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1978 Oakland Stompers

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Oakland StompersNorth American Soccer League (1978)

Born: September 1977 – The Connecticut Bicentennials move to Oakland.
February 22, 1979 – The Stompers relocate to Edmonton, Alberta.

Stadium: Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum

Team Colors:

Owner: Milan Mandaric and Bill Graham


The Oakland Stompers were a One-Year Wonder in the North American Soccer League during the a  spring and summer of 1978.  Club founder Milan Mandaric previously started up the NASL’s other Bay Area franchise, the popular San Jose Earthquakes, in 1974.  In late 1977 he divested himself of the Earthquakes and bought the league’s struggling Connecticut Bicentennials club and moved it across the country to the Oakland Coliseum.  It was bold move considering that many at the time wondered if the Bay Area could even support its two Major League Baseball franchises.  But the NASL was riding at a peak of investor enthusiasm in 1978 amidst the belief that pro soccer would be the Sport of the 80’s.

The Stompers identity derived from Northern California’s burgeoning wine industry.  The club’s cheerleading squad was called the “Corkpoppers”.  And the team distributed a free match day supplement called Grapevine to supplement the NASL’s KICK Magazine game programs.

The Stompers, who were ultimately unsuccessful in competition, were best known for signing iconoclast goalkeeper Shep Messing to a $100,000 contract for the 1978 season, which was then the largest contract ever offered to an American-born soccer player.

Messing was the primary goalkeeper on the New York Cosmos’ Soccer Bowl championship team in 1977.  The Harvard-educated goalkeeper was an aggressive self-promoter – he infamously posed nude for Viva magazine in 1974 – but in New York he was overshadowed by the Cosmos’ menagerie of international superstars.  Messing was also a laggard in training and seemed to view leadership as synonymous with antagonizing his head coaches early in his career.  By his own later admission, Messing struggled with technical aspects of the outdoor game, such as dealing with crosses into the box, despite his tremendous reflexes and athleticism.  The Cosmos were willing to let him go (and indeed would repeat as league champions without him in 1978).

Shep Messing SkoalIn Oakland, finally, Messing was the face of the franchise and the subject of most of the club’s national media attention, including a lengthy profile by J.D. Reed in the July 10th, 1978 issue of Sports Illustrated  But Stompers’ General Manager Dick Berg ripped Messing in the article, noting that his star’s reputed appetite for publicity rare extended to team functions.

“Shep is only interested in his own promotion,” Berg told Reed.  “Every time we have a ticket-selling banquet or a shopping-center promotion set up for him, he threatens to put himself on the injured list.  Chewing tobacco on network television doesn’t put fans in the seats.”

The Stompers made their debut at Oakland Coliseum on April 2, 1978 to an impressive crowd of 32,104.  Messing reportedly rejected Berg’s request to enter the stadium riding atop an elephant.  The big crowd was somewhat misleading as the Stompers were playing their Bay Area rivals, the San Jose Earthquakes.  The Associated Press noted that half of the big crowd appeared to be rooting for San Jose.  The club would never see a home crowd anywhere near that size again.  Eight of the Stompers remaining fourteen home matches at the Coliseum drew fewer than 10,000 fans.

Messing was fantastic in the Stompers’ debut.  Late in the match he stopped a penalty kick from the ‘Quakes Ilija Mitic, the NASL’s all-time leading scorer at the time, to preserve a 0-0 tie.  The NASL didn’t have ties in 1978 though, so after an uneventful 15-minute overtime period, the game was decided by the “Shootout”, which featured five players from each club attempting to score during a timed, undefended breakaway.  Messing turned away four of five shooters from the Quakes.  Rookie Andy Atuegbu, a college standout from the University of San Francisco, and Polish import Franz Smuda found the net for the Stompers in the Shootout to give the hosts a 1-0 opening day triumph.

After a 9-9 start the Stompers wilted through the back end of the 1978 campaign, finishing 12-18 and out of playoff contention.  In late March 1979, on the eve of what would have been the Stompers’ sophomore season, owner Milan Mandaric sold the team to Peter Pocklington, the owner of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team.  Pocklington moved the club to Edmonton and renamed it the Edmonton Drillers.  The Drillers played four seasons before folding in 1982.  The NASL went out of business after the 1984 season.

Mandaric owned several other unsuccessful American soccer clubs in the 1980s’ and 1990’s, mostly in the indoor leagues.  In the 2000’s, he turned his attention to Europe, where he enjoyed much greater success in ownership stints with Portsmouth, Leicester City and Sheffield Wednesday in England.

