RICHMOND, Va, (WTVR) – Did you know this won’t be the first time the Washington Redskins came to Richmond?
And how about the fact that there was pro football in Richmond before the Redskins were born in Boston 80 years ago?
If you want the history of pro football in Richmond, you come to the Hanover home of Ron Pomfrey, collector extraordinaire and author of “Baseball in Richmond”, and now, “Football in Richmond.”
He said this was a football town from the start.
“There was always a tremendous amount of fans,” Pomfrey said in a room filled with historic helmets, jerseys and other memorabilia. “They were self-supported back then.”
The Redskins knew that, and came here early, and often.
“1937, they played the first exhibition game, George Preston Marshall brought them,” Pomfrey said. Owner George Marshall, a graduate of Randoph-Macon in Ashland, brought them back here the next year, too. The exhibition games continued here into the ‘60s, when Pomfrey caught a game as a young man.
But pro football in Richmond pre-dated the Redskins.
“The first pro team – paid team, so to speak – was the Richmond Arrows that started in, I guess, 1922,” Pomfrey said. “They played their games at old Hotchkiss Field.”
Richmond teams would also play in old Byrd Park and, of course, City Stadium, which may wind up hosting the
Redskins again. Our teams played largely in the Dixie league and fed into the Chicago Bears program, and, at the end, the Saints.
The Arrows flew for two decades, at times playing NFL teams, often competitively.
“The first Richmond Rebels team started up in ’46,” Pomfrey said. “They won the championship in 1949 and 1950.”
Later on, he said, there was a second incarnation of the Richmond Rebels team, followed by the Richmond Mustangs.
“The ’67 Mustangs were the team that went on to beat teams, I think they averaged like 73 points a game,” Pomfrey said. “But they ran into financial problems late in the year and their name was changed to the Roadrunners.”
Pomfrey believes the Redskins bringing their training camp here is great news, and smart business, given Richmond’s long love affair with pro-football, and the Redskins, and the fact that the Washington area also has the Baltimore Ravens to compete for the affection of fans.
“I believe that’s one of the avenues, areas that they’re looking to improve,” he said, “is to come down to this area to get a good fan base built from central Virginia – people can flock in.”
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