Game Ball trophy returns to Pelham

Alabasster Mayor Marty Handlon, decked out in black attire and veil, delivered the Game Ball trophy to the Pelham High School football team during a Sept. 19 pep rally. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

Alabasster Mayor Marty Handlon, decked out in black attire and veil, delivered the Game Ball trophy to the Pelham High School football team during a Sept. 19 pep rally. (Reporter Photo / Jon Goering)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—The Pelham Panthers reclaimed the Game Ball trophy from the Thompson Warriors during a Sept. 19 pep rally at Pelham High School.

The Panthers won the trophy with a 23-19 home victory over the Warriors on Aug. 19, and according to tradition, Alabaster Mayor Marty Handlon delivered the Game Ball trophy to PHS.

The Game Ball trophy exchange between Pelham and Alabaster is a tradition dating back to the late 1970s, former Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes explained. The winner of the annual Battle for U.S. 31 game between the two schools takes home the trophy and keeps it until the matchup the next year.

Hayes and Handlon explained the trophy is constructed from historically significant objects from both cities. Both the game-used football and tee are from the first ever Thompson versus Pelham contest. The spindles came from the old Siluria Mill, which once sat where the Alabaster City Hall is today. The block was part of the first elementary school in Pelham, which once stood at the site of Pelham’s City Hall.

“It has to be presented at a pep rally at the winning school,” Hayes said. “It’s always a lot of fun to go back and forth with it.”

Handlon, dressed in all black attire and a black veil, attended the Sept. 19 PHS pep rally to return the Game Ball trophy.

“It takes a lot of courage for a Warrior to walk into a Panther’s den,” Pelham Mayor Gary Waters said as he introduced Handlon to the crowd of PHS students gathered in the school’s gymnasium.

“Yes, it takes a lot for a Warrior to come here and do this. I’m not embarrassed to be here, I’m just in mourning,” Handlon said as she handed over the trophy. “I’ll tell you in the words of the Terminator, ‘We’ll be back.’”

Although the Game Ball trophy has traditionally been kept at City Hall, this year it will be housed at PHS.

“It’s always big when you beat Alabaster, right?” PHS Principal Dr. Jason Yohn said. “Hopefully we can keep (the Game Ball trophy) for a long time.”