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1974 Florida Blazers

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Florida Blazers Media GuideWorld Football League (1974)

Born: May 1974 – The Virginia Ambassadors relocate to Orlando.
Died: Postseason 1974 – The Blazers cease operations.

Stadium: The Tangerine Bowl

Team Colors:

Owner: David Williams, Rommie Loudd, Will Gieger, Howard Palmer, et al.

 

The 1974 Florida Blazers enjoy a something of a cult following among pro football history buffs.  Fearsome on the field, the franchise was a train wreck in the front office.  The Blazers were put together by Rommie Loudd, a 41-year old former AFL linebacker and New England Patriots executive.  Loudd is occasionally cited as the first African-American owner of a “major league” American sports franchise for his time with the Blazers, but the team’s main money man was a Central Florida Holiday Inn franchisee named David Williams.  By December 1974, the Blazers were in the “World Bowl” championship game, the team’s best player had played the entire season without a paycheck, and Rommie Loudd was in jail.

But let’s back up a bit.  The franchise originated in late 1973 as the “Washington Ambassadors”, part of the startup World Football League that would challenge the NFL starting in the summer of 1974.  Original owner Joseph Wheeler couldn’t secure a lease or put together financing in Washington, so the team became the “Virginia Ambassadors” in the spring of 1974.  But Wheeler couldn’t get things off the ground in Norfolk, VA either, so in May 1974 the team was sold to Loudd’s Orlando-based syndicate.  Less than 60 days remained before the WFL’s scheduled opening day on July 10th, 1974.  Head Coach Jack Pardee had already opened training camp in Virginia, but the team loaded onto a train and decamped for Orlando.

Pardee had a solid veteran squad on both sides of the ball.  Bob Davis, a former back-up to Joe Namath on the New York Jets, earned the starting quarterback job. Linebackers Larry Grantham, a perennial AFL All-Star with the Jets in the 1960’s, and Billy Hobbs anchored a stout defense.

Florida BlazersThe Blazers’ breakout find was diminutive rookie running back Tommy Reamon, a 23rd round draft pick from the University of Missouri. Reamon scored 14 touchdowns and led the WFL with 1,576 yards rushing in 1974. At the end of the season, he was named one of the league’s “Tri-MVPs”, along with Southern California Sun quarterback Tony Adams and Memphis Southmen tailback J.J. Jennings. Reamon split a $10,000 prize with his co-MVPs. Decades later, Reamon revealed that his $3,333 MVP share was the only payment he received for the entire 1974 season.

The rest of Reamon’s teammates faired somewhat better, receiving paychecks during the league’s first couple of months. But things went poorly for the Blazers immediately in Orlando. Crowds failed to materialize at the Tangerine Bowl, which barely met pro standards back in the mid 1970’s, with 14,000 permanent seats supplemented by temporary bleachers. By late August, just six weeks into the season, Rommie Loudd was talking publicly of a midseason move to Atlanta. The move never occured, but paychecks stopped arriving not long afterwards. Promises and rumors of new investors or payroll support from the league office never came through, but Pardee kept the team together through three months without pay.

The Blazers overcame a 15-0 deficit on the road to upset the Memphis Southmen, the league’s best regular season team at 17-3, in the playoff semi-final to earn a trip to the World Bowl I championship game. Trailing 22-0 in the second half to the Birmingham Americans at Legion Field in Alabama, the Blazers mounted a furious late rally, only to fall short 22-21. In the WFL, touchdowns counted for seven points and an eighth point (or “action point”) could be earned by scoring from the two-and-a-half yard line. The Blazers failed to convert all three Action Points in the title game, and that was the difference in the outcome. That and a controversial call on the Blazers’ opening possession. Television replays on the TVS Network appeared to show Tommy Reamon break the plane in the first quarter, but officials on the field ruled that Florida’s star rookie fumbled the ball through the end zone for a touchback. Reamon, who had a strong game overall with 83 yards on the ground and a touchdown, also failed to convert the decisive action point in the 4th quarter that would have tied the game at 22-22.

