Deceased Organizer's Traditional Football Tournament not Carried on This Year

By: Chad Mira Email
By: Chad Mira Email

football trophy

When you think of Thanksgiving traditions, Turkey is one, football is another. But a four-decade local football tradition came to an end this year. This is the first year since 1967, Panama City Beach has not hosted the Snapper Bowl.

For more than 40 years, youth football teams from all over the country travel to Bay County to play in the longest-running youth football tournament in the country. The Snapper Bowl used to fill the stands at Pete Edwards Field, with friends and family cheering on thirty or more football teams any given year. One team came from as far away as Ohio last year.

But this year, the P.A is silent, score board is blank, and the benches are bare. Harold Creel, the tournament's organizer since 1999, died in July.

"It meant a lot to him. In some ways it was like a homecoming, it was a get together, but always in good sportsmanship and having a good time. That's all it ever was and all he wanted them to do," Creel's close friend John Mullis said.

Creel loved the game and was a good coach, but his coaching went far beyond the game of football.

"He taught them the ways of life more than anything. He always would say, you know, sports is like life. It knocks you down, but you got to get up and keep going. You can't stay down," Mullis said.

Important lessons from a great coach, but he was an even better friend.

"He's the buddy you want when you go into battle. He's the one you want looking behind your back taking care of you. He was a devoted friend, a very devoted friend, and he was always willing to help any way he could...He was always looking out for you like a big brother," Mullis said.

A big brother who's passed on, along with a 42-year tradition..


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  • by A Location: panama city, fl on Nov 28, 2010 at 03:08 PM
    John, did anyone ever tell you it is very disrespectful to speak ill of the deceased? Everyone has the right to have their own opinion but it makes you look like an idiot to speak of things you do not know of. Harold was a GREAT man, amazing father and grandfather. He did more for the community than many know. He was very loved and RESPECTED. The reasons for canceling this years bowl were not selfish in anyway. He did leave someone in charge and that person is still going to keep it going. So like i said john do not speak of things you know nothing about. One of my favorite quotes from Mr. Creel was "Small people have small thoughts." It fits.
  • by Kenny Location: Panama City on Nov 27, 2010 at 11:08 AM
    The tradition is not over by no means. Preparation for the snapperbowl starts in January-Febuary. The snapperbowl was in the process for this years bowl, when the news of my grandpaws cancer had came. But our family and grandpaw continued to work on the bowl. Than the news of the oil spill came as teams began signing up for this years bowl. A lot of teams called and wanted to know if the oil would be on panama citys beaches come bowl time in November. We could not give a deff answer because nobody knew where the oil would be. As time went on the cancer grew and grew, and no radiation and no medicine was stopping it. July rolled around and the oil was still rolling toward our beaches. It was my grandpaws choice to call of the bowl this year. A week after he called off the bowl he passed away. The bowl is not gone at all. We plan on having the biggest bowl yet next year in honor of his memory. The only reason thier was no bowl this year is because it was his wish to not have it.
  • by Jimmy Location: Panama City on Nov 27, 2010 at 07:23 AM
    Thank you, Mr. Henry.
  • by John Henry Location: Panama City Beach Fl on Nov 26, 2010 at 04:08 PM
    Maybe before we speak about how good a man is or not let look why the Snapperbowl didn't happen this year for one, go to thier webpage, http://www.snapperbowl.com/home.htm Not only did a Great man, Friend, and Coach pass, but they had oil close to thier shores, and says that there not willing to put any kids at risk due to the spill! Wow! He puts the kids saftey first! Everyone who knows Mr Creel donated any and all profits to all the local High schools here in Bay County! So no one can say it was about money. This Tournament ended really in 1998 when the GCMFL no longer had interest or the volunteers to Run it. So Harold Creel kept the Tradition going, spending out of his own Pockets! Not Tax payer money. As for your Last ? John "Did he do the things he did for himself or for others?" I say for others and never for himself. I will end with this, To say "I cannot respect any of the good this man has supposedly done" to me sound more of Jealousy John! What have u done in comparison?
  • by Jimmy Location: Panama City on Nov 26, 2010 at 03:39 PM
    John, you have to be kidding me? to say that you cannot respect someone for dedicating 40 years of their life to the community is obsurd. Harold Creel was my grandfather and my life long coach, and teacher. I hope when you die someone writes something as demoralizing as you have just done. To make things clear, my family will be continuing the tradition next year and will renew the tournament. As you can imagine it was quite short notice for us to do being that he just passed away earlier this year. John, I look forward to seeing how you may put forth effort to help continue the tradition since you obviously care enough to comment on the issue. but if not, LIFE GOES ON, I suppose. The memory of my grandfather will live in the hearts of hundreds forever.
  • by Ray Location: Dallas, Tx on Nov 26, 2010 at 08:25 AM
    Kudos John. You hit the nail right in the head. Surely he had a close associate that helped him organize the game and continue the tradition.
  • by John Location: Panama City on Nov 25, 2010 at 04:34 PM
    I'm not much for football, but I have to comment. I suppose the man's ideals and the good he brought to the community were worth far less than his life if the other organizers have decided to end this tradition. Is this what he would have wanted? Bah, if such is the case I cannot respect any of the good this man has supposedly done. Because if there was any value in what he did do, it would fall on his friends to honor his memory by keeping the tradition alive. It would fall on his friends to keep doing the good that they say this man exemplified. We lose good people every day somewhere around the world, but LIFE GOES ON. And if we as a people are really enriched by those who have gone before then we should keep building on the legacy of good they have left us. For if we don't, we dishonor their memory and make ourselves into liars. If you loved your friend, keep the tradition alive. Did he do the things he did for himself or for others? Go, and do likewis
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