125 Years of Radnor vs. Lower Merion

George Economides, Staff Writer

Photo by Margarita Moreland

Communities are often held together by their long-standing traditions which create a sense of unity through shared generational experiences. In an ever-changing world, however, it seems that more and more of these traditions have begun to fade into history; Radnor Township is no exception. Its landscape has started to evolve with the Anthony Wayne Theater on its last legs and Radnor high school operating in a new building — Radnor is beginning to look starkly different from the one we’ve known it to be. While this is all true, one of the cornerstones of Radnor remains in place, as the 125th edition of Radnor vs. LM football is fast approaching. 

The football rivalry between Radnor and Lower Merion is one of the oldest in the entire nation, with this year’s meeting being the 125th. The genesis of the rivalry was in 1897 when the Aces met Radnor at North Wayne Field on Thanksgiving day. It’s hard to understate just how old this tradition is, as the sport of football wasn’t even 30 years old at the time and the player’s parents had been alive during the Civil War. The inaugural game was primitive in every sense of the word as players wore no uniforms and played with a watermelon-shaped football. The final score was 10-4 in favor of LM. 

Despite its humble beginnings, the game garnered attention, and people showed up by the hundreds to watch the two teams play; the game has maintained its popularity ever since. Aside from 1901 (lack of players) and 1905 (illness), the game has been played without fail ever since. Not even two world wars and a global pandemic have stopped these teams from meeting on the gridiron. Historically, LM had the upper hand in the rivalry, as the Aces went undefeated against Radnor from 1945 to 1956 and lost only three games during the 80s. But the 21st century has been particularly kind to Radnor, with the Raptors going 18-2 against the Aces since 2000. The 2020 matchup was quite an important one, as a Radnor victory saw the Raptors reclaim the lead in the overall series for the first time in over 50 years. 

While the 2020 matchup was quite a monumental one, it was also one of the strangest games to date. Because of COVID-19, players wore masks, fan attendance was restricted, and half of Radnor’s team was missing due to an outbreak. With restrictions being eased, however, members of the team are excited to get on the field. Many of the traditions surrounding the game have returned such as dress-up days, the pregame bonfire (held Friday by the junior lot) and the pep rally. Although things won’t be exactly like they are still a welcomed sight after a year away. 

It’s funny to think of how much has changed since the first game: we’ve sent a man to the moon and even invented the Internet. But despite all the advancements in society, the Radnor vs. LM game has remained, providing a sense of unity and belonging among students and community members alike.