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Sunday, December 1, 2002



Aloha spirit resumes
with UH-Alabama game

Fans for both teams are seen
mingling and talking football

UH comeback falls short


By Matt Sedensky
Associated Press

The football showdown between Alabama and Hawaii took on a spirited, friendly face yesterday as tens of thousands of fans mixed to transform Aloha Stadium into a massive pre-game party.


art
RICHARD WALKER / RWALKER@STARBULLETIN.COM
Alabama fan Chris Arthur was cheering for the Crimson Tide yesterday outside Aloha Stadium.


Security concerns in the wake of an on-field melee last weekend at the stadium seemed to dissipate as die-hard Warriors fans and Crimson Tide fans converged on parking lots to tailgate in the midday hours before kickoff.

Officials said security at the stadium was increased for the sold-out game, though guards and police officers said they were not doing anything different because of the crowd.

Some of the cars crawling through traffic to the stadium bore Alabama flags or Hawaii banners. And while fans' loyalties were usually apparent by who was dressed in Hawaii green-and-black or Alabama crimson, the crowd was overwhelmingly affable. Followers from both schools shared barbecue -- and beer -- with one another and talked football.

Army Maj. Lyndon Johnson, a Decatur, Ala., native who lives in Pearl City, said he could not disguise his true allegiances.

"I enjoy Hawaii but when it comes down to a rival like this, I got my loyalty to Alabama," he said.

Alphonse Rideau, 25, of Montgomery, Ala., said the fact that an estimated 8,000 supporters traveled more than 4,000 miles to watch their team play is a testament to Alabama fans. Some wore crimson and white leis and Alabama-themed aloha shirts.

"That shows you what kind of loyalty and what kind of dedication we have in the state of Alabama," Rideau said.

But there was no shortage of hometown pride.

A group of Hawaii students spent hours making signs for the game. Steaks sizzled on hibachis and friends gathered under tents as the sound of the marching band practicing could be heard in the distance.

"Hawaii is a small town," said Trent Reis, 36, of Ewa Beach. "When we play a big team, we're gonna get up for it."

Unfortunately for Hawaii fans, however, the Warriors lost, 21-16.

Last Saturday, players from Hawaii and Cincinnati charged onto the field and had to be separated by police after scuffling for about five minutes. Some fans taunted and threw things at Cincinnati players as they made their way to the locker room.

There seemed to be little animosity for Alabama, though.

As a crowd of red-shirted, red-faced fans made their way to the stadium entrance, locals shook visitors' hands, welcomed them to Hawaii, and even screamed "Go Alabama."



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