The Blazers’ franchise was revoked by the league a few days after the World Bowl loss due to financial insolvency. Within three weeks, Loudd was in jail on charges of embezzling sales taxes collected on Blazers’ ticket sales. A few months later, narcotics trafficking charges were added to Loudd’s legal woes. He was convicted in late 1975 and sentenced to two fourteen-year sentences. Loudd ultimately served three years before being paroled. Loudd later became a minister and passed away in 1998.

Many of the Blazers players ended up playing for a new WFL expansion team in 1975 known as the San Antonio Wings. The Wings were better organized, certainly, than the Blazers. But the league itself went under in October 1975, failing to finish out its second season of operation.

Tommy Reamon played briefly in the NFL in 1976. He later became an actor, most notably playing the wide receiver Delma Huddle in the 1979 Nick Nolte football drama North Dallas Forty.  

 

==1974 Florida Blazers Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
7/10/1974 vs. The Hawaiians W 8-7 Program
7/17/1974 @ Detroit Wheels W 18-14 Program
7/24/1974 vs. Houston Texans W 15-3
7/31/1974 @ Houston Texans L 7-6
8/7/1974 @ Chicago Fire W 46-21
8/14/1974 vs. Jacksonville Sharks W 33-26 Program
8/21/1974 vs. Portland Storm W 11-7
8/28/1974 vs. Memphis Southmen L 26-18
9/2/1974 @ Birmingham Americans  L 8-7 Program
9/6/1974 @ New York Stars W 17-15
9/11/1974 vs. Detroit Wheels L 15-14
9/18/1974 vs. Philadelphia Bell W 24-21  Program
9/26/1974 vs. Chicago Fire W 29-0
10/2/1974 @ Philadelphia Bell W 30-7
10/9/1974 @ Chicago Fire W 45-17
10/16/1974 @ Memphis Southmen L 25-15 Program
10/23/1974 @ Charlotte Hornets W 15-11 Program
10/30/1974 @ Birmingham Americans  L 26-18 Program
11/7/1974 vs. Portland Storm W 23-0 Program
11/14/1974 @ Southern California Sun W 27-24 Ticket
11/21/1974 vs. Philadelphia Bell W 18-3
11/29/1974 @ Memphis Southmen W 18-15
12/5/1974 @ Birmingham Americans  L 22-21 Program

 

==Key Figures==

  • Bob Davis
  • Rommie Loudd
  • Jack Pardee
  • Tommy Reamon

 

==In Memoriam==

Blazers tight end Greg Latta passed away of a heart attack at age 41 on September 28, 1994.

Blazers GM Rommie Loudd died of complications from diabetes on May 9, 1998 at age 64.  New York Times obit.

Blazers linebacker Billy Hobbs died when his moped was struck by a car on August 21, 2004. Hobbs was 57.

Former Blazers head coach Jack Pardee died of cancer on April 1, 2013 at age 76.

 

==Links==

Florida Blazers Fans, Friends & Former Players Facebook Page

World Football League Media Guides

World Football League Programs

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Written by andycrossley

February 20th, 2015 at 3:19 pm

World Football League Trading Cards Series II & III Released

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WFL Trading CardsBack in June 2013, I reviewed a set of World Football League trading cards produced by a quartet of fans and historians who grew up following the WFL during its brief and wacky run in 1974-1975.  The WFL came and went just before the trading card boom of the early 1980’s, so no contemporary card sets were issued during the league’s short existence.

So Greg Allred, Richie Franklin, Bill Jones and Willie O’Burke decided to rectify that with a lovingly curated 70-card series of cards, featuring players from the WFL’s first (and only) full season of 1974.  After an enthusiastic reception by football collectors, the group is back with three new WFL issues, including a Series II devoted to the WFL’s abbreviated 1975 season and a unique “Die-Cut” helmet & logo sub-set, which pays tribute to the Sunbeam Bread grocery store inserts of the mid-1970’s that featured NFL helmets of the era.

Order Your Set Here

Fun While It Lasted caught up Bill Jones & co. for a look at the latest issues in their World Football League retro series.

 

Gerry Philbin New York StarsFWIL:

So give me the lowdown on the current state of your WFL Card Series.  How many series are there now, covering how many cards?

