Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Continental Football League’ Category

1969 Tri-City Apollos

leave a comment

Tri-City ApollosContinental Football League (1969)

Born: January 1969 – The Michigan Arrows relocate to Midland, MI
Folded: Postseason 1969

Stadium: Midland Community Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Albert Fill

Continental Football League Championships: None

 

The Tri-City Apollos were a minor league football team that represented Bay City, Midland and Saginaw, Michigan. The team lasted just one season in the Continental Football League in the autumn of 1969. The team folded along with the rest of the Continental League during the winter of 1969-70.

The Apollos played out of the high school football stadium in Midland. Chuck Cherondolo, a former Pittsburgh Steelers star of the 1940’s, served as the Apollos head coach. He enjoyed a long career as an NFL assistant coach both before and after his one-year stint with the Apollos.

The team went 2-10 in their only season of operation. The Apollos offense was particularly horrid. In twelve games, the team scored 20 points just once. Apollos quarterbacks combined for 6 touchdown passes and 19 interceptions over the course of the entire season. Larry Rakestraw, a two-time All-SEC  star at the University of Georgia and the hero of the Bulldogs’ 1963 Orange Bowl victory over the University of Miami, took most of the snaps under center.

 

Links

Continental Football League Media Guides

Continental Football League Programs

##

Written by Drew Crossley

January 18th, 2018 at 4:21 am

1962-1969 Wheeling Ironmen / Ohio Valley Ironmen

leave a comment

Wheeling IronmenUnited Football League (1962-1964)
Continental Football League (1965-1969)

Born: 1962
Folded: December 1969

Stadium: Wheeling Island Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Michael Valan, et al. and community stockholders

United Football League Championships: 1962 & 1963
Continental Football League Championships: None

 

The Wheeling Ironmen were a minor league football team in the coal-mining Ohio Valley region of West Virginia during the 1960’s. For their final two seasons, in 1968 and 1969, the team was known as the Ohio Valley Ironmen.

The team formed in 1962 when a group of 15 local business leaders ponied up $1,000 apiece to enter a club in the United Football League. The UFL featured teams in Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio in addition to West Virginia. The Ironmen defeated the Grand Rapids Blazers 30-21 to win the UFL championship in their debut season. They repeated as champs in 1963, knocking off the Toledo Tornadoes 31-21.

The UFL folded in early 1965. The Ironmen joined the start-up Continental Football League in February 1965. The Continental League was more ambitious than the UFL had been. By the end of the Sixties it expanded to a nationwide circuit. Though most competition was still regional – the Ironmen didn’t play against the CoFL’s Texas or California or Pacific Northwest clubs – the team did travel by air to play division opponents from Toronto to Orlando.

Wheeling struggled to recapture their UFL dominance in the Continental League. The Ironmen were 2-12 in 1965 and 0-14 in 1966. The team found its form somewhat by the end of the decade with a 9-3 finish in 1968 and a 6-6 mark in 1969.

The Ironmen’s finances and future were in continuous peril by the mid-60’s. A lengthy profile in a December 1968 issue of Sports Illustrated described the club’s finances. Players could earn a maximum of $200 per game and the team’s total salary cap was $5,000 per week. Wheeling’s total budget for 1967 was $270,000 and the Ironmen finished $90,000 in the red. The team briefly folded in April 1968, only to scrape together enough community support to re-group for two more seasons, which proved to be their best.

Wheeling saw some terrific players during the Ironmen era. Future Cincinnati Bengals head coach Sam Wyche saw time at quarterback for the Ironmen during their 0-14 campaign in 1966. When the Green Bay Packers and the Kansas City Chiefs met in Super Bowl I in January 1967, both teams has former Ironmen defensive linemen on the roster. Andy Rice suited up for the Chiefs. Bob Brown recorded a sack in Super Bowl I for the Packers. Brown would win two Super Bowls with Green Bay. He earned an NFL Pro Bowl nod in 1972.

Running back John Amos saw limited action with the Ironmen in 1965. After his minor league career petered out in the late 60’s, Amos turned to acting. We starred as family patriarch James Evans Sr. in the Norman Lear sitcom Good Times on CBS from 1974 to 1976.

The Ironmen finally went out of business in late 1969. The Continental Football League itself split apart and folded several months later.

 

Wheeling Ironmen Memorabilia

 

In Memoriam

Ironmen President/General Manager (Ironmen ’62-’69) Michael Valan passed away in August 1986 at age 76.

Defensive lineman Bob Brown (Ironmen ’64-’65) passed away on December 10, 1998. The two-time Super Bowl champion was 58.

Quarterback Benjy Dial (Ironmen ’66) died of a heart attack on April 5, 2001 at the age of 57.

Running back Merlin Walter (Ironmen ’66) passed away in May 2015 at age 72. McNeese State Athletics obituary.

