Lively Tales About Dead Teams

Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

1987-2000 Vancouver 86ers

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Vancouver 86ersCanadian Soccer League (1987-1992)
American Professional Soccer League (1993-1996)
A-League (1997-2000)

Born: 1986 – CSL founding franchise.
Died: October 26, 2000 – Re-branded as the Vancouver Whitecaps.

Stadium: Swangard Stadium (6,500)

Team Colors:

  • 1993-????: Red, Black & White





==Vancouver 86ers Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1987 6/28/1987 vs. Calgary Kickers ?? Program



==In Memoriam==

Former 86ers owner Milan Ilich died of leukemia on June 29, 2011 at age 76.



Canadian Soccer League Media Guides

Canadian Soccer League Programs

American Professional Soccer League Media Guides

American Professional Soccer League Programs




Written by andycrossley

July 28th, 2014 at 1:49 am

October 15, 1979 – Birmingham City F.C. vs. Los Angeles Aztecs

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Birmingham City Los Angeles AztecsBirmingham City F.C. vs. Los Angeles Aztecs
October 15, 1979
St. Andrew’s
Attendance: ?

North American Soccer League Programs
10 pages


This is one of my favorites from our batch of vintage international friendly programmes from the North American Soccer League (1968-1984).  Postseason tours of Western Europe were not uncommon for some of the league’s more ambitious and stable clubs, such as the Cosmos, Rowdies and Whitecaps, during the late 1970′s and early 1980′s.

Few seem to ever count the Los Angeles Aztecs among that fraternity of top American clubs, although they periodically reached for the brass ring with the splashy signing of a George Best or Johan Cruyff.  The Aztecs also sprang for arguably the top manager ever to join the NASL, when they imported Cruyff’s former Ajax and Dutch national team coach Rinus Michels in 1979.

This September-October 1979 jaunt through Holland and England was both the first and last foreign tour that the Aztecs would ever undertake.  The promotional hook for the expedition was the presence of Cruyff, the NASL’s reigning Most Valuable Player and one of the greatest players in the world.  Most of the games were in the Netherlands, where Cruyff was a national icon.  (So was Michels, but he did not accompany the Aztecs on this trip for some reason).   The Aztecs stopped off for two matches in the UK at the very end of the trip – this one against the Blues on a Monday evening at St. Andrew’s and a tour-closing date with Chelsea at Stamford Bridge two nights later.

This match ended up a 1-1 draw.  English journeyman Gerry Ingram netted to lone goal for the Aztecs – a club he never played for other than on this tour.  (Ingram played for the Anaheim-based California Surf of the NASL during the regular season).

These October 1980 English friendlies turned out to be the final matches that Cruyff ever played for the Aztecs.  Early in 1980 the club was sold to a Mexican syndicate who wanted to market the team more specifically to Los Angeles’ Hispanic market.  They had little interest in retaining Cruyff and his $700,000 annual salary.  The Aztecs sold his contract to the Washington Diplomats for a reported $1M transfer fee in February 1980.



More NASL International Friendlies


Written by andycrossley

July 27th, 2014 at 5:02 pm

1988-1994 Fort Lauderdale Strikers

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Fort Lauderdale Strikers APSLAmerican Soccer League (1988-1989)
American Professional Soccer League (1990-1994)

Born: 1987 – ASL founding franchise.
Died: Postseason 1994 – The Strikers withdraw from the APSL.



Team Colors: Red, Yellow & Black


The Fort Lauderdale Strikers of 1988 to 1994 were the second incarnation of the famed American soccer club.  (The brand name has subsequently been revived two more times).   The original Strikers played in the North American Soccer League from 1977 through 1983 and were owned by the Robbie family, who also owned the NFL’s Miami Dolphins at the time.  The NASL strikers attracted world class international such as West Germany’s Gerd Mueller, Northern Ireland’s George Best and Peru’s Teofilo Cubillas.  The club was popular in South Florida and occasionally sold out Lockhart Stadium to the tune of nearly 20,000 fans in the late 1970′s.

