The Conway Razorback Club: “Looking Back”

Reprinted here by special permission of the author, Cindy Beckman, a retired Conway High School history teacher who writes local history.

As the home of three colleges and three high schools, Conway has plenty of opportunities to attend athletic events. Add in the various other Faulkner County athletic teams and one knows there is no lack of local teams to get behind and support on the field, gym, diamond or track.

But Faulkner County also has a heart for the Arkansas Razorbacks. On any given game day, the interstate is flooded with fans headed up to “The Hill” to watch the Hogs. Many Conway residents are UA alumni or have sent their children to Fayetteville to get an education.

The Conway-Razorback tradition is decades old but this week marks a particular event in that long-standing tradition. Seventy years ago, a new organization was formed in Conway. On January 24, 1947, the Conway Razorback Club was formed to “keep a boiling” interest the University of Arkansas Athletics.

The new Conway chapter was part of a state Razorback Club that was expected to have 7,500 members in 1947. The minimum membership fee was $10. One of the reasons that the club was formed was to assist members in getting tickets for the Arkansas Razorback football games. Conway Razorback Club members would be given priority for tickets to the 1947 football games if they made application by the set deadline.

The club was organized at the offices of the J.J. Kane Company. J.J. Kane, a University of Arkansas alumnus, was elected president of the club. S. Theodore Smith was named vice-president while Joe B. McGee was elected the first secretary-treasurer of the new organization.

Kane and Smith were the first contributors to the Conway club. Other initial donations, which guaranteed automatic membership, were made by Harold Eidson, M.D. Johnson, Alph Hamberg, Dibrell Ingram, Dr. Charles Archer, Jr., Dr. John W. Sneed, Ed Speaker, M.M. Satterfield, Glen Smith, Dr. Ed Dunaway, Frank Robins, Jr., James H. Moore and Joe McGee.

At the organizational meeting, Kane said that the club hoped to have a meeting within the next few weeks. Coach John Barnhill had been invited to speak and show motion pictures of the 1946 Arkansas football games.

Kane also made the point that the Razorback Club of Conway was not opposed to any activities of either Hendrix or ASTC (now UCA). He said, “If the Teachers or Hendrix want to hire a football team, I’ll help them too.” It was reported that was the attitude of most of the people in attendance at the organizational meeting. That seems a little disrespectful but neither Hendrix nor ASTC were doing very well in football in 1946.

ASTC had dropped athletics during World War II. The first head coach after the war was Charles W. “Dub” McGibbony, an ASTC alumnus who played for the Brooklyn Tigers in 1944. He reorganized the program but met with little success during his time at ASTC.

After two years, McGibbony went to the University of Arkansas where he served as assistant coach from 1947 to 1950. He then became a highly successful high school coach, coaching at several high schools in the state. With a new coach in 1947, Howard “Peewee” Montgomery,” the Bears had a winning season and shared the AIC Championship with Arkansas Tech that year.

Hendrix resumed varsity football after the war but only won its season opener in the fall of 1946. The team lost the remaining eight games by three or more touchdowns. The 1947 season was more successful with the Warriors going 4-5-1. At the end of the year, Hendrix retired the #13 jersey of its captain, Lee Yarbrough of Conway, to recognize his leadership of the team.

In 1947, the AIAC, voted, over the strong protest of Hendrix, to allow scholarships to be given to varsity athletes. Hendrix refused to give financial aid based on athletics and was soon faced with the best football teams “that money could buy.” Recruiting athletes became exceedingly difficult. Hendrix would drop its football program after the 1955 season.

Today, Faulkner County turns out in force for all of its local teams. Football has returned to Hendrix and the UCA Bears just had a great season. And yet, seventy years after the founding of the Conway Razorback Club, the Razorback spirit is still alive and well in Faulkner County. Many have season tickets and many others are regular “tail-gaters,” making the trip up “The Hill” to “call those Hogs”—Woo Pig Sooie!

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