Bill Jones:

We currently have 3 series of 70 cards each and the Die-Cut helmet set. The Series I and III sets feature the 1974 WFL season, while the Series II set features the 1975 season.  We would love to print a card of every player who played in the World Football League, but we know that is not possible.

With our new WFL Die-Cut cards we have paid a great tribute to the WFL and it’s unique style. Our cards have been a way of keeping the spirit of the World Football League alive.

 

FWIL:

Florida BlazersTalk more more about the Die-Cut series.  It features helmets and logos of all the WFL franchises, along with one which never took the field, the Washington Ambassadors.  What was the inspiration there?

Bill Jones:

That credit goes to Willie O’Burke. They were influenced by the Sunbeam Bread NFL cards from 1976. Sunbeam Bread came out with a series of die-cut helmets cards for the NFL. It was one of the best football card sets every produced. The WFL folded before Sunbeam ever had a chance to produce a set for the league, so we’re just trying to capture the same excitement and design of that NFL die-cut series with a version of WFL die-cut cards. Gene Sanny did the artwork for the set and did a fantastic job.  We all wanted to produce something that would give a nod to the early to mid 1970’s while using today’s higher quality technology and materials.

 

FWIL:

After you issued Series I in 2013, did you have any new photo discoveries that you were especially excited about for Series II or III?

Bill Jones:

Actually, every photo we have used on these cards is a “discovery.” Photos of WFL players are very rare in general, so they are each very special. And that’s what makes these cards that much more exciting…they are like little rare photo treasures of a league that made a quick entrance & exit on the pro football landscape.  The best part has been our willingness to open our own collections to allow the best photos to be used in these sets.  The four of us together have an extensive collection of photos.  For us, we have been re-discovering WFL photos from our own collections that we forgot we had.  Together we select the very best we have on each player. We have a few contributors who have lent us photos from their private collections as well. We are very grateful to Chris Gmyrek and Jim Cusano, who both have many great photos. We have even reached out to a few former WFL players.

 

Jim Nance Shreveport SteamerFWIL:

How were sales of the 1st Series compared to your expectations?

Bill Jones:

I’m not sure we had any clear sales expectations when we started out.  The WFL was not around long enough to have a set of cards made.  Fans of the WFL have been waiting for these cards for almost 40 years, and we get to satisfy their long wait. That’s ultimately why we’re doing this: to honor the WFL…a league we loved dearly…and to bring joy to all of the WFL fans we can!

Series I has been our overall best seller. When collectors discover our Web site or read a review on our cards they usually order Series I. Most have been repeat customers, and they end up buying Series II and now Series III.  Our die-hard customers also request our Die-Cut cards too.

 

WFL Trading CardsFWIL:

I continue to be impressed with the card stock especially.  Comparing your WFL series to the recent Topps Archives issues, your cards actually have a much more authentic look and feel than Topps own in-house retro productions.  How did you work to get that authentic/vintage look & feel in the age of digital printing?

Bill Jones:

First of all, thank you for the compliment. The four of us were clearly influenced by the Topps cards we collected growing up in the 1970’s. One of our initial goals was to create a set of cards that looked like it came from the mid-70’s, both in the art design and the materials.  The grey card stock gives the WFL cards that authentic feel.  We had many prototypes that we came up with, and we worked diligently together to come up with our design. It was a total team effort that the four of us are very proud of.  It was also important to all four of us to produce a product that we would want to buy and add to our personal collections.

FWIL:

Do you each have a favorite card from the entire series?

Richie Franklin:

I love all of our cards. I don’t think I have a particular favorite, but a few do stand out for me. I love the Series II Title card with the painting from Gene Sanny. Gene did an outstanding job on that card for us. I like our Virgil Carter (Fire) and Tom Sherman (Stars) cards in Series I. The Don Horn (Thunder) and Anthony Davis (Sun) are great cards from Series II. Our new Series III cards have some great photos of Gerry Philbin (Stars) and Ron Porter (Fire), and they made excellent cards. Again, there are a lot of great cards in all of our sets with rare WFL photos.

