Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1967-1968 Orange County Ramblers

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Orange County Ramblers ProgramContinental Football League (1967-1968)

Born: 1967
Moved: 1969 (Portland Loggers)


Team Colors:



The Orange County Ramblers were a superb minor league football team that enjoyed a brief two-year existence in the late 1960’s. Under Head Coach Homer Beatty, the Ramblers assembled a 21-3 record over two regular seasons in the Continental Football League. The CoFL (1965-1969) existed one rung beneath the NFL and AFL and lived up to its ambitious name, with franchises stretched across the United States and Canada. Only one minor league squad in North American could lick the Ramblers – the Orlando Panthers, who defeated the Californians in the Continental League championship game in both 1967 and 1968.

Good as they were, the Ramblers couldn’t sustain much of a following in Orange County. The team tried several venues in Santa Ana and Anaheim. The team’s best crowds, announced in the 8,000 – 10,000 range, came during a late season stretch of games at Anaheim Stadium in 1967. This included a gathering of 8,730 for the Continental Football League title game on December 10th, 1967. But when the Ramblers returned to the 43,000-seat Major League Baseball venue to start the 1968 season, the fans failed to come with them. The Ramblers failed to crack 4,000 fans for a single contest in 1968 despite a league-best 11-1 record. The team moved to San Bernardino midway through the season in search of more fans (or at least cheaper rent).

The Ramblers’ final appearance was a 30-23 loss to the Panthers in the Continental League championship game at the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando on November 30th, 1968.

The Ramblers were expelled from the Continental League in the spring of 1969. The team’s player contracts were originally assigned to a group hoping to put a new franchise in Hawaii. When those plans fell through, the contracts were given to a hastily-organized group that entered a Portland, Oregon franchise (the Loggers) into the CoFL just weeks before the 1969 season kicked off. The Continental League folded at the end of the 1969 campaign.


==Orange County Ramblers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1967 8/26/1967 vs. Victoria Steelers W 52-3 Program
1967 10/1/1967 @ Eugene Bombers L 21-17 Program
1967 10/29/1967 @ San Jose Apaches W 14-3 Program
1967 12/10/1967 vs. Orlando Panthers L 38-14 Program


1968 9/22/1968 vs. Seattle Rangers W 19-0 Program



Contintental Football League Media Guides

Continental Football League Programs


July 5, 1975 – Southern California Sun vs. San Antonio Wings

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Southern California Sun vs. San Antonio Wings
July 5, 1975
Anaheim Stadium
Attendance: 15,722

World Football Programs
32 pages


This 1975 exhibition season opener for the Southern California Sun of the World Football League (1974-1975) saw the pro debuts of a trio of former University of Southern California stars.  Quarterback Pat Haden and wide receiver J.K. McKay were best friends and co-MVPs of USC’s thrilling 18-17 Rose Bowl victory over Ohio State seven months earlier.  The mostly highly touted rookie star for the Sun – and the entire struggling league – was Anthony Davis, the former Trojans All-American and Heisman Trophy runner-up.  Davis was featured on the cover illustration of the evening’s game program (above right).

Davis got off to a strong start, running for 62 yards on 16 carries in the first half and returning a kickoff for 70 more.  (Davis’ breakout would come in pre-season week two, rushing for four touchdowns against Memphis). But Haden was the revelation this evening, coming on in the second half to relieve projected starter Daryle Lamonica, the former Oakland Raiders star who’d lost his NFL job to Ken Stabler.  After a scoreless first quarter, the game turned into a barnburner with the visiting San Antonio Wings taking a 31-29 lead late in the fourth quarter.  Haden engineered a game winning 97-yard drive with a few minutes to play that ended with a one-yard QB sneak into the endzone for the winning score.

Lamonica turned out to be washed up and separated from the Sun after only a few games in 1975.  Haden ended up handling the bulk of the quarterbacking duties, which was rather unexpected since he had an arrangement with Sun management to leave the team at midseason to pursue a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford.  As it turned out, the World Football League ran out of money and shut down in October 1975, the same month that Haden left for England.  Haden returned to Southern California in 1976 and latched on with the Los Angeles Rams, leading the team to three consecutive NFC West division titles from 1976 to 1978.



July 5, 1975 San Antonio Wings Roster

July 5, 1975 Southern California Sun Roster



San Antonio Wings Home Page

Southern California Sun Home Page


Written by AC

September 6th, 2013 at 1:13 am

May 21, 1980 – California Surf vs. Houston Hurricane

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California Surf vs. Houston Hurricane
May 21, 1980
Anaheim Stadium
Attendance: 3,621

North American Soccer League Programs
96 pages


The haves and the have nots of the North American Soccer League were cast in stark contrast on this May evening in the spring of 1980.  At Giants Stadium in New Jersey, a crowd of 31,480 turned out to watch the league’s super club, the New York Cosmos, defeat Manchester City of England 3-2 in an international friendly match.

