New book charts history of St. Al football

Published 12:30 am Sunday, November 27, 2016

What started as a labor of love nearly two years ago has finally made its way to the printed page — and, soon, to a bookshelf near you.

Vicksburg resident and 1985 St. Aloysius graduate Delvan Irwin is putting the finishing touches on his first book, “The Brothers’ Boys: The First 75 Years of Saint Aloysius High School Football 1912-1986” and plans to have it in local stores in time for Christmas.

The 300-page paperback book features game-by-game accounts for each of the seasons in the title, as well as a list of every player, coach, Virgadamo Award winner and other facts and figures.

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Irwin, now a banker who lives in Clinton, said he wrote the book both to document some of the school’s rich football history and to give something back to his alma mater. Whatever profits the self-published book makes, he said he intends to donate to Vicksburg Catholic Schools. Most of the original publishing costs were raised through a Go Fund Me page.

The book will go on sale in early December at Durst Discount Drugs on Halls Ferry Road, The Cinnamon Tree (1322 Washington Street) and Willingham’s (1305 Washington Street).

“I want to preserve our history. I want to make enough to do something for the school. I want to put a lot of smiles on the faces of a lot of ex-Flashes,” said Irwin, who played football for St. Al from 1982-84. “I never would’ve thought I would be an author. This is a labor of love. These are my brothers.”

Irwin started working on the book in 2015. His research included numerous visits to the Mississippi Department of Archives and History in Jackson to pore through old newspapers, countless hours of combing through St. Al’s yearbooks for names, collecting and watching films of old games, and interviews with former players and coaches.

The hardest part, he said, was putting together the rosters. Many old newspaper accounts mentioned players by nicknames, or just a first or last name. He did his best to cross-reference those with yearbooks and school enrollment data, but still missed a few. They are listed in the book as “Unknown” along with whatever information he could find.

“There are so many names that would literally appear or disappear, especially in the 1920s and 1930s. They would go to school for a year or two and then leave to go to work,” Irwin said.

The title of the book, Irwin said, comes from the Brothers of the Sacred Heart who operated the school and coached its teams for much of its early history. Players on those early teams often referred to themselves as “The Brothers’ Boys,” Irwin said.

“The older guys loved that title,” Irwin said. “They called the students The Brothers’ Boys. They called the football team The Brothers’ Boys. It was an appropriate title.”

The book stops at 1986, Irwin said, “Because you have to stop somewhere.” Even though the most recent 30 years of football are left out, he said writing the book helped him build a kinship that stretched across decades.

“We all are brothers. We all did the same thing. I have now made a fraternity of brothers,” Irwin said. “That is the best thing that came out of this book. Not preserving a score from a game against Newellton in 1953. Building that fraternity.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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