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Tanks Memorial Stadium
Fortunes began to change in 1920; the team went 5-1-1 with wins over Marshall College and a team from Nitro, WV.2 The Tanks played teams from across the country, but a three team league developed consisting of the Ironton Tanks, the Ashland Armcos, and the Portsmouth Spartans. Coined the Tri-State League, the rivalry between Ironton and Portsmouth grew especially intense. Games often attracted as many as fifteen hundred fans.3 The need for a better facility was apparent and in 1926, Tank Stadium opened.4 In the early days of the NFL, scheduling rules were lax and the Tanks played several NFL teams including the New York Giants, the Chicago Bears5, the Canton Bulldogs, and the Kansas City Cowboys.6
Few teams ever achieve the on field success the Tanks achieved during their history. The teams’ record over their twelve-year existence was a remarkable 85-19-14.7 Ironton came to embrace their football team, frequently holding pre-game rallies or parades. Leaving a legacy that continues today as the Detroit Lions, the Tanks were important to the development of professional football. Future Pro Football Hall of Fame member Earl “Greasy” Neal coached the team in 1930.8 Future NFL All Pro Glen Presnell, along with many other Tank players, moved on to the Portsmouth Spartans when the Tanks folded. Many of them moved on to the Detroit Lions with the purchase of the Spartans by a group from Detroit in 1934. Presnell led the NFL in scoring in 1935.9
With the collapse of the Tanks, Tanks Memorial Stadium became the home of the Ironton High School Tigers. The Tigers won the Ohio state football championships in 1979 and 1989 and were second in 1973, 1982, 1988, 1992, and 1999.10 Tanks Stadium is one of a few high school stadiums in the U.S. with covered grandstands. The Ohio Historic Society placed a marker at the site in 2002.
Sources1. Becker, Carl M., ""The "Famous" Ironton Tanks"", The Coffin Corner Vol. XIX, Spartans History, http://www.portsmouthspartans.org/history-04-info.htm, accessed February 16, 2015. 2.Becker, Carl M. ""The "Famous" Ironton Tanks" 3. "Ironton Tanks", Ohio History Central, http://www.ohiohistorycentral.org/w/Ironton_Tanks?rec=2344, accessed February 16, 2015 4. "Marker #3-44 Tanks Memorial Stadium, The Ironton Tanks", Ohio Historical Society, http://www.remarkableohio.org/HistoricalMarker.aspx? historicalMarkerId=589&fileId=103834, accessed February 16, 2015. 5. Becker, Carl M. ""The "Famous" Ironton Tanks" 6. "Tanks Hold Cowboys to Scoreless Tie", Portsmouth Daily Times, November 26, 1926, Newspapers.com, http://www.newspapers.com/image/41222058/?terms=ironton+tanks+kansas+city, accessed February 16, 2015. 7. "Marker #3-44 Tanks Memorial Stadium 8. "Greasy Neale Tops Hall of Fame Choices", The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) · Fri, Feb 7, 1969 · Page 7, http://www.newspapers.com/image/78840902, accessed February 16, 2015. 9."1933 NFL Scoring Summary", Pro Football Reference, http://www.pro-football-reference.com/years/1933/scoring.htm, accessed February 15, 2015. 10. Yappi.com, Football Forum, http://www.yappi.com/football/StateChamps.html, accessed February 16, 2015.
Ironton, OH 45638
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