Last updated 9/17/2020 at 11:47am
Have you ever wondered why you became a fan of certain teams? I had a cousin who was a huge Yankee fan even though he lived in this area. Did it have something to do with winning? I would have to say yes since he was in high school in the early to mid-1950s when the Yanks won several World championships.
As the youngest member of our family, I became a Dodger fan since it was a handed-down tradition from older siblings. When it came to college football, we were WSU fans. I guess the reason was because the Cougars were the closest team playing major college football, and the games were aired on a radio station we could easily listen to on Saturday afternoons.
When I was in high school the Cougars played all of their home games in Albi Stadium in Spokane, and I had a chance to watch them live. I’m not saying that the Cougars were great but I got to see Baylor, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona State and several other teams which were kind of cool.
It would have been easy to find another team to follow in those days when Cougar football was having trouble putting together winning streaks, but we always had the WSU game to listen to on the radio on those fall Saturdays, and it made the workday go by so much better. It wasn’t always the game as much as it was the announcer. Bob Robertson was the voice of the Cougars, and he made you feel like you were with him watching the game.
I’ve heard announcers from other college teams over the years, but Robertson was that down-home guy who made you proud to follow the Cougars. I never met Robertson, but it would seem to me that if you ever saw him at a grocery store a day or two later you could easily feel comfortable saying, “Hey Bob, great game yesterday! I’ll be listening again next week! Go Cougs!”
I remember listening to a game in the 1970s while working in the shop with my dad. Now I don’t think he was listening as closely as I was, but when the Cougars were rallying late in a game at Stanford, Bob Robertson kept us excited on a late game-winning drive. When the Cougars scored with little time left on the clock, my dad and I were jumping up and down enjoying the big upset victory.
There were a couple of occasions in the 1980s when my brother and I would be working on projects, helping each other, and to aid in the labor Bob Robertson entertained us with Cougar football.
One fall day we were reroofing my bunkhouse and listened to Robertson engage us with an exciting broadcast on the road. I remember having to get off the roof to turn up the volume or adjust the tuning dial to be able to hear it better. Again the Cougars rallied to earn a huge upset win and we were so excited we almost fell off the roof.
I vividly remember the game in which Ruben Mayes rushed for 357 yards on a rainy Saturday afternoon at the University of Oregon against the Ducks. It was 1984 and I was helping my brother with a project at his place, and again there was our buddy Bob Robertson telling us about this amazing Cougar running back and what he was doing on the rain-soaked turf in Eugene.
Every play it seemed like Mayes was getting the ball and the Ducks were having trouble containing this kid. This was an exciting game because it was also a wild-ride kind of game that the Cougars would win 50-41. You could hear the happiness in Robertson’s voice that he had for Mayes’ record-breaking afternoon. Bob Robertson brought that excitement to us, and for many years after that, we would talk about what a fun game to have listened to.
When I went back to get my degree, I went to EWU and I became an Eastern fan. Their games were easy to get to since it is only an hour from my house, but I would still listen to Bob Robertson tell us how the Cougars were doing. One day I tuned into a Cougar game and another announcer’s voice was doing the play-by-play. From that day, listening to Cougar football has never been the same.
Bob Robertson, the voice of the Cougars passed away last week almost a year after my brother Larry passed away. The memories are still vivid and I am thankful for each one. But Saturday afternoons aren’t quite the same.