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1980-1984 Jacksonville Tea Men

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1981-82 Jacksonville Tea Men Indoor Media GuideNorth American Soccer League (1980-1982)
American Soccer League (1983)
United Soccer League (1984)

Born: December 1980 – The New England Tea Men relocate to Jacksonville.
Folded: Postseason 1984

Stadium: The Gator Bowl (80,200)

Arena: Jacksonville Coliseum

Team Colors: White, Red & Gold


  • 1980-1982: Thomas J. Lipton, Inc.
  • 1982: Earl Hadlow, et al.
  • 1982: Thomas J. Lipton, Inc.
  • 1983-1984: Ingo Krieg

Soccer Bowl Championships (NASL): None
ASL Champions: 1983
USL Championships: None


The Jacksonville Tea Men was a pro soccer outfit that played both outdoor and indoor soccer in north Florida during the early 1980’s.  The franchise originated in New England in 1978 as an expansion team in the North American Soccer League, which was the top flight league in America at the time.  In the Tea Men’s final years in Jacksonville, the club dropped down to lower division leagues in an effort to stem multi-million dollar financial losses.

The “Tea Men” identity was a tie-in to the franchise’s original owner, the Lipton Tea company.  And it was also a play on New England’s revolutionary war history with the Boston Tea Party.  The name made little sense following the club’s move to Florida, but was retained anyway.

Jacksonville interests lured the Tea Men south in November 1980 with a pledge of 14,000 season tickets for the 1981 outdoor season, but the promise never materialized.  The Associated Press reported that the Tea Men sold fewer than 4,500 season tickets after arriving in Florida.  By the end of 1981, Lipton’s patience with the NASL was nearly exhausted.  The league had blown its national television contract with ABC and was now shedding franchises at an alarming rate.  Lipton lost a reported $7M on the club between 1978 and 1981, including $1.7M  during the first ten months in Jacksonville.  In September 1981, the Tea Men were on the verge of folding before Lipton posted the required $150,000 bond with the league to stay in for the indoor season.

The Tea Men averaged a relatively strong 6,375 fans for indoor soccer at the Coliseum that winter.  A group of local businessmen led by attorney Earl Hadlow struck a deal to lease the club from Lipton and operate it for the 1982 outdoor season.  The momentum died when the team moved outdoors, however.  On the field, the Tea Men regressed from the 18-14 playoff club of 1981 to a last-place 11-21 finish in 1982.  Fan support dwindled as well.  The Tea Men drew only 7,160 fans on average to the 68,000-seat Gator Bowl in 1982, second worst in the 14-team NASL.  Hadlow’s group ran out of money during the season and returned the Tea Men to Lipton, who immediately began looking to unload the club once and for all.  Deals were announced to sell the club to investors in Milwaukee, then Detroit.  Both fell through.

Jacksonville Tea Men vs. Pennsylvania Stoners. July 8th, 1983In early 1983, local businessman Ingo Krieg rescued the Tea Men yet again and entered them in the lower level American Soccer League.  The nonsensical Tea Men name endured, despite the fact that Lipton had finally pulled out entirely.  The ASL had a long and rather weird history dating back to the Great Depression.  Similar to the NASL, the ASL had gone on an expansion spree in the mid-1970’s, convinced that soccer’s moment had arrived.  By the time Krieg and the Tea Men arrived on the scene in 1983, the ASL was in its death throes.  Rebounding from 1982’s on-field disappointment, the Tea Men won the final ASL championship in 1983.

Dissatisfied with his partners in the ASL, Krieg mounted an insurrection in early 1984, peeling away the Dallas and Detroit franchises to form the United Soccer League in the spring of 1984.  The Tea Men posted an 11-13 record and missed the playoffs.  After countless near death experiences, the Tea Men folded once and for all after the 1984 campaign.

Odds and ends…

The Tea Men’s Jacksonville cheerleader squad was known as the Cu-Teas.  Several of their former members have created a Facebook tribute page.


Jacksonville Tea Men Memorabilia



April 10, 1982 Jacksonville Tea Men vs. New York Cosmos Game Notes Packet



North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

American Soccer League Media Guides

American Soccer League Programs



May 12, 1982 – San Diego Sockers vs. New York Cosmos

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San Diego Sockers vs. New York Cosmos
May 12, 1982
Jack Murphy Stadium
Attendance: 14,805

North American Soccer League Programs
104 pages


This 1982 North American Soccer League match pitted the early season front runners in the NASL’s Eastern and Western Divisions.  San Diegans and NASL officials could only hope the game would be a preview of Soccer Bowl ’82: the hometown San Diego Sockers, already tabbed to host the league’s title game in late September, and the New York Cosmos, the league’s sexiest box office attraction and biggest media market.

San Diego was a risky choice to host the league’s signature event.  The Sockers were a mediocre draw at best, despite fielding a competitive club most years.  For the past three seasons in a row, the Sockers had been eliminated in the playoff semi-finals, one step short of the Soccer Bowl.  The NASL’s best bet for a sold out Soccer Bowl at 50,000-seat Jack Murphy Stadium would be for the Sockers to finally take the next step in 1982.

