Rivalry divides family, friends

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 21, 2005

DEMOPOLIS – The Iron Bowl. A time when friends become enemies, neighbors become nemeses, families are strangers and small towns are divided.

Battle-cries could be heard throughout the State Farm Insurance office yesterday, as employees asserted the supremacy of their team.

“War Eagle,” Insurance agent Kris Mullins said as he exited his office.

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“Roll Tide,” Amy Pearson, receptionist said in response.

The friendly atmosphere that once existed in the Jefferson Street office had been destroyed by a football game.

“All of my money goes to Auburn. I have one kid child that just graduated and on that’s a freshman,” Mullins said. “So I send tuition over there every few months.”

Although Mullins is a graduate of the University of Alabama in Birmingham, the one year he spent at Auburn University was enough to make him a diehard fan.

“I went to UAB when it was the second campus of Tuscaloosa,” he said. “But I am still an Auburn fan.”

And even though State Farm employee Sherry Stewart’s daughter will soon attend Auburn, she describes herself as an Alabama fan.

“I just love Alabama. I just have always been an Alabama fan,” Stewart said. “My family was Alabama fans and that’s just the way I am.”

State Farm employee and 1991 Auburn grad Kristina Hull said it’s plain and simple.

“Once you go to Auburn, you are a fan for life. It’s just a wonderful place to go to school,” she said. “I bleed orange and blue.”

But on the other hand, Pearson, a Florida native, is an Alabama fan.

“I told my mom I was going to run away to Alabama,” she said. “I just didn’t know there was any better.”

Marengo County School Superintendent Luke Hallmark and Demopolis Police Chief Jeff Manuel are on the Plains as you read this article.

Hallmark is there to support the Tigers while his wife is in Marengo County, supporting the Tide.

“We usually go to the games together, but I am traveling to this one alone,” Hallmark said. “I try to go to as many games as possible.”

Hallmark, an avid sports spectator who even admitted to attending an Alabama game in Tuscaloosa, said his wife isn’t a fanatic fan, but does support the university where she received a master’s degree.

“I’ve been to a game or two in Tuscaloosa just because it’s closer and I do enjoy the game,” Hallmark said. “But I’ve always been an AU fan because I enjoyed going to school there. It’s been like a second home to me.”

Manuel is outside of Jordan-Hare cheering on the Tide.

“I’m most definitely an Alabama fan,” Manuel said. “I will tailgate tomorrow, but I don’t have a ticket to the game, so I will just hang out.”

Hallmark said everyone in both his wife’s and his entire family are Alabama fans and that he and his 4-year-old son stand strong against the masses in orange and blue.

“I have a lot of respect for Tommy Tuberville,” Manuel said. “One team will win and one team will lose. I don’t want to jinx myself.”

“It’s a great rivalry, but it’s just a game,” Hallmark said. “When it’s over, it’s over and whoever wins, wins and whoever loses has to deal with it for a year.”