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Go Miners!

Eileen JoyceC.L. Crowson stands on the visitor's side of Hooper Stadium as the Nevada Union Miners practice after school. He usually sits on the visitors' side because there is no room on the side of the stand reserved for Miner fans.
ALL | GrassValleyArchive

They call him “Superfan,” but he’s not alone.

Thousands of fans attend Nevada Union High School football games, home and away. And the “fan-aticism” is at a high point as the Miners face Sacramento’s Grant High School tonight. Both teams are undefeated, and whoever wins will be Metro League champion with home-field advantage in the playoffs.

And you’ll find C.L. Crowson at the head of the NU rooters. He even attends the team’s practices after school.



“If it’s a death in the family, I say, ‘Put him on ice,'” Crowson said about his dedication to being on the field weekday afternoons to watch more than 50 lads go through their drills. “I care.”

At this particular Thursday evening practice, the players eased up in preparation for “The Big Game,” Crowson explained to a visitor.




Crowson has been a Miner fan since he retired in 1986, but says he’s “been really serious the last five or six years.”

The team invites him to its pre-game meals, generally pizza. “They always eat it like someone’s going to take it away from them,” Crowson said.

He played football for McClymonds High School in Oakland until he joined the Navy in 1942. on the eve of his senior year in high school. “They joke with me that I’ve got one year of eligibility left,” Crowson said about the Miners.

“I’m kind of goofy,” he said. “I enjoy watching these kids develop.”

He has a lot of company.

For the big game, a rooter bus for 50 fans filled up quickly, said Mike Bratton, president of the team’s booster club.

“This is the first time in many years we got a bus to go to any game,” said Steve Pilcher, NU’s athletic director.

Another few thousand will drive down, said Bratton, who is watching his third son, Joey, play this season.

NU’s Friday night games are “the best entertainment in town,” said Bratton. A portion of his Grass Valley insurance office resembles a shrine to the team.

“There are some rabid football fans here,” said Jim Bates, a Grass Valley accountant.

Season ticket holders Eleanor Crosswhite and her husband, Tom, are 45-year Miner fans who plan to ride the rooter bus. Eleanor Crosswhite said they missed one game this season because they “couldn’t convince visitors they should go with us.”

“They follow these kids,” Bates said about NU’s football fans.

Two thousand to three thousand people will travel to away games, and many went to a game in Merced this year, Bates said.

“It’s a lot of fun,” he said.

Bates plans to leave the familiarity of the box overlooking the NU field that he and friends Dan Wheat and Jim Keil rent for $1,000 a season to drive down to Grant.

“This is the big one this year,” Bates said about the game against Grant, which already beat NU in one event: lunch.

The coaches and five players from each team met in Auburn Wednesday for lunch, and the Grant players ate quite a bit more, Pilcher said.

About 8,000 to 10,000 people from all over the region are expected to attend the game, which draws a great deal of publicity, Pilcher said. A KCRA-TV Channel 3 cameraman was on the field Thursday afternoon taping the practice session.

But the players are high school students and “will wake up Saturday and have homework to do,” Pilcher noted.

A shooting a few blocks from the stadium six years ago prompted district officials to play the Grant games on Saturdays instead of Friday nights, Grant coach Mike Alberghini said. “But we’ve brought them back this year,” he said about Friday nights under the lights.

Both teams have a big fan base, he said. “It’s not unusual to have big crowds, but this game always has a big assembly.”

Better get there early, Crowson advised. “We’re gonna win.”


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