 

Links

Pro Football on a Shoestring“, Harold Peterson, Sports Illustrated, December 16, 1968

Continental Football League Media Guides

Continental Football League Programs

###

 

 

###

1966-1970 Orlando Panthers

leave a comment

1967 Orlando Panthers ProgramContinental Football League (1966-1969)
Atlantic Coast Football League (1970)

Born: 1966 – The Newark Bears relocate to Orlando, FL
Folded: Postseason 1970

Stadium: The Tangerine Bowl

Team Colors:

Owners:

Continental Football League Champions: 1967 & 1968

 

Text coming soon…

 

Orlando Panthers Memorabilia

 

Links

Recalling Orlando Panthers: Their Legend is Quite Major“, Brian Schmitz, The Orlando Sentinel, August 24, 1986

Continental Football League Media Guides

Continental Football League Programs

Atlantic Coast Football League Media Guides

Atlantic Coast Football League Programs

##

1968-1969 Sacramento Capitols

one comment

1969 Sacramento Capitols ProgramContinental Football League (1968-1969)

Born: 1968 –  CoFL expansion franchise
Folded: July 2, 1970

Stadium: Hughes Stadium

Team Colors:

Owner: Lee Balderelli

Continental Football League Championships: None

 

The Sacramento Capitols were a minor league football outfit that played two season in the California state capital at the end of the 1960’s. The Caps played at Hughes Stadium on the campus of Sacramento City College.

The Capitols played in the Pacific Division of the Continental Football League (1965-1969). The CoFL was considered to be a step below both the AFL and the NFL during the late 1960’s. Although CoFL membership stretched from coast to coast, teams tended to play exclusively within their regional division to save on travel costs. The Caps played teams from Seattle, Portland, Las Vegas, Orange County and Spokane, with few contests against Texas-based teams thrown in.

The Capitols posted a 5-7 record during their expansion season of 1968. In 1969 the Caps improved to 8-4 and made the playoffs. The Las Vegas Cowboys came into to Hughes Stadium on November 29th, 1969 and knocked the Caps out of the playoffs 31-0. This turned out to be the Capitols final game.

The Continental Football League folded following the 1969 season. The Capitols tried to organize for a 1970 season. It is not clear from press reports  in what circuit they hoped to play. On July 2nd, 1970 team owner Lee Balderelli announced the closure of the team citing disappointing season ticket subscriptions.

 

Sacramento Capitols Memorabilia

 

Links

Continental Football League Media Guides

Continental Football League Programs

###

Written by Drew Crossley

November 13th, 2016 at 9:43 pm

1967-1968 Orange County Ramblers

one comment

Orange County Ramblers ProgramContinental Football League (1967-1968)

Born: 1967
Moved: 1969 (Portland Loggers)

Stadiums:

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The Orange County Ramblers were a superb minor league football team that enjoyed a brief two-year existence in the late 1960’s. Under Head Coach Homer Beatty, the Ramblers assembled a 21-3 record over two regular seasons in the Continental Football League. The CoFL (1965-1969) existed one rung beneath the NFL and AFL and lived up to its ambitious name, with franchises stretched across the United States and Canada. Only one minor league squad in North American could lick the Ramblers – the Orlando Panthers, who defeated the Californians in the Continental League championship game in both 1967 and 1968.

Good as they were, the Ramblers couldn’t sustain much of a following in Orange County. The team tried several venues in Santa Ana and Anaheim. The team’s best crowds, announced in the 8,000 – 10,000 range, came during a late season stretch of games at Anaheim Stadium in 1967. This included a gathering of 8,730 for the Continental Football League title game on December 10th, 1967. But when the Ramblers returned to the 43,000-seat Major League Baseball venue to start the 1968 season, the fans failed to come with them. The Ramblers failed to crack 4,000 fans for a single contest in 1968 despite a league-best 11-1 record. The team moved to San Bernardino midway through the season in search of more fans (or at least cheaper rent).

The Ramblers’ final appearance was a 30-23 loss to the Panthers in the Continental League championship game at the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando on November 30th, 1968.

The Ramblers were expelled from the Continental League in the spring of 1969. The team’s player contracts were originally assigned to a group hoping to put a new franchise in Hawaii. When those plans fell through, the contracts were given to a hastily-organized group that entered a Portland, Oregon franchise (the Loggers) into the CoFL just weeks before the 1969 season kicked off. The Continental League folded at the end of the 1969 campaign.

 

Trivia

Members of the Ramblers acted as stand-ins for the Green Bay Packers in Otto Preminger’s 1968 film Skidoo, an infamous counter-culture comedy flop starring Jackie Gleason, Carol Channing and Groucho Marx in his final film appearance.

 

Orange County Ramblers Shop


Skidoo (1968), Otto Preminger’s 1968 acid comedy featuring a cameo by the Ramblers

 

Orange County Ramblers Memorabilia

 

 

Links

Contintental Football League Media Guides

Continental Football League Programs

###

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: