Manville, Bound Brook celebrate survival on field

By: John E. Powers
   The day was magnificent.
   From the blue, cloudless sky to the temperatures, which were perfect for watching or playing a football game, the weather was an important part of Sunday’s first "Back from Floyd Bowl," between Bound Brook and Manville. This was more of a special Pop Warner football day than any other.
   The people of Bound Brook and Manville came to celebrate themselves and their children for being what was inscribed on the T-shirts that the youngsters from both programs received – ultimate survivors.
   Ultimate survivors from last year’s devastating Hurricane Floyd, which left both little towns torn up and in the national media eye for more than a few days last September.
   Manville Mayor Angelo Corradino spent part of the day at LaMonte Field as did Bound Brook Mayor Frank Ryan. Both have frequently been in the news over the last 12 months for their efforts in trying to get their towns back on their feet and looking forward to a healthy future.
   "It’s great to be here to just talk sports," Ryan said.
   Smiles were all over the place in the bleachers as the two teams battled on the field in front of them.
   Last year at this time, a lot of those people were trying to clean up their homes. Some of them didn’t even have homes at the time. Some of them have been unable to get back into their homes because of the destruction. But, for just one day, for the part of an afternoon, the crowd got to rightfully celebrate themselves for their durability.
   "I wish we could have just taken advantage of it," said Bubba Petrone, who is the head coach of the Manville Colts.
   He was talking about the game his team played. It would have been great if the Manville teams had swept all three games. But Petrone was smiling about it. He talked about how great the day was and how important it was for the kids. Nobody will forget last Sept. 16-17.
   Shane Jurkowski, who plays for the Ponies, remembers the water coming into his house’s basement and having to run downstairs with his brother Justin to retrieve their football equipment. Stories like that were all over the place last year and a lot of them were retold during the three games Sunday.
   This year, it has been about putting everything back together. But the kids, like the adults, probably more so, remember how frightening those days were. A lot of them have been told that though their parents probably won’t see a flood like the one we saw last year, that they will probably see one in their lifetime. They have taken those words to their hearts, like the football a lot of them carried Sunday at LaMonte Field, a place the National Guard used as a base last year during the flood.
   Though it was mentioned many times by public address announcer Harry Roberts, the man who put the special day in motion, they really didn’t need to be reminded. Floyd is now being treated as somewhat of an old friend, somebody who visited, somebody who brought us together.
   The only good thing was that it brought two towns together, adults and children just the same. It was certainly a special day in Bound Brook and the games had a unique feel.
   Yes, the teams competed hard for the Floyd trophy, which Manville won, but it was more about togetherness, about two towns and people having gotten to his place of fun after 12 months of hell.