Clinton, Maine is the type of place where the dairy cows outnumber the people by a long shot and it’s also the type of place where hometown pride makes even a long shot a formidable wild card. Our hometown football team, the Lawrence Bulldogs, aren’t in the record books. They don’t make SportsCenter highlight reels. They aren’t even the most feared team in the state, let alone their conference.
they are our team.
Even on the last game of the season, in bitter cold, this team belongs to its hometown.
It’s the same old story we’ve all heard, or lived and perhaps even romanticized: Little ol’ dot on a map with some big dreams, hard luck, tough times and tougher boys on the gridiron. Around here we’ve gone from boom to bust, bust to boom. From living the dream like your old man in the field or in the mill to leaving town to find a dream anywhere you can. From State Champions year after year to lucky to make the playoffs and back again. It’s just a sport. It’s just football.
Because these Dogs are our team and around here we take everything about football seriously. (Even if it means missing the Tractor Pulls at the local fair).
Even though some of the mills have shut down and even if a lot of the farms have gone out we’ve still got that small town, blue collar, scrappy underdog crowd in the stands and on the roster. And every once in a while there’s a farm boy on the field and a cowbell in the stands.
Gone are the days when there was always a farm boy on the field, but every once in a while a farm mom is in the stands with her cow bell.
One of the things our hometown does well is feed our team. These team dinners don’t roam from home to home, they stay right at the home field. Every Thursday night, after practice, the boys walk in to their own cafeteria and their hometown serves them the food they have made.
Sometimes as many as two dozen folks are lined up with whatever they’ve brought, ready to feed Our Team
And so they eat as a team. When they are done they rise and file through the line again, as a team. But instead of filling their plates they thank and shake the hand of each person who has come there just for them, just to put food in their bellies and make sure they know they are “Our Team”.
It’s nothing fancy, and neither is the grub but around here we have a saying, “This is Our House” and it’s good enough for us.
I absolutely LOVE team dinners. I’m not sure I know what other way there is to spend a Thursday night in the fall. Everything isn’t always a hit with everybody, but there is always something there for everyone. No Bulldog has ever gone hungry the night before a game, but they still have plenty of room for that fire in their bellies that makes them those scrappy, tough, never give up even when the cards are stacked against them Bulldogs that we love.
It’s all about family, hometown pride, and feeding people. I’m a farmer and feeding people is my job and even more importantly it’s my way of life and I will feed those long shots who come from towns with more cows than people any day of the week. Because, they are Our Team.