Woodbridge Golden Bears And More Sports Memories

By Diane Norek Harrison

WOODBRIDGE-Here are some great sports memories from former area resident Harold Miller: “Diane, I thought I would write about the Woodbridge Golden Bears for the years I played for them from 1947 to 1954 when they were disbanded. I graduated Woodbridge High School in 1947. I am most proud that the two years our team played Perth Amboy High School we won both games with the score of 7 to 6. While growing up I played sandlot football with the Fords Silver Streaks and the Fords Rinkidinks. I loved the football season.

“After the 1946 season football season Woodbridge’s (Legion) football field was taken by the New Jersey Turnpike. I even got to work as a carpenter on the Howard Johnson’s Restaurant when it was built in the late 1940s.

“Because the Bears had lost their field, our coach Tony Cacciola made arrangements to play their home field schedule in Roosevelt Park. He also made arrangements to store our uniforms at the Knights of Columbus building on Main Street in Woodbridge. We got dressed there and were bussed to Roosevelt Park. For the eight years I played, practices were held every Tuesday and Thursday night at Number 11 School on Amboy Avenue and every Sunday morning in August until the season started.

“My first year with the Bears I was named “Rookie of the Year.” The first couple of years that I played the team was made up of Woodbridge High School alumni but as television got more popular and the attendance went down, players from around the area came to play. Everyone got new uniforms the first year, one gold jersey and one black jersey with gold pants. We got new black helmets the second years.

“For the first four or five years we used the old single wing formation. It was more run-oriented then it was pass-oriented.

“Later on Woodbridge High School completed the new stadium and field. We played some games at night using temporary erected lights. I also worked on the stadium as a carpenter.

“We had an announcer named Claire R. Bixel who when he turned his microphone on would say to the crowd, “HELLO, HELLO, HELLO, HELLO,” and the crowd who holler back the same thing.

“While I was playing, the following relatives also played. We always had something to talk about. My cousin Chris Miller, who also graduated with me, was an end. My brother-in-law, Martin (Spike) Loftus was a running back and my brother-in-law, Gordon Peterson played end and punted.

“The first two years, I played defensive end, the next three years I played a running guard in the single wing formation. The last three years I played offensive end and was the most valuable player one year and the coach’s player another year. I was named captain of the team the last three years.

“I always say to myself that I was lucky not to have gotten injured, I never lost a day of work, but I did go to work hurting sometimes. My wife would come to the games with my daughters and my father was there most games.”

This part is from Mr. Miller’s scrapbook, the date was not on the material, but from the years mentioned above that he played for the Golden Bears.

“Golden Bears Win 5th In Row By 39-6 Score”

“With Johnny Matison and Harold Miller setting the pace, the Woodbridge Alumni Golden Bears registered their fifth victory after trouncing the Jersey City Pros 39-6 in a game played in the Woodbridge High School Stadium.

“Coach Cacciola’s club took the lead early in the opening period. After receiving a Jersey City punt, the Bears, behind the passing of Joe Curran and the running of Matison and Frank Markovics, moved in five plays for a first down on the Pro’s 12 yard line. Pushed back to the 17 by a penalty, the homesters scored 3 plays later when Jim Martin went around right end. Curran’s placement gave the Bears a 7-0 lead.

“A few minutes after the initial tally the Cacciolamen scored again. With Markovics and Matison alternating on running plays, the township team drove from the Jersey City 47 to the 21 from where Markovics skirted end for the second touchdown.

“The Bears capitalized on a Pro fumble to widen the gap to 19-0 in the beginning of the second quarter. Taking advantage of a fumble on the Jersey City two, the Bears scored when Matison bucked over four plays later from the two-yard line.

“At this time, the Woodbridge Golden Bears held their annual banquet at Coby’s Restaurant where Harold Miller received his most valuable player trophy. Claire (Bix) Bixel was the toastmaster.”

Thank you Mr. Miller!

Have your own sports memories or material from old scrapbooks? Why not share? When sending copies of material please try to include dates.

If you have your own memories or past information for Carteret, Edison, Metuchen, Perth Amboy, Sayreville, South Amboy or Woodbridge you can email me at dianenorekharrison@juno.com   or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media, P.O. Box 1061, Rahway, N.J. 07065.

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