Field dedicated in honor of Hurricanes
HARMAR: It's a far cry from the slag dumps where the Harmarville Hurricanes once played.
However, the Hurricanes finally have a field to call their own a half-century after earning national acclaim.
Three of the nine surviving members of the famous amateur soccer team returned for a dedication at noon Saturday at the field behind the Harmar Municipal Building.
The soccer field, now known as "Harmarville Hurricanes Soccer Field, Harmar Township," was dedicated in their honor by the Harmar Township Board of Supervisors.
"The Hurricanes were well-known throughout the United States for their rugged determination, skilled play and outstanding sportsmanship," said Robert W. Seibert, Jr., board chairman.
John "Lav" Prucnal, Joe Halasowski and Ellen Yakopec, widow of Alle-Kiski Sports Hall of Fame member Sonny Yakopec, were there to help dedicate the field to the memory of all past Hurricanes players.
A photo of the team will be on display in the municipal building.
"What we could have done if we would have played on a field like this," Hurricanes halfback "Lav" Prucnal said as he walked off the field.
The Hurricanes' original field, owned by Hamar Coal Company, was located just off Guys Run Road near the Eat 'N Park restaurant.
Prucnal said the nine surviving members got the news two weeks ago about the dedication.
"I think it's really nice, it takes you back a few years," Halasowski said.
The Hurricanes won the 1952 and 1956 U.S. Open Cup soccer championships and defeated all the top national soccer clubs from Brooklyn to St. Louis.
Yakopec recalled that "Sports Illustrated" magazine shot a photograph of the Hurricanes' field outlined in coal dust following a snow storm.
Prucnal said most players earned about $7 per game plus all the beer they could drink at the gatherings afterwords at a local social club.
Prucnal said the Hurricanes owned two soccer balls -- one for practice and one for games. He recalled playing a game in about eight inches of snow in Buffalo.
"Although the Hurricanes national championships were won a half-century ago, people throughout this region still remember the accomplishments of the team and credit the Hurricanes for creating interest in soccer, not only in Harmar Township, but throughout this area," Seibert said.
In addition to the field dedication, Prucnal said the Heinz Historical Society is looking to put together a dedication sometime in the future.
He said the Hurricanes are planning a 50th reunion in 2006. The previous reunion last year attracted 140 people.