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Love at the 40-yard line: Longtime UGA fans return to Athens to watch title game
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Sam Stone and Susan Stone have been Georgia fans since the Bulldogs’ first national championship in 1980. They plan to watch Monday’s title game against Alabama back in Athens. - photo by For The Times

The last time Georgia had a national champion football team, Sam Stone was working on an ambulance service staged inside the stadium during home games in Athens.

On Monday, he and his family plan to be in Athens again to watch the national championship game against Alabama to “be part of that city.”

“I’ve been waiting since 1980 for this same thing to happen, and I keep saying every year, ‘This is going to be the year.’ And this really may be the year,” he said.

From 1978 to 1984, Sam Stone worked for Athens General Hospital, and he’s had season tickets since that championship 1980 season. He retired last year as the director of paramedicine at Lanier Technical College.

His wife, Susan Stone, works at Northeast Georgia Medical Center as a nursing quality manager.

“If I was there on the ambulance, I could see the games and just hope nobody got sick, but that wasn’t usually the case,” Sam Stone said.

During that time he met Susan, who was attending the university and working the game weekends in the emergency room. She was classmates with renowned kicker Kevin Butler and legendary running back Herschel Walker.

“When we were in Athens, a lot of the times we’d have to work those weekends, so sometimes we didn’t go to the games because we were working them. She didn’t go if I didn’t go, but she was with me on the very first game I went to,” Sam Stone said.

Sam Stone doesn’t want to move from his spot in the 300-level on the 40-yard line, where he feels he can see the game much better in those seats.

“We’ve taken our children, even when they were infants, to at least one game every year. We have lots of memories with our children, Christmas cards full of Georgia pictures,” Susan Stone said.

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