The Lacey Lions organization was formed in 1972. Back in 1972, the center of life in town seemed to evolve around community members gathering at a business establishment named Duffy's Tavern. Duffy's Tavern was in later years destroyed by fire and the site is now Lacey Marine. While the community members were gathered together, many discussions would take place including business, politics, family and how they could further provide a better life for their children. This is where it all began, as it was decided by several locals that Lacey Township should start a football organization.
Members of this original group volunteered to travel to Red Bank where they attended a Jersey Shore Pop Warner meeting. They obtained information on how to charter a program in Lacey Township. It was soon discovered that before Lacey Township could begin a program, that permission would need to be granted by the Southern Pop Warner League, as they owned the rights to all Lacey Township players within the Jersey Shore Pop Warner League. Fortunately, permission was granted and Lacey Township was provided the opportunity to form an organization. In January of 1972, a group of eight men met at the home of Charlie Reidenger and the Lacey Pop Warner Football Organization was officially formed. The group elected the following officers:
President Jim Duff (Owner of Duffy's Tavern), Vice President Charlie Reidenger, Secretary Terry Stuart, Treasurer Bob Churchwell and Commissioner Ted Hutler. Also signing the original charter were Ken Conroy and Charles Magnotta. Roger Pearce, Billy Beecroft, John Brion and Pete Luciano were also involved in the beginning of the organization.
The real work now began, as the organization needed to purchase equipment, find a field space, and gather enough players to sustain a team. Finding players was the easiest of the things that needed to be accomplished. The finding of a practice field was made easy with the assistance of the Lacey Township elected officials who provided the Forked River School fields. The purchasing of equipment totaling $8,000.00 proved to be the hardest.
In 1972, the spending of $8,000.00 was a whole lot of money. What made things more difficult was the fact that the newly formed organization only had $150.00 in the bank account. This is when fundraising took form and the community assisted in the can shakes, newspaper recycling, and anything else the group could put together. The equipment room was formed in a storage building behind Duffy's Tavern.
These were the days before the Lacey High School existed and when children of Lacey Township went to the Central Regional High School in Berkeley Township. Just like their parents before them, many of the children then played football for the Central Regional Eagles and they wore the colors of maroon and gold. In the first year of existence, the Lacey Team played every game away as the visiting team against anyone that was willing to play.
There were only 2 teams; the Pee Wee and the Midget teams. These two teams traveled all over the State in order to play, with the furthest being Verona. Although the first year was difficult, they still managed to win a few games at each level. More importantly to everyone involved was that Lacey Township now had an established football program that could be embraced as their own.
A couple of years later, the practice field moved to the field located behind the Municipal Building. John Parker helped out by erecting light poles at the new practice field. The organization continued to grow and a Junior Pee Wee team was added. Back in those times, the rosters of teams did not usually consist of more than 18-20 players. Recruiting enough players was left up to the individual team coaches.
In 1975, the organization began to play games at the Clune Park facility. The area looked much different in those days. The area consisted of the football field being played on top of the carved out baseball outfields. In 1982, in conjunction with the opening of the Lacey Township High School (1981), the organization changed the nickname to the Lions and the colors changed to Navy, Gray, and Cardinal. The organization further carved history by forming the permanent home football field complex at Clune Park. The football complex was built by hand with the help of over eighty volunteers, some even grandmothers, laying sod on the main stadium field and building a combined Equipment Room/Refreshment Stand, which has since been expanded.
In the 1980's, the Lacey Pop Warner Football organization had the second best won/loss record at the Jersey Shore. Today the organization consists of close to 400 children and 50 coaches on 5 football teams, 5 cheerleading squads, and 1 dance squad. Our facilities are second to none on the AYF level. This was all accomplished with many years of sweat, fundraising, and the community support establishing a better future for the children of Lacey Township. None of these original members currently remain involved in the organization, however, their vision and years of struggling helped make Lacey Township AYF one of the most successful youth organizations in New Jersey.
The members of the Lacey Township Lions organization would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all those that have contributed to our success. Our gratitude extends to all those who have served before us and we all look forward to working with all those who will serve in the future.