CoaldaleBig Green

It Was Mostly Home Talent That Made the Big Green One of the Best of the Earliest Pro Football Teams

Ghosts of the Gridiron - Coadale Big Green

Link to News Articles of the Many Games that the Big Green Played

Link to the Ghost of the Gridiron - Virtual Scrapbook Library

Photos Submitted by Bill Scutta


As in baseball, discussion as to which was the first team to represent the town in football is wide open,
but there is little question as to which was the best football team ever to defend championship honors
here. That team was the COALDALE "BIG GREEN" anthracite coal region

CHAMPIONS 1921-22-23.

Members of the 1916 squad might give you some argument on the word best. But stalwarts of that year were still playing the game as champions during the early 20's and there's little question about it they were at their best the day they upset Benny Boynton and a choice collection of POTTSVILLE STARS on the COALDALE FIELD OCTOBER 20, 1923. David Williams is credited with being the first man to take a football to COALDALE shortly before the turn of the century. A team of PANTHER VALLEY players played a soldier team during the time the NATIONAL GUARD was stationed at MANILA GROVE in 1902. Members of that team included T.J.Evans, Clarence Starr,
Dr. Will Neumuller and his brother, Carl, Franklin Jones, Burk Harvey, Tommy West, Jimmy
Middleton, Jimmy Kennedy, Bill Evans, Owen Boyle, John Kelly, George Morrall, JohnWest,
Severus Jones, and Jack Burton. An ealier team saw "Foag" Gallagher, Paddy-Bonner and others
in action against Nesquehoning stalwarts right at the turn of the century. John Bugarewicz was a familiar figure in that lineup. Pictured in Zerbey's History of Schuylkill is the COALDALE JUNIORS of 1903, with Fred Weaver as manager. As in baseball, Burk Harvey was the guilding influence behind the team.
Playing with him were Tommy West, George Morrall, John West, William Holmes, Warren Holmes, David Reese, George Yemm, William Evans, Carl Neumuller, Clarence Starr, and John Kelly.
The Juniors played memorable games with Williamsport in the days of Percy Fitch, and against LANSFORD and other worth while oppostion in the area.

Next in line as a COALDALE FOOTBALL TEAM was the Coaldale High School via Lehigh Coal prep which dominated the scene in the days of John Melley, Kid Hill, Tom Lewis, and others. Their place in the sun was challenged by Jimmy Lithgow and his OLD STREET STARS, "Big" Smith, Mike Shigo, Paddy Malloy, "Barber" McGeehan and others who established their ability to battle the HIGH SCHOOL TEAM to a standstill.

COALDALE ROSEBUDS took up after the HIGH SCHOOL and OLD STREET left off. Held together by Irv. Murphy, Rub Morgans, Andy Aiken, and a few others the ROSEBUDS had full sway until another OLD STREET team arose to challenge their place in the football sun. A memorable
THANKSGIVING DAY game in 1911 saw "Blue" Bonner plunge over the Phillips street goal line to bring victory to the OLD STREET and start a new COALDALE TEAM on its way to greatness.
Next year, 1912, a combined OLD STREET-ROSEBUD TEAM took the field under the management of J.H.Gildea, to start on its way toward football greatness. Gildea managed COALDALE FOOTBALL for 21 years and during that time the name COALDALE was blazoned all over the
sporting pages of the big daily newspapers bringing advertising and credit to COALDALE.
Coaldale football may be said to be continuous since 1900. The BIG GREEN organization dates back to 1912 although the name "BIG GREEN" was not applied to the team until after adoption of its
famous Green Jerseys in 1917.

The years 1913 and 1914 saw memorable games against LANSFORD. The 1914 game was to live in memory as the 50-50 game. It broke up when jubilant COALDALE fans swarmed all over LANSFORD FIELD as COALDALE SCORED its winning and tie-breaking touchdown. The game
was played for a side bet and winner take all of the gate receipts. LANSFORD contended the game was never finished and so after attempting to make a case of it in the Carbon County Courts,
COALDALE was forced to accept a 50-50 settlement.

Next year, 1915 saw COALDALE in action against SHENANDOAH DELMARS,with Dr. Andy Nork and his brother Johnny, furnishing the spark for a SHENANDOAH win in the final game of the year at COALDALE.

