Allen-Murray deserve recognitionPublished 9:04am Tuesday, July 29, 2014
On at least two previous occasions, the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald has lobbied the Hertford County Board of Education to study the possibility of allowing the football stadium and baseball field at Hertford County High School to bear the names of two men we felt were most deserving of such an honor.
In reply we were informed of a policy that prohibits naming a school, field, or any type of county-owned building in honor or in memory of an individual. We were told the School Board would possibly look at changing that policy to allow for naming rights. To date, nothing has occurred, at least to my knowledge.
What’s even more unique about our suggestion is those previous requests came from two individuals that never played a snap for Coach Daryl Allen or fielded a grounder under the watchful eye of Coach Richard Murray.
In this very space about six years ago, I asked the county’s School Board to name the football stadium in honor of the man who won over 300 games while orchestrating the fortunes of the Indians, the Cougars and the Bears. I also asked the board to consider honoring Coach Murray, the school’s baseball skipper, assistant football coach and perhaps one of the best Athletic Directors the state of North Carolina ever had, by hanging his name on the baseball field. This request came from a graduate of NorthamptonCountyHigh School.
In 2009, then Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald Sports Editor Thadd White penned a personal opinion column asking the school board to consider the exact same thing. He was of the opinion to allow this to happen while both men were alive….unlike what occurred at his alma mater (Bertie High) when the football field there was posthumously named Roy Bond Stadium (in memory of the Falcons late head coach who won two state titles in a span of five years.)
While it’s now too late to have either Coach Allen or Coach Murray stand proudly with their families at what we hope will one day be a dedication ceremony, the effort continues.
A couple of months after Coach Allen’s passing in January of this year, I received an email from Timmy Newsome, a retired professional football player (Dallas Cowboys) and a 1976 Ahoskie High graduate that played under coaches Allen and Murray. Like me, he wanted to see his former mentors – in life and on the field – honored by having the fields named in memory of the impact those two men had on the lives of thousands of student-athletes.
As I told Timmy in my reply, this newspaper had previously lobbied for such honors. To be exact, my reply to Timmy was (as culled from the history of my G-Mail): “Perhaps some leverage from a well-known former athlete such as yourself will have some impact on the decision-making process in Winton.”
Late last week I received a PDF package in my email from Timmy Newsome. It was a well-crafted, four-page document (dated July 22) and titled: Stadium (s) Naming Request (for) Coach Daryl Allen and Coach Richard Murray. In it, Timmy encouraged the Hertford County Board of Education to: “Seriously consider, and with all deliberate speed, the naming of the football and baseball stadiums after coaches Allen and Murray respectively. Or should the Board decide, place the names of both coaches on the football stadium.”
Timmy has laid his cards on the table….now I’m going to show my hand.
I’ve been sitting on these “cards” since earlier this year. They are courtesy of Richard Murray himself. He came in my office not too long after Daryl died and handed me two sheets of paper, in his handwriting, entitled, “Hertford County High School Athletic Complex, how it came into being.” Richard broke the news to me at that time, telling me he had six months to live (that day came quicker on May 1) and said he wanted me to have his notes.
From those notes, it’s clear there was not a lot of money budgeted into the athletic complex when the new Ahoskie High School (now Hertford County High) was built. It was Daryl Allen and Richard Murray who spearheaded the effort to either do the work themselves or encourage others to volunteer their labor or donate materials.
Due to their vision of having a top-notch athletic complex, these two men led a team to install the fencing around the football field; had the ticket booth (at the football field) constructed; oversaw the building of the original press box and wooden bleachers (now covered in aluminum); and had an irrigation system installed.
At the baseball field, Richard and Daryl cut out the infield; oversaw the construction of the two dugouts; had a motor grader to level the outfield; and even went as far as to beg Carolina Aluminum in Winton for two foul poles.
In return, they asked for nothing. So Timmy and I will speak on their behalf….the least the School Board can do is vote to amend their policy and approve the names of Daryl Allen Stadium and Richard Murray Stadium. If the board wants to limit the naming rights to just one area…..how ‘bout Richard Murray Field at Daryl Allen Stadium.
Cal Bryant is Editor of Roanoke-Chowan Publications. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 252-332-7207.