GDFL adds another Championship Caliber Organization,Introducing The Watertown Red&Black

by Gridiron Media

WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY)- The Watertown Red & Black hosted Glens Falls in the 2022 EFL Championship which was held on Saturday night October 1st at the Alex T. Duffy Fairgrounds.Watertown more than doubled Glens Falls, winning 30-14 on the night and was crowned the 2022 EFL Champions!

The Gridiron Pro Developmental Football League(The GDFL) is proud to announce that we have added the oldest and longest running minor league football team in America. “We are super excited to add such and organization that has so much tradition and history with a Championship pedigree. We would like to officially welcome the Red &Black to the League of Champions,”stated Charles Thompson,League President.

Over a Century of Pride

Watertown Red & Black Football

Founded 1896-Based in Watertown, New York, United States

League World Series of Football (1903)

New York Pro Football League (1916-19)

Empire Football League (1969-Present)

Team History Watertown Athletic Association (1896-1902)

Watertown Red & Blacks (1902-Present)

Team Colors Red, Black

Head Coach George Ashcraft

Other League Championship wins Empire Football League: 1980, 2009

The Watertown Red and Black is the oldest semi-pro football team in the United States of America, having been established in 1896. They play in the Empire Football League and are based in Watertown, New York. By virtue of their longevity, the Red & Black hold records for most wins (553), most losses (264) and most ties (43) of any semiprofessional team, resulting in a .670 winning percentage.[1]

It was in 1902 that Watertown Athletic Association became known as the Red & Black Professional Football Team. Though it declined participation in the first World Series of Pro Football, it loaned players to the Syracuse Athletic Club to participate in that contest, the first ever attempted national professional football championship. (The enhanced Syracuse team, which included Pop Warner, won the tournament in an upset.) Football enthusiasm reached a peak locally in 1903, a year which included a 142-0 rout of a team from Cortland[2] (which still stands as the second-biggest blowout in pro football history, behind the Massillon Tigers' 148-0 win over a team from Marion in the Ohio League a year later). The 1903 season ended with the Red & Black participating in the second annual (and as it would turn out, the final) World Series of Pro Football. Watertown lost the championship to the superteam Franklin Athletic Club of Pennsylvania by a 12-0 score; J.B. Wise, Mayor of Watertown and the Red & Black's business manager lost $8,000 in bets during this contest.

The Red & Black team, mostly located too far from pro football's core in Ohio and western Pennsylvania by this point to make it worth not being competitive with local teams, dropped back to the semi-professional level in 1904 and has played with semi-pro status ever since. Several teams during the decades of the 1900s, 1910's and 1920's brought the semi professional championships of New York State home to Watertown. Alex Duffy wore the colors for 17 seasons, the last 15 as captain during the 1910s and 1920's. During the 1923-1925 seasons, the team won 31 games, losing only to Binghamton, 6-0. The 1927 squad was undefeated. In 1935, the Red & Black was reorganized under George (Buzzy) Gibson and produced several outstanding teams.

Jake Devito and Rocco Canale guided the team when it was a member of the Eastern Professional League in the late 40's and early 50's. In 1950, the Red & Black went undefeated until losing the championship game to Hudson Falls at the Fairgrounds in Watertown.

In 1954, after a two year hiatus, the Red & Black was reorganized by Dick Doe and Budjo Alteri, assisted by Earl Cole. Johnny Marra was the sponsor. Boots Gaffney coached the team, assisted by Joe Guardino and Nelson Sholett. In four seasons, beginning in 1954, the team won 28 games, lost one and tied two. In these four seasons, the defense allowed but 50 points. Sadly the team once again became only a fond memory after the 1959 season. 

In 1969, Carmen Scudera, Francis Lyng and John Morgia headed efforts to revive the Red & Black. Pat Killorin was selected as coach and the team had a successful season of 4 wins, 3 losses. It was not only competitively successful but financially successful as well. Crowds of 5000 to 6000 were reported at the games.

In 1971 and 1974, the Red & Black went undefeated. In 1980, the team reached its pinnacle of modern history, nearly comparable to that of the 1903 team. The team, playing under the direction of Jim Powers and Tom LaDuke won the Empire Football League Championship and was ranked second in the nation by Pro Football Weekly.

The Red and Black have their own showcase in the NFL Hall of Fame as being the oldest semi-pro team in the Nation. It is the very first showcase.

From 1980 until 1991 the team was under the direction of several different coaches. In 1991 to present, George Ashcraft took over as the Head Coach. Mike Britton was the Offensive Coordinator from 1992 through the 2000 season starting his own semi-pro team, the St. Lawrence Trailblazers in 2002. The Red and Black have made the playoffs every year since 1993. The team briefly played in the New York Amateur Football League (now the Northeastern Football Alliance) in the late 1990s, but a few years later, moved back to the EFL. In 2003 they won the Northern Division Championship.

In 2005 agency producers contacted several AFA member teams regarding use of players and coaches to give their TV commercials the professional football appearance they are looking for. One such Chunky soup commercial, featuring Philadelphia Eagle's quarterback Donovan McNabb did just that. Several Empire League football players were used in the production of that popular TV spot.
The agency relied heavily on the coaching experience of AFA Hall of Famer George Ashcraft from the EFL's Watertown Red and Black team. Ashcraft provided the agency with the technical football advice (and several EFL players) they needed to make the McNabb/Chunky soup commercial convincing to the viewers. It is the Red and Black players and other EFL players wearing the Cleveland Brown uniforms.(Read More)