Coaldale Big Green Football Legends of the Lykens Valley
A 1921 photograph of the Coaldale Big Green championship team which is displayed at the National Pro Football Hall of Fame, Canton, Ohio.
The Coaldale Big Green team of Coaldale, Pennsylvania, was champion of the Anthracite Football League for three years from 1921 to 1923. The team was organized in 1913 and was for most of its history one of the best independent teams in the early years of professional and independent football. The players came from the coal mining communities of Coaldale, Lansford, Nesquehoning, Summit Hill, Tamaqua, among others, including perhaps those towns in the Lykens Valley areas of Wiconisco and Williamstown. The names of many of the players have been lost due to poor record keeping. Undoubtedly, many of the “lost” players can be “found” through meticulous research in newspapers of the day as well as the now-more-popular family history and genealogy.
Powerhouse teams in the Anthracite Football League included Mahanoy City, Mount Carmel, Shenandoah, Wilkes-Barre, and Pottsville. Some good information is available on the Wilkes-Barre Panthers. But more information is available on the Pottsville Maroons because they entered the National Football League in 1925 and played in that professional league through 1928. The teams from Wilkes-Barre and Pottsville also had the advantage of being from larger communities with newspapers that covered sports more thoroughly and were more widely distributed throughout the region.
It was well-known that most of the players in the Anthracite Football League were local men who worked in the coal mines six days a week and then played football on their one day off. The team members of the 1920s were known for their “rough-tough” style of play and large crowds, sometimes as many as 15,000, showed up at their games. Also, wide-scale betting took place on each contest.
The individual players in the 1921 Coaldale Big Green photo [above] are not identified, but some of the men who were considered the “greats” from the team coached by James “Casey” Gildea, were: James “Blue” Bonner; Bob “Dauber” Parfitt; Bill “Honeyboy” Evans; Jack “Honeyboy” Evans; Len Lithgow; Stan Giltner; Ben Herring; Vince Gildea; Metro Roadside; Ervin Nussbaum; James Melly; Simon Lewchich; Joe Garland; Mike Pavlick; Froger Giltner; Ed “Scoop” Boyle; Albert “Abby” Morgan; Henry Bouch; and John Walters.
Information for this post has been taken from Football Legends of Pennsylvania, by Evan Burian, published in 2001.