By Tim McGrath, an organizer of the Annual Fred H. McGrath Memorial Football Dinner
Dec. 6, 2017: On Tuesday, November 8, 2017, the 74th Annual Fred H. McGrath Memorial Football Dinner was held at the Bronxville Field Club to honor this year’s Bronxville High School varsity football team.
The tradition started back in 1943 when Fred H. McGrath decided to honor that year’s team. His sons had all played for the Broncos, and Mr. McGrath had become one of the team’s biggest fans. Although he never played football, he had fallen in love with the game because he felt that football, more than other sports, was important in the development of young men and taught them to win graciously and lose with dignity. That 1943 team had not won a game, but Mr. McGrath felt they should be honored because they had worked as hard as other more successful teams had.
Over the past 74 years, the McGrath dinner has boasted some very prominent speakers, including former commissioner of baseball Ford Frick, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, former general manager of the Super Bowl-winning Indianapolis Colts Bill Polian, former MLB player Jackie Robinson, and numerous college coaches and players.
This year’s speaker was Coach Ron Catena, former teacher, coach, and athletic director at the Bronxville schools. Coach Catena came to The Bronxville School in 1963 as a student teacher and never left. He served as a physical education teacher in all three of the schools and had a tremendous influence on many of his former students and players. During his talk to the team, Coach Catena tried to convey to them to always believe in and push yourself in all aspects of life. He also spoke of the great influence Bob McGrath and the late Bob Spenik had on him from his first days at BHS continuing to this day.
First-year coach Patsy Manganelli recapped the Broncos' year and concluded the evening with the announcement of the captains who will lead the 2018 Broncos. They are Tom O’Connell, Seamus Waters, and Alex New.
Since Fred H. McGrath’s death in 1954, his family has continued the tradition of hosting the varsity football team, school administrators, and present and former coaches. His son, Bob McGrath, a former player and coach for the Broncos, his wife, Bumpty, and their family have been the catalysts in keeping up this unique dinner.
Pictured here (L to R): Ron Catena, Roger Goodell, Alex New (captain), Buzz McGrath, Bumpty McGrath, Bob McGrath, Seamus Waters (captain), Tommy O’Connell (captain), and Coach Patsy Manganelli.
Photo courtesy Tim McGrath