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Cincinnati Celts

Cincinnati Celts

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The Cincinnati Celts was the first professional football
American football
American football is a sport played between two teams of eleven with the objective of scoring points by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone. Known in the United States simply as football, it may also be referred to informally as gridiron football. The ball can be advanced by...

 team to play in Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati, Ohio
Cincinnati is a city in the U.S. state of Ohio. Cincinnati is the county seat of Hamilton County. Settled in 1788, the city is located to north of the Ohio River at the Ohio-Kentucky border, near Indiana. The population within city limits is 296,943 according to the 2010 census, making it Ohio's...

. The team played in the unofficial "Ohio League
Ohio League
The Ohio League was an informal and loose association of American football clubs active between 1903 and 1919 that competed for the Ohio Independent Championship . As the name implied, its teams were based in Ohio...

" and the American Professional Football Association (renamed the National Football League
National Football League
The National Football League is the highest level of professional American football in the United States, and is considered the top professional American football league in the world. It was formed by eleven teams in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association, with the league changing...

 in 1922). The Celts were a traveling team
Traveling team
In professional team sports, a traveling team is a member of a professional league that never or rarely competes in its home arena or stadium. This differs from a barnstorming team in that the latter does not compete within a league or association framework...

, playing all of their APFA games in other cities' stadia
Stadium or stadion has the plural stadia in both Latin and Greek. The anglicized term is stade in the singular.Stadium may refer to:* Stadium, a building type...

. In its only season in the APFA, 1921, the team had a record of 1-3. For the entire span of the team's existence, the Celts were coached by Mel Doherty
Mel Doherty
Melvin Doherty was a professional American football player-coach with the Cincinnati Celts of the unofficial "Ohio League" and the American Professional Football Association . Doherty coached the Celts throughout their entire existence from 1910 to 1923. The team played only four games in the AFPA,...

, who was also the team's center
Center (American football)
Center is a position in American football and Canadian football . The center is the innermost lineman of the offensive line on a football team's offense...



The Celts were established in 1910 as a semi-pro
A semi-professional athlete is one who is paid to play and thus is not an amateur, but for whom sport is not a full-time occupation, generally because the level of pay is too low to make a reasonable living based solely upon that source, thus making the athlete not a full professional...

 team made up primarily of players from Miami University
Miami University
Miami University is a coeducational public research university located in Oxford, Ohio, United States. Founded in 1809, it is the 10th oldest public university in the United States and the second oldest university in Ohio, founded four years after Ohio University. In its 2012 edition, U.S...

 in nearby Oxford, Ohio. During the first 10 years of their existence, the team flourished playing numerous semi-pro teams from Ohio. An early member of squad, George Roudebush
George Roudebush
George Milton Roudebush was a professional football player with the Canton Bulldogs, Cincinnati Celts of the "Ohio League" and the Dayton Triangles of the early National Football League. He was also a lawyer in Cleveland for 73 years.-College:George attended Denison University where he earned...

, referred to the team as being run “by a bunch of wild Irishmen”. In 1914 Lou Partlow
Lou Partlow
Louis Jerald Partlow was a running back who played ten seasons with the Dayton Triangles in the National Football League....

 played for the Celts.

1916 Pine Village game

Probably the greatest moment in the team's early existence came against a team from Pine Village, Indiana
Pine Village, Indiana
Pine Village is a town in Adams Township, Warren County, Indiana, United States. The population was 217 at the 2010 census.-Geography:Pine Village is located at the intersection of State Road 55 and State Road 26, near Big Pine Creek...

, in 1916. While Pine Village consisted of only 300 residents, it was the top team in Indiana before World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, compiling a record of undefeated for 13 seasons. In 117 games, they had only once been tied. Pine Village faced the Celts before a crowd of 2,500 people in nearby Lafayette
Lafayette, Indiana
Lafayette is a city in and the county seat of Tippecanoe County, Indiana, United States, northwest of Indianapolis. As of the 2010 census, the city had a total population of 67,140. West Lafayette, on the other side of the Wabash River, is home to Purdue University, which has a large impact on...

. With Pine Village leading the Cincinnati 6-2, the Celts forced to punt
Punt (football)
In some codes of football, a punt is a play in which a player drops the ball and kicks it before it touches the ground. A punt is in contrast to a drop kick, in which the ball touches the ground before being kicked....

. George Roudebush then lined up behind the punter. Under the rules of the time, anyone lining up behind the punter was eligible to recover the kick as a free ball. After the ball was kicked, Roudebush ran down the field. Pine Village, not wanting to touch the ball, was unaware that Roudebush was eligible to recover it. Roudebush recovered the ball in the Pine Village end zone
End zone
In gridiron-based codes of football, the end zone refers to the scoring area on the field. It is the area between the end line and goal line bounded by the sidelines. There are two end zones, each being on an opposite side of the field...

, giving the Celts a 9–6 victory.


When the APFA was formed in 1920, the Celts were at first not invited to join the new league. A year later, though, the team finally joined the AFPA. However the Celts could not keep up with the competition on the field. During their only four league games, the Celts were outscored 117 to 14. The team's only two touchdowns, and victory, came during a 14-0 shutout of the Muncie Flyers
Muncie Flyers
The Muncie Flyers from Muncie, Indiana played in the National Football League from 1920-1921.-Origins:...

. The Celts also faced the 1920 APFA champion Akron Pros
Akron Pros
The Akron Pros were a professional football team located played in Akron, Ohio from 1908–1926. The team originated in 1908 as a semi-pro team named the Akron Indians, however name was changed to the Pros in 1920 as the team set out to become a charter member of the American Professional...

, Cleveland Tigers and the Evansville Crimson Giants
Evansville Crimson Giants
The Evansville Crimson Giants were a professional American football team based in Evansville, Indiana and were a part of the National Football League in 1921 and 1922. The Giants home games were played at Bosse Field...

losing handily in each contest. They finally withdrew from the league just before it was renamed as the NFL in 1922. For many years the NFL record book listed the Celts as having an APFA record of 0-8-0. After reviewing records from the era, the NFL corrected the standings.

The team's finances were also troubling. Attandence at their games never peaked above 2,500 specators. the Celts were also unable to pay even the nominal league fees. The Celts continued as an amateur team until 1923.


Year W L T FinishCoach
1921 1 3 0 13th Mel Doherty

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