History & Awardssite still adding over 70 years of history
The club was founded with the following three objectives as written in 1938:
- Promoting the best interests of the American game of football.
- Fostering of good sportsmanship.
- Social Activities.
With these objectives set, the club began meeting weekly in Fall of 1939 for the purpose of getting first hand reports of the games that took place around Atlanta and the South. Members and representatives of the various college and high school teams would speak on the games they attended. The Club would feature a college coach as a guest speaker each Monday for a luncheon.
On January 19, 1940, the Touchdown Club of Atlanta held its first annual dinner at the Ansley Hotel. Over 700 guests out of 6,000 applicants were delighted to hear Elmer Layden of Notre Dame as the guest speaker. Elmer Layden was one of the four fabled 1924 “Four Horsemen of Notre Dame”, so dubbed by the greatest sportswriter of all time, Grantland Rice. After Elmer Laden inspired the crowd, the Club gave its first ever award to Georgia Tech’s Howard Ector as the most valuable player in the Southeastern Conference. After the dinner program was concluded, the 700 guests were invited to view the “moving pictures” of four bowl games; The Rose, Cotton, Sugar, and Orange Bowls. Each game viewing was opened by comments by one of the coaches in each game; Coach Neyland whose Volunteers were in Pasadena for the Rose, Coach Neely whose Clemson team won the Cotton, Coach Dawson and the Tulane Green Wave who lost a squeaker in the Sugar, and lastly Coach Alexander and the Ramblin Wreck who came home with the Orange Bowl Trophy.
This event even rivaled the opulent & star studded opening of “Gone with the Wind” at the Fox Theater in Atlanta just one month prior.
The Touchdown Club of Atlanta and our traditions have carried on since this date in 1940. Over the years and decades, the Club has seen Atlanta grow from a sleepy small town to a world class city. From Leather helmets, no face masks, platoon football and the single wing all the way to Jumbo-trons, sideline flat-screens & iPads and the spread option the Club has been here. Through World War II, Korea, the Civil Rights movement and integration – all the way through today and the first African American president – the Touchdown Club of Atlanta has stayed true to the mission as stated in 1938.
To date we have honored over 1800 individual players, coaches, and officials over the prep and collegiate ranks. Some of the men we have bestowed honors upon may live on forever in anonymity – many men we have honored will be forever remembered as legends. The one element they all have in common is that on one Friday or Saturday night on some grid-iron cathedral awash in lights from above, in the state of Georgia or across the country, they put forth such an effort, in the greatest game on earth, that they will live on forever in the memories of those who witnessed it and through the Touchdown Club of Atlanta.
The Touchdown Club of Atlanta has extensive archives dating back to 1938, consisting of photographs, newspaper clippings, Touchdown Club programs from weekly & annual events as well as decades of handwritten notes passed down from board to board. In order to complete our research “Into the Archives” the Georgia High School Football Historians Association is invaluable. There is no other resource like it in the nation for High School Football. See ghsfha.org for more information.