A new set of downs for the Red Bombers

09 Sep 2009 by Valerie Woodman for the Brunswickan

After a 29 year hiatus, UNB’s beloved football team is alive again.

Eastern Canada is ready for some football, and this is the time for UNB students to step up and show their support for the Red Bombers by attending games.

After three decades, the UNB Red Bombers are coming back into action. People have long awaited the return of the Red Bombers to university football fields. However, this time around the Red Bombers are not a university funded athletic team; they are a team funded by students and the Atlantic Football League.

Since this is not a varsity level league, the students and citizens of Fredericton will have to show how much they want a team in the Atlantic University Athletic Association by supporting the Red Bombers.

From 1948 until 1980, the UNB Red Bombers were a part of the A.U.A.A. They even won back-to-back championships in 1969 and 1970. The UNB community as well as the citizens of Fredericton loved the football hype.

So what ever happened to the Red Bombers? Ten years later, in 1980, the university stated that the team would end for lack of funding. This was announced in the summer, when most of the students had gone home and could not protest. When September came, people were livid. There was even a petition where students signed to add a yearly fee for the football team, but the university declined.

Other universities had been able to save their football teams using Alumni or student funding, but UNB did not see such success.

Students in 1988 and 1996 tried to start the team up yet again, but UNB’s administration at the time said they would be unable to revive the long dead Bombers.

The Red Bombers will be competing in the Atlantic Football League, and will compete against teams such as the UNB Saint John Seawolves and the Moncton Raiders.  The university has also said that it is interested in playing the University of Maine Orono, which would make for fewer bye weeks and keep UNB sharp for games in the AFL.

There has also been talk of some more team additions to the AFL, such as UPEI and Dalhousie as early as 2010.

Playing at the Varsity level or not, James Cress, the co-ordinator of the UNB Fredericton sport clubs program, still has high hopes for the club.

“Although the football team will not compete at the varsity level, UNB’s campus recreation department is pleased to offer students an opportunity to play football while attending UNB,” Cress stated in a recent interview.

Sports teams at UNB are a big part of university life. UNB has more than enough spirit to include the Bombers.

With the encouragement of students and the Fredericton community, the Red Bombers could grow to match their glory days in the late 60s and early 70s. If we give our team as much spirit and support as our alumni did in the past, this year can be a great success.

A passion for football is all you need to try out. UNB students will make up approximately 65 per cent of the roster, while the other 35 per cent will be given to St. Thomas University students and the greater Fredericton community.

Tryouts will take place from Sept. 7 until Sept. 12, and hopefuls must be between the ages of 18 and 24.

UNB alumnus Mike Dollimore, who played for the Red Bombers in the 1970s, will be coaching the team this year. Home games will take place at Chapman Field.

The Red Bombers have already released their tentative schedule, with the first game of the season to be held at 7PM on Saturday, Sept. 26 at Chapman Field against the UNB Saint John Seawolves.

The other home game will be against the Moncton Raiders on Saturday, Oct. 17, also at Chapman Field. Playoffs will start Nov. 14.