Weekends in early November can be marked by crisp and pleasant temperature, the trees still cling to the last vestiges of beautiful fall leaves and there is excitement in the air for the holiday season to come.
At Noble and Greenough School, an early November weekend translates into “Nobles-Milton Weekend.”
A quick search of the Milton Academy web site shows a revelatory picture of the importance of the rivalry: the banner of their Athletics page displays an image of football players from the Noble and Milton teams.
On another page of the web site, the N entry in the Milton Dictionary lists:
Nobles (Noble and Greenough School)
Milton’s key rival. Each sports season culminates in Milton-Nobles Days, the most festive and rowdy athletic days of the year, when Milton and Nobles compete in almost every sport. The rivalry originated in 1886, when the two schools played their first football game, which today remains the highlight of the fall Milton-Nobles Day and the biggest athletic game of the year.
(It is interesting to note that Milton’s date of the first game predates our own records by ten years: a matter deserving further investigation)
A similar document in our Archives (“The Nobles Dictionary” – put together, with tongue in cheek, by the class of 1975) briefly describes the event as:
“MILTON GAME: the game that determines the success of the season…”
For both schools, the weekend is fraught with meaning and traditions.
How did the tradition start?
According to The Story of Noble and Greenough School (by Richard T. Flood N1923, published in 1966). Mr. Noble’s prime concern was academic even if, in 1889, the school prospectus mentioned that the proximity of the school to the “Common playground gives full opportunity for out-door sports.” For the first twenty years of the school’s existence, all the efforts to organize games and participate in competitions were borne by the students. As late as the 1880s, Mr. Noble was still unquestionably indifferent to athletics.
The arrival of Mr. Greenough, in 1892, gave impetus to school organized athletics teams.
Situated in Boston and a day school, Noble and Greenough played in the Boston Interscholastic Football League, competing with Milton most years, but not all. Through the next 20 years, the team looked upon as key rival was Volkmann.
In 1917, Volkmann School united with Nobles. A few years later the campus was moved from Boston to Dedham. It was then that the rivalry with Milton began to take shape.
Once in Dedham, the “Nobles stripes” uniform replaced the solid blue jersey that had been used during the Boston years. Mr. Wiggins himself designed the jersey because he felt that the stripes would help make the football teams look bigger to both Nobles players and opponents.
Gradually, through the years, the importance of the competition intensified and, by 1929, the Milton game was already scheduled as the last game, the capstone of the season.