A tiny borough in Montgomery County might be the last place in America where you’d expect to find a booster club for the University of Alabama football program.
It is here, however, where you can find the Bama Booster Club of Bridgeport, which is in its 50th year of serving as a bridge between the cultures of north and south, urban and rural, red and blue, writes Mike Sielski for The Philadelphia Inquirer.
It all began in 1969, when Bridgeport resident Johnny Nicola attended an Alabama game with his brother-in-law Tony Chiccino, who played for college football legend Paul “Bear” Bryant in the early 1950s when he was the coach at Kentucky. Chiccino had convinced Nicola and his brother Johnny to travel to an Alabama game, where they shook Bryant’s hand and became hooked on the Crimson Tide mystique.
With each passing year, the men invited more friends from home to visit Tuscaloosa, and the Bama Booster Club of Bridgeport was born.
“They would show up, always resplendent in their Crimson gear,” Bill Curry, Alabama’s coach from 1987-1989, said about the club’s annual pilgrimages to Tuscaloosa. “You could listen to their accents and tell they weren’t from around there.”
The Crimson Tide returned the love. In 1979, Bryant spoke to a crowd of 500 people at a Bridgeport church hall, and his most of his successors did likewise.
“They never asked for one dime,” Nicola said.
Click here to read more about the Bama Booster Club of Bridgeport in The Philadelphia Inquirer.