One evening in the winter of 1953-’54, our Milford basketball teams got on our most up to date school bus and went down to Shipley for a double header ballgame. The gym, which was comfortably warm, was filled with school kids and interested parents and fans. Many of the parents from both teams were noisily visiting about the teams, how the harvest had gone and if it was going to be a severe winter, etc. The smell of the concession stand, with buttered popcorn, was blended with the aroma of floor polish and, of course Juicy Fruit (the old formula) chewing gum which seemed to be the favorite of most the basketball players. Most everyone chewed gum-particularly ”Juicy Fruit“- I guess as a holdover from the War when the only gum that was available was some stuff called ”Black Jack“ which had a very strong licorice taste- so sugary gums, including bubble gum, were very popular. This, in spite of the Polio scare when many thought, perhaps rightly, that touching the gum with one’s fingers might cause the spread of germs that could cause polio.
Back to the ball game, the girls’ game was, of course, played first. The game started out with no surprises; however, shortly into the game the refereeing became very lopsided in favor of Shipley. Coach Cochrane became very annoyed and as I recall, had received a technical foul and was on the verge of being thrown out of the gym.
Some of the other Milford players and I were sitting in the back row of the third or fourth row of polished and hard bleachers right behind a group of Shipley parents, a few of whom I knew. The calls were so obviously wrong against the Milford six that during a series of bad calls, there was some self conscious laughter by the Shipley fans and then, surprise of surprises, after a little while and a few more bad calls, the Shipley folks were hooting, booing, and hollering at the refs right along with the Milford fans. I think they did not want to see the daughters of some of their Milford friends treated like that—and they knew bad refereeing when they saw it even though their team was benefiting from it.
Coach Cochrane, for the last quarter or so, didn’t do much complaining, but he did some serious chin-rubbing, wiping his hand across the top of his head, and eyerolling. But he still tried to coach the girls. But we who knew him, knew he was now a game ahead of the refs. I don’t recall which girls’ team was the victor. (Checking the records shows that our girls lost 47-36)
After the girls’ game and in our locker room getting ready for the start of the boys’ game, Coach didn’t say much of anything to us about a ”master game plan“. He just slapped me on the shoulder and said to me and the other starters- ”Have fun boys!“ The game started, and the Milford five, nicknamed the ”Bulldogs“, who were rather worked up about the deal our girls had received, tore into the Shipley boys like a bunch of annoyed bulldogs and repeatedly intercepted passes, blocked shots, forced a 10-second rule violation, etc. We were ready to beat 7 players, if the refereeing went against us as it had against the Milford girls; 5 Shipley players and the two