Jersey Change Causes Conflicts Following Gridiron Game

A jersey change by Londonderry High football standout Mike Ryan during halftime of the Lancers’ South Conference title game at Pinkerton Academy recently caused confusion, consternation, and subsequent mistakes on the parts of a number of folks.

The senior running back/defensive back – who regularly wore the number 5 jersey for Londonderry – played the first half of the playoff contest against the arch-rival Pinkerton Astros in his regular jersey.

But when the second half began, there was no sign of Ryan either on offense or defense for the Lancers. However, the Lancers had number 9 – versatile junior Bobby McEachern – appearing to be returning kickoffs and punts and playing on offense, and that fact was announced by Pinkerton public address announcer Roger Konstant and reported by the sports reporters covering the game for their respective publications, including this paper’s reporter.

The player wearing number 9 made an immediate impact for his Lancers – as announced loudly on the public address system – by connecting with quarterback Eric Fairweather on a 31-yard touchdown pass early in the third quarter.

McEachern’s name was announced at least five times for the benefit of the large playoff crowd.

It would be several days before it was learned that number 9 Bobby McEachern was Mike Ryan, who had been misidentified over the public address system numerous times and in multiple newspaper stories, including those in the Londonderry Times and the Nutfield News.

That occurred because the announcer had not been told that the number 9 jersey was being worn by Ryan during the second half of the contest, after Ryan’s first jersey was ripped by would-be tacklers. The game officials were notified of the jersey change, but not the folks in the press box.

When asked about the jersey switch and its unintended consequences for the public address announcer and crowd, Londonderry High athletic director and assistant football coach Howard Sobolov responded, “(a) torn jersey is why Mike used Bobby’s (jersey), which was the extra shirt since Bobby was out with injury. (The) refs were told. As far as press box, good feedback for future games.”

In addition to misidentifying the player, the Londonderry Times and Nutfield News incorrectly stated that Ryan had been injured and was thus out of play during the second half.