Tuesday, December 15, 2009
THE “GREAT, SHINING MOMENT” IN DOWNEY ATHLETICS
By Bill O’Neill
(Downey High, Class of 1952)
Through the years, Downey’s high schools have produced many star athletes and some memorable teams. But the great, shining moment in the city’s sports history took place on Dec. 14, 1956, when undefeated football teams representing Downey and Anaheim met in a CIF championship game in the Los Angeles Coliseum that is still talked about, 52 years later.
The buildup to that game drew national attention and was like nothing Southern California has seen, before or since. It was front page news, drawing more notice and stirring more attention and debate than the area’s college or professional teams. Each team featured a running back (Randy Meadows, of Downey; and Mickey Flynn, of Anaheim) with staggering statistics and personal charisma to match. Meadows averaged 15 yards each time he touched the ball during the regular season and the playoffs, while Flynn, a quirky runner who could change directions in the blink of an eye, was virtually unstoppable.
The game itself took place on a cool, eerie night, with fog so thick spectators couldn’t see across the field. The official paid attendance was 41,383; but with all of the printed tickets sold and thousands of people still lined up at the turnstiles fifteen minutes after the game was due to start, officials threw open the gates and welcomed them in. Unofficially, the crowd probably totaled upward of 60,000; and thousands more might have shown up, had the night been less foggy.
The two star running backs lived up to their press clippings: Flynn scored on a 62-yard run in the first quarter, and Meadows answered with a 68-yard dash two minutes later. The teams battled on even terms, up and down the Coliseum turf, with the game ending, quite fittingly, in a 13-13 tie.
Fifty-three years later, the game is still remembered by many as “The Greatest High School Football Game Ever Played”—and, to followers of Viking athletics over the years, as Downey’s Great, Shining Moment.