By Nicole Fitzsimmons, News Editor
Though Manhattan College does not currently have a football program, there’s been an outstanding history of the sport at MC throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The story of football at MC has its ups and downs, and an overwhelming amount of Jasper pride.
According to Amy Surak, the director of archives and special collections, in an earlier edition of Manhattan Magazine, the football program at MC originally dates back to the late 19th century, when MC’s campus was located at 131st street and Broadway. This program ended in the 1904 season “due to its inherent roughness.”
In 1924 at the Riverdale campus, MC’s varsity football program returned to Manhattan College. According to Surak, and by 1932 the team acquired coach John “Chick” Meehan, where crowds of seventy thousand would come in droves to see Jasper football. The team became successful and high ranking in the East, and even became one of the first teams to compete in University of Miami’s Orange Bowl.
Yet, because of expenses and the start of World War II, most programs at MC, including football, were put on pause.
It was not until the 1960’s did the sport return, due to the motivation and dedication of the student body.
According to previous reporting on The Quadrangle, a committee of about 100 students collected the funds from their fellow students and faculty to support the revitalization of football as a club sport.
Students raised the funds necessary to start the club team, revitalizing a new sense of MC pride with presidents Tom Twomey and Paul Frazier.
“Especially because the student body themselves brought it back, it was a lot of fun. Everyone went to the games like a real big celebration,” Surak said.
With a newfound spirit, MC began tailgating games, attending the October homecoming games en masse with a potluck and supporting with men’s and women’s cheer squads.
In an unpublished piece of history for MC, Surak quotes Frazier’s congratulations to the student body, “You wanted football, and you went out and got it. You brought in not nine thousand dollars, but nine thousand and fifty-eight dollars; and you did it in four weeks.”
Further, she writes how at Gaelic Park on October 16, 1965, the first game was played on homecoming day to a large crowd of alumni and students. The Jaspers defeated NYU’s football club 20-14.
Surak explains the organization and commitment of these fundraisers to The Quadrangle.
“Every year or so, freshman, sophomore, junior, senior, each had a fun drive administrator and it was amazing. The organization was about the revival of the team,” Surak said.
With dedicated coaches Larry Kelly, Bob Baker and Bob Annuziata, the team experienced challenges and successes without much of a budget or a home field advantage.
According to The Quadrangle, the program closed in 1987, “with the last game played at Gaelic Park on a Sunday afternoon in November. The Jaspers fell 51 to 33 in a hard-fought battle against the University of Massachusetts.”
The club team’s presence would create a vibrant history of Jaspers pride and what students are capable of because of motivation.