But enthusiasm for the Strikers and the NASL more generally faded in the early 1980′s and the Robbies moved the club to Minneapolis in late 1983.   In Minnesota the original Strikers soon transformed into an indoor team and dissolved in June 1988 after years of multi-million dollar losses.  Meanwhile, the NASL went out of business in early 1985, leaving the United States without a major outdoor pro soccer league for the next three years.

The American Soccer League launched in 1988 to fill the pro soccer void along the East Coast.  A number of former NASL cities joined and dusted off old their identities, including the Strikers, the Tampa Bay Rowdies and a new version of the Washington Diplomats.  One promising sign was the return of the Robbie family to operate the Strikers in Fort Lauderdale.  Several old Strikers fan favorites from the NASL era – now mostly in their mid-30′s – returned to the club as well, including Cubillas, midfielders Ray Hudson and Thomas Rongen and goalkeeper Arnie Mausser. Jimmy McGeough Fort Lauderdale Strikers

The Robbies entrusted the on-field product to long-time soccer executive Noel Lemon, another veteran of the NASL days.  Lemon hired Wim Suurbier as Head Coach and the Strikers finished the 1988 debut season of the American Soccer League in first place.  But the Strikers lost both legs of the two-game ASL championship series to the Washington Diplomats.  The deciding loss came at home on August 27, 1988 before 4,257 fans at Lockhart Stadium.  In the locker room following the match, an angry Noel Lemon cut Teofilo Cubillas, ostensibly for missing a team practice several days earlier.

“<Cubillas> is the biggest disgrace I’ve ever been associated with,” Lemon added after the loss.  Cubillas would play a handful of games for the ASL’s Miami Sharks the following summer before his pro career came to a quiet end in 1989.  The Peruvian World Cup hero is a fixture on Top 50 and Top 100 rankings of the best footballers of the 20th century.

It was an ignominious dismissal for one of the franchise’s all-time greats.  Lemon’s outburst drew a public admonition from Joe Robbie, but Robbie’s health was in decline and his time with the Strikers was short.  Robbie sold the majority interest in the Strikers to Lemon in early 1989 before the club’s second season.  Joe Robbie would pass away in January 1990.  His wife Elizabeth, founder of the original Strikers in 1977, died in 1991.

Long-time Striker Thomas Rongen replaced Wim Suurbier as Head Coach for the 1989.  The Strikers defeated the Boston Bolts to win the ASL championship in August.  In early September, the Strikers travelled to San Jose, California to play in a “national championship” match against the San Diego Nomads, the champions of the Western Soccer Alliance.  The Strikers prevailed 3-1.  The Strikers would reach the ASL final for a third straight season in 1990, losing to the Maryland Bays.

After the Robbies left the picture in early 1989, the Strikers financial fortunes declined steadily.  Noel Lemon was not a wealthy man and the club experienced cash flow problems, ultimately resulting in Lemon’s loss of the franchise in late 1991.  The ownership turned over several times in the early 1990′s, including a period late in the 1992 season where the team became an owner-less ward of the league.  Lemon sued to regain control of the club and fought for his reinstatement until the team’s demise following the 1994 season.


==Fort Lauderdale Strikers Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1988 7/1/1988 @ Orlando Lions ?? Program
1989 6/11/1989 @ New Jersey Eagles W 1-0 Program
1989 9/9/1989 San Diego Nomads W 3-1 Program
1990 5/5/1990 vs. Miami Freedom ?? Program
1990 5/20/1990 @ New Jersey Eagles W 2-1 Program
1990 5/26 1990 vs. New Jersey Eagles ?? Program
1990 7/26/1990 vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies ?? Program
1992 8/16/1992 vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies W 2-1 Program



==In Memoriam==

Strikers owner (1988) Joe Robbie died on January 7, 1990 at age 73.

Strikers founder/owner Elizabeth Robbie passed away in November 1991.

Defender Barry Wallace succumbed to cancer on October 17, 2006 at age 47.

Strikers President and owner Noel Lemon died on November 22, 2012.  Lemon was 68 years old.



American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs


December 3, 1985 – Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers

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Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers. December 3, 1985Wichita Wings vs. St. Louis Steamers
December 3, 1985
Kansas Coliseum
Attendance: ?

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs


The early/mid 1980′s clashes between the Wichita Wings and the St. Louis Steamers made for one of the best rivalries during the golden era of indoor soccer.  Both teams were popular and drew large crowds at the time, which fueled the competition.

