Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1983-1985 Tampa Bay Bandits

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Burt Reynolds Tampa Bay BanditsUnited States Football League (1983-1985)

Born: May 11, 1982 – USFL founding franchise
Folded: August 1986

Stadium: Tampa Stadium

Team Colors:


USFL Championships: None


Text coming soon…





==Tampa Bay Bandits Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other


1983 3/6/1983 vs. Boston Breakers W 21-17 Program
1983 3/20/1983 @ New Jersey Generals W 32-9 Program
1983 6/19/1983 @ Boston Breakers L 24-17 Program


1984 4/1/1984 @ Philadelphia Stars L 38-24 Program
1984 7/1/1984 @ Birmingham Stallions L 36-17 Program


1985 2/9/1985 vs. New Jersey Generals W 21-7 Program
1985 2/23/1985 vs. Orlando Renegades W 35-7 Program
1985 3/3/1985 vs. Houston Gamblers L 50-28 Program
1985 3/10/1985 @ San Antonio Gunslingers W 31-18 Program
1985 3/16/1985 vs. Arizona Outlaws W 23-13 Program
1985 4/21/1985 @ Birmingham Stallions L 30-3 Program
1985 5/4/1985 @ Los Angeles Express W 24-14 Program
1985 6/30/1985 @ Oakland Invaders L 30-27 Program



“All The Fun The Law Allows” – 1983 Tampa Bay Bandits highlight video


==In Memoriam==

Bandits part-owner Stephen Arky shot himself to death on July 24, 1985 after being implicated in the $300M collapse of Ft. Lauderdale bond trading firm E.S.M. Government Securities. Arky was 42. The Bandits had played their final game 24 days earlier.

Bandits founder and principal owner John Bassett died of brain cancer on May 15, 1986 at age 47.

Bandits offensive lineman Ed Gantner (’83), later a professional wrestler, committed suicide on December 31, 1990 at age 31.

Cornerback Bobby Futrell (Bandits ’85) hung himself on June 1, 1992. He was 29.

Lee Scarfone, the last owner of the Bandits in late 1985 and 1986, passed away on May 28, 2005 at the age of 73.

1981-1984 Rochester Flash

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Rochester Flash ProgramAmerican Soccer League (1981-1982)
United Soccer League (1984)

Born: 1981 – ASL expansion franchise
Folded: Postseason 1984

Stadium: Holleder Stadium (20,000)

Team Colors: Orange and Black

Owners: Eugene Quatro, Jr., et al.


The Rochester Flash soccer club – great moniker for a company town like Rochester where Kodak was king.  The Flash were formed in 1981 to fill the void left by the departed Rochester Lancers soccer team (1967-1980).  The Lancers played in the North American Soccer League, the top level of pro soccer in the U.S. at the time. After winning a league title in 1970, the Lancers settled into a long stretch of mediocrity but their membership in the NASL meant that legendary players such as Pele and Franz Beckenbauer visited the Holleder Stadium turf during the late 1970’s.

For all the NASL’s problems (that league would fold in 1984), it was a paragon of stability compared to the ramshackle 2nd Division American Soccer League that the Flash entered in 1981. Rochester’s opening match was in New Bedford, Massachusetts against the New England Sharks, another 1981 expansion franchise.  The Sharks would be out of business after 17 games, failing to complete their regular season schedule. This kind of midseason catastrophe was par for the course in the ASL.

Rochester Flash ProgramThe Sharks were also the Flash’s opponent when the team made its home debut at Holleder Stadium on June 7th, 1981. More than 5,000 fans turned out – a number not too far below what the Lancers typically attracted for much of the 1970’s. Under Head Coach Don Lalka, the Flash finished the 1981 season 11-12-5 and backed into a one-game playoff against the Carolina Lightnin’.  It was a Jekyll and Hyde campaign. The Flash were virtually unbeatable at home, the only blemish being a 2-1 loss to New York United at Holleder in July, but the team was hopeless on the road.  The playoff game was down in Charlotte, North Carolina and the Flash followed script by losing 2-0.  Ukrainian striker Mike Laschev, one of several Flash players who played indoor soccer during the winter months for the Buffalo Stallions of the MISL, led the team in scoring with 13 goals and 5 assists.

At the end of the 1981 season, the Flash courted controversy by sub-letting Holleder Stadium for a planned rugby match between an American team and the touring Springboks national team from South Africa. South Africa was deep in the grip of Apartheid and the divestment movement in the United States was just starting to gain traction in the early 1980’s. The Flash ultimately cancelled the match, but not before the episode gain the team the broadest national press coverage it would ever receive.

