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A brief history of West Virginia minor league football

By Colin C. Rhodes, Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT, W.Va. — It’s Independence Day weekend, where we celebrate just about anything and everything American. And what could be more American than American football? While there’s no pro league playing in the United States at the moment, that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss it.

Believe it or not, West Virginia has a long history of pro, semi-pro, and amateur football teams.

I found 23 teams to have called the Mountain State home from as far back as 1962 when doing the research for this article, and there were others I excluded because I couldn’t find enough information about them.

Let’s start with the two teams from the 1960’s: The Wheeling Ironmen and the Charleston Rockets. Both played in the minor league United Football League from 1962 to 1964, with the Ironmen winning two league championships in 1962 and 1963.

Charleston played its first season as a franchise in 1964 before both teams in 1965 became charter members of the Continental Football League, which acted in some capacity as a minor league for the National Football League. Unfortunately, Charleston folded in 1968, and Wheeling one year later.

It would be 30 years before another football team started up in West Virginia.

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