The DELMARS continued giving COALDALE its keenest rivalry until succeeded by the SHENANDOAH team of the anthracite league. Butt was the POTTSVILLE game at TRESCKOW in 1916 that really dates COALDALE FOOTBALL and in some people's mind that game set the
foundation under today's PRO FOOTBALL. COALDALE with "Buzz" Flanagan furnishing the deception and "Blue" Bonner carrying the ball played "T" formation football in 1916. Irv. Murphy was the quarterback and directed COALDALE to a win over POTTSVILLE on
COALDALE FIELD in the first game of that year POTTSVILLE. In return engagement at the BRICK YARD FIELD near MINERSVILLE,
POTTSVILLE scored and the game broke up when JOE GARLAND hung one on a POTTSVILLE lineman.

Next day at HAZLETON with Mike Coll, sports editor of theHAZLETON STANDARD, sitting in the famous TRESCKOW game was arranged to be played Sunday, December 10, 1916. The field
was frozen hard and uneven surface football history was written. Big men came into the picture and COALALE and coal region football went forward from that day. Herman Meyer, secretary-treasurer of the MIDDLE ATLANTIC ATHLETIC UNION, was referee of the that game at TRESCKOW.
Coming here a stranger he liked what he saw and unquestionably the influence of his true sportsmanship helped developed COALDALE to the full extent of its football ability.

POTTSVILLE had an All-Star team on the field at TRESCKOW.Chief Wheelock, the great Carlisle Indian fullback was in the POTTSVILLE backfield. Johnny Herndon, as fleet a back as ever carried a football was in the lineup. George Cockill, coach at BUCKNELL, played one tackle and his brother, Tom, played the other tackle spot. Mackert, of LEBANON VALLEY, WADDELL, of BUCKNELL, Danny Roth, Gus Swaving, just to mention a few of the stars that saw action were in the POTTSVILLE
lineup. The odds favored POTTSVILLE but when it was all over Wheelock was in the HAZLETON HOSPITAL and COALDALE was on the long end of a 10-0 score. Howie Miller kicked a field goal earley in the game to put COALDALE out in front. Kutsko, SHENANDOAH'S great guard,
playing the line for COALDALE, scooped up a fumble and went 60 yards for what has always been known as the thousand dollar touchdown to put the game on ice for COALDALE. That game started it. The rush for imported players was on.COALDALE justified its faith in home talent on the frozen field at TRESCKOW and stayed put. Members of the 1916 squad included:
CENTER Jack "Honeyboy" Evans
GUARDS John Homick, Dan Bonner, and Ed Boyle
TACKLES "Bub" Melley, Joe Garland
ENDS Howie Miller, John "P" McGeehan, Charles Sharpe,
"Rub" Morgans
BACKS "Blue" Bonner, "Buzz" Flanagan, Dan Moser,
Hen Boock, and "Red" McMichael impressed into service for the POTTSVILLE game was EVAN EVANS, today's president of the LNC COMPANY. Irvin Murphy was injured in the game at the BRICKYARD; Charlie Sharpe, substitute quarterback suffered a head injury in the BETHLEHEM BLUE STAR GAME and Evans was pressed into service for that all-important battle. So also was Kutsko, the SHENANDOAH guard. Poorly equipped and looking anything but a worthy opponent of the star-studded POTTSVILLE team, COALDALE on Dec. 10, 1916 at TRESCKOW wrote history of fierce determination and self confidence which remained its football characteristic to the end. There will always be an argument to just who was COALDALE's greatest football player. On that day at TRESCKOW, the great
"Buzz" Flanagan gave COALDALE a slogan that has since endured. "Give it to Blue" was his advice in the clutches. He knew the opposition had him covered and he realized then as many other
opponents were to find out later, they just could not stop "Blue" Bonner. But it was not Flanagan who was to challenge "Blues" rating as COALDALE'S No. 1 all-time great. Many close to the COALDALE scene will give that distinction to Jack "HONEYBOY" Evans. A ball hawk by instinct. A sure passer from his center position, a fearless tackler, and a football player faster than he looked,
Evans had everthing that goes to make an ALL-AMERICAN. Then when you have satisfied yourself "Honeyboy" was the best ry telling it to a JOE GARLAND admirer. You will quickly find you don't know a thing about it. Garland outshone them all in the estimation of many staunch COALDALE FANS. Right there you have the story of COALDALE'S football success. The team had out-standing tackles, wonderful ends, prospective ALL-AMERICANS in at least three positions and the supreme belief it could play any team, any time, any place in the world.

