Harambee Park football field, home of Boston Raiders, named after Wilson brothers

It wasn’t too long ago that Madison Park renamed its basketball court after longtime coaching icon Dennis Wilson.

He and his late brother, Harry G. Wilson, now have a field named after them, too.

After a lifetime of dedication toward growing and improving the Boston Raiders Pop Warner football program the two helped create in 1974, the city renamed its home field within Harambee Park to Wilson Field on Saturday afternoon. About 100 people — including family members, former players, coaches and others close to the Raiders program — were in attendance for an hour-long ceremony, in which they thanked the brothers and those who worked with them for their impact. State Sen. Sonia Chang-Diaz (D-Jamaica Plain) and state Rep. Russell Holmes (D-Mattapan) each spoke before Boston Parks and Recreation commissioner Ryan Woods introduced Dennis Wilson, who offered an emotional speech ending with the iconic Raiders cheer he loved leading.

“This is really deep to my heart,” Dennis Wilson said. “There’s really not a more deserving man than my brother, to be able to be acknowledged like he’s being acknowledged. … My brother didn’t like a lot of fanfare, he wasn’t about the glitz and the glitter. … He was a true Wilson, a true Marine, a true Raider and he never complained about nothing because it was all about (the community).”

Alongside a long and successful career coaching the Madison Park football team to great heights, Dennis coached up the Raiders with his brother, whom he said provided most of his football knowledge. The two founded the program with a cheerleading program after originally naming it the Roxbury Raiders, but looked to involve more kids by renaming it to Boston.

The program has since expanded to field five different teams and has made several trips to Florida for the Pop Warner Super Bowls. The creation of the football field was part of a $3.4 million project that included construction of a new game field, practice field, a new scoreboard, lighting and improvements toward the park entrance.

A lot of that was a credit to Harry, who worked for the city and advocated for young people after serving in the Marines.

“Harry Wilson’s goal was to start a viable football program for his sons as well as the neighborhood kids,” Woods said. “The brothers’ goals were not to just win championships, but to mold their players into responsible, respectful and disciplined young men and women who would be positive forces in their communities. Their accomplishments as coaches and educators are too numerous to mention in one ceremony.”

When Wilson asked for all former Raiders in attendance to raise their fist, more than a dozen did so.The impact of the skills the program taught them and others wasn’t lost on a single person at the ceremony, evident by the joyous participation in the Raiders cheer Dennis Wilson led at the end. That included the senator herself.

“Even hearing (Holmes) recount all of the ways neighbors and community groups contributed to the design of this park, the word that keeps filling my mind is teamwork,” Chang-Diaz said. “I think about the skills that young people are going to learn on these fields because of the Raiders and because of the programming you all are going to fill this space with. … That spirit of teamwork are things that are going to carry over into their lives as adults in a cyclical way.”

Keith Thomason, the current president of the Boston Raiders, credited the Wilsons for where he is today.

“Harry is like a father to me and Dennis, I really appreciate you all,” he said. “I do get emotional now as I get older. Once again, thank y’all from the bottom of my heart, I really appreciate this.”