By Irving T. Marsh
The New York World- Telegram And The Sun (now defunct)
Football's tailgate set, armed with moppets of all sizes and ages as well as fancy food and martinis, has a new Saturday afternoon haven, or perhaps it should better be said that more members of the set have discovered it this year than ever before.
That haven is West Point, N. Y., on the days Army's football team plays at The Plain. For two Saturdays in a row now, picturesque Michie Stadium has been sold out to its capacity of 30,000 plus and last week's game attracted a record crowd of 31,200.
This despite the fact that the two opponents--Wake Forest and Washington State -didn't figure to provide much competition and didn't. But weather, lovely surroundings, the glamour of Army football and the new interest of the younger young set will make 1963 the best season at the gate Army ever has enjoyed at home.
There's one more game left at Michie, with Utah two weeks hence. It's almost two-thirds sold out now. And that one shouldn't be too much of a test for the Cadets, either.
Yet the boys and girls and their offspring are descending on The Plain in ever increasing numbers.
This new found affinity of the devotees was merely an item dropped casually at the weekly Football Writers Association Food and Gabfest yesterday at the Hotel Manhattan but it provided the stimulus for a little further investigation.
In four home games last year, Army drew 101,330 to the Point. It should go over that figure by about 25,000 this season.
Curricularly, however, the Cadets are slightly more interested in their game this week, with Air Force Academy at Chicago. The good news for that one, according to Capt. Chuck Lytle, associate plebe coach who was yesterday's emissary from the Point, was that Tommy Smith, the sophomore left halfback, will be completely ready for action against the Falcons and that can mean considerable to Army's ground attack.
Smith, from Kinnelon, N. J., has been hailed as the most exciting runner Army has had since Glenn Davis. He was tremendous in his first real effort against Cincinnati in September, but was injured in that one and didn't play until the Washington State game last weekend. He participated in one play against the Cougars and was hurt again. But not seriously. He could have returned to action but he wasn't needed. So he sat on the bench the remainder of the game to await the battle with the Air Force.
Altogether, according to Capt. Lytle, Army is in fine physical shape and only Curt Cook, sophomore quarterback who was hurt in pre-season, and Johnny Johnson, halfback are on the wounded list.