That confidence was to be challenged after the ANTHRACITE FOOTBALL LEAGUE was formed following WORLD WAR 1. POTTSVILLE, SHENANDOAH and GILBERTON went out after the best the college world produced. COALDALE remained satisfied with coal region players. "Frojer" Giltner, Stan Giltner, Bob Hartwig, "Goo Goo" Davis, and Irvin Schwartz of TAMAQUA, joined the squad, the Chapman brothers, Tom and Jack, came down from CENTRALIA, COALDALE youngsters had grown up to replace the older men on the 1916 squad and the team of championship days saw COALDALE take the field with Len Lithgow, Vince Gildea, Steve Zaleha, Ben Herring, Mike Pavlik, Metro Roadside, Bill "Honeyboy" Evans, Tom Raymer, and Oscar Keebler being added to the 1916 roster. Imported stars might be considered as being Earl Potteiger and Les Asplundh. The latter was COALDALE'S answer to the best other towns in the league could draft from college ranks. Asplundh put the foot in football as far as COALDALE was concerned. It is questionable if college or PRO-FOOTBALL from that day to this ever produced a better punter than LES Asplundh. He
could not only boot tham a mile high and 60 yards long, he could also boot field goals from anywhere near the 40 yard line. What will always be considered the longest placement in coal region history was his game winning boot at SHENANDOAH in 1923. Arguments arise as to its length but consensus of opinion is the ball was placed on the ground beyond the MID-FIELD STRIPE. The ball not only cleared the goal posts but went out over the fence 60 feet in the air 10 yards back of the posts.

Famous game at FRANKFORD, ATLANTIC CITY, STATEN ISLAND and elsewhere adorn the memories of close followers of COALDALE football and stars taken in by rival coal region elevens
read like the record of the periods' choicest college stars. Gilberton came up with Fritz Pollard, Doc Alexander, Nasty Nash, Downey Gaffney, Finn, and "Butch" Boslego to mention just a few. SHENANDOAH countered with "Hinkey" Haines, Bill Kenyon, Joe Dumoe, Joe Lehecka, Lou Kauffman, Mike Palm, and its well entrenched home squad. POTTSVILLE went all the way out and had a truly great team with such men as Larry Conover, Carl and Clarence Beck, Pete Henry, "Bots" Brunner, Snaps Emanuel, "Doggy" Julian, Stan Coffal, Gus Sonenberg, Duke Osborne, and a host of others.

The measure of COALDALE and coal region football can be gauged by POTTSVILLE'S success. In 1924 the POTTSVILLE MAROONS won the coal region championship defeating COALDALE 10-7 and 3-0, the identical scores by which COALDALE WON OVER POTTSVILLE IN 1923. Then in 1925 POTTSVILLE entered the NATIONAL PRO LEAGUE to win its championship out. Not only that in a post season game at SHIBE PARK AGAINST THE "FOUR HORSEMEN" and the "SEVEN MULES" of NOTRE DAME CONSIDERED TO HAVE BEEN THE OUTSTANDING FOOTBALL TEAM OF ALL TIME WHEN PLAYING FOR NOTRE DAME IN 1924, POTTSVILLE WITH TONY LATONE CARRYING THE BALL ON STRAIGHT FOOTBALL ALMOST THE LENGTH OF THE FIELD DEFENDED ITS PRO CHAMPIONSHIP AND




Metro Roadside, Bob Hartwig, Mike Pavlick, Irvin Swartz, Hen Boock, "Blue" Bonner,
Stan Giltner, "Bull" Newton, Steve Zaleha, Bill "Honeyboy" Evans,Ben Herring,
Joe Garland, Jack "Honeyboy" Evans, Jim Gildea, "Bub" Melley,"Frojer" Giltner, Scoop Boyle,
Tom Chapmanm, Jack Chapman, "Goo Goo" Davis,Jack McDonald, Simon Lewchek,
Vince Gildea, Len Lithgow, Earl Potteiger,
Mascot---Yatsko *********** Submitted by Richard C. Rehatchek


Casey Gildea Center of top row
Needed: Year taken and names of the players.

Submitted by Bill Scutta