Iraq celebrates Kentucky win over Louisville

Camp Taji, IRAQ -- Cawood Ledford, the late great Kentucky radio announcer, used to say "The Cats have gone to war" when they were engaged in a fierce battle on the hardwood. The recent UK v UL contest was also described as a war by many. But Kentucky fan Pat Appelman understands -- and appreciates -- the difference.

Appelman is working as the Resident Engineer for the Corp of Engineers at Camp Taji Iraq. The two other guys shown in the photo are Iraqi Engineers, and they are all standing on an old Iraqi tank and doing the Wall dance. But Appelman insists they're just having fun.

"These guys (Iraqi citizens) understand rivalries," Appelman explained. "They hate Iran and things get much more chippy than our game did. They think this stuff is fun. One of them asked to take the (UK) flag home with him so he could take pictures in Baghdad of his family holding it. Can't wait to see those!"

Appelman, known on the KSR boards as "ETWNAPPEL," has been in Iraq for several months. While in Iraq he has kept in touch with his beloved Wildcat football and basketball teams partially through Kentucky Sports Report messageboards and some friendships that have been established over the years. But Appelman hasn't been content just to share his love of "UK blue" with his fellow fans in the United States. Instead, he has done what he can to develop even more UK fans worldwide.

"I can"t tell you how many KY people come up to me everyday to talk after seeing my jacket," Appelman said. "UL fans even come up to shake my hand. It's just good to see someone from home I guess."

KSR Member and UK fan Pat Appelman, far right.

"I get all kinds of comments about my UK gear. I have a ton of people keeping up with them now," Appelman added. And the woman in the picture? "(She) insists she is a wildcat fan (too)," Appelman stated.

Appelman's attempts to convert all of Iraq to Big Blue have not been completely successful, however. The photo was taken of the foursome by a willing photographer, but not a willing camera subject, Appelman explained. "The (photographer) is from Indiana and was willing to take the photo, but no way would he be in it!" Appelman joked.

Prior to the Kentucky-Louisville basketball game, he also ran into another obstacle. Appelman explains: "New Years Eve walking home from the gym I went to the pavillion to see what was happening with the party. A soldier tapped me on the shoulder and said that I would not be wearing my UK jacket after Saturday night."

Who was this unknown non-UK fan? After joking with the soldier that he must be a Cardinal fan, the soldier identified himself as a former Louisville football player that played for the Cardinal team that defeated Alabama in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.

"He was a real nice guy," Appelman said. "Our conversation ended with him saying how great John Wall is."

Then again, maybe it's not too late to convert everyone to Big Blue.
Kentucky Sports Report would like to take a brief moment to thank all of our servicemen and women, as well as their civilian support, who are serving everywhere. May their service be brief and they have a swift and safe return back home, regardless of their collegiate allegiances.

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