Home / Featured / That time Auburn students called the King of England to tell him the score of the 1949 Iron Bowl

That time Auburn students called the King of England to tell him the score of the 1949 Iron Bowl

That’s Bob McBride’s old car. He used to drive the cheerleaders around in for the Wrech Tech parade. They asked him to step out for this photo featured in the opening section of the 1953 Glomerata, but if they knew he was pals with the King of England, they probably wouldn’t have.

Bob McBride, the director of youth summer camp Camp Mac in Munford, Ala. since 1957, turned 82 today.

He couldn’t go to the Iron Bowl last year. He was recovering from cancer. He’ll be at the game tomorrow, though.

If Auburn upsets Alabama, he might write a poem—there’s precedent—or he might cause an international incident.

There’s precedent.

In 1948, Bama slaughtered Auburn, 55-0. It was the time first time the two teams had played each other in 40 years. In 1949, Auburn and Travelin’ Travis Tidwell got revenge, stunning the Tide, 14-13. It was a big deal. MacBride, a member of Pi Kappa Alpha and a sophomore in electrical engineering at Auburn at the time, was there to see it. After celebrating in Birmingham, he headed back to Auburn.

“We were back at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house that night and we had some brothers that felt [Auburn’s win] was such tremendous news that everybody in the world ought to know about it,” McBride says.

He started with a call to George VI, obviously.

“They thought the King of England should be informed,” McBride says. “Back then you had to go through operators and everything.”

Auburn sophomore Bob McBride in 1949.

Somehow—’cause there might have been some liquor involved, who can say—the Pikes convinced the international operator that the call was a life-and-death matter of international importance.

“I’m not sure when we got through to someone at Buckingham Palace but we asked to speak to the King and they said ‘the King is still asleep and cannot be disturbed,'” McBride says. “We said ‘well, tell him that Auburn beat Alabama 14-13, War Eagle!’ I’m not sure if he ever got the message.”

He hopes he’ll have cause to try again tomorrow night, and that he can add the score of another game, one he’s thankful to be able to see, especially in person.

“I’m not back to full strength,” he says, speaking of his cancer recovery, “but I’m doing much better, and hoping for another upset. Which it will be.”

“You never know until the game is played.”

Related: Read Bob McBride’s “Twas the Night before the 1949 Iron Bowl” poem.

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About Jeremy Henderson

Jeremy Henderson is the editor of The War Eagle Reader and co-host of Rich and Jeremy in the Mornings on Wings 94.3 FM in Auburn. Follow him on Twitter: @wareaglereader / @jerthoughts / @RichandJeremy

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