Old Broken Down Tiger Fans group growing in numbers

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Not even a rabbit can multiply like this.

What began as a friendly lunch with Ironton football as the main conversation piece has become quite an ensemble.

During the 2002 high school football season, Joe Holtzapfel and John Brown met for lunch at Wendy’s and they talked about the upcoming game.

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The two men had such a good time discussing football, they wanted to share the experience.

“Me and Joe decided get together and eat lunch and talk about the game. We thought it would be a great idea to get together with other guys and talk about the game,” said Brown.

Thus was born a different kind of weekly quarterback club. It is called The Old Broken Down Tiger Fans.

Brown coined the nickname because the group was comprised mostly of people who were older, retired, or disabled.

“We meet during weekdays because most of the guys are old and retired and broken down. I’m not that old, but I’m broke down,” said Brown with a laugh.

There were no real guest speakers. It was just football fans getting together to talk about their favorite subject.

The group began to grow and not just with Ironton football fans despite the name of the group. Adults — even children during the summer months — from Chesapeake, Green, Portsmouth, Wheelersburg, and Gallipolis attend the luncheons.

“We meet at different places,” Holtzapfel said. “We’ve met at Giovanni’s Pizza, the Golden Corral, Peddler’s, we even met once at Fred’s Pizza (in Wheelersburg). We try to spread it around.”

Charles “Turk” Donohue is a fixture with the group and was an early member along with Rusty White.

Donohue said not everyone attends every luncheon although there is usually a large turnout during the holidays.

“At one of our Christmas party meetings we had 35 or 40. We had a bunch of kids there, too,” said Donohue.

“We had the athletic director from River Valley come once or twice.”

The group likes to talk football on the Internet as well on a web site known as Southeastern Ohio Preps. There are more subjects than football, but everything is supposed to be for fun.

“We’ve had a lot of success in football, so a lot of people thought we were snobs,” Holtzapfel said. “But then a lot of people come to our luncheons and once they’ve met us it changes the whole way they look at us.”

There have been long-distance visitors, too. One came from Youngstown Cardinal Mooney and another man came more than four hours from Bellaire specifically to see Brown.

“We had a guy from Bellaire come once and give me a Bellaire sweat shirt. They know home much I love Bellaire,” Brown said in a sarcastic tone.

“We just like to eat lunch, have fun and talk about a lot of different things,” said Holtzapfel.

“And Ironton football.”