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By Carmen Ensinger
Roger Allen died in Nov. of 2016, but his legacy will live on for many years to come with the dedication of the Roger Allen Memorial Field at the White Hall Rez this past Sunday, Oct. 3.
Allen, his widow, Brenda, and the rest of his family was honored with a celebration in between the lightweight and heavyweight games with the unveiling of a sign officially naming the field the “Roger Allen Memorial Field.”
Allen founded the North Greene Knights Junior Football League in 1985 because his 11-year-old son, Ben, wanted to play football.
Brenda recalled how the founding of the Knights came about.
“Ben really wanted to play football and Roger had heard about a JFL group in Alton so he called them and got all the information about starting one,” she said. “He then called the bank and got a loan and purchased all the equipment needed to start a team here.”
Allen recalls all of the hard work the family and everyone else involved had to do to earn the money to pay back the loan.
“One instance I remember very clearly was we cleaned up after the Fourth of July celebration and we made $50,” she said. “We picked up all the trash along the streets and sold concessions to try and pay back that first loan.”
They paid back the loan and every year, the boys would line up at the door of the Ace Hardware store the Allen’s owned to get fitted for their equipment. The program was thriving. Eventually, Allen said Roger turned it over to the Lions Club and now the Knights have their own organization responsible for doing their own fundraising.
Sunday’s celebration in-cluded presenting Allen with a framed Knight’s Jersey and a helmet, which Allen jokingly modeled for her family and the large group of former players, cheerleaders and others who had gathered for the celebration and dedication. Then, she and her family were taken to the large sign at the edge of the field.
The large, very colorful sign was designed by Chad Kirchner, printed by Production Express and framed and mounted in concrete by Brandon Roberts.
Allen was asked what she thought her husband would think of the celebration.
“I think he would probably cry just like I am,” she said. “Roger never did play football, but Ben always said ‘here’s to the man who never played football, but had a son who wouldn’t let him rest until he had founded a football league.”