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Steelers fans 'close it out'

Terrible Towel holders have more to celebrate

Terrible Towel holders have more to celebrate

January 18, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

HAGERSTOWN -- The rough-and-tough rivalry football game Sunday between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Baltimore Ravens was highlighted locally by hundreds of fans of both teams who turned out at the HagerHall Conference and Event Center for a party.

A big party.

An estimated 430 people filled a large conference hall to watch the game on a big-screen television that was as big as the stage in the room.

Steelers fans and Ravens fans were divided down the center of the room for the AFC Championship Game, although Steelers fans appeared to be the bigger presence, making up about 65 percent of the spectators, said Michael Malone, part owner of the conference center at 901 Dual Highway.

Fans consumed their drinks of choice and could also buy a $15 all-you-can-eat buffet that included wings, pit beef and steamed shrimp.

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Malone said he was told by some people that mixing Ravens and Steelers fans could result in fights.

But he said he made a point to visit people at tables in an attempt to make everyone comfortable.

"Everybody's cool," Malone said as he surveyed the crowd from a VIP room above the floor.

Steelers fans had a lot to cheer about early on, as their team took the lead. The team emerged victorious with a 23-14 win over the Ravens.

"We're hanging in there," said Ravens fan Mike Hess of Smithsburg. "We're not too happy with the results right now."

Joshua Pheabus of Hagerstown still couldn't believe his Ravens made it as far as they did. Despite the early scoring by Pittsburgh, Pheabus remained hopeful and asked a reporter how this story would be played in the newspaper today.

"Hopefully it will be under the headline, 'Baltimore Goes to the Super Bowl,'" Pheabus said.

Although smaller, a crowd of Steelers fans at the Colonial Motel and Restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue was just as charged.

About 50 Steelers fans -- twirling their sacred Terrible Towels in the air and displaying other team memorabilia -- packed into a small bar in the restaurant.

After "The Star-Spangled Banner" was performed, the crowd launched into a loud cheer of "Here we go Steelers, here we go!"

Mike Danley, president of the Original Steeler Fan Club of Hagerstown, drank Iron City beer out of a Steelers mug that had colored lights flashing from its base.

Iron City beer is brewed in Pittsburgh.

"You got to have Iron City if you're watching the Steelers," Danley said.

Steelers fan Joe Spirko, who was seated near one of two big-screen TVs in the bar, said a buddy of his was going to come from Anchorage, Alaska, to Pittsburgh to meet him if the Steelers won Sunday's game.

"We want to be right in the middle of the city when it happens," said Spirko, who lives in South Mountain, Pa.

Steelers fan Bill Brooks of Hagerstown wore stickers resembling eye black that read "Steelers" and a replica of an old-style leather Steelers football helmet.

"We just got to close it out," Brooks said of the AFC championship battle.

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