Once as much a part of Richmond Spider football Saturday afternoons as any player, one of the most avid supporters of the football team is ready to exchange his megaphone and Spiderman shirt for a notebook and computer.
Mike Radford, RC '78, attended Richmond football games during the time his two sons -- Brian and Christopher -- played for the school. Unwilling to accept a passive role in support of the team, he mobilized fan support, lead chants and heckled referees from the deep in the heart of the Richmond crowd.
Radford is now working on a book documenting the 2008 football team's run to the FCS National Championship. He envisions a "coffee table book," laden with pictures, stories and, he hopes, a full-length audio CD of the game's play-by-play radio broadcast led by Bob Black, although it has not yet been officially approved.
"My vision for this is to give every Richmond player, current and past, every parent, friend, fan and supporter of Spider athletics access to photos, statistics, people's memories and impressions about this wonderful time in Richmond athletics," Radford said.
The book is being published independent of the university, but with the authorization of the athletic department and under complete editorial control of the university. The project will require the input of anyone who has a memory of that season, from the heartbreaking last-minute loss to James Madison on a punt return for a touchdown, to the unlikely one-point win over Northern Iowa, to the decisive thrashing of Montana in the national championship game. Radford wants Spider fans to share their experiences in about 100-200 words -- where they were, who they were with and, most importantly, their emotions as they witnessed the first national championship in any sport in school history.
"The only way this idea will be the best it can be is for everyone, from President Ayers to the casual fan who got caught up in this marvelous achievement, to send to me their thoughts, impressions and photos of those 16 weeks," he said.
Radford has already spoken with former players and plans to interview former coaches Jim Reed, Dave Clawson and Mike London, whom he hopes will agree to collectively write the forward to the book. While the title has yet to be decided, Radford is partial to "Miracle on Westhampton Way."
Radford is working with two alumni who are just as passionate as he is about the project -- Wayne Dementi, RC '66, president Dementi Milestone Publishing and Ron Martin, RC '74, a lawyer and administrator of the SpiderNation.com message board.
Martin recalls being in Hartford, Conn., during the 1988 NCAA Basketball Tournament when the "We Are, UR" chant was born. After No. 13 Richmond upset No. 4 Indiana, the media swarmed the 50-100 Richmond fans wanting to know more about the relatively unknown school. During the following game -- a win against No. 5 Georgia Tech -- the Richmond crowd made sure that the entire country knew who they were.
Twenty years after that tournament run, the football team helped the university achieve even more exposure, Radford said.
"As much as I tried, Christopher and Brian would not keep a diary of their years," he said. "Maybe this will serve, in some way, to keep these memories as vivid for all of us as is possible."
All proceeds of the book, which Radford hopes to be completed this by fall, will support Richmond athletics.
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If you have any memories of the 2008 season, send them to Mike Radford at firstname.lastname@example.org
This version ADDS quotes from Radford.
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