The modern-day “Vol Navy” had humble beginnings, as suggested by Marvin West and other Tennessee historians.
It wasn’t enough that the fans got to the game in the traditional ways, but, if they chose, they also could navigate the Tennessee River and be within an easy walk of Neyland Stadium. Veteran Tennessee broadcaster George Mooney, now deceased, blazed the trail.
The “Vol Navy” was Mooney’s brainchild in the early 1960s, his way to avoid the inevitable traffic jam to and from the stadium from his home in West Knoxville, even in those halcyon days when the stadium was considerably smaller. There was still traffic on crowded streets. Getting in and out of the stadium area was no picnic.
“When we first did this, we had a little runabout,” Mooney said, “but there was no dock, so we had to tie the boat to a tree and climb over the rocks and weeds to get to the stadium.”
The idea has caught on over the years, well enough that more than 200 boats of all shapes and sizes are docked south of the stadium on a football weekend (many times well before Saturday). At least once (the 1975 LSU game), there has been a public address announcement made for a patron to “move your boat, please,” so a barge could make its way up the river.
Take a bow, George.
And thanks for the memories.
Sunday, Sept. 29, 2013