Ironmen stage 50-year reunion

Nothing like those Sunday nights at the Island Stadium.

For $2.50 you scored a ticket to watch professional football right here in the Ohio Valley where the Wheeling Ironmen were formed by a group of Ohio Valley businessmen.

Fifty years ago, in 1962, 15 community leaders invested $1,000 apiece and the Ironmen were official members of the then-United Football League.

Wheeling would go on to achieve a pair of UFL titles before the league disbanded.

Not to worry. The Ironmen became members of the Continental Football League.

The CFL consisted of three divisions – the Atlantic which included Wheeling, Charleston, Norfolk, Alabama, Michigan and Orlando.

Chicago,Indianapolis, Omaha, Arkansas, Oklahoma City and Quad City made up the Central Division while Sacramento, Spokane, Seattle and Orange County represented the Pacific Division.

By 1967, Wheeling’s franchise faced financial struggles. Thanks to a ‘Save Our Ironmen’ drive spearheaded by Wheeling’s Chamber of Commerce, Sunday night football continued on the Island.

A year later, the team became known as the Ohio Valley Ironmen – a pretty fair collection of talent and a roster featuring both a number of local stars and national players.

Friday night’s reunion of former players attracted a nice turnout of ex-Ironmen a majority of whom have aged well.

Said former Ironman and all-CFL receiver Tommy Bland: “The 60s were a great era and a great opportunity to extend the careers of players who were unquestionably talented. What fantastic memories we created.”


GENO Smith and the Mountaineers were recipients of a stunning reality check Saturday at Lubbock. It was unrealistic to imagine WVU running the table in the talented Big 12. The Eers have no time to feel sorry for themselves with Kansas State coming to Morgantown Saturday. Look for the Gold & Blue to bounce back in front of the partisans….

THE Steelers have officially stamped themselves as a middle of the pack commodity in the NFL. If Mike Tomlin’s team can’t beat the likes of bottom feeders Oakland and Tennessee on the road, how are they going to fare against future road opponents including the Giants, Ravens and Cowboys?

A COUPLE of long off-seasons are in order for the Cincinnati Reds and Washington Nationals. Many baseball experts projected a Reds-Nats showdown in the NL Championship Series.

Instead, we have the Cardinals and Giants matching up. This, following one of the most stunning comebacks in postseason history by a Redbirds’ club which staged a pair of unlikely rallies to shock Davey Johnson’s Nationals.

This, of course, brings the second-guessers out of the woodwork regarding Washington’s controversial decision to shut down mound ace Stephen Strasburg.

In defense of Cincinnati, I have to think the Reds would not have been in position to blow a 0-2 series’ advantage had Johnny Cueto remained healthy…..

Gibson may be reached at