January means snow, wind, cold, hats, gloves, scarves, coats, sipping from a bottle of Blackberry Brandy and shovelling snow in Holy Name schoolyard to play basketball (do kids still shovel?).
But the kick-off to 2011 means only two things with football fans; NFL play-offs and big time Bowl games (and some very bad bowl games too) in the college ranks; boy do I wish the college presidents and A.D.’s would switch to a playoff format.
The New York Giants finished 10-6 on the season and DID NOT make the playoffs. I repeat, the Big Blue DID NOT make the play-offs. As for the New York Jets, they play the Colts this Saturday in the opening round. Rex Ryan has done a wonderful job at the helm. (Pete Iulo is in his glory, Duffer is not)
Today’s blog entry covers a different football league. It was a league in which the players were passionate. They were tough, hard-nosed and very likable. I miss the early Sunday mornings of getting up and hitching a ride outside Farrell’s down to Farragut Road in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn to stand on the sidelines and watch real men get after it; without helmets, without shoulder pads and without a television camera. There was no taunting, no hype and no B.S. Just hardcore football, rough touch wearing blue jeans and sneakers. When guys tangled, they reminded you of gladiators. These men had pride in the team they represented.
Do you remember Farrell’s football? Actually, what a dumb question. How can anyone forget Farrell’s football? I’ve blogged about them in the past. How can you not recall the rough and tough practice sessions down 154’s schoolyard on a Saturday afternoon? The energy, the hustle, the yelling, the teamwork! I hated when we’d be playing 3 on 3 on the half-court basketball court and all of a sudden guys from all over the neighborhood would show up for practice and kick us off the court.
Those guys got after it, and this was the day before a game!
I’m going to give it up to my main man Mike Kelly from 7th avenue, younger brother of Jack who were two key members of the McBears football team…
It was just a short 28 years ago that the McBears football team walked into Paerdegat Park on the corner of Farragut road and Albany avenue to take on Farrell’s for the championship. This game turned our neighborhood upside down or right side up.
All the games against Farrell’s were epic; fast, furious encounters whose intensity was not limited to the football field. We always seemed to fall short of victory in previous games. One more stop, one more score…we just couldn’t get it.
Throughout all the agonizing defeats our team and supporters always thought we were the better team, just waiting for us to take the next step.
In 1981 we missed the playoffs but were able to get Paulie Kenny to take over our team as head coach. Paulie was the right guy at the right time because we finally started to ‘get it’. We went from a nice little team to a dangerous one.
In that championship game we went from a dangerous team to THE TEAM!
We left no doubt in anyone’s mind.
At McBears and the George Washington Post on 17th street we partied like never before…with the Farrell’s boys and what seemed like the whole neighborhood.
The biggest and best part of everything was the friends, family, girlfriends and wives who happened to come to every game. They were always there to cheer us on through thick and thin.
When it came time to order our championship jackets, everyone wanted one to call their own; and of course, we obliged.
Hundreds of jackets were ordered and could be seen around the neighborhood for many years. I don’t know what bothered Farrell’s more, the fact they lost the championship game to us or the sight of those jackets flooding the neighborhood?
So throw your jacket on, pull on your jersey, and raise a glass first to our dearly departed (Mad Jack) and Rock the Casbah!
Michael, I will add this to your wonderful story. First off, some of the guys who I recall that played for McBears: Ronnie, the left-handed QB, probably my favorite player on that team. Anthony Paige, Charlie Cummings and his brother Johnny, Ray Collura, Anthony Hajjar, Billy Carroll, Mike Troeller, Tommy McGovern, Ray Sutterland, you and your brother Jack, John Troeller, John Saris, Vinny Borowoski, Tommy Troller, Joe Gallucci, Tommy Slattery, and Paul Gilhouley. Others included Fat Don, Hajji, Billy Lavasseur, Jerry Coles, Josh Small, Billy and Kevin Troeller, Billy Maloney and Steven Lawson.
That afternoon, after watching your team beat my favorite team, I ran home, grabbed my basketball and went down to P.S. 154’s to play ball. While passing McBears on Prospect avenue, McFadden and Whitehead’s number one smash hit, “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” was blasting from the jukebox. Peeking through the window, the crowd was signing in unison and I witnessed Anthony Paige dancing it up.
Congrats and enjoy the moment…