Weekly Feature

2014-11-26 / Lifestyles

Memories plentiful with Turkey Bowl games


Jim Duggan brings a large group of family and friends to compete in the Mud, Snow or Snud Bowl. Jim Duggan brings a large group of family and friends to compete in the Mud, Snow or Snud Bowl. While most think of a dining room filled with food as the quintessential image when it comes to Thanksgiving, Turkey Bowl football games are also becoming ingrained for bringing families and friends together.

The games show no boundaries. Men, women and children, young and old, can take part in a game and build a tradition that lasts for years.

13th annual Turkey Bowl

For Clarence resident Tom Hall, a Turkey Bowl game has been a way of life for a long time.

“It goes back to 1971 for me,” Hall said. “I was 23, and I had a lot of cousins that participated. We played tackle originally because we were all a lot younger.”

Hall said the first game was played at the University at Buffalo’s Rotary Field. From there, the game moved to Walter Kenney Field in Tonawanda.

In the early years of the game, Hall said the teams would have 11 on a side with substitutions, and due to injuries, the game switched over to touch in the 1980s.

Now, the 66-year-old Hall is part of a game taking place at Erie Community College’s North Campus, and he is still enjoying every minute of the action. “I keep on saying I’ll referee, and they’ll say, ‘No, you still can play,’” he said. “I love being around the young people, and as long as I can run, I’ll play, but I want to ref. I hurt the next day.”

With multiple games of 7-on-7 taking place at ECC, Hall said there’s a game for everyone.

For Hall, the excitement of the game keeps him young.

“When I’m there, the temptation to sit and watch sucks. I’d rather play,” he said. “I have a lot of fun. The guys are great guys.”

Jim Montgomery will host his 13th Turkey Bowl this year at his home. Jim Montgomery will host his 13th Turkey Bowl this year at his home. Mud, Snow or Snud Bowl

For the 50th year, Tonawanda resident Jim Duggan is preparing to compete in a game that’s involved mud, snow and, sometimes, a combination of both.

“A group of us when we graduated from high school went off to college and hadn’t seen each other since the summer, so we said let’s see if we can get together on Thanksgiving Day,” Duggan said.

Duggan said the game, which is now being played on Thanksgiving morning at Curtis Park in the Town of Tonawanda, is now mostly family and friends.

“For me, it’s gotten to the point where it’s more ceremonial than active involvement, but I’ll go in for a few plays here and there,” he said.

Duggan said each team has eight players competing, with teams divided by the “merry married, or previously and not-so-merry men, versus the never married.”

In participating for many years, Duggan enjoys the comradery the game has brought.

“We’ll have a couple of ceremonial events, where we commemorate the guys that have passed away,” he said. “We have a toast to the winning team each year, and someone typically says something about what we’re thankful for this year.”

In getting together with family and friends for years, Duggan said that’s the important part, not the game.

“It certainly isn’t for the football, although the younger kids look forward to it for the football part of it,” he said. “Some of them are very good athletes, as we all fashioned ourselves back in the day, but those of us that have reached 60 and Medicare age, we’re typically there for the enjoyment of seeing one another.”

Turkey Bowl XIII

With an acre of land in his backyard, Williamsville resident Jim Montgomery brings everyone to his house for a competitive game.

“The general rule is teenagers and up, just so we can keep the level of play up without hurting anybody,” Montgomery said.

The game is flag football, which Montgomery said can break into tackle or rugby rules for the 8-on-8 game.

With the game played at 9 a.m. Thanksgiving morning, Montgomery said the players keep a close eye on the time of the game.

“We play for about an hour. We set the timer, and we’ve found out no one gets hurt if we play for an hour,” he said. “If we start dragging, then you always worry about people getting hurt.”

Montgomery has played in some variation of a Turkey Bowl since his high school years, and he said trash talking is always a part of the pregame theatrics.

“The emails are already starting now, going back and forth with text messages with people talking from last year,” he said.

As he enjoys getting everyone together in one central location to exchange stories and see one another, Montgomery hopes the tradition stays intact.

“Who knows, I’ll be long gone, and hopefully there’ll be Turkey Bowl 74.”

email: cgraham@beenews.com

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