STREATOR, Ill. — In 1964, brothers John and Bob Mohan - then of Streator, Illinois – decided to get their friends together for a football game on the Saturday following Thanksgiving. At the time, John was a senior in high school and Bob was in eighth grade. On Saturday, November 26, 2011, the tradition continued for the 47th consecutive year. Weather for the game was less than ideal, with temperatures in the low 50’s and a steady rain; the field was muddy and people were sliding all over. No matter what the weather could deliver, you could not keep over 20 participants from all over the country from participating in a game of football.
When it comes to the Toilet Bowl, it’s normal for people to travel from as far east as Pittsburgh and as far west as California to play in the annual contest. Over the years, the game has evolved, no longer matching up the brothers’ friends. Now, the “old guys” line up against the “young guys.” This year, as member of The Good In Sports, I was able to participate and because the age cut-off for the “young guys” is 34 years old, I had the opportunity to play the line and face-off with one of the originals, John Mohan, who still plays at the age of 64! John has hinted of retiring after the 50th game, but we will see!
So, why the “Toilet Bowl?” Bob Mohan is happy to say “we named it for the way we play.” Fittingly, the game features a toilet and a trophy on the sidelines. Of course, the toilet has been signed by most participants and the trophy was fittingly named “The Brass Ball Award”, which honors the players who have been hurt during past games. The trophy is also decorated with pictures and two hats – one that includes a quote from long-time participant, the late Randy Spiers. The quote reads, “I just want to be able to know that the Saturday after Thanksgiving, I am going to be playing in the Toilet Bowl for the rest of my life.”
Following the game, participants head to the Broadway Tap in Streator for a post-game celebration and to catch up. Memories from past Toilet Bowls are frequently discussed and laughs can be heard throughout the entire building. The group also decides who will get to hold onto the toilet until the next year. Usually, the winner of this prestigious award is an original member who did not show up and the toilet is then delivered to their front yard.
As is always the case, this year’s game was a success and brought about a number of firsts in Toilet Bowl history: two safeties and a two-point conversion (although the rules committee is not sure how a two-point conversion was possible, allowing the old guys to score the final point of the game and tie the young guys, but that’s a story for another time!) While the game is a lot of fun, more importantly, it’s an opportunity for family and friends to reunite one day each year and have a great time together. It was a blast!
Do you participate in similar events and traditions? Let us know, we want to hear your stories! The Good in Sports salutes all Toilet Bowl participants and wishes all of them the best of luck in 2012!