Tuesday, September 4, 2012

University of Mississippi vs. Club Atlético de Cuba (1921)

Headline from an article that appeared
in the Havana Post, Jan. 1, 1922, p.15.

On December 31, 1921, the Cuban Athletic Club (CAC) defeated the University of Mississippi football team by a score of 13-0 in front of 5,000 spectators at Almendares Park in Havana, Cuba. The CAC scored two touchdowns in the contest, one in the first quarter and one in the closing minutes of the game. According to the Havana Post, the Cubans employed "old style football" by favoring a strong ground game over the forward pass. The CAC held a significant advantage at center because he weighed 250 lbs and anchored the line on both offense and defense. Ole Miss attempted to counter the Cubans' strong front with an aerial attack but without success.

Mississippi quarterback Calvin Barbour had a slightly different take on the game's outcome. He blamed Ole Miss's lack of scoring on the officiating. Barbour claimed that the referees disallowed three touchdowns due to penalties. He said that when his team realized that the game was not being called their way, they started to have fun and not care about winning. Barbour may have been correct because all of the officials were former players for the Cuban Athletic Club and were probably not impartial.

Photo of the view of Morro Castle from
 the Malecón in Havana, Cuba in 1921.
Despite the loss, the Mississippians enjoyed their trip to Havana. They visited Morro Castle, the Light House, and attended a jai lai match. Accounts of the trip also implied that the team took advantage of the Cuban nightlife. At the end of the student newspaper coverage of the game, the writer jokes about challenging the CAC to another game in Havana in any sport. Even though the officiating seemed to be not in their favor, it is easy to understand why they would welcome a return trip.

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