Contributing writer says goodbye to Sponaugle Williamson Football Field

By John Limato || Contributing Writer

Photo courtesy of wikipedia.com

This upcoming Saturday afternoon, Sponaugle Williamson Field will host its last football game when the undefeated Diplomats host the rival Muhlenberg Mules. This game will be loaded with emotion as many Seniors are saying goodbye to a place filled with memories of triumph and exuberance.

If one walks by Sponaugle Williamson field today, they would notice a 4,000 seat grandstand adorned in cracked white and light blue paint. The field itself is not much of a sight either.Although football purists would appreciate its natural grass surface, the last remaining grass field in the Centennial Conference.  However, this plot of land named after S. Woodrow Sponaugle, a former Franklin & Marshall Football coach, and Henry S. Williamson, a former college trustee. Sponaugle Williamson field has been hosting football games at Franklin & Marshall since the fall of 1895 when the team nickname was the Nevonians, not the Diplomats. One might find it hard to believe that this early in the 20th century Sponaugle Williamson field hosted Army, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Virginia, and national powerhouse Penn State. Another little known fact about Sponaugle Williamson field is that it was accidentally burnt down by a bonfire lit by the fans 1916.  The grandstand was later replaced in 1920 with the concrete structure we know today. What is known is for over a century Sponaugle Williamson field was home to thirteen conference champions, five undefeated squads, and forty-eight all americans.

The rich football history goes deeper than the accolades that were produced on the field. This stadium was called home by hundreds of gritty Franklin & Marshall “football guys” whose names are mostly forgotten. As a current player, I know Sponaugle Williamson Field will always hold a special place in my heart. Soon the football program will take a leap into the future with a state of the art facility, which is both great for the program and player alike. But the memories of Saturday afternoon’s at Sponaugle Williamson field will continue to live on through the players, parents, and fans. Although the Old Gray Lady only has one more left in her make sure you understand her importance to this institution and her place in college football history.

First-year John Limato is a contributing writer. His email is jlimato@fandm.edu.

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