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1979-1982 Edmonton Drillers

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Edmonton DrillersNorth American Soccer League (1979-1982)

Born: February 22, 1979 – The Oakland Stompers relocate to Edmonton.
Folded: October 13, 1982


Arena: Northlands Coliseum (17,317)

Team Colors: Orange & Blue

Owner: Peter Pocklington


The Edmonton Drillers were a non-descript entry in the North American Soccer League, lasting four seasons between 1979 and 1982. The franchise originated in Connecticut in 1975 as the Hartford Bicentennials and later made short stops in New Haven (Connecticut Bicentennials, 1977) and Northern California (Oakland Stompers, 1978) before Edmonton Oilers hockey owner Peter Pocklington purchased and relocated the club in February 1979, just five weeks before the start of the NASL season.

The Drillers were mostly a mediocrity, finishing at or near the bottom of their division in 1979, 1981 and 1982.  In 1980, the Drillers actually won the NASL’s Western Division with a 17-15 record and advanced to the 2nd round of the playoffs before falling to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.  But the team’s one shining moment actually came playing indoor soccer at the Northlands Coliseum

At the end of the 1970’s, the NASL began experimenting with indoor soccer during the winter season.  It was a matter of baby steps.  A few teams – such as the league’s flagship New York Cosmos club – declined to participate.  But in the winter of 1980-81, 19 clubs took to the carpet to contest the NASL’s first full-scale indoor soccer season.  The Drillers were just OK during the regular season, finishing 10-8, but that was good enough to get into the playoffs, where the team came alive.  After dispatching the Los Angeles Aztecs and the Vancouver Whitecaps, the Drillers swept the Chicago Sting two games to zero to capture the NASL’s 1981 indoor soccer championship.

The Drillers final season was undeniably bizarre.  By 1982 Peter Pocklington soured on his soccer investment.  According to The New York Times, the Drillers owner was $10.5 million in the red after three seasons.  He moved the club out of giant Commonwealth Stadium, where the Drillers averaged around 10,000 fans per game from 1979 to 1981 into modest Clarke Stadium.  Attendance crashed down to 4,922 per match, by far the worst in the 14-team NASL.

In April 1982, Pocklington was taken hostage by a lone gunman in a home invasion.  Police eventually raided Pocklington’s home, shooting and wounding both Pocklington and his attacker in the melee.  The following month, Pocklington declared he was putting no more money into the Drillers and threatened to fold the club immediately unless his players took a 50% pay cut and the city of Edmonton stopped attempting to collect back rent on Clarke Stadium.  For a time it looked as though the NASL would lose a franchise in mid-season for the first time in its 15-year history.  Eventually, Pocklington relented and allowed the season to continue.  Then he tried and failed to sell the club for $1.25 million to investor groups looking to move the team to Detroit or Milwaukee.  The season mercifully ended in late August with the Drillers sitting in last place with the lowest scoring, least popular team in the NASL.

The official end came about six weeks later in mid-October.

In 1996, Pocklington acquired control of the Edmonton Coliseum and bought an indoor soccer team to help fill the dates around Edmonton Oilers games.  He revived the Edmonton Drillers name for his indoor club.  The “new” Drillers played indoor soccer from 1996 to 2000, although Pocklington dumped the team after two seasons.  The team went bankrupt in 2000.  Yet another indoor team revived the Drillers name again in 2007.




==Edmonton Drillers Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Season Date Opponent Score Program Other


1979 4/6/1979 @ Vancouver Whitecaps L 2-0 Program
1979 4/14/1979 @ San Jose Earthquakes W 1-0 Program
1979 8/8/1979 @ California Surf L 2-0 Program


1980 5/13/1980 @ California Surf L 2-0 Program
1980 8/7/1980 @ New York Cosmos L 3-2 (OT) Program

1980-81 (Indoor)

1980-81 12/27/1980 vs. Calgary Boomers L 7-6 (OT) Program Roster
1980-81 1/25/1981 vs. Calgary Boomers W 7-4 Program Roster
1980-81 2/19/1981 vs. Los Angeles Aztecs W 10-6 Program Roster
1980-81 3/2/1981 vs. Chicago Sting W 9-6 Program Roster


1981 6/27/1981 @ Vancouver Whitecaps L 3-2 Program

1981-82 (Indoor)

1981-82 12/29/1981 vs. Seattle Sounders W 9-4 Program
1981-82 2/20/1982 vs. Seattle Sounders W 12-4 Program
1981-82 2/25/1982 @ San Diego Sockers L 8-2 Program
1981-82 3/1/1982 @ San Diego Sockers L 12-3 Program


1982 4/18/1982 @ Montreal Manic L 2-0 Program
1982 6/27/1982 @ New York Cosmos L 3-1 Program Game Notes
1982 7/3/1982 @ Chicago Sting L 3-2 Program
1982 7/7/1982 vs. New York Cosmos W 2-1 Game Notes



North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs


August 7, 1980 – New York Cosmos vs. Edmonton Drillers

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New York Cosmos vs. Edmonton Drillers
August 7, 1980
“Carlos Alberto Night”
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 30,283

North American Soccer League Programs
84 pages


It was “Carlos Alberto Night” at Giants Stadium on August 7, 1980 and from the outset it looked like the game was cursed.  Alberto himself, the brilliant New York Cosmos sweeper and captain of the 1970 Brazilian World Cup champion team, couldn’t play due to a thigh injury.  A propane gas leak on a tanker truck shut down the George Washington Bridge before game time, snarling traffic up through Manhattan.  The Cosmos delayed kickoff for half an hour, but the bottlenecks still produced the club’s smallest crowd in three years – 30,283 fans.

Thousands of fans stayed home, but one man would not be denied: the Cosmos Yugoslavian midfielder Vladislav Bogicevic, stuck hopelessly in Manhattan traffic with his wife and daughter.

“I decided to get out and jog to the Lincoln Tunnel,” Bogie told Ike Kuhns of The Newark Star-Ledger.  “Some guy in a tank truck picked me up and drove me through the tunnel.  Then he let me out and I got a ride from an old guy in a station wagon carrying trees.

“Neither one knew me.  The second guy let me out on the highway (Rte. 3) and I jogged on the road to the stadium.”

It was a good thing for the New Yorkers.  After spotting the visiting Edmonton Drillers leads of 1-0 and 2-1, the Cosmos forced sudden death overtime on an equalizer by Giorgio Chinaglia.   Bogicevic, the Cosmos’ hitchhiking midfielder, drilled the winner past Edmonton goalkeeper Pertti Alaja with 5:40 remaining in the second overtime.



New York Cosmos  vs. Edmonton Drillers Game Notes – August 7th, 1980

Article Sources



Edmonton Drillers Home Page

New York Cosmos Home Page


Written by AC

January 13th, 2013 at 12:21 am


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