Lyndhurst honors memory of fallen Marshall grid standouts

The tragedy took place on November 14, 1970, a plane crash that took the lives of 75 people including the entire Marshall University football team. That team included two Lyndhurst natives in Lionel “Ted” Shoebridge, Jr. and Marcel Lajterman.

In 2006, a movie was made about the crash and the rebirth of the team, entitled “We Are Marshall,” starring Academy Award winner Matthew McConaghey.

The movie begins with a monologue: “In the middle of Huntington, West Virginia, there is a river. Next to this river, there is a steel mill. And next to the steel mill, there is a school. In the middle of this school, there is a fountain. Each year, on the exact same day, at the exact same hour … the water to this fountain is turned off. And in this moment, once every year … throughout the town, throughout the school … time stands still.”

That’s how Marshall honors its football team that was lost 46 years ago.

Lyndhurst took the time last Friday to honor the two young men who perished in that crash by re-unveiling the pictures of the two on the scoreboard at the high school field.

The two pictures were damaged in a storm a few years ago, but they were restored, refurbished and unveiled with many friends and family members in attendance.

One of those family members is Tom Shoebridge, the long-time track and field coach at Lyndhurst. Tom is Ted’s younger brother and remembers his brother’s legacy better than anyone in the entire town.

“Eight years ago, after the movie came out, George Schifano, who owns a billboard company, had the idea to put the pictures near the scoreboard,” Tom Shoebridge said. “Over the years, the pictures became weather beaten and faded.”

But now, the pictures are embedded into the steel.

“They shouldn’t fade now,” Shoebridge said. “They should last a long time now. The prints are so much clearer. There’s also LED lighting to see it at night. It looks so much better.”

Shoebridge remembers how he found out the pictures were damaged in a storm.

“Our friend Amy Jarvis, a classmate of Teddy’s at Lyndhurst, called me immediately after she saw it,” Shoebridge said. “I went into Jeff (Radigan, the athletic director)’s office and said to him that we have to have it redone. The principal Laura Vuono agreed. We did it Homecoming Night, which made for a tremendous setting.”

Shoebridge said that he felt blessed that the town and school district decided to restore the pictures.

“It’s a rewarding feeling,” Shoebridge said. “It was great for everyone who came out to show their respect for both Marcel and Teddy.”

Shoebridge said that his brother was all about his hometown.

“And that’s how we all were about Lyndhurst,” Shoebridge said. “Our family always felt like Lyndhurst was our family. In Huntington, it’s the same way. They cherish their memory.”

Shoebridge was born and raised in a home that his family has owned for 101 years. In the basement of that house is a shrine with all the memorabilia _ photographs, game programs, jerseys, footballs, you name it _ all honoring the memory of their fallen son and brother.

Lajterman’s family also would have attended the ceremony, but they were in Huntington for a golf tournament that bears Marcel’s name.

So their memories never fade, even after 46 years, with the anniversary of that fateful tragic crash coming up next month.

“This was not just for Teddy,” Shoebridge said. “This was also for Marcelo. And it was for Lyndhurst. These are the guys who represented Lyndhurst football. It’s a tremendous honor for both of them.”

When track season reconvenes in the spring, Shoebridge will walk out onto the track and the field with pride.

“It means the world to me,” Shoebridge said. “Every day, I’ll go out there and he’ll be the first thing I see. He’s the first real star we had. He was always the one who inspired others. And the town is still respectful of his many achievements.”

The only down side to the night? The Golden Bears lost to Hawthorne by a 23-10 margin. And they also lost to Harrison this past Friday night to fall to 2-2 on the season. The Golden Bears face North Arlington this weekend.

Still, anyone who walks onto the field at Lyndhurst High School and looks toward the scoreboard can see the faces of Ted Shoebridge and Marcel Lajterman and remember what they truly meant to Lyndhurst. They are forever remembered and will be again in Huntington when the water is turned off next month.

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Jim Hague | Observer Sports Writer

Sports Writer Jim Hague was with The Observer for 20+ years — and his name is one of the most recognizable in all of sports journalism. The St. Peter’s Prep and Marquette alum kicked off his journalism career post Marquette at the Daily Record, where he remained until 1985. Following shorts stints at two other newspapers, in September 1986, he joined the now-closed Hudson Dispatch, where he remained until 1991, when its doors were finally shut.

It was during his tenure at The Dispatch that Hague’s name and reputation as one of country’s hardest-working sports reporters grew. He won several New Jersey Press Association and North Jersey Press Club Awards in that timeframe.

In 1991, he became a columnist for The Hudson Reporter chain of newspapers — and he remains with them to this day.

In addition to his work at The Observer and The Hudson Reporter, Hague is also an Associated Press stringer, where he covers Seton Hall University men’s basketball, New York Red Bulls soccer and occasionally, New Jersey Devils hockey.

He’s also doing work at The Morristown Daily Record, the very newspaper where his journalism career began.

During his career, he also worked for Dorf Feature Services, which provided material for the Star-Ledger. While there, he covered the New York Knicks and the New Jersey Nets.

Hague is also known for his announcing work — and he’s done PA work for Rutgers Newark and NJIT.

Hague is the author of the book “Braddock: The Rise of the Cinderella Man.”