The Cosmos defeated the Sockers in both of the clubs’ previous matches, including a 5-0 shellacking at Giants Stadium in 1980.  That streak wouldn’t change on this evening.  New York got first half goals from Steve Moyers and Giorgio Chinaglia which was enough to hold off the Sockers 2-1.  Polish World Cup veteran Kaz Deyna scored for San Diego in the second half.

New York and San Diego would meet again in the postseason, but the clash came in the semi-finals rather than the Soccer Bowl.  The Cosmos pulled off a two-game sweep and the Sockers went home one round too early for the fourth consecutive year.   With the Sockers on the golf course, ticket sales for Soccer Bowl ’82 suffered accordingly and the final between the Cosmos and the Seattle Sounders on September 18, 1982 was played before an embarrassing crowd of 22,634.


This match was broadcast nationally on the USA cable network and locally back in New York on WOR-TV.

American goalkeeper Arnie Mausser of the Jacksonville Tea Men is pictured on the front of the evening’s KICK Magazine game program.  It was the only time the middling Jacksonville club earned a cover story during the club’s brief (1981-1982) existence in Florida.



May 12, 1982 San Diego Sockers Game Notes

May 12, 1982 New York Cosmos Game Notes

May 1982 New York Cosmos Toronto-Tulsa-San Diego road trip itinerary



San Diego Sockers Home Page



April 10, 1982 – Jacksonville Tea Men vs. New York Cosmos

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Jacksonville Tea Men vs. New York Cosmos
April 10, 1982
The Gator Bowl
Attendance: 4,537

North American Soccer League Programs
90 pages


The New York Cosmos flew south to the Gator Bowl for the 1982 regular season opener fending off questions about the “Jacksonville Jinx”.  The Lipton-owned Jacksonville Tea Men – a club of little distinction, formed out of the NASL’s expansion orgy of the late 1970’s – held an odd mastery over the four-time champion Cosmos.  The Teas came in with a seven-game winning streak against New York, including all four indoor match-ups the previous winter and three outdoor matches dating back to early in the 1980 season when the Teas still played in New England.

“It’s one of those crazy things that’s unique to sports,” Cosmos captain Giorgio Chinaglia explained in his club’s pre-game news release.  “We can’t seem to beat that team.  Every game against them goes right to the wire, but something strange always happens against us.  They just seem to have our number up until now.”

The other storyline of the match was Chinaglia’s quest to become the first 200-goal scorer in the history of the 15-year old NASL.  Chinaglia – appropriately, but coincidentally, featured on the cover of the evening’s match program (above right) – scored an incredible 29 goals in 32 games the previous summer, en route to 1981 NASL MVP honors.  Chinaglia put that drama to rest early, opening the scoring and notching his 200th in the 33rd minute off a cross from Chico Borja.

The Teas equalized early in the 2nd half on a penalty kick by Ricardo Alonso.  Alonzo banged the woodwork on his initial attempt, but referee Edward Bellion ruled that Cosmos goalkeeper Hubert Birkenmeier moved early.  Bellion had warned both teams before the match of a league directive to crack down on goalkeepers moving their feet before the ball was kicked on penalties.  Bellion awarded Alonso a second chance and the young Argentine converted to tie the match at 1-1 in the 50th minute.

The teams traded second half goals and arrived at the 80-minute mark knotted at 2-2.  In the 82nd minute, Bellion awarded a penalty to the Cosmos after Teas goalkeeper Arnie Mausser knocked over New York’s Rick Davis in the penalty area.  Chinaglia trudged across the sloppy, puddle-strewn pitch to the penalty mark.  His shot was low and hard, but Mausser guessed correctly and made a diving save.  Then referee Ed Bellion stepped forward and once again ruled that the keeper had moved early.  Chinaglia didn’t miss on the mulligan and his 201st career NASL goal proved to be the game winner.  Cosmos 3 Teas 2.

The Cosmos were typically a big draw wherever they travelled in the NASL.  But Jacksonville was a weak soccer town to begin with and the steady rains that held all day and all through the match wiped out the box office.  Only 4,537 turned up at the Gator Bowl, which was the smallest gathering of the 18 outdoor matches the Teas had played in Jacksonville to that point.  It was also likely one of the smallest crowds to watch the Cosmos anywhere since the club signed Pele seven years earlier.

The Jacksonville Jinx was officially over for the Cosmos and the teams went their separate ways.  The ‘Mos would win their fifth and final NASL championship in 1982.   The Tea Men finished tied for the worst record in the league.  After five years of red ink, Lipton dropped their support of the Teas at the end of the season and the club left the NASL to play a couple of anonymous seasons in lower division leagues.



April 10, 1982 Jacksonville Tea Men Game Notes

April 10, 1982 New York Cosmos Game Notes 



Jacksonville Tea Men Home Page

New York Cosmos Home Page



Written by AC

May 22nd, 2013 at 1:35 pm


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