Mon. Feb 26th, 2024

The Tyrone/Bellwood-Antis football game last Friday night at Gray-Vets Memorial Field offered fans from both communities an exciting evening of high school football. Truly, a football fan or sports fan for that matter, won’t find a more intriguing rivalry in this area like the ‘Backyard Brawl.’
There were an estimated seven to eight thousand people in attendance for the game, overflowing the stadium’s capacity with people two to three deep along the fences. To see all those people from Tyrone and Bellwood-Antis supporting their respected football teams was an unbelievable sight. In recent years Gray-Vets always draws a crowd for football games, but Friday night seemed much more special.
With the huge turnout by Tyrone and Bellwood fans, obviously a lot of money was made from ticket sales to snack bar sales. It’s the biggest game of the year for Tyrone and the profits made from the game gets generated back through the school district and athletic department to help support the football program and other sports at Tyrone. Friday night alone, between $5,000 to $6,000 were made just in ticket sales.
Superintendent Dr. William Miller stated, “The school district supports all the athletic programs with about $240,000 in general funds for this current year. We transfer that money to the programs through our budget.”
Miller continued, “The actual athletic budget for football this year is $40,000, so with only four home games we will struggle to reach that.”
That is one reason why the Tyrone/Bellwood-Antis football game is so important. It draws thousands of fans and is the big money maker for the athletic program to reach that budget. In the 2000-2001 football season the total revenue was estimated at $53,742. In 2001-2002, it was $39,320. There has been a significant decline in total revenue since the 2000-2001 season, so it’s important for fans to keep churning out to help support the football program and all the sports programs at Tyrone.
Miller noted that $23,500 of the $240,000 of general funds will go towards the new drug and alcohol testing policy for participants in extra-curricular and athletic activities. Some of the monies made at last Friday’s football game will likewise go towards helping pay for the drug testing.
Tyrone athletic director Tony Yaniello was pleased with the attendance and support shown from the two communities last Friday evening. “There was standing room only,” said Yaniello. “Every reserved seat was sold, except for seven. We had extra security people on duty due to the expected attendance, and things went well as far as that goes.”
Yaniello added that the Tyrone/Bellwood game is huge for the school district. “We probably make more money in that one game than what we make in two of our regular home games during the season,” said Yaniello.
The Tyrone Football Boosters were also looking forward to the ‘Backyard Brawl’ because of the money that can be made to assist the football program and other sports programs at Tyrone. The booster club made over $2500 in profits for the night.
Booster President, Colleen Mertiff, stated, “We did real well. We had 13 cases of water and it was all gone by half time.” She added, “We have the best following in football compared to other boosters, so it’s easy to raise money.
The football boosters pays for meals for the team at away games, along with other odds and ends to help support the football team. Mertiff added, “We do so much for the team, it’s a group effort with the school district. The school board and district expects a lot from us, and we don’t mind.”
The money made by the football boosters goes to other sports programs at Tyrone as well when it is needed. During the state playoffs in basketball last season when Tyrone played Sto-Rox at the University of Pitt-Johnstown, WTRN radio couldn’t find a sponsor to cover the game, and the football boosters step right in and sponsored the event, which enabled people who couldn’t attend the game to listen to it via radio.
Mertiff added, “We feel we have the money to help, so we always want to give when asked.”
Win or lose, Tyrone fans should eagerly attend those always exciting football games on Friday night, and carry that support into all the athletic programs. The ticket and snack bar sales alone helps support our athletic programs at Tyrone.

By Rick