There will be a lot more than neighborhood bragging rights on the line when the Belleville High School Buccaneers renew their football feud with the Nutley Raiders on Friday night.
At stake will be the Mayor’s Cup, a towering trophy that goes to the winner of the longtime rivalry.
This year, Belleville Mayor Michael Melham extended an annual side bet to Nutley Mayor Mauro Tucci, following a conversation about ways in which the two neighboring towns can assist each other in response to Hurricane Ida, as well as petitioning FEMA for a disaster declaration.
“All that said, this Friday night, under our new stadium lights, the Belleville vs. Nutley varsity football rivalry is back,” Melham said. “Belleville will host the home opener and feature an official ribbon cutting at 6:30 p.m. for our brand-new turf field.”
The mayor hinted some truth to an ongoing rumor that a former NFL Super Bowl MVP will even be on hand to help cut the ribbon.
“While the Mayor's Cup Trophy will be on the line, this year, I am formally challenging Mayor Tucci to a friendly pizza wager,” Melham said. “As is our tradition, the winning mayor shall receive local pizza provided by the losing mayor at the next scheduled public meeting.”
This is the third time in four years that the so-called “pizza challenge” has been issued.
Melham is also formally requesting that Tucci polish up the trophy before bringing it across town lines into Belleville on Friday, as it should look nice and presentable among Belleville High School’s many trophies.
“Also, as a reminder to the Nutley mayor, we like our pizza slightly well done in Belleville,” Melham added, noting Tucci should note in his calendar that the next Belleville public meeting is Tuesday, September 14.
This will be the 79th meeting between Belleville and its neighbor to the north.