The 1982 season on the field was largely a repeat of the previous campaign. Laschev did not return, but another moonlighting Stallions player, Ernie Buriano, picked up the scoring slack with 9 goals and 6 assists.  The club again made the playoffs with a losing record (10-15-2) thanks in part to the ASL’s ever-dwindling membership, which was down to just seven clubs in 1982. Once again, the Flash ran into the Carolina Lightnin’ in the first round and were quickly dispatched.

The Flash went dark for the 1983 season, which turned out to be the last campaign for the 50-year old American Soccer League. But in February 1984, a handful of refugee clubs from the now-defunct ASL banded together to form the United Soccer League. Improbably, the Flash returned from oblivion to stage a third season in the USL in the spring of 1984.

The Flash finished the 1984 USL season with the worst record in the 9-team circuit (7-17) and quietly disbanded for good.

Pro soccer returned to Rochester twelve years later with the formation of the Rochester Raging Rhinos in 1996.  The Rhinos were so popular during the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, that the city of Rochester was briefly considered a strong candidate for a Major League Soccer expansion franchise. Those days are long gone and the Rhinos have since fallen on hard times, but they continue to play.


==Rochester Flash Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other


1982 7/17/1982 @ Detroit Express ?? Program


1984 6/10/1984 vs. Buffalo Storm W 3-1 Program
1984 6/12/1984 @ New York Nationals L 3-1 Program



American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs




Written by andycrossley

November 28th, 2015 at 6:39 pm

1976 Oakland Buccaneers

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American Soccer League (1976)

Born: 1976 – ASL expansion franchise
Folded: Postseason 1976


Team Colors:

Owner: Jaime Ruiz Llaguno, Juan Jose Camacho, Leon Crosby, et al.

ASL Championships: None


The Oakland Buccaneers (also known as the Golden Bay Buccaneers) were an obscure U.S. pro soccer club that played one season in the summer of 1976.  The team was a typical lower-division disaster of the era, beset by bounced paychecks, non-existent promotion and vanishing owners.  The penniless club operated the final months of the 1976 season without so much as a working phone line, a subject of frequent mockery by The Oakland Tribune and the Fremont-based Argus, both of which somewhat inexplicably gave the team coverage.

The Buccs were founded in early 1976 as part of a nationwide expansion of the 43-year old American Soccer League. The ASL was traditionally a Northeastern semi-pro collection of ethnic clubs. But the league became fully professional in the 1970’s and became the de facto 2nd Division of American soccer. Clubs in Los Angeles, Oakland, Sacramento and Salt Lake City were added in 1976 to give the ASL a true national footprint for the first time. All but the Los Angeles Skyhawks franchise turned out to be poorly-organized basket cases.

The founder and principal owner of the Buccs was a tequila exporter from Guadalajara named Jaime Ruiz Llaguno.  Llaguno signed former C.D. Guadalajara manager Javier De La Torre to coach the team and talked of playing at the Oakland Coliseum.  That grandiose plan fell through and the Buccs wound up at Edwards Stadium, the track and field venue at California-Berkeley. Midway through the season, Llaguno abandoned the club. Without any sort of announcement, the team left Berkeley and shifted its game to Tak Fudenna Stadium, a high school football field in Fremont. The players and a couple of staff members soldiered on without pay and somehow managed to complete 18 of 21 scheduled games. The Oakland Buccaneers finished their only season with a record of 6-10-2.

The American Soccer League went out of business in 1984.


==Oakland Buccaneers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other


1976 6/19/1976 @ Los Angeles Skyhawks ?? Program



American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs


1983-1985 Louisville Catbirds

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Louisville Catbirds ProgramContinental Basketball Association (1983-1985)

Born: June 27, 1983 – CBA expansion franchise.
Moved: July 11, 1985 (La Crosse Catbirds)


Team Colors:

Owners: J. Bruce Miller, Nolen Allen, et al.


The Louisville Catbirds were a minor league basketball outfit that played for two seasons in the Continental Basketball Association. The Catbirds identity was selected to try to appeal to both University of Kentucky fans (“Cats”) and University of Louisville (“Birds”) hoops fans.

The Catbirds signed a pair of troubled but talented ex-stars from the University of Kentucky. Dirk Minnifield was Kentucky’s “Mr. Basketball” as a high school senior in 1979. The 6′ 3″ point guard fathered three children by the time he arrived at UK. Minnifield later acknowledged heavy drug use during his Wildcats career. Minnifield began his pro career with the Catbirds in 1983. He would make it to the NBA in 1985 and hung around the league in a journeyman capacity. After cleaning up in the 1990’s, Minniefield became an NBA drug counselor.

