Lively Tales About Dead Teams

1982-1985 Oklahoma City Slickers / Oklahoma City Stampede / Tulsa Tornados

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The Oklahoma City Slickers were an expansion entry in the American Soccer League in the spring of 1982.   The ASL was a de facto 2nd Division league that traced its roots back to the early 1930’s.  By the time the Slickers entered the league in 1982, the ASL was on its last legs, doomed by over expansion, invisibility and constant franchise turnover.

Slickers Head Coach Brian Harvey put together a stellar expansion side, led by English NASL veterans Phil Parkes in goal and Jeff Bourne at forward.  Parkes played all 28 games, posting a 19-6-3 record.  Bourne finished third in the ASL in scoring with 20 goals and eight assists.

The Slickers carried a 13-match winning streak into the best-of-three ASL championship series against the Detroit Express in late September 1982.  The Slickers won the first match on the road at the Pontiac Silverdome and had the chance to ice the series at home, where the Slickers had a 15-game unbeaten streak.  But the Express scored two late goals to defeat the Slickers 2-0 at Taft Stadium and send the series back to Pontiac for a deciding Game Three.  The Express won the rubber match 4-1 before an announced crowd of 33,762 at the Silverdome on September 22, 1982.

By the 1983 season, the ASL had dwindled to just six franchises, with five southern clubs scattered from Dallas to Charlotte, plus Allentown, Pennsylvania.  The team was unable to retain Jeff Bourne who joined the ASL’s lone expansion club in Dallas.  Phil Parkes returned for part of the season, but the Slickers sold his contract to the Toronto Blizzard of the North American Soccer League in early July 1983.  Brian Harvey’s team could not recapture the magic of the first season and the Slickers dropped to a league-worst record of 8-17.

In late 1983, the American Soccer League finally threw in the towel after 51 years of operation.  The Slickers joined three other ASL clubs – the Rochester Flash, the Dallas American and the Jacksonville Tea Men – to help form a successor organization, the United Soccer League.  The USL debuted in the spring of 1984 with nine franchises. The USL intended to operated year-round, playing both indoor and outdoor soccer, something the ASL had never attempted.  The league also made a firm commitment to Americanization, requiring that fourteen of the eighteen players on each roster be Americans.

 As part of the shift to the new league, the Slickers changed their name to the Oklahoma City Stampede for the 1984 season.  The Stampede bounced back in a big way from the disappointment of the 1983 season.  NASL veterans Thompson Usiyan and David Kemp provided a new scoring punch, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the league in total points.  Jamaican-born Delroy Allen handled the bulk of the goalkeeping duties.

The Stampede finished the 1984 USL season at 15-9, tied for the best record in the league.  The Houston Dynamos eliminated the Stampede in the semi-finals in a mild upset.

Following the 1984 season, six of the nine USL franchises folded or withdrew from the league.  Stampede owner David Fraser moved his club to Skelly Stadium in Tulsa and renamed it the Tulsa Tornados.  Brian Harvey was once again tabbed to coach.

The 1985 USL season was a disaster from the word go.  Just one week into the campaign, the Tornados cancelled their June 1st home game after the team missed its payroll and the unpaid players balked.  The league played only six matches in total before creditors foreclosed on the league, forcing its shutdown in midseason.   Coupled with the demise of the 1st Division North American Soccer League several months earlier, this left the United States without any league for professional outdoor soccer during 1985.


1982 Oklahoma City Slickers Roster as of 5-15-1982

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