Bristol Midget FootballBack To Scrapbooks
Bristol has had high school football since it first had a high school, but until the early 1960s all of its players came into the scholastic game without any previous experience except playing on the neighborhood sandlots on occasion. Those games were played with or without, most often without, make-shift uniforms and it was either tag or tackle football, generally the rough and tumble latter.
In 1963 a local group of ex-Bristol High players and football fans organized the Bristol Midget Football League to give youngsters of grammar school age the opportunity to play in an organized league. Fellows like Gerry Burns, Dave Hamel and Armand “Bud” Choiniere were among the founders, those who met and talked up the idea in the very early 1960s before seeing the circuit come into fruition.
The first games were played in early October of 1963 with four teams in the league, the Giants, Redskins, Browns and Packers. They were named as such because these were the names of the leading and most popular NFL teams at the time. The league at first shortened its field to 80 yards and modified some of the rules to fit the small competitors. An estimated crowd of 1,700 turned out for the Opening Day Parade and doubleheader.
The league grew rapidly, adding the Bears and Cowboys to the circuit. The field was expanded to 100 yards and the minimum age rose one year as the program developed. Now with six teams there was a tripleheader each weekend during September and October in allowing over 200 boys to participate. A large awaiting list of want-to-be players then faced the league directors as the program gained in popularity.
Players in Midget Football were classified by weight for either the “A” or “B” team. The “A” team ranged roughly from 100 to 120 pounds while the “B” team was made up of boys in the 80 to 100 pound range. “A” team players played 24 minutes and “B” team players were in for 12 minutes per game. One of the original rules of the league was that every boy in uniform played.
The goal of the Bristol Midget Football League in Bristol in its creation was to allow the players to have fun in playing the game. Records weren’t kept and league champions weren’t crowned. The idea of the program was designed to give as many youngsters as possible the opportunity to learn the fundamental of and play football and that was that.