Don Horn Portland ThunderWillie O’Burke:

Personally, I’m a fan of the quarterbacks. Even in my NFL football card collection, I mainly stick with the quarterback cards. So each of the quarterback cards in the WFL set stand out to me. I grew up in Houston so the Houston Texans cards are also special.

Bill Jones:

As a fan of the Southern California Sun, I am really excited to have cards of players from this team.  As a helmet enthusiast, I also really like the cards that feature great shots of helmets.  I am particularly happy with the Don Horn (Thunder) card, which shows a helmet stripe combination that was rarely photographed.

Greg:

I think mine would have to be Johnny Musso.  I’ve always been a big University of Alabama fan and Musso fan. He played in the CFL, WFL, & NFL, but only had CFL cards. I’ve never seen an NFL card of his (I don’t think any were ever produced of him) so I’m really grateful to actually be able to have a card of his in this series.

##

WFL Trading Cards Series I, II, III and Die-Cut Helmets Cards are available at:

www.wflfootballcards.com

 

 ==Slideshow==

  • wflcards-wyatt
  • wflcards-title
  • wflcards-walton
  • wflcards-sherman
  • wflcards-reamon
  • wflcards-mira
  • wflcards-kiick
  • wflcards-hawkins
  • wflcards-haden
  • wflcards-gwilliams
  • wflcards-gilliam
  • wflcards-chill
  • Florida Blazers

==Links==

Sports Collectors’ Digest Review

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Written by andycrossley

February 18th, 2015 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Football

2006-2015 Worcester Sharks

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Worcester Sharks vs. St. John's IceCaps. December 27, 2013American Hockey League (2006-2015)

Born: January 9, 2006 – The Cleveland Barons announce they will relocate to Worcester, MA.
Died: January 29, 2015 – The Sharks announce they will relocate to San Jose, CA.

Arena: DCU Center

Team Colors:

Owners: San Jose Sports & Entertainment Enterprises

 

The Worcester Sharks were the top farm club of the NHL’s San Jose Sharks from 2006 to 2015.  The Sharks arrived in the small central Massachusetts city in 2006 from Cleveland, replacing Worcester’s previous AHL franchise, the IceCats (1994-2005).

The Sharks’ best season came in 2009-10 with an Atlantic Division title and a run into the second round of the Calder Cup playoffs.  Aside from that campaign the Sharks never placed higher than 4th in their division.

In early 2015, a long-simmering re-alignment of the American Hockey League saw five western NHL franchises shift their farm clubs from the Eastern seaboard and the South to a newly-formed West Coast Division of the AHL.  On January 29, 2015, San Jose Sports & Entertainment announced they would move the former Worcester Sharks to San Jose at the conclusion of the 2014-15 AHL season. San Jose’s top prospects will now share the SAP Center with their NHL parent club beginning in the fall of 2015.

Worcester’s pro hockey future in the near term looks bleak.  Glens Falls, NY and Manchester, NH, the other two Northeastern cities that lost their AHL franchises in the league’s Westward shift, immediately secured replacement teams in the lower-level ECHL. No obvious ECHL prospects for relocation remain available for Worcester and it appears certain there will be no pro hockey in Wormtown in the immediate future.

 

==Worcester Sharks Games on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
2011-12 11/1/2011 vs. St. John's IceCaps L 6-3 Program
2013-14 12/27/2013 vs. St. John's IceCaps W 5-2 Program

 

==YouTube==

 

==Links==

American Hockey League Media Guides

American Hockey League Programs

###

Written by andycrossley

February 18th, 2015 at 4:15 am

1974-1984 Vancouver Whitecaps

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Vancouver Whitecaps Media GuideNorth American Soccer League (1974-1984)

Born: December 11, 1973 – NASL expansion franchise.
Died: January 1985 – The Whitecaps cease operations.

Stadiums:

Arenas:

  • 1980-1981: Pacific Coliseum
  • 1981-1982: PNE Agrodome
  • 1983-1984: Pacific Coliseum

Team Colors:

Owners:

 

The original Vancouver Whitecaps were British Columbia’s beloved pro soccer club of the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  The club competed in the North American Soccer League from 1974 until 1984.  The ‘Caps also brought an attractive slate of international exhibitions to Vancouver, importing top foreign clubs such as Fluminense, Manchester City, Manchester United, Rangers and Roma for friendly matches and tournaments.  From 1980 to 1984, the Whitecaps played indoor soccer during the winter months.

