Just a quick note of thanks to Barbara Tucker for her column giving Tonawanda High School a little love after a hard-fought loss to NT in the annual classic this year.
There’s not much that gets by Barbara, I know first-hand from working in the newsroom with her for years, admiring her community connections all the while.
The loss of Clinton Small Stadium, albeit necessary because of state mandates and funding procedures, will unfortunately cheapen the experience of the legendary game going forward, but at least the hometown Warriors made the final go-round at the ol’ ball field a thriller.
Some, like the recently departed Tonawanda superintendent, have speculated that the game no longer makes sense, but in reality there’s little else that gets the two sides such exposure, especially in down years. There’s no substitute opponent that could draw such attention — I was personally looking for updates on my phone from the West coast during the big game.
As for the stadium, the folks who’ve been involved are all short-sighted, failing to realize the facility will now be run of the mill, a similar experience to all others throughout Western New York and the rest of the state. Lumberjacks Sports Complex might be more convenient, and it’s certainly seen the glory days of NT football, but there was nothing that compared to George Vetter Stadium, a place that oozed history and charm.
Clinton Small has been an even more unique venue than Vetter, train whistles howling, fans packing onto Main Street on game night, and my personal favorite — the birch beer production plant next door.
The Twin City Geminis played semi-pro football in Clinton Small, and not many other high school facilities can boast that. As a kid, I remember the buzz after those games as fans streamed to what was then Cassata’s Dome Stadium. The Eldridge Club was always rocking after THS games, and you could drop by for a bowl of chili and a cold one to talk about the Warriors’ chances any time of day, even if they were winless at the time.