BRUSH WITH HISTORY: Belmont’s Lineberger and Dallas’ Friday a part of Queen Elizabeth’s visit to 1957 North Carolina-Maryland football game
By Richard Walker
As the world remembers Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom following her death on Thursday, much of the local sports world recalls her historic trip to an ACC football game in 1957 in which two Gaston County men were involved.
With Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip among 43,000 in attendance at Byrd Stadium, Maryland defeated North Carolina 21-7 with Belmont’s Jack Lineberger a starting guard for the Tar Heels and Dallas’ William C. Friday and his wife Ida among the dignitaries in attendance for the contest.
According to a Washington Post story in 2017 about the visit, the Queen “specifically requested” to watch her first American football game while on the trip the United States that came four years after her coronation. She never witnessed another football game in person.
She was pictured on the game program for Maryland’s Oct. 19, 1957 homecoming game, sat in a special box in the front row of the stadium on the North Carolina side of the field and was presented with a medallion with her likeness by captains of the two teams that was used in the pregame coin toss.
North Carolina entered the game with a 3-1 record and a No. 14 national ranking. Maryland was 1-3.
But after North Carolina took advantage of a fumble punt to take a 7-0 lead, the Terrapins scored the final 21 points of the game to pull off the upset. Both teams would end up tied for third place in the ACC that season with 4-3 league records behind champion N.C. State (5-0-1 ACC record) and second-place Duke (5-1-1).
Lineberger, who would go on to greater local fame by running his family’s Lineberger’s Fish Camp (now Amber Jack’s), was in his second season as a starting guard for the Tar Heels in the days of two-way football. He was considered a top blocker and a top defender by North Carolina coach Jim Tatum.
At old Belmont High School, Lineberger was an All-State player in 1953 who became the third of the school’s five Shrine Bowl players after leading coach Wrather Johnson’s Raiders to a 10-1 record and the school’s first conference championship that fall.
(Eventual South Point High state championship-winning coach Jim Biggerstaff was the team’s leading scorer with 88 points with Lineberger scoring 79. Later, Lineberger, Johnson, Biggerstaff, Huffstetler, David Wheeler, Denny Williams, Doug Mauldin, principal Gerald Cortner, coach Ebb Gantt and manager Harold Stowe have been members of the ’53 Raiders to have been inducted into the Belmont Sports Hall of Fame.)
At North Carolina, Lineberger was only two games away from the end of his football career due to a neck injury he suffered during a 35-0 loss to Tennessee. Lineberger died of a heart attack on April 11, 1994 after more than 30 years running the family fish camp restaurant.
A 5-foot-11, 225-pounder, Lineberger wore a neck brace for six weeks after injuring himself in the Tennessee game and was pictured in the Nov. 6, 1957 Durham Herald-Sun on the sidelines with an ice pack on his head.
Lineberger did try to return and play in the 1958 season but Tatum announced Lineberger had reinjured his neck in a Sept. 1 practice and Lineberger never played another game for the Tar Heels.
When the Queen came to the game at Maryland, a procession of cars drove on the track of Byrd Stadium to take her and Prince Philip to their seats. Included in the procession were N.C. Governor Luther Hodges, Friday and his wife Ida.
Friday, a 1937 graduate of old Dallas High School, was the catcher for the first Cherryville American Legion Post 100 baseball team in 1937 before graduating at N.C. State in 1941 as senior class president.
After serving in the U.S. Navy Reserve during World War II, he earned his law degree from the University of North Carolina and from 1948 to 1951 was assistant dean of students at UNC.
Friday was assistant to Gordon Gray, president of the consolidation North Carolina university system, from 1951 to 1955, before replacing Gray and becoming the first titled president of the UNC system. He served in that role from 1955 until his retirement in 1986.
Friday, for whom W.C. Friday Middle School in Dallas was named in 1972, stayed involved in education until his death at 92 on Oct. 12, 2012.
He met Ida Howell, a Sumter, S.C., native who grew up in Lumberton, when she was a student at Raleigh’s Meredith College and they were married in 1942. Ida Howell Friday died at 97 on Feb. 6, 2017.