Although the Bell Game is over, we can still look back at the history of the game and the community it brings together.
Old fans and new fans gathered in Marceline to see the annual cross-town rivalry match Sept. 7.
The Marceline, Brookfield annual football game started way back in 1922. Superintendents from both school districts decided to play each other twice a year, so they would both have a home game. The first matchup was held on Armistice Day and the other was held on Thanksgiving.
From 1922 to 1935 the record for wins was Brookfield with eight, Marceline with five and one tie in 1925, the final score of that game being 6-6. Then called the Armistice Day game, the tradition lasted 14 years before the bell was introduced.
In 1936, the Brookfield Fire Department donated a brass bell to the winner of the Armistice Day game. The first winner of the inaugural Bell Game was Brookfield with the final score of 6-2. After that game, the Bell Game was born.
Since the Bell Game started, the teams have had equal ownership of the bell. After this year’s game, the win records are tied at 41 apiece. Although, if you’re keeping track of Armistice Day game wins as well, the wins are 49 for Brookfield and 46 for Marceline. Over the course of 83 Bell Games, there has only been one more tie in 1953, the final score being 7-7.
Marceline resident Marty Herriman says both teams have a chance to win on game day.
“I’ve seen games where one team has a great record and the other team has a poor record, but on game day you throw those records out the window,” Herriman said. “The kids get so fired up, it always makes the game very intriguing.”
Since 1960, Herriman has attended the Bell Game more than 50 times and plans to keep attending the annual rivalry match.
Attending the Bell Game this year were many friends and families. Roy Hunt, Mike Scott and Dave Hannink attended last Friday’s game to see the teams they used to play for. Scott and Hannink both played in the Bell Game in the 1970s, Scott for Brookfield and Hannink for Marceline. All three men have been attending the games since then. After graduating from Marceline High School, Hannink moved to Brookfield and started a family, his son playing football for Brookfield.
According to Scott, the Bell Game is something born into the towns.
“Even when we were younger we always came to the Bell Game, it gets in your blood,” Scott said. “It’s a fun cross-town rivalry.”
Also in attendance was Nicki Clampitt and her cousin Cara. The pair came to the game to cheer on the Tigers and Clampitt’s son Gage. Clampitt and her son recently moved to Marceline, but she enjoyed the game and atmosphere.
“I think this is a good event for the community, I see a lot of community members here and I think it’s great everyone is supporting each other’s teams,” Clampitt said.
The Bell Game was Clampitt’s first time getting to see her son play as a Marceline Tiger.
A long-time Marceline football fan and resident of Marceline was awarded with the game ball last Friday. Jack White has been an avid supporter of Marceline football for many years. White has been a member of the booster club, the stadium club and is always helping out his fellow tigers. Sept. 7, White was awarded the game ball for his continued support of Marceline High School and the local community. White also tossed the coin to started the game.
The Marceline Tigers will hold onto the bell for at least one more year. After this year’s win, the tigers have had ownership of the bell for the past three years. Next year will see new fans, new teams and maybe some new faces at the annual game.