SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – The South Plainfield Thanksgiving Day curse disappeared last year in a snow filled football classic which saw the Tigers defeat the North Plainfield Canucks 26-13. It was the South Plainfield Tigers first victory over North Plainfield in over three decades. This year the records will be thrown out, and families and friends will make the pilgrimage to North Plainfield for the traditional game.
This will be the 42nd game between the two programs. South Plainfield is 15-26-1 verses North Plainfield on Thanksgiving. Preparing for the day’s event typically begins in watering holes the night before in places like KC’s Korner where college students return home for some catching-up and discussions of Thanksgiving Days’ past.
“It’s a night to reunite with all your old high-school buddies,” said Walter Kurilew, owner of KC’s Korner and an SPHS grad himself.
According to Kurilew, the night before Thanksgiving is one of his busiest of the year. “You see friends you haven’t seen in ages. The tradition has been going on as long as I can remember.”
“I played in the last game against North Plainfield before they stopped the rivalry game, said South Plainfield Police Lieutenant and former quarterback David DeLair. “It’s a great rivalry, but more importantly it’s a nice day for family and friends. I think I enjoy watching these games now even more than when I played.”
Thanksgiving games—also known as Turkey Day games—are a custom that dates back over 100 years. The Millville-Vineland game is New Jersey’s oldest, beginning in 1894. Closer to home, the Westfield-Plainfield rivalry started in 1900 and celebrated its 100th game in 2005. The North Plainfield-South Plainfield matchup has roots going back to 1956, when the two teams first squared off.
“Last year it was great to be able to handoff the Mayor’s trophy to the South Plainfield team,” said South Plainfield Mayor Anesh. “It was great for the team, and a bit of a milestone for me as Mayor. Unfortunately, there haven’t been enough opportunities to celebrate in the past, but I feel confident about a repeat this year.”
“The game means a lot to the old timers here in South Plainfield,” said South Plainfield Head Coach Gary Cassio. “Wherever you go they are asking about the Thanksgiving Day game. Even if it’s the first game of the year. It is what everyone talks about and it can make or break a season. Most people could care less about the regular season, and they want to know can we beat North Plainfield? The bottom line is the game is a matter of town pride, and we are playing for everyone here in South Plainfield”