North American Soccer League (1975-1976)
Died: Postseason 1976 – The Thunder relocate to Honolulu, Hawaii.
Stadium: Alamo Stadium
The San Antonio Scorpions (@SAScorpions) of the 2nd Division North American Soccer League have announced a cool turn-back-the-clock promotion for their July 21st match against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Heroes Stadium in San Antonio.
The Scorps will pay tribute to an all-but-forgotten chapter in the rather thin history of pro soccer in San Antonio – the two-year run of the unloved San Antonio Thunder (1975-1976) of the original North American Soccer League (1968-1984). The Thunder didn’t exactly set San Antonio aflame with soccer passion in the mid-1970’s. According to the American Soccer History Archives, the club finished out of the postseason chase in both years of their existence at Alamo Stadium and averaged fewer than 5,000 spectators per match.
The first-year Scorpions, by contrast, are quite popular in San Antonio. Through their first six home matches, the Scorps are averaging a robust 9,460 fans per game according to Kenn.com, more than double any other team in the 2nd division.
One interesting historical footnote. The 1976 Thunder imported 34-year old English legend Bobby Moore – captain of England’s 1966 World Cup championship team. Moore suited up for 24 matches for the Thunder that season.
Following the 1976 season, new ownership moved the franchise to Honolulu, where the club spent one year as Team Hawaii. After the 1977 campaign, the club relocated once again to Oklahoma, playing out the rest of the NASL’s existence as the Tulsa Roughnecks until the franchise folded in September 1984, followed shortly thereafter by the NASL itself.
As for the Scorpions promo, no word on throw back jerseys or a reunion of any ex-Thunder players of personnel. The centerpiece of the promotion will be a price rollback to 1976 dollars – free parking, $4 tickets and $1 hot dogs and soft drinks.
Choosing the match against the Strikers is a nice, subtle addition to the retro theme. The Strikers themselves are a throw back brand, recalling the glory days of the original Fort Lauderdale Strikers – who featured George Best, Teofilo Cubillas, Gerd Mueller and Ray Hudson among other international stars – at Lockhart Stadium as members of the original NASL from 1977 to 1983.