More troublesome was the Catbirds’ late 1983 signing of paroled serial rapist Tom Payne. In 1969 Payne integrated the UK basketball program as the first black player on Adolph Rupp’s team. Payne played one season at UK before entering the NBA in 1971, where the Atlanta Hawks signed the 7′ 1″ center to a 5-year, $750,000 contract.  Payne was arrested in Georgia at the end of his rookie season on multiple rape charges. Soon after, he was indicted by Kentucky prosecutors for a separate series of sexual assaults. Payne would spend the next 11 years in Georgia and Kentucky prisons, all the while maintaining his innocence. Paroled in November 1983, the Catbirds quickly signed the 33-year old.  The CBA initially prohibited Payne from playing road games, but basketball writer John Feinstein reported that he received a warm reception in Louisville. Payne received a standing ovation at Louisville Gardens during his Catbirds debut.

In February 1986, his basketball career now over, Payne and stalked and raped a woman returning from an Valentine’s Day date in Los Angeles. Police arrested Payne during the commission of the assault in the victim’s parking garage. He was convicted in November 1986 and has spent the past 30 years in prison.

In Louisville, the Catbirds left Louisville Gardens downtown and moved to Broadbent Arena at the state fairgrounds for their second season in the winter of 1984-85. Attendance plummeted by more than 50% at Broadbent and the team was sold during the summer of 1985. The new owners moved the club to La Crosse, Wisconsin, where the team was known as the La Crosse Catbirds from 1985 to 1994.

Attorney J. Bruce Miller, who was often the public face of the Catbirds’ ownership group, has subsequently spent years trying to attract an NBA franchise to Louisville.



“A Journey of Payne: From Jailbird’s Life To a Catbirds’ Seat“, John Feinstein, The Los Angeles Times, January 25, 1984

Continental Basketball Association Media Guides

Continental Basketball Association Programs




Written by andycrossley

November 26th, 2015 at 3:52 pm

August 10, 1980 – New York United vs. Ecuador

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Clodoaldo New York UnitedNew York United vs. Ecuador
International Friendly Match
August 10, 1980
Shea Stadium
Attendance: 11,332

American Soccer League Programs
4 Pages


A great find this week via longtime New York-area soccer promoter & journalist Charles Cuttone.  This packet of programs and press materials comes from an August 1980 challenge match between New York United of the American Soccer League and the National Team of Ecuador.

New York United in 1980 was a lower-division side with a new owner and grand aspirations.  Gas station operator Jim Sorentino bought the ASL’s New York Apollo in 1980 and moved the club from its long-time home on Long Island to Shea Stadium, cavernous home of the New York Jets and Mets.  United’s 15 appearances in the summer of 1980 marked the first time pro soccer was played inside the city limits since the New York Cosmos played one season at Yankee Stadium in 1976.

Sorrentino seemingly tried to rip a page from the playbook of the free-spending Cosmos.  The Cosmos famously signed Pele to an historic contract in 1975. Sorrentino signed Pele’s Santos teammate and fellow Brazilian World Cup hero Clodoaldo to play for United in 1980. United signed a big name coach in former Queens Park Rangers star Rodney Marsh (whom Sorrentino immediately alienated – Marsh had resigned by the time this late-season match came around). In October of 1980, United would undertake an extensive tour through Central America and the Carribbean. It was the kind of thing the Cosmos did every fall, but it was virtually unheard of for an American 2nd Division club at the time.

The difference was that the Cosmos still drew crowds of 40,000+ to Giants Stadium in the summer of 1980.  United were lucky to draw a couple thousand at Shea.

Charles Cuttone – United Director of Public Relations 1980

About a week out there had been very few tickets sold, and little buzz about the game. I convinced Jimmy Sorentino to give us an advertising budget. We spent 10K in a week in New York newspapers and I even bought time on the New York Cosmos radio broadcasts. The phones started ringing, tickets started moving and we drew that big crowd.

Press accounts put the crowd at 11,332 and claimed it was the 3rd largest crowd to ever watch a pro soccer match in New York City.  The Ecuadorians put United put under siege for much of the match, but the hosts managed to keep it close.  The lone goal was a 51st minute strike by Ecuador midfielder Jorge Valdez.

Charles Cuttone

I went in to the United offices on Tuesday after the game. The owner showed us the ledger sheet with a $10,000 loss on the game, said that was the money spent on advertising, and fired us. I came back a couple of months later as a favor to the GM to help with the Central American tour. I think <Sorrentino> ended up owning the team for less than a year.

United played one more season in 1981 and then folded quietly. The team is all but forgotten today, lacking even the most basic credential of the digital age – a Wikipedia page.



August 10, 1980 New York United vs. National Team of Ecuador Program

August 10, 1980 New York United vs. National Team of Ecuador Game Notes



New York United Home Page

More ASL International Friendlies


Written by andycrossley

November 25th, 2015 at 10:05 pm