On November 30, 1882, America’s oldest Turkey Day high school football game began in Massachusetts with next-door neighbors Needham and Wellesley doing battle. It was a natural rivalry, because until 1881, Wellesley was actually called West Needham.
The rivalry began when Wellesley’s quarterback Arthur Oldham, who served as the team’s captain, suggested that the two schools play a “real” game. The reason for the description of a “real” game is, that at that time, most games we’re more informal that media reports called casual free-for-alls.
Wellesley won the first game by a score of 4-0 and the rest is history as the two schools prepare for their 132nd game on Thursday morning. Needham won last year’s game 14-13. Wellesley leads the all-time series 62-60-9.
Coach Kopcso speaks to the crowd at our 3rd Annual Bonfire in advance of 132nd Needham Wellesley Thanksgiving Day Football Game! Go Rockets!! Beat Wellesley!! pic.twitter.com/0RiyJXzjNJ— Needham HS Athletics (@NHSRockets) November 26, 2019
Turn-back Tuesday: Former Wellesley head coach Bill Tracey talks about the game on the High School Football America Radio Show in 2011
The only time the game wasn’t played was during World Wars I and II, plus from 1950 through 1952 when the contest was cancelled after riots broke-out between the two teams.
Wellesley, which is currently ranked No. 10 in our Massachusetts Top 10, enters Thursday’s game with an 9-2 mark, while Needham is 2-8…but like they say, you can throw out the records when it comes to the country’s oldest public high school football series.