Historic football rivalry between Carleton, Ottawa reborn
Panda Game returns after 15 years
An Ottawa football tradition that's lain dormant for 15 years will revive today when Carleton University's newly-reborn football team meets the Ottawa Gee-Gees for the Panda Game.
The Panda Game was played annually between the two teams from 1954 to 1998, the year Carleton disbanded its football program.
The name of the game is derived from a mascot the Gee-Gees once had. In the 1950s, a University of Ottawa student asked a local jeweller to donate a stuffed panda to help promote the rivalry between the two schools, according to a timeline of the games posted on Carleton University's website.
The games had a booze-filled reputation. In 1987, the then deputy chief of the Ottawa police appeared before city council to ask for change.
"The panda game simply cannot continue in its present form, where we have drunken rowdy students intent on damage to property, and having a complete disregard for the law," he said.
The deputy chief made the request after more than 30 people were taken to hospital when a crush of fans broke a railing at Lansdowne Park and people fell two stories onto concrete.
In the 1970s, the humane society laid charges against students who released live pigs covered in grease onto the field. Invasions of the field and drunken fights were standard.
But the two universities hope the game will be quite a bit tamer.
It'll also be played in front of a smaller crowd at the Gee-Gees homefield, instead of Lansdowne Park.