Former Stompers defender Franz Smuda later became manager of the Polish National Team from 2009 to 2012.


==1978 Oakland Stompers Results==

Date Opponent Score Program Other
4/2/1978 vs. San Jose Earthquakes W 1-0 (SO)
4/8/1978 @ Portland Timbers L 1-0 Program
4/16/1978 @ Chicago Sting W 2-1
4/21/1978 vs. Chicago Sting W 2-1
4/30/1978 @ Los Angeles Aztecs W 2-1
5/6/1978 @ Tulsa Roughnecks L 3-0 Roster
5/10/1978 vs. Los Angeles Aztecs L 2-1 (SO)
5/14/1978 vs. California Surf L 5-2
5/17/1978 vs. Memphis Rogues W 1-0 (SO)
5/20/1978 @ Philadelphia Fury  L 3-1 Program
5/27/1978 vs. New England Tea Men  W 1-0
5/31/1978 vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers W 2-1
6/4/1978 @ Houston Hurricane W 1-0
6/7/1978 @ Tampa Bay Rowdies L 1-0
6/10/1978 @ Fort Lauderdale Strikers L 2-0
6/14/1978 vs. Houston Hurricane L 3-2
6/19/1978 vs. Minnesota Kicks W 1-0
6/24/1978 vs. Philadelphia Fury L 1-0
6/28/1978 @ Detroit Express W 4-3
6/30/1978 @ Toronto Metros-Croatia L 8-2
7/4/1978 vs. Portland Timbers L 1-0
7/8/1978 @ Seattle Sounders L 1-0
7/10/1978 vs. San Diego Sockers W 1-0
7/14/1978 @ San Diego Sockers L 3-0
7/17/1978 @ Vancouver Whitecaps L 2-1
7/21/1978 vs. New York Cosmos L 5-1
7/26/1978 @ California Surf W 2-1 Program Roster
7/30/1978 vs. Vancouver Whitecaps L 6-2
8/2/1978 vs. Seattle Sounders L 2-1 (SO)
8/5/1978 @ San Jose Earthquakes L 2-1



Shep Messing pimps Skoal Tobacco circa 1978:



Support Your Local Keeper!” J.D. Reed, Sports Illustrated, July 10, 1978

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs



June 8, 1982 – New York Cosmos vs. A.C. Milan

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New York Cosmos ProgramNew York Cosmos vs. A.C. Milan
June 8, 1982
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 17,896

North American Soccer League Programs
4 pages


The New York Cosmos faced Italy’s A.C. Milan at Giants Stadium in June of 1982 as part of the club’s impressive series of international exhibitions during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.  The Italians kept the pressure on throughout the evening, outshooting the New Yorkers 25-11.  But Cosmos back-up goalkeeper David Brcic was up to the task, recording a clean sheet as New York triumphed 1-0.  It was a rare outdoor appearance for Brcic, who handled most of the starting duties for the Cosmos indoor team during the wintertime, but played in only 19 matches during seven outdoor seasons with the Cosmos between 1978 and 1984.

Steve Hunt scored the lone goal for the Cosmos, beating Milan goalkeeper Ottorino Piotti in the 34th minute.

The crowd of 17,896 had to be considered disappointing for the era.  The Cosmos’ 1982 international exhibition slate at Giants Stadium also included visits from the Peruvian National Team, Nacional of Uruguay, Napoli of Italy and Flamengo of Brazil.  Only the Nacional match drew a smaller crowd than Milan.



June 8, 1982 New York Cosmos vs. A.C. Milan Program


Written by AC

October 10th, 2013 at 5:58 pm

June 9, 1971 New York Cosmos vs. Rochester Lancers

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New York Cosmos ProgramNew York Cosmos vs. Rochester Lancers
June 9, 1971
Yankee Stadium
Attendance: 2,017

North American Soccer League Programs
14 pages


Very early program from the first season of the New York Cosmos soccer club back in 1971.  This was long before the deep-pocketed club began importing World Cup stars from Europe and South America in the mid-1970’s and only 2,017 souls came out to the Bronx on this evening to watch Manhattan’s newest soccer team played the Rochester Lancers, the defending champions of the North American Soccer League.