Vancouver Whitecaps Media GuideOne of the NASL’s top clubs during the late 1970’s, the Whitecaps finest hour came at the conclusion of the 1979 season.  The Whitecaps dispatched the two-time defending champion New York Cosmos in the playoff semi-finals.  Then, on the Cosmos’ home ground at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, the Whitecaps beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 in Soccer Bowl ’79 to capture their first and only title.  An estimated 100,000 fans gathered in downtown Vancouver for a parade to honor the team.

Midway through the 1983 season, the Whitecaps left their long-time home at Empire Stadium to move into the 60,000-seat B.C. Place stadium.  The team’s first game at B.C. Place on June 20, 1983 drew 60,342 fans, which set a Canadian pro soccer attendance record which would stand for three decades.

But attendance in the new dome dipped quickly and by the start of the 1984 season, original founder Herb Capozzi had turned over controlling interest in the team to oil millionaire Bob Carter.  Carter’s reign was an embarrassment.  With the club bleeding millions of dollars, Carter made noises about folding the club in the middle of the 1984 NASL season.  The ‘Caps would end up finishing out the year, knocked out in the playoff semi-finals by the Chicago Sting.  While the ‘Caps were playing out what would be their final games in late 1984, Carter was busy getting himself into hot water for lurid S&M hijinks with a pair of underage prostitutes.

Deep in debt, and with the rest of the NASL collapsing around it, the Whitecaps declared bankruptcy in January 1985 and went out of business.  The Whitecaps name was revived in 2001 and the “new” Whitecaps now compete in Major League Soccer.

 

==Slideshow==

 

 

 

==Vancouver Whitecaps Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other

1974

1974 7/7/1974 vs. St. Louis Stars W 2-1 (SO) Program

1975

1975 5/28/1975 @ New York Cosmos W 1-0 Program
1975 7/3/1975 @ Portland Timbers  L 2-1 Program

1976

1976 5/16/1976 @ San Jose Earthquakes L 2-0 Program
1976 5/19/1976 vs. Rangers T 2-2 Program
1976 7/7/1976 vs. San Jose Earthquakes L 1-0 Program
1976 7/27/1976 vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach W 4-3 Program

1977

1977 4/8/1977 vs. Portland Timbers  L 1-0 Program
1977 6/30/1977 vs. New York Cosmos W 5-3 Program
1977 7/5/1977 vs. Seattle Sounders W 1-0 Program

1978

1978 6/22/1978 vs. Tulsa Roughnecks W 5-1 Program
1978 8/12/1978 @ Portland Timbers  L 1-0 Program

1979

1979 3/30/1979 vs. Dallas Tornado L 2-0 (SO) Program
1979 6/10/1979 @ Minnesota Kicks L 1-0 Program
1979 7/15/1979 @ New York Cosmos W 4-2 Program
1979 8/18/1979 vs. Dallas Tornado W 2-1 Program
1979 9/8/1979 Tampa Bay Rowdies W 2-1 Program

1980

1980 5/21/1980 vs. A.S. Roma T 1-1 Program
1980 5/24/1980 vs. Manchester City W 5-0 Program Video
1980 6/29/1980 vs. New York Cosmos L 3-0 Program
1980 7/6/1980 vs. Rochester Lancers L 3-1 Program

1981

1981 4/18/1981 @ Portland Timbers  W 2-1 (OT) Program
1981 5/11/1981 vs. West Bromwich Albion W 2-1 Program
1981 6/3/1981 vs. Manchester City W 2-0 Program
1981 6/6/1981 vs. Calgary Boomers L 3-2 (SO) Program
1981 6/29/1981 vs. Napoli T 1-1 Program
1981 7/12/1981 @ Chicago Sting L 2-1 (OT) Program
1981 7/15/1981 vs. Sparta Rotterdam W 4-0 Program
1981 8/12/1981 vs. Seattle Sounders W 5-0 Program
1981 8/19/1981 vs. San Jose Earthquakes W 3-1 Program
1981 8/26/1981 vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies L 1-0 Program
1981 10/11/1981 @ Nottingham Forest T 2-2 Program 1
1981 10/11/1981  @ Nottingham Forest T 2-2 Program 2

