fbpx
Racine Raiders Football Club | Racine, Wis. |

FLASHBACK: 1954 – It’s This Way… Column

(NOTE: This column was originally written by Keith Brehm and appeared in the Wednesday, June 2, 1954, Racine Journal Times.)

It's This Way column logoAs of today, about six months after its ill-fated venture into the Central States Professional Football League had been terminated, Racine Professional Football Club still is in business and has a cash balance of $13.65 in the bank.

This is quite a trick when you consider that at the close of the 1953 season the club, which operated the Racine Raiders, was in the red to the extent of about $2,900.

Thanks to the untiring efforts of Wigs Konicek, the club’s business manager, and a group which calls itself the “football committee, ” the entire deficit has been wiped out, settlements have been made on all accounts and the club has its nifty little cash balance.

Actually, the club is even better off than its cash-on-hand report would indicate, for it owns equipment that had an original value of $1,422.22 and also has an equity of $225 in a proposed Bi-State Football League setup for 1954.

Yes, Konicek and his associates propose to have another whack at fielding a football team next fall — though this operation would be on a much less ambitious scale than the $15,000-plus operation of last fall.

It’s ironical to see Racine Professional Football Club still “in business” after the Central States League has called it quits. At the close of the 1953 season the Central States League ousted the Racine team from membership because the Raiders refused to fulfill a scheduled date at St. Louis
after the league — and the St. Louis Knights — had turned down a proposal to accept a cash settlement in lieu of playing the game.

The league which kicked out the Racine club last fall recently announced it was suspending operations since the only two teams – Wausau Muskies and St. Louis reported they were ready to carry-on in 1954.

Konicek says that if the Racine club fields a team this fall it will be in a semi-pro type league with the majority of the talent “home grown”. Besides Racine, teams which have accepted membership are the Rockford, III. Golden Eagles, the Elmhurst, III. Travelers, the Aurora, III. Clippers and the Roseland (Southwest Chicago) Mustangs.

The five- team circuit has drawn up a schedule calling for a round robin, home-and-home schedule of eight games apiece. The Racine team would augment this schedule with three or four non-league games, giving it a home schedule of seven or eight games.

The Racine club has paid its $100 forfeit fee, a $75 prize fund fee and a $25 commissioner’s fee — a total investment of $225 — into the league but Konicek admits this is something of a gamble for the final decision t o operate next fall won’t be made for some time.

Konicek and his associates still feel that post graduate football should be on the Racine sports calendar and they’re willing to give it another whirl in the face despite last fall’s disappointing operation.

That venture into professional football with imported players ran into quite an operation. Total disbursements came to $15,743.08, of which nearly one-half — a matter of $7,433.38 — went for player salaries. Other major items were $1,960.71 for travel expenses, the $1,422.22 item for equipment,
$977.77 for insurance and $1,221.07 “unclassified expenses” which included such items as $600 guarantee to the Aurora Clippers and $300 to Elmhurst for exhibition appearances here.

The travel costs were excessive due to the far-flung league membership. Trips to Wausau and Waterloo (Iowa) were most costly and the St. Louis trip might have added another $1,000 or so to the total had it been made.

Pointing to the 1953 outlay of $10,816.31 for equipment, travel and player salaries, Konicek says that the 1954 operation could be scaled down about 50 percent or more. Equipment replacement expenses would be nominal, travel costs greatly reduced and player salaries “melted down,” he indicated.

“We’re going to put in a lot of work on the proposed 1954 club and see what happens,” Wigs sums up the project. “If we get any indication at all that people want a team we’ll go ahead with our plans. If we can’t uncover any interest we’ll Just quit even. We won’t owe anybody money and that’s
a pretty good record in itself.”

The 1953 team was financed chiefly through contributions of Metal Parts, Walker Ajax Mfg., Western Printing, In-Sink-Erator and the CIO locals, with the unions giving much support to the original project and the “cleanup” campaign which wiped out the indebtedness. Sale of season books and gate programs also helped offset a weak box office take at home games.