Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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January 25, 1981 – Edmonton Drillers vs. Calgary Boomers

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Edmonton Drillers vs. Calgary Boomers
January 25, 1981
Northlands Coliseum

North American Soccer League Programs
60 pages


I received a shipment this week of old Edmonton Drillers indoor soccer programs from the North American Soccer League (1968-1984).  Most are from the winter of 1980-81, a strange campaign that saw the Drillers quarantined north of the border due to the NASL’s ongoing labor shenanigans until the playoffs, when they descended into the Lower 48 and, improbably, won the league championship.

This match was a 7-4 Drillers home victory over the Calgary Boomers at the end of January 1981.  It was Drillers’ 14th match and already their sixth against the Boomers, their newly formed provincial rivals.  The wacky schedule was thanks to a move by the National Labor Relations Board of the United States to bar the NASL’s Canadian franchises from gaining entry to the United States until league owners resolved their collective bargaining impasse with the fledgling NASL Players Association.  In fact, the Drillers played their entire regular season schedule against just three clubs – the Boomers, the Toronto Blizzard and the Vancouver Whitecaps.

The Drillers and the Boomers attempted to lend some meaning to the repetitive schedule by creating something called the Lethbridge Brewery Challenge Cup to celebrate the victor of their endless series of indoor contests.   The Drillers’ victory gave them a 4-2 edge in the season series and bragging rights to the Challenge Cup, for whatever that was worth.  (The Boomers would fold in September 1981 after just 12 months of operation, so the NASL’s intra-Alberta rivalry was over practically before it began).

The Drillers brightest young star, 24-year old Finnish import Kai Haaskivi was pictured on the cover of the evening’s KICK Magazine match program.  Haaskivi went on to finish second in the NASL in scoring during the 1980-81 indoor season and became one of the top indoor players during the sport’s brief rise to prominence in the mid-1980’s.

The NASL resolved its labor and travel problems sufficiently to allow the Canadian teams to take part in the league’s indoor playoffs in February 1981.   The lightly regarded Drillers surprised everyone by rolling through the playoffs and capturing the championship in a two-game sweep of the Chicago Sting in early March 1981.



January 25, 1981 Edmonton Drillers Roster

January 25, 1981 Calgary Boomers Roster



Calgary Boomers Home Page

Edmonton Drillers Home Page


Written by AC

October 6th, 2013 at 2:43 pm

April 29, 1987 – Cleveland Force vs. Dallas Sidekicks

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Kai Haaskivi Cleveland ForceCleveland Force vs. Dallas Sidekicks
April 29, 1987
Richfield Coliseum
Attendance: ?

Major Indoor Soccer League Programs
112 pages


Here’s a team that apparently brings back a lot of fond childhood memories – the Cleveland Force (1978-1988) of the original Major Indoor Soccer League (1978-1992).  The Force were a founding franchise in the MISL in 1978 and they struggled at the box office for several years before suddenly becoming a sensation in the mid-1980’s.

I picked this up from a guy named Matthew in Ohio who grew up cheering on the Force at the now-demolished Richfield Coliseum, out in the middle of nowhere between Cleveland and Akron.  Matthew later sent me an email expressing seller’s remorse, saying he was heartbroken to part with this souvenir from his youth (or perhaps just peeved that it didn’t bring in the riches he imagined).

Much happier was my buddy Tom down in Texas, a transplanted Clevelander who lived and died with the Force as a kid.  He snapped this up within minutes after we posted it online, as he does with many of the Force programs that occasionally pass through my clutches.

Kai Haaskivi

“Nice cover shot of Kai Haaskivi, the all-time Force star player, in my opinion,” said Tom.  “Some may go with Keith Furphy for his higher goals average, but Haaskivi played for Cleveland longer and had tons of assists, a real team anchor and leader.”

Kai Haaskivi Cleveland ForceIndoor soccer had its 15 minutes of fame in the mid-80’s and was legitimately a big deal in a few places like Cleveland, Kansas City, St. Louis and Baltimore.  The Force in particular really seem to have a nostalgic hold on the tens of thousands of kids who grew up attending their games and summer camps – a soccer phenomenon really only matched by the passion I hear from forty-somethings who grew up in New Jersey with the New York Cosmos in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.

The Force existed for ten seasons from 1978 to 1988.  Initially, no one cared.  The team drew fewer than 4,000 fans per game during the late 1970’s.  But during the 1983-84 season, Force attendance exploded to an astounding 13,675 per game, more than double the team’s previous high.  That winter the Force outdrew the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, who shared the Richfield Coliseum, by an eye-popping 120,000 fans.

The Force were still quite popular when the team folded in the summer of 1988.  Owner Bert Wolstein lost patience with the leadership of the MISL and the league’s continual franchise turnover and labor strife.  After one winter (1988-89) without indoor soccer, the MISL expanded back into Cleveland with the Cleveland Crunch, hoping to recapture the buzz of the Force.  The Crunch hired the former Force hero Kai Haaskivi as player/coach, but never succeeded in rekindling the passion and big crowds that the Wolstein family cultivated for the Force.



Cleveland Force Home Page

Dallas Sidekicks Home Page



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