, the coronavirus pandemic has run roughshod through the United States. Going back even further, political and social unrest has been the hot button topic for nearly half a decade now. As a local of these two towns, I can attest to the constant political and social arguments I’ve witnessed myself. Separated by mere inches and nothing but the street signs, most out-of-towners don’t even realize when they enter one and exit the other.
Located in the Tuscarawas Valley in central Ohio are two cities by Dover and New Philadelphia. Those two communities are made up of people of many different upbringings and backgrounds. But the one constant over the years that seems to bring them together and yet somehow even farther apart is football.
Dover Versus New Philadelphia: A Short Recap
Depending on who you ask, the first game took place in 1897 or 1908, regardless of when and where it has stood the test of time. It is a rivalry that outlives even some of the most convenient things we possess in today’s society. Before there were airplanes, televisions, radios, and computers, there was the Dover-Phila game. Today, from the yearly Thanksgiving Day games at the fairgrounds to the matchups at “The Brickhouse” and Quaker Stadium.
Countless legends have passed through this game, guys like Cie Grant, Woody Hayes, and Perci Garner. Game #100 saw the series tied 45-45-9. It shows in every edition of the game, no matter the strengths and weaknesses of each team, it always seems to come down to the very end. On Friday, October 22nd, game #118 will commence between both of these schools. Like almost every edition before, it just means more.
What It Means
Sometimes it is hard not to get emotional about sports; that’s the beauty of it. A sense of pride, feelings of heartbreak, and happiness are why it’s great. My earliest memories of this great rivalry will always stem from my Great-Grandpa, who sadly passed away in 2003. Memories of him and stories being retold from my Grandma and various family members are what made me fall in love with it.
Without him and other family members, I would not have grown to love sports and this rivalry as much as I do. Like many others who call these towns home, one Friday in October will always mean more to us than the rest. This game creates a different feeling in the air, a sense of optimism, a sense of hatred, and a feeling that rivals any other great sports moment in our lifetimes.
It does not matter what political party we vote for, our social and economic beliefs, or our ethnic or racial background. It does not matter if we gather off of Wabash Avenue or off of North Crater Avenue. But the one thing that will always matter is football. As previously stated, throughout the years of change, one constant is the Dover-Phila game.
Even while social and political unrest run wild and COVID kills millions. Football is what always brings these towns together, even if it’s once a year. Together yet somehow even farther apart, separated by mere inches, is a hatred that spans generations. The legacies of two small Ohio towns will always intertwine, even if for the wrong reasons. This is a story of overcoming differences and finding common ground in sports. It cannot be stated enough; this is Dover vs. New Philadelphia.