MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — The rivalry between McGill-Toolen Catholic High School and Murphy High School is said to be the oldest high school football rivalry in the state of Alabama.
With a 50-year tradition of painting the Government Street cannon blue or orange, depending on who takes home the victory.
“What you have here at McGill and Murphy is generations where grandparents went to the school and participated in the McGill-Murphy rivalry,” McGill athletic director Bill Griffin said.
But in February that tradition was put to rest when the city of Mobile announced that they would no longer give out parade permits for any Government Street cannon events.
In the past, the cannon was also decorated for Pride Month, breast cancer awareness and No Shave November.
The city did not say what led them to this decision, but it has raised some trouble in the past as it was vandalized last year during Pride Month, and in 2016, a police officer allegedly pepper-sprayed a McGill student during the celebration.
When the announcement was made, the upcoming 2024 McGill senior class was left devastated that they would not be able to participate in the long-running tradition.
“We were all disappointed. I mean it’s a staple as a McGill senior to be able to paint the cannon orange if we beat Murphy,” McGill SGA President and senior James Mayhall said.
However, the 2023 McGill graduating class donated a substantial amount of money to the school for the purpose of buying a cannon of their very own.
“We’re not trying to stop let’s say some of these time-honored traditions that promote something like this, so we’re supportive of what they come up with,” Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson said.
Thursday morning, McGill rolled out their cannon, preparing it for Friday’s battle of the cannon football game.
“We’re glad that we got a cannon that we can have that iconic picture being covered in orange paint just smiling from ear to ear and sitting on that cannon when we win,” Mayhall said.
This cannon will sit on the LIP’s baseball field waiting for the seniors if McGill wins. Orange paint will be provided to celebrate the school’s victory.
Murphy High School head football coach Justin Hannah said celebratory plans are still up in the air if they win.
“We’re here to play fast and fundamental football, our players will play with character, our players will play with integrity, and we will put our best product on the field,” Justin Hannah said.
Kickoff is Friday at 7 p.m.