Sticking with the Farrell’s football theme… I used to love setting my alarm clock…wait, wait. Let me rewind to the night before.
I’d see Gerry Trapp Saturday night and he’d give me a time to meet him in the morning if I wanted a lift to the football game at Farragut Road the next morning.
I’d set my alarm for 7:00 AM, bang the snooze button a couple of times and finally roll out of a warm bed on a cool September morning at 7:30. Getting out of bed was tough at that time, most kids would sleep in on Sunday’s or they would have to attend mass at Holy Name. I’d shower (sometimes just wash my face and comb my hair) and walk across the avenue to the deli for a buttered roll and coffee.
Sipping on my java (light and sweet of course) waiting for Gerry to show up I’d see a few of the players from Farrell’s outside the bar waiting on a ride from a teammate. I’d also see some of the older guys, well into their 50’s (and even older) standing on the corner also waiting for a ride.
Giving someone a lift to their destination is one of the nicest gestures a human could offer. It’s amazing how we take it for granted these days. If I see a poor soul walking or even waiting for a bus, if I have time, I stop to give them a lift.
Gerry would appear on the avenue and I’d hop in the back.
We’d be on our way down Coney Island avenue in a flash, but not before he would roll down the window and ask someone on the corner of 16th and 9th avenue if they needed a ride to the game.
Arriving at Farragut, parking the car across the street and walking into the park I’d see many players warming up, getting loose and trying to get themselves juiced up for the battle ahead of them.
This wasn’t a 1:00, 4:00 or even 8:00 PM kick-off. No, this was an early morning ‘throw-off’! No kick-offs in this league, you threw off to the other team to start the game.
No John Madden, No NFL network, and not even a College Gameday on ESPN.
This was big time ‘rough-touch’ football. No babies allowed. No complaining, whining or making excuses.
No helmets, no shoulder pads and NO trainers on the sidelines…
The sidelines were packed right from the start. I would stand on Farrell’s sideline shoulder to shoulder with other fans from the neighborhood and of course the players, shielding my eyes with one hand from the early morning sun-rise and cheering them on.
Fans and players were lined up along the sidelines from end-zone to end-zone on both sides of the concrete field. They were even lined up two deep, outside the huge schoolyard on the sidewalk against the chain-linked fence.
Looking across the field at the fans from the opposition, you could see the envy in their eyes as soon as their team fell behind.
I often wondered how the players from Farrell’s prepared for a game?
How late they stayed out the night before?
Did they get together and talk about the game, the strategy or even the opposing players?
I wish I was old enough to be there listening to these guys talk about how they were going to defend, how the receivers were going to run their routes or even how the special teams members were going to take someone out on a ‘throw-off’.
Were they able to fall asleep the night before, knowing full well that they were going to put on a Farrell’s football jersey the next morning, (I always dreamt of wearing a jersey for Farrell’s when I was a young boy) ace bandages wrapped around their hands, arms and some ankles. Putting pads over their elbows, knees, wrists and forearms and preparing to give 110% just like their head coach John Devaney wanted, asked for and received the day before at practice down in P.S. 154?
First, to the guys who passed away: Frank Caputo, John Devaney, Eloy Mirahle, (RIP)…You will always be remembered!
And of course many more like Howie Bischoff, Tommy Byrnes, Corrado Candiano, Bill Kahaly, Eddie Green, Charlie Kawas, Mike Kennedy, Frank Lakat, Marty Lang, Kevin Maloney, Joe Murph, Donnie Meade, Willie Lanizesera, Cubie, Mike Laughlin, Mike Laffen, Mike M., Bobby, Charlie and John Powers, Tommy Purdy, Willie, Eddie and Paul Quirk, Sammy Rutiglano, Mike ‘Tigger’ Rutigliano, Joe santos, Tommy Szooky, Gerard Trapp and Billy Walsh.
I might’ve missed a couple of guys and might’ve misspelled a couple of names, please forgive me. Send me any corrections or additions and of course your memories of Farrell’s Football.