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the California Surf hosted the Houston Hurricane at Anaheim Stadium.  Regardless of the Surf’s 1st place standing at the time, California and Houston were two of the weakest entries in the overstuffed 24-team NASL.  Both were in their third season of operation and both were treading water in a sea of indifference.  A pitiful crowd of 3,621 – the lowest in the Surf’s history – turned out at the cavernous 43,000-seat “Big A” for the match.

Unfortunately for the Surf, one of the few in attendance was Orange County Register sportswriter Jim Ruffalo.  Ruffalo was not the Surf’s regular beat man (that would have been Victor Cota), as he made pointedly clear in his story lead:

“Sooner or later you run out of excuses and just have to attend a soccer game. After all, you can walk your cat, sort out soup cans or spray your philodendron only so many times.”

Ruffalo showed up at Anaheim Stadium with a sharp knife and an agenda.  The Surf and the Hurricane obliged by serving up the ultimate indictment of the sport of soccer in the eyes of the crusty, xenophobic soccer-hating wing of the sporting press at the time – a scoreless draw.  Ruffalo must have been salivating at his good fortune.  He proceeded to rip the Surf organization a new one, hitting every angle from the inherent stupidity of their sport to the team’s alleged habit of padding attendance figures in previous seasons.  The article reads strangely mean spirited today, like kicking a wounded dog.  But during the era, it was a pretty common attitude toward soccer from old guard sports writers in the league’s weaker American markets.  Soccer haters still pervade the media, of course, but it’s gotten much, much better.

Had the game been played in 2013, it would, in fact, have ended in a scoreless draw. Major League Soccer adheres to the traditional FIFA rules which declare ties at the end of regulation.  The old NASL (1968-1984) played overtime and “shootout” periods to try to appease Americans fans and sportswriters who loathed low-scoring draws.  In this match, Surf super sub Craig Allen came on with 10 minutes remaining in regulation and pumped in a rebound for the winner in the first overtime period.

Even The Register’s regular Surf beat man, the nominally more sympathetic Victor Cota, noted that Allen’s goal was “the only exciting moment in the match“.

Two months later, Surf owner Robert Hermann, one of the last two remaining original owners from the 1968 formation of the NASL (Lamar Hunt was the other) sold out his interest in the club and left the league altogether.  The Houston Hurricane were in even worse shape – they would be out of business within a matter of six months.



California Surf Home Page

Houston Hurricane Home Page


==Article Sources==

“Allen Makes Most of His Playing Time”, Victor Cota, The Orange County Register, May 22, 1980

“Surf Is Learning The Score”, Jim Ruffalo, The Orange County Register, May 22, 1980



Written by AC

March 11th, 2013 at 2:42 am

1978-1981 California Surf

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North American Soccer League (1978-1981)

Born: October 1977 – The St. Louis Stars relocate to Anaheim, CA
Folded: September 16, 1981

Stadium: Anaheim Stadium (43,200)


Team Colors: Light Blue, Dark Blue & Lime Green


Soccer Bowl Championships: None


The California Surf soccer club was a short-lived and unloved entry in the North American Soccer League (NASL), who played four outdoor and two indoor seasons between 1978 and 1981.  The Surf traced their ancestry back to the St. Louis Stars, one of the founding clubs in the National Professional Soccer League in 1967.  The following year, the NPSL merged with the rival United Soccer Association to form the NASL.

By 1977, St. Louis Stars owner Bob Hermann was one of only two investors still standing from the original group of soccer backers of the late 1960’s.  Lamar Hunt of the Dallas Tornado was the other. The NASL seemed to be on the rise in 1977.  League-wide attendance topped one million fans for the first time in 1975 and continued to rise.  Six clubs averaged over 15,000 fans per game, paced by the New York Cosmos, who drew 34,142 per match in their first season at the brand new Giants Stadium in New Jersey.  Meanwhile, St. Louis’ home ground Francis Field appeared increasingly inadequate – the stadium held only 10,000  fans.  In October 1977 the NASL approved a transfer of the ten-year old Stars to Anaheim, California and the 43,200-seat Anaheim Stadium.  The NASL already had a club in nearby Los Angeles, but Orange County was the epicenter of a youth soccer boom and league officials salivated over the favorable demographics in Anaheim.  Hermann continued as Chairman of the club, and continued to be very active in NASL affairs as Chairman of the league’s Executive Committee.

(Pause for a bit of trivia here – the Hermann Trophy, college soccer’s equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, is named for the former Stars/Surf owner).

Anaheim never turned into the kind of boom town that the NASL hoped for.  Attendance peaked in 1978 at 11,171 per match, creating a desolate morgue-like atmosphere at Anaheim Stadium.  The Orange County Register frequently jabbed the team, suggesting even those numbers were inflated.  The team itself was a mediocrity, never finishing above .500 or advancing beyond the first round of the NASL’s overly-inclusive playoff format.  Although primarily remembered as an outdoor club, the Surf also took part in two NASL indoor soccer seasons in the winters of 1979-80 and 1980-81.  Surf indoor matches were played at the Long Beach Arena.

