This was a remarkable find earlier this month – a creased, somewhat frail paper program from the first match in the history of the famed New York Cosmos. I inadvertently picked this up from a Missouri man cleaning out his closet of old St. Louis Stars (1967-1977) programs for $5 a piece. A few hours after it arrived in my post office box earlier this week, a Cosmos collector from New Jersey plucked it away for $100.
The now historic contest was played at St. Louis’ Busch Stadium in peaceful anonymity in April 1971. The Stars, owned by the stalwart Robert Hermann (for whom the NCAA’s Hermann Trophy is named), were one of the North American Soccer League’s more stable operations. Nevertheless, fewer than 4,000 fans showed up to watch the Stars’ 5th season home debut.
The Cosmos earned a 2-1 road victory on this day. Cosmos legend Randy Horton scored the first goal in team history while the game winner came from Ghanaian forward Wilberforce Mfum, a player who wasn’t even listed on the New York roster in the match program. Inaccurate as it may have been, below is the Cosmos roster for the franchise’s first game, at least according to the Stars’ PR department. You can grab the entire program in .PDF format in the Downloads section below.
One footnote for New York fans – that’s Dragan “Don” Popovic, player and assistant coach of the St. Louis Stars pictured on the cover and profiled inside. Popovic later became a terrific indoor coach and led the New York Arrows to the first four championships of the Major Indoor Soccer League.