I chose to post this game because 1.) someone posted a great-looking 46-minute edit of the St. Louis local broadcast on YouTube and 2.) we had the game program here in the archives, courtesy of Wings historian and occasional FWiL contributor Michael Romalis.  That’s the late Slobo Ilijevski of the Steamers on the cover (above right), one of the all-time greats of the indoor game.

Oh yeah – this game also featured one of the greatest goals in MISL history.  A ludicrous, ill-conceived length-of-the-floor sprint by Wichita goalkeeper Jan Olesen.  The seldom-used Dane, who would play only 16 games in the Major Indoor Soccer League, beat three St. Louis defenders and nutmegged Slobo to open the scoring in the 2nd quarter and send the Kansas Coliseum crowd into a frenzy.   There’s a separate highlight clip of Olesen’s rampage in the video section below.

The Wings held on for a 4-3 victory.



Jan Olesen’s end-to-end golazo…


St. Louis Steamers local broadcast.  46-minute edit:



Written by andycrossley

July 5th, 2014 at 5:19 pm

1978-1980 Philadelphia Fury

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Philadelphia FuryNorth American Soccer League (1978-1980)

Born: 1978 – NASL expansion franchise.
Died: October 1980 – The Fury relocate to Montreal, Quebec.

Stadium: Veterans Stadium (56,000)

Team Colors: Burgundy, Gold & White

Owners: Frank Barsalona, Elliot Hoffman, Larry Levine, Peter Rudge, et al.


The Philadelphia Fury marked the second go round for the North American Soccer League in the City of Brotherly Love.  The Fury followed on the heels of the Philadelphia Atoms (1973-1976), who won the league championship as an expansion team in 1973 and became the first NASL team featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  The Fury brought back couple of popular players from the Atoms era, including goalkeeper Bob Rigby and defender Bobby Smith.

The Fury weren’t able to replicate the on-field success of the Atoms or anything close to it.  In their debut season of 1978, the club was managed by player-coach Alan Ball.  Thanks to the NASL’s forgiving playoff system, the Fury squeaked into the postseason despite a 12-18 last place record.  They were quickly dispatched by fellow expansioneers the Detroit Express in the opening round.

Philadelphia FuryIn 1979 the Fury were worse, dropping to 10-20 in the regular season.  Once again this was good enough for the playoffs though and, in the franchise’s finest hour, the Fury shocked the Houston Hurricane (22-8) in the first round.  The Philadelphians were eliminated by eventual Soccer Bowl ’79 finalists Tampa Bay Rowdies in the quarterfinals.  Scottish forward David Robb finished 5th in the NASL in scoring in 1979 with 16 goals and 20 assists, but he would not return to the club in 1980.

In 1980 the Fury hired Eddie Firmani to manage the club.  Firmani was one of the NASL’s most successful coaches, having won three of the previous five Soccer Bowls as manager at Tampa Bay and New York Cosmos.  But the club regressed again, finishing with a franchise worst 10-22 record and missing the playoffs for the first time.  Worse yet, the Fury had the worst home attendance in the 24-team NASL for the second season in a row, pulling fewer than 5,000 per match at Veterans Stadium.

In October 1980 the club was sold off to Molson Breweries and moved to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.  The former Fury franchise played three more seasons as the Montreal Manic before going out of business in November 1983.

With their mediocre performance on-field, the Fury were best known for their sprawling 15-man ownership group.  The syndicate was made up largely of rock music impresarios including Rolling Stones manager Peter Rudge, concert promoter Frank Barsalona and stars Paul Simon and Peter Frampton.


==Philadelphia Fury Matches on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other
1979 6/16/1979  @ Chicago Sting L 3-1 Program
1979 8/25/1979 @ Tampa Bay Rowdies L 1-0   Video
1980 7/16/1980 vs. New York Cosmos W 2-1  Program
1980 7/30/1980 @ California Surf L 3-1  Program



Grim times for the Fury in 1980 in a near-empty Veterans Stadium:


The Fury on the road at Tampa Bay in the 1979 NASL quarterfinals. August 25, 1979



North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs