Originally created 09/14/96

GA-SC game dat: Border wars

Robbie Sebby of Aiken couldn't ask for anything more two Saturdays ago.

The longtime South Carolina Gamecock fan had just finished watching archrival Clemson's football team get thrashed by North Carolina 45-0 on national television.

Then came the icing on the cake came when fellow Southeastern Conference foe Georgia lost an embarrassing opener at home 11-7 against Southern Mississippi.

"There's nothing better than beating Clemson since they're instate," he said. "But, I personally like it when we beat Georgia. It goes back to the days when Vince Dooley was coach. They cry. They're big crybabies, so I like it when they lose."

While the rivalry between the Bulldogs and the Gamecocks isn't as intense as the annual Clemson-South Carolina showdown each November, it is quickly becoming one of the most important games of the year among many football fans in the Aiken-Augusta area.

More than 200 fans attended the 3rd annual Border Bash held at the Sheraton Hotel Friday night, with appearances from cheerleaders and music by the Amazing Stranders.

Most of the items for sale featured UGA themes such as Lewis Grizzard paintings or Bulldog ties, mugs and cartoons.

Georgia fan Ken Hardy, who has attended the bash all three years, said he doesn't mind mixing company with Gamecock fans.

"We do business with them, go to church with them, play golf with them, we might as well party with them," he said.

The Bulldogs have a sizable lead in the century-old series, 36-10-2, and have won three out of the last four meetings, but South Carolina fans said they think they're close to catching them.

"(The South Carolina-Georgia rivalry) is just something that gets bigger each year," said Ted Girardeau, who played tackle for USC from 1955-58. "It will continue to grow as South Carolina becomes better able to compete year end and year out."

However, many Georgia graduates believe games against archrival Georgia Tech and SEC powerhouses Florida, Tennessee and Auburn are more important.

"To me, it's just a fun game," said Joan Wilson, a University of Georgia graduate in Aiken. "I'm not going to fall over if Georgia wins or if South Carolina wins."

Shannon Moore has seen both sides of the rivalry as manager of Augusta Sports and Recreation.

Located on Washington Road just off I-20, the store is convenient to fans of both schools, and lately it's a battleground of friendly competition as fans line up to buy game gear for Saturday's game.

"Everybody's really pumped up for the game," Mr. Moore said, and he's seen fans from the opposing schools gently taunting each other as they make their purchases.

While sales are brisk for merchandise for both schools, Mr. Moore believes the Georgia goods are taking a slight lead.

"It's a close call but I'd say Georgia is leading," he said.

Across the river it's a different story, of course. Fans are eagerly gobbling up flags, tattoos, t-shirts and other paraphernalia, and Gamecock gear is leading the way, said Bradley Bennett, store manager of Hibbert Sports in Aiken Mall.

He expects even more fans to wait until today, game day, to make their purchases.


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