100 years of Gill fun and games
MANCHESTER — The Manchester Central boys' soccer team opened the Gill Stadium centennial celebration with a 2-0 win over Alvirne of Hudson Friday night.
Festivities for the 100th anniversary of the stadium continue today with kid-friendly events from 1 to 4 p.m., a marching band concert featuring Central, Concord, Manchester Memorial and Manchester West bands and a 7 p.m. football game between Central and Concord.
Sunday's lineup gets started at 10 a.m. with a performance by the Temple Band. An 11 a.m. re-dedication ceremony is scheduled to include speeches, a review of the stadium's history and music by the Average Joes Barbershop Quartet and the A.O.H. Pipes and Drums.
"Once it culminates and everything is done and you know it's a success, that's a great feeling," said Pat Bryan, a member of the Gill Committee. "If you come to the re-dedication and pick up the book for $2, there are so many pictures and you will know people in there and see all the history and it connects them forever. We're all a part of history."
Bryan and the rest of the committee were on hand for a reception Friday night at Sweeney Post across the street from Gill. Also present at the reception were several members of the Gill family and other notable names from the facility's history such as Clem Lemire.
As for the soccer game, Little Green senior Sam Binogono scored in the 35th minute to give Central a 1-0 lead. Binogono fired a shot from 15 yards out on the left side, bending it high into the far corner and past the dive of Alvirne goalkeeper Jake Schofield.
Binogono's classmate, Keegan LaBerge, scored in the 66th minute to give Central an insurance marker. LaBerge blasted a short-range shot into the center of the net during a flurry above the goalie box. The Little Green improved to 1-2-0 while Alvirne dropped to 1-1-0.
Soccer is just one of the many sports featured at Gill Stadium over the past 100 years, and was one of the sports played on the day it opened back on Sept. 8, 1913.
Constructed in 1913 by Amoskeag Manufacturing, Gill Stadium was originally called Textile Field. It was leased to the Amoskeag Textile Club for its baseball league until the city of Manchester purchased it in 1927 and changed the name to Municipal Athletic Field.
In 1967, the stadium was renamed Gill Stadium in honor of former Parks and Recreation director Ignace J. Gill, who served from 1935 to 1967.
"We're very proud of our father. He was so dedicated to youth sports. It was his life," said Rita Gill Zember. "He never had an education and to get to the point he did, how can you not be proud of that? He was a great man and we're very proud."
Gill Stadium has been the home to several baseball teams, including the Manchester Yankees (Class AA, 1947-48 and Class A in 1971-72) and the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in their inaugural season of 2004, which led to a major renovation of the facilities. The American Legion World Series was also hosted by the stadium in 1932, 1942, 1968, 1976, and 1977.
The original dedication of the stadium took place on Monday, Sept. 8, 1913. It featured a baseball game between the 1912 world champion Boston Red Sox and an all-star team from the city's Manufacturers' League as well as a relay race and soccer match between the Manchester Light Blues and the Amoskeag Textile club.
"There is so much history. Everybody has either had a relative who played there or they played there themselves in one sport or another. My brothers both played there (in the early 1950s). One played for Central (Jack Cavanaugh) and one played for West (Bill Cavanaugh)," Bryan said. "It touches everybody."