1982

1982 3/23/1982 vs. Borussia Moenchengladbach ?? Program
1982 6/19/1982 @ Chicago Sting W 3-2 (Shootout) Program
1982 6/23/1982 @ New York Cosmos L 3-2 Program

1983

1983 6/20/1983 vs. Seattle Sounders W 2-1 Program
1983 8/6/1983 vs. Seattle Sounders L 2-1 Program
1983 9/8/1983 vs. Toronto Blizzard W 1-0 Program

1983-84 (Indoor)

1983-84 12/30/1983 @ Chicago Sting L 7-3 Program
1983-84 1/13/1984 @ Chicago Sting L 4-3 (OT) Program

1984

1984 5/20/1984 @ New York Cosmos L 2-1 Program
1984 5/23/1984 vs. Golden Bay Earthquakes W 5-3 Program
1984 5/27/1984 vs. Ajax L 2-1 Program
1984 6/6/1984 vs. Fluminense W 3-1 Program
1984 6/27/1984 vs. Chicago Sting W 1-0 Program
1984 8/29/1984 @ New York Cosmos L 2-1 Program
1984 9/18/1984 @ Chicago Sting W 1-0 (OT) Program
1984 9/23/1984 vs. Chicago Sting L 3-1 Program

 

==Key Players==

 

==In Memoriam==

Alan Ball (Whitecaps ’79-’80) died April 25, 2007 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in his home. Daily Telegraph obituary.

Former Whitecaps GM Peter Bridgwater (’79-’83) passed away from cancer on June 21, 2005.  Soccer America obituary.

Whitecaps founder and long-time owner Herb Capozzi died of cancer on November 21, 2011 at age 86.

 

==YouTube==

The Whitecaps vs. Montreal Manic at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. August 1, 1981

 

==Links==

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

###

Written by andycrossley

February 16th, 2015 at 4:19 am

March 17, 1984 – Cleveland Force vs. Pittsburgh Spirit

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Dave MacKenzie Pittsburgh SpiritCleveland Force vs. Pittsburgh Spirit
March 17, 1984
Richfield Coliseum
Attendance: 19,048

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs

 

Cleveland-Pittsburgh isn’t just a great rivalry in the NFL.  Back in the early 1980’s, the two cities had a fierce rivalry in indoor soccer, of all things.  The Pittsburgh Spirit, owned by Pittsburgh Penguins boss Edward DeBartolo Sr., were relatively popular, claiming similar crowds to the pre-Lemieux Pens.  Meanwhile, after several glum years at the box office, the Cleveland Force became a late-blooming hit, packing huge crowds into the Richfield Coliseum by 1983.

The Spirit-Force rivalry burned hottest during the 1983-84 season. Both clubs were virtually unbeatable at home and the two teams stayed neck-and-neck in the Eastern Division of the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) throughout the winter.  Together with a third Eastern Division foe, the Baltimore Blast, the trio were easily the three best clubs in the MISL.

The standing room-only crowd of 19,048 was a regular season record for the Cleveland Force and the 5th largest crowd in history for the MISL at the time.  The home town fans would go home disappointed.  Ian Sybis netted a hat trick for Pittsburgh and Polish defender Adam Topolski added a goal and three assists en route to a 6-4 win for the visitors.

The Force would take their revenge in the postseason.  The clubs finished with near identical records.  Pittsburgh in 2nd place at 32-16 (19-5 at home) and Cleveland right behind at 31-17 (18-6 at home).  But in the quarterfinal playoffs, the Force easily dispatched the Spirit 3 games to 1 in a best-of-five series.

The Cleveland-Pittsburgh soccer rivalry dissolved when the Pittsburgh Spirit went out of business in April 1986.  The Cleveland Force followed two years, shutting down in July 1988.

 

==Links==

Cleveland Force Home Page

Pittsburgh Spirit Home Page

##

 

 

Written by andycrossley

February 15th, 2015 at 2:27 pm