Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise
Sports News Without Fear, Favor or Compromise

Canadian College Football Fans Are Adorable Berserkers

Illustration for article titled Canadian College Football Fans Are Adorable Berserkers

Sixty years ago, LIFE magazine tapped into the joys and tortures of football fandom by traveling north of the American border, where collegians in Ontario were positively freaking out over a rare win on the gridiron. All these years later, there's something quite sweet about the pictures—a reminder, perhaps, not so much of another time as another sensibility. Namely, a sensibility that can allow itself to go happily berserk without the celebration devolving, inevitably, into a full-fledged riot.

[See photos of Queen's University football fans losing it — but sweetly, sweetly — at]

This is not to say, of course, that Canadians are immune to the sort of lowlife behavior that occasionally consumes, for example, basketball fans in the U.S., and soccer fans seemingly everywhere. But the scene at Queen's University in the fall of '54 appears, at least from what one can see in the photos on, to have been one of almost purely innocent elation. And there's nothing wrong with that.

To most Americans [wrote LIFE] their Canadian neighbors seem an undemonstrative people. To Canadians the most sedate of their citizens are the descendants of the Scotch Presbyterian settlers. Yet, for football enthusiasm, few colleges in all the exuberant U.S. outdo Canada's Queen's University, founded in Kingston, Ont., by Scotch Presbyterians. Through years of losing teams, Queen's has always kept up its high spirit. This month when the team took the lead in the big game against Toronto, the student went berserk. Cheerleaders in abbreviated kilts urged hoarser and hoarser versions of the college yell: "Cha Gheil! Cha Gheil!" (Gaelic for "Hold that line.") Cracked voices yelped, "It can't be real." When it turned out to be real, joy overflowed in a parade through placid Kingston behind a Queen's girl who seemed never to touch the ground.



Ben Cosgrove is the editor of Picture This is his occasional feature for The Stacks. (Photo Credit: Lisa Larsen—The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)


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