The hero on this night was the immortal Willie Mfum, a veteran of Ghana’s 1964 Olympic team and the American 2nd division, who scored three goals on headers all within an 11-minute span of the 2nd half to power the Cosmos to a 4-2 victory over the defending champs.  1971 NASL Most Valuable Player and scoring leader Carlos Metidieri tallied for the Lancers in the 2nd half, but it was too little, too late.



June 9, 1971 New York Cosmos Game Notes 

June 9, 1971 Rochester Lancers Game Notes



Written by AC

September 5th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

May 30, 1979 – Portland Timbers vs. Bristol City F.C.

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Portland Timbers vs. Bristol City F.C. (UK)
May 30, 1979
Civic Stadium
Attendance: 6,579

North American Soccer League Programs
110 pages


This was the third and final match of a brief tour through the Pacific Northwest cities of the North American Soccer League by English club Bristol City F.C. in the spring of 1979.  Earlier in the week the Robins defeated the Seattle Sounders 1-0 at the Kingdome and then played the Vancouver Whitecaps to a 1-1 draw.

This was the second consecutive year that they travelled to Oregon for a friendly against the NASL’s Portland Timbers.  In 1978, Bristol City defeated the Timbers 1-0. Bristol City F.C. was traditionally a 2nd and 3rd division club back in England, but their late 1970’s tours to the United States coincided with a brief renaissance under manager Alan Dicks which saw the club promoted to the 1st division from 1976 through 1980.

The Timbers won this match 2-1, getting a goal from 21-year old midfielder John Bain, a former Bristol City F.C. player who came over to Portland in 1978 and would go on to play five seasons for the Timbers up through the club’s demise in 1982.

English superstar Trevor Francis of the NASL’s Detroit Express club is pictured on the cover of the evening’s match day program.



May 30, 1979 Portland Timbers Roster

May 30, 1979 Bristol City F.C. Roster




More NASL International Friendlies

Portland Timbers Home Page


July 2, 1980 – New York Cosmos vs. Toronto Blizzard

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New York Cosmos vs. Toronto Blizzard
July 2, 1980
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 33,281

North American Soccer League Programs
110 pages


In hindsight, you could argue this July 1980 New York Cosmos match at Giants Stadium was a transitional moment that signaled the beginning of the 1970’s super club’s inexorable decline and fall in the new decade.  (OK, maybe it’s not as stark a foreshadowing as William H. Macy’s New Year’s Eve 1980 suicide in Boogie Nights, but bear with me for a minute).

Ten days earlier, the Cosmos hosted the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and packed Giants Stadium to the rafters with 70,312 fans. It was the last time the Cosmos would draw over 70,000 for a regular season or playoff match.  One day earlier, superstar midfielder Franz Beckenbauer announced that he would return to his native West German after the season to play for Hamburg after three years and two Soccer Bowl championships with the Cosmos.

With the Kaiser planning his departure, this match against the Toronto Blizzard marked the home debut of the Cosmos newest international acquisition, former Anderlecht striker Francois Van Der Elst.  Van Der Elst was kind of a big deal – the captain of the Belgian National Team at the time and one of the top strikers in Europe.  But Van Der Elst never sparked much passion or excitement among the gradually declining ranks of Cosmos fans.  The Belgian would play only one full season in New York, sold off to England’s West Ham United after a disappointing 1982 campaign.

The match itself was wet and muggy and started at 9:00 at night, all of which may have lent to the second smallest crowd of the season to date.  The Cosmos let the overmatched Blizzard get on the board first with an 7th minute goal from George Gibbs.  That woke up the New Yorkers, who were a perfect 7-0 at home on the season.   Julio Cesar Romero and Giorgio Chinaglia tallied in the first half to give the Cosmos the winning margin by intermission (they would ultimately win 3-1).  The duo of Chinaglia and Romero had combined for 29 goals in 19 matches in 1980, which was more goals than the entire rosters of twelve NASL franchises to that point in the season, including the defending champion Vancouver Whitecaps.  Romerito, the spectacular 19-year old Paraguayan, was yet another world class performer (he would win South American Footballer of the Year with Fluminense in 1985) who couldn’t reverse the fading appeal of the Cosmos and the NASL during the 1980’s.

Johan Cruyff appeared on the cover of the evening’s KICK Magazine match program in his Washington Diplomats uniform.  Cruyff was the one huge world superstar playing in the NASL who wasn’t on the Cosmos roster.  But he too, like Beckenbauer, would leave the NASL to return to Europe at the end of the 1980 season.



July 2, 1980 New York Cosmos Game Notes

July 2, 1980 Toronto Blizzard Game Notes