Turkey Day football game features century-old rivalry between Webster Groves and Kirkwood

Published: Nov. 24, 2022 at 6:26 PM CST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

WEBSTER GROVES (KMOV) - The annual matchup between Kirkwood and Webster Groves football teams on Thanksgiving has been going on for more than a century.

The Turkey Day game brought the crowd out in full force with family, community members and former alumni.

Mike and Bill Southworth, along with Ken Klinkhardt, all played for the Webster Groves football team more than 50 years ago.

“It was always presented to us to be as important as a state championship,” Klinkhardt says.

“There was no state championship back when I was playing,” Bill Southworth says.

“It was always fun to play the game and then go home and eat turkey,” Mike Southworth says.

Bill Southworth says the rivalry game was always exciting as a player and is still exciting as a fan.

“Back in the old days, they used to have the entire field lined with temporary stands that would be put up for the game,” Bill Southworth says. “10,000-12,000 people.”

All these years later, supporting their community is still a top priority.

“It goes back a long time,” Klinkhardt says. “There’s been a few cancellations in the first World War. I’ve lived in Webster all my life, and when I was a small kid I used to sit on a bicycle in the back of the stadium and watch other people play. It’s a tradition. It’s a Thanksgiving tradition.”

Crowds filled the bleachers on both sides of the field, leaving standing room only for spectators to watch the game.

Derek Byers has been bringing his son to the game since he was in elementary school, and now he plays for the Kirkwood JV team.

“It’s really special,” Byers says. “We know a lot of the people here. There’s a special friendliness that happens in Kirkwood and Webster Groves. It’s all friendly competition, and it’s really been fun seeing him grow up through the school in these 12 years and seeing him play now in his senior year.”

Even after graduation Byers says his family will continue to support Kirkwood in the years to come.

“We had a pep rally last night in Kirkwood, and the alumni that attend, it’s really striking,” Byers says. “They have such a good time seeing the former friends get together. It’s a great reunion for everybody.”

Kirkwood won Thursday’s game 56-7. This Thanksgiving game was the last one to be played at Moss Field in Webster Groves before it goes under construction.