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Girardeau named “Legendary Fan of the Game”

Local Real Estate Agent, Sheldon Girardeau, was honored in a big way this past Saturday as his South Carolina Gamecocks took on the Clemson Tigers for their 108 consecutive game, which began in 1909. Sheldon’s story began when he was just a boy. At ten years old he attended his first University of South Carolina versus Clemson University match up. It was a time when the now famous Williams Brice Stadium was simply known as Carolina Stadium and held a capacity of 17,600 fans. Children could purchase a knot hole seat for as low as 25 cents and sit on the knot hole wooden benches located at the end zone. Loving the Gamecocks came naturally to Girardeau as his father played for them in 1912-1913. Girardeau remembers a coach from the University coming to visit him at his home in Barnwell when he was trying to decide where he should attend. Shortly after that visit he found himself on the sidelines dressed out for his beloved Carolina. After just one season he transferred to Presbyterian College when he finished his football career and studies. Throughout his life, no matter where he was he never missed a Carolina – Clemson game.

The Clemson – South Carolina Rivalry also known as The Palmetto Bowl is the official name of the annual football game between the Clemson Tigers and the South Carolina Gamecocks. First meeting in 1896, the Clemson – South Carolina rivalry is the second longest continuous rivalry in Division I college football and the longest uninterrupted rivalry series in the south. Although the game is presently scheduled for the final weekend in November and teams alternate hosting the Palmetto Bowl, the game was played on Thursdays in Columbia from 1896 to 1959 and was referred to as “Big Thursday”. “It was a state holiday,” recalls Girardeau. “The fair was in town, schools were out and Clemson came to town for the big game.” In 1960, when the game was first played in Clemson’s Death Valley, Girardeau was there and every year after making this year his 72nd Carolina – Clemson showdown for him to attend.

This past week before the big game, Girardeau attended the local Carolina Club’s annual pep rally complete with Cocky.

He told how he had been a Gamecock Club Member for 51 years and how he was looking forward to being recognized as the “Legendary Fan of the Game” during the preshow at Willimas Brice Stadium. He also had the opportunity to speak with Patrick McFarland, Executive Director of the Gamecock Club in Columbia, who asked him to arrive on the field one hour before the game. Girardeau was excited and was looking forward to the state match up.

On game night, Girardeau looked right at home on the Carolina sidelines mingling with staff and state officials. By his side was Girardeau’s two sons, Gerry and Sheldon Jr, and his oldest granddaughter, Shelly, and her husband, Jake Barker. They watched the teams warm up and took lots of photos. With nearly twenty minutes left until kick off, Girardeau and his family was escorted out to the 20 yard line along side McFarland. The announcer told the electric fans of Girardeau’s years of loyalty to Carolina and thanked him for his unwavering support. It was at this time the infamous black blazer was placed on Girardeau’s arms for the perfect fit. He was also presented with a beautiful garnet and gold plaque. When asked how it went Saturday night his answer was simple. “It was all real nice until the game started,” he said with a chuckle. He plans to wear his “Legendary Fan of the Game” blazer to as many more games as he can. Girardeau is for sure a true Gamecock fan who truly loves the game of football. He made Walterboro fans look good as he took his moment in the spotlight on the 20 yard line as he mildly accepted the honor of “Legendary Fan of the Game.”

Christie Slocum (498 Posts)