By 1980, midway through the Surf’s third season, it was clear that Orange County’s youth soccer  boom had not translated into significant support for professional soccer.  Rumors circulated that the Surf would merge with the NASL’s Los Angeles Aztecs, or return to St. Louis, or be sold and shifted to Calgary or New Orleans.  Instead, the club was rescued by a consortium of ten Orange County businessmen led by Henry Segerstrom, who bought up 100% of the team’s stock to keep the team in Anaheim.

The new owners ran the Surf through one winter indoor season (1980-81) and one final demoralizing outdoor season in the summer of 1981.  The one noteworthy event of the 1981 season was the team’s acquisition of former Brazilian World Cup captain Carlos Alberto, a world superstar who played on the mighty New York Cosmos teams of the late 1970’s.  Despite Alberto’s presence, the Surf posted a franchise-worst 11-21 record and missed the playoffs for the first time.  The new investors lost a couple of million dollars and folded the club on September 16, 1981, a few days before the NASL’s Soccer Bowl championship game.



==California Surf Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1978 6/13/1978 vs. Tulsa Roughnecks W 3-0 Ticket
1978 7/26/1978 vs. Oakland Stompers L 2-1 Program Roster


1979 3/28/1979 vs. New York Cosmos (Exh.) L 3-2 Program
1979 6/3/1979 @ Rochester Lancers L 2-1 Program
1979 8/8/1979 vs. Edmonton Drillers W 2-0 Program

1979-80 (Indoor)

1979-80 1/4/1980 @ Minnesota Kicks L 12-5 Program Game Notes


1980 4/23/1980 vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers L 3-2 Program
1980 5/13/1980 vs. Edmonton Drillers W 2-0 Program
1980 5/21/1980 vs. Houston Hurricane W 1-0 (OT) Program
1980 6/22/1980 vs. Chicago Sting L 2-0 Program
1980 7/30/1980 vs. Philadelphia Fury W 3-1 Program
1980 8/31/1980 @ Fort Lauderdale Strikers W 2-0 Program

1980-81 (Indoor)

1980-81 2/21/1981 @ Vancouver Whitecaps L 8-5 Program


1981 5/15/1981 vs. San Jose Earthquakes L 2-1 Program
1981 5/20/1981 vs. Los Angeles Aztecs L 1-0 Program
1981 5/23/1981 @ Vancouver Whitecaps L 5-1 Program
1981 7/24/1981 vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers W 4-1 Program
1981 8/1/1981 vs. San Diego Sockers L 5-2 Program



1978 California Surf ownership group




North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs


March 28, 1979 – California Surf vs. New York Cosmos

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California Surf vs. New York Cosmos
March 28, 1979
Pre-season exhibition
Anaheim Stadium
Attendance: 12,285

North American Soccer League Programs


There’s nothing particularly special about this match – a meaningless pre-season meeting between the glamorous New York Cosmos (1971-1985) and the hapless California Surf (1978-1981).  The Cosmos won 3-2 on goals by Seninho, Giorgio Chinaglia and Terry Garbett before what The Orange County Register called a “lower-than-expected” crowd of 12,285.  (All Surf crowds were lower-than-expected).

What’s remarkable about this program is the collector.  This comes from the collection of the late Newark Star-Ledger sportswriter Ike Kuhns, who passed away this past April at age 76.  Kuhns covered a vast array of beats for The Star-Ledger, including the Cosmos at their 1970’s peak, when Pele, Chinaglia and Franz Beckenbauer (pictured on the game program cover at left) roamed the artificial turf of Giants Stadium and toured the globe.

In addition to being a stand out reporter, Kuhns was a collector and archivist of the first order.  Among his prized items was a cardboard scorecard from the very first World Series played in 1903.  Kuhns also meticulously documented and preserved the memorabilia of his own career.  He covered most of the Super Bowls from the beginning and kept every last document, right down to the banquet menus.

I began collecting in my teens in the late 1980’s and over the years I periodically came into possession of material that passed through Kuhns’ hands.  How could I tell?  Because the man saved everything.  A program from a sporting event Ike Kuhns covered will inevitably come with his press badge, parking pass, score sheet,  newspaper clippings from the following day – I’ve even seen programs from Kuhn’s collection that come with his 30-year old airline ticket stubs enclosed.

Leland’s auction house is currently selling a large number of pristine soccer and NFL programs from Kuhns’ estate.  They’ve all got plenty of special Easter Eggs enclosed.  I hope to acquire a good number of them and make the some of the history preserved by Ike Kuhns available here on Fun While It Lasted in the future.

Written by AC

December 3rd, 2012 at 2:47 pm


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