, Salem, MA


November 25, 2009

The Magic Touch; Now 75 years old, Marblehead finds honor in Magicians nickname

Imagine Mick Jagger wearing baggy pants. Or Tom Brady playing hockey instead of football. Or Barack Obama deserting his beloved White Sox to become a Yankees fan.

Can't picture it, right? Somehow, those scenarios don't seem to fit.

On the surface, Marblehead High sports and the moniker "Magicians" don't appear to make for a proper mix, either. As nicknames go, Magicians might as well have been picked out of thin air. It has absolutely nothing to do with Marblehead's place as a seaside town.

But even though some people might think that the Marblehead Seahawks, or Yachtsmen, or Vikings would have a better ring to it, the Magicians have 75 years of history on their side. And the Marblehead football team, which is playing for a Northeastern Conference Small Division championship today against Swampscott (10 a.m.), is embracing that history.

"For a long time, they didn't have an official nickname," said super fan Esso Haines, 79, who was a two-way player for the Marblehead High football team, graduating in 1948. "I have a picture of Trem Robarts from the old days wearing a brown jersey with gold ship wheels on the front.

"The team had various (nicknames) back then — Yachtsmen, Headers and Whippers were some of them. Different sports teams at the school had different names. But that all changed in 1934."

That year, Marblehead coach Charlie McGuinness had himself a football wagon. Led by quarterback Dick Wells, Marblehead was so good, compiling a 8-1-1 mark and outscoring its foes 252-47, that it was offered a $1,000 guarantee to make a trip to Miami, Fla., where it played Edison High.

The Miami newspapers speculated that the "Marblehead grid warriors from rock bound Massachusetts" might get whipped by the heat for their Dec. 8 game. However, Marblehead destroyed Edison, 52-12, while "displaying the most weird and dazzling assortment of plays ever seen on a Florida gridiron," according to the news account.

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