Atlantic Football League 2009-2019

September 2019

Atlantic Football League 2009-2019

On November 19 1982, Richard Riley wrote an article in the Bunswickan entitled  “UNB Football Remembered: They Say Big Boys Don’t Cry”. Richard closed the  article with these words: 

“The emotional aspect is what makes the game worthwhile. In the  tragic 33-32 loss to Acadia in 1979, big 6’3″ 230 lb. George West was  seen after the game behind the LBR with tears streaming down his  face. The game itself had UNB up 32-3 at the start of the 4th quarter.  Acadia rallied to win and went on to become Canadian champs. It was  a tragedy right out of Shakespearean Drama. It is war that has  sorrowly been missed the last two years at College Field. 

They say football will never come back to UNB. They also said Big Boys  Don’t Cry.” 

Sept. 26, 2009 
The UNB Red Bombers’ Return  to Campus. 
Oh What a Night !

So much more than we could have realized was being rekindled on campus that night. It was a particularly warm summer-like day for late September with kick-off scheduled for 7:00pm. (As the sun went down it cooled  quickly.) When Larry Wisniewski and Cyril Lutze-Wallace announced  locally in late August that the Atlantic Football League had been formed, Red Bombers Coaches Mike Dollimore and Mike DeMello wondered if the players would come. All they and Larry (who had taken  on the job of Red Bombers GM) could do was spread the word. … 76 players showed up for Training Camp, including former CIS players  going to UNB. We had the players …now for the fans. 

We remembered the crowds the Bombers used to draw. There was  another wrinkle; UNB’s V-Reds Hockey (National Champions), were  playing an exhibition game the same night in the Aitken Centre right  above the field. They would certainly have their 2600 seats filled in the  rink, and they did. 

No social media to speak of yet so, posters, ads in the Brunswickan,  newspaper, and radio, and arrangements with 4 downtown pubs to  host warm-ups before the game with City bus runs going from the pubs  to the field and back, before and after the game – the word was getting  out. 

Mike Dollimore had done everything he could during camp to instill in  these players what it meant to be a UNB Red Bomber. During an earlier  campaign to revive the team, Mike had produced a CD that was  professionally narrated reaching right back to the 1949 inception of the  team. Afterall, these players would be the first Red Bombers to take the  field in 29 years, and the stories of past glories were unknown to these  guys. 

So picture for a moment that you are one of those players in 2009 in  the dressing room putting on the Red N’ Black for the first time (some  of you reading this were indeed one those players or coaches). At the  door is an old Red Bombers helmet from the 1980 season that each  player pats as they walk out of the dressing room. A short walk, and as  you approach the crest of the hill before going down the long stairs to  the field, you wonder why the PA is blaring out the US Navy’s “Anchors  Aweigh” music (nice tune I guess – oh well). Suddenly you are at the top  of the stairs with your first glimpse of the stands on the other side of  the field,… and nearly 3000 fans erupt. This “Red Bombers-thing” starts to sink in. As one of those players Brian Gilliland said, “It’s a moment I  will never forget.” 

Pat Gillin, one of the Founders of the revived team had passed away in July, but family members were there to share the moment. Old Red Bombers jackets (fitting snugly) could be seen dotted throughout the stands. As you scanned the Red Bombers bench, there he was – Tony Proudfoot standing with the players with a grin from ear to ear. Eddy Campbell had just begun as UNB’s new President and performed the first Ceremonial Kick-off at a Homecoming. 

Half way through the 2nd quarter with a break in the action you could hear the fans roaring and cheering – first from the west end of the stands and then building like a wave louder and louder across to the east. Then you saw him… the Streaker … running full-out endzone to endzone, quickly up the hill and over the fence to the waiting car. … Perfect ! … College football !! The crowd went wild !!! This “Red Bombers-thing” is starting to sink in for everyone. The Bombers were home again. Jim Simons told us that the Red Bombers game was the imputes behind Homecoming being moved to late September. The only problem … we lost the game to the UNBSJ Seawolves 16-14 with a 30 yard field goal in the dying seconds. It didn’t seem to matter. It was magic. All of it. As Richard said, The emotional aspect is what makes the game worthwhile.”

#6 DB Mike McSorley makes one of the first Red Bombers tackles in 29 years


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