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LITTLE SILVER: RBR’S 1975 VICTORY RECALLED

RBR 120875A photo from the Red Bank Register’s December 8, 1975 coverage of the championship game, and a team photo from the 1976 yearbook, below. (Click to enlarge)
rbr bucs 1975

Forty years.

It’s been that long since Red Bank Regional was a state football champion.

On Saturday night, the undefeated Buccaneers (11-0) have an opportunity to end the drought when they face the Rumson-Fair Haven Regional Bulldogs (9-2) for the NJSIAA Central Group 3 title in Piscataway.

While the Bulldogs have racked up trophies — a win Saturday would be their third consecutive state championship — the Bucs haven’t tasted football glory since 1975.

But what glory it was. As reported by the now-defunct Red Bank Register, that season’s Central Jersey Group II  title game was something of an epic battle. RBR and Hightstown “tore at each other like fighting roosters” for four quarters before the Bucs emerged with a 46-44 win — their 28th straight victory.

The game is still regarded as “one the best games ever played in the history of New Jersey playoff football,” according to a “10 Things You Need to Know” about this year’s game published earlier this week by NJ.com.

Wednesday’s Asbury Park Press ran an article in which an RBR player and two coaches reminisced about the game — with a detour to Vince Lombardi’s grave in Middletown.

Below is the Register’s coverage the day after RBR’s victory, including an article by Rich Nicoletti, perhaps better known to some redbankgreen readers as the longtime keeper of the red clay tennis courts in Red Bank’s Marine Park.

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MIDDLETOWN: A GRAVE SUPER BOWL ISSUE

lombardiVince Lombardi’s headstone at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Middletown, as seen in 2011. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

With the Super Bowl scheduled to be played in New Jersey for the first time ever this weekend, the superintendent of the Middletown cemetery where Vince Lombardi is buried wants the game trophy that’s named for the legendary football coach to pay a graveside visit.

“Bring the trophy here” to Mount Olivet Cemetery, Ed Cardoza told the New York Daily News. “It’s so close now. As far as I know, it’s never been here to his grave. On the hundredth anniversary of his birth last June, there was supposed to be a big memorial that sort of fizzled out. This would be perfect.”

Cardoza plans to be in Manhattan to plead his case Wednesday when the Vince Lombardi Trophy arrives at NFL headquarters by FedEx, the News reports.

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A ONCE-IN-A-CENTURY NIGHT IN FAIR HAVEN

Fair Haven’s newly renovated Bicentennial Hall, aka Fisk Chapel, is among the historical landmarks that will play a key role in the borough’s centennial. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

Its 1.7 square miles boast some of the oldest homes on the greater Red Bank Green, and a classic small-town vibe that’s lamentably lacking in much of stripmall America  — but some may be surprised to learn that Fair Haven, New Jersey isn’t a day over 100.

Carved from the former Shrewsbury Township and officially incorporated in March of 1912 (the current borders, adjusted with neighboring Red Bank, date back just a little more than 50 years), the still-young borough that brought us the area’s most iconic Firemen’s Fair (and served as home field for the legendary Vince Lombardi) is scarcely too old to party in style. And this weekend, Fair Haven throws itself a “Night of the Century” celebration that promises to draw “well over a one-hundred neighbors, local business owners and community leaders who love Fair Haven.”

Scheduled for Saturday night at the Raven and the Peach restaurant on River Road, The Party That Happens Only Once Every Hundred Years is being touted as “a very special occasion for everyone who contributes to the life of this town,” in the words of Centennial Gala co-chair Christine Burke Eskwitt.

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SAY CHEESE! LOMBARDI GRAVE A SUPER DRAW

lombardiFamed football coach Vince Lombardi’s headstone at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Middletown. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Step into the main office of Middletown’s Mount Olivet Cemetery wielding a camera, and it doesn’t take more than a ‘hello’ for secretary JoAnn Christopher to figure out why you’ve come.

“Here for Lombardi?” she asks.

With a Super Bowl matchup Sunday between the Pittsburgh Steelers and legendary coach Vince Lombardi‘s former team, the Green Bay Packers, Lombardi, who’s buried at Mount Olivet, is more of an attraction than usual.

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MIDDLETOWN MAKES TOP 100

welcome-to-middletownA Money Magazine perennial biennial: Middletown. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

Middletown, NJ, unlike its myriad namesakes up and down the East Coast, can boast of certain things that make it particularly noteworthy in the small-town America category. In between its oft-congested nerves of commerce, Routes 35 and 36, lie acres of cherished open space; a burgeoning arts center pulses; a high school football team that hangs championship banners regularly; and, still, a cinematic landmark sells cigarettes to touristy film wonks.

It’s for these diverse reasons and more that plenty of people, including high-profile folks like Bon Jovi and Debbie Harry, choose to call it home. Others, like legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, choose to stay forever.

“There’s people who are filthy rich and there’s working class,” said Tim McCarty, who’s lived in Middletown for 15 years. “It’s not pretentious in any way.”

The editors at MONEY Magazine seem to think Middletown (population: 69,000) is pretty OK, too. The magazine named Middletown No. 89 on the 100 Best Places To Live list in its August edition.

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