It all started — as so many good stories do — with copious amounts of alcohol.
The first Miami Courthouse building was erected in Troy in the early 1800s and — between 1803 and 1841 — state and local officials would build three more. In 1887, officials from Columbus were looking for a site to build a final courthouse building in Miami County.
It all came down to two choices — Piqua and Troy. At the time, Piqua was a more economically developed, vibrant and bustling city — or at least as vibrant and bustling as a city could be at the turn of the century — and was considered the odds-on favorite to win the honor of being named the county seat and get the coveted courthouse building.
Civic leaders from Troy, however, had a plan up their sleeves. In what would no doubt be considered the ultimate scandal in today’s world, Troy’s leaders took the state officials out on the town the night before they were set to return to Columbus with their final decision.
According to legend, both civic and state officials drank from a deep well that night and returned to Columbus with their minds made up — and, in all likelihood, a pretty good hangover.
Soon after, Troy was awarded the title of county seat and the courthouse, which still stands in the same spot today. As a final snub to their neighbors from the north, city officials made sure the state of Lady Justice atop the courthouse building was placed with her posterior facing toward Piqua.
It’s safe to say a little bit of gamesmanship has always been a part of the Troy-Piqua rivalry.
These days, however, the rivalry is far more likely to be played out on the football field than it is in political arenas. The passions between the two communities, however, seemingly run just as deep as they did in the late 1800s.
Tomorrow night at Troy Memorial Stadium, the Troy-Piqua football rivalry will be played for the 130th time — with the series tied 62-62-6.
I hope everyone understands the significance of what this rivalry means — to the kids, the coaches, the schools and both communities. This is a rivalry that goes back more than a century. It pre-dates each and every one of us. As far as high school football rivalries go — when you consider the longevity of the rivalry, the legends who have played and coached in the game and the fact that after 130 meetings, the series currently is tied — there is no better rivalry in high school sports.
Not in Miami County, not in Ohio … not anywhere.
And we are all blessed to be a part of this rivalry. It’s impossible to live in Miami County for any length of time and not be, in some way, connected to this rivalry. Perhaps you were a player. Or a cheerleader. Or a band member. If you were not, chances are you had a son, daughter, niece, nephew or grandchild who is or was. Or, at the very least, you had a neighbor who has been a part of the rivalry in some form.
Maybe you’ve done nothing more than attend the game on a yearly or occasional basis.
For those reasons alone, we should all stand proud and support this rivalry — regardless of which team you’ll be cheering on Friday. These are kids who are going to go out Friday and give it everything they have — whether its playing on the field, cheering on the sidelines or while carrying a musical instrument — for our enjoyment.
For that, they deserve our love and admiration — regardless of what the scoreboard says at the end of the game Friday.
This is one thing the bridges the gap between two cities — the mutual respect for the rivalry and all it means.
It’s the one thing that brings us together …. even if a courthouse battle and a night of drunken revelry drove us apart more than a century ago.
Troy’s very own David Fong appears on Thursdays in the Troy Daily News. Contact him at [email protected]; follow him on Twitter @thefong