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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.
Died:
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

 

==Video==

Shep Messing pimps Skoal Tobacco circa 1978:

 

==Links==

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

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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December 26, 1983 – Chicago Sting vs. New York Cosmos

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Chicago Sting vs. New York Cosmos
December 26, 1983
Chicago Stadium
Attendance: 11,722

North American Soccer League Programs
48 pages

 

“Season Greetings From Your Chicago Sting“…

Great KICK Magazine match day from 30 years ago today, when the Chicago Sting took on their North American Soccer League arch rivals in an indoor soccer matinee at the old Chicago Stadium downtown.  The crowd of 11,722 was the Sting’s largest of the indoor season so far, thanks to the holiday and the box office appeal of the hated New York Cosmos.

Cosmos’ striker Steve Moyers graces the program cover, but it was New York’s Polish indoor specialist Stan Terlecki who carried the afternoon for the visitors, scoring all four of the Cosmos’ goals, including the game winner with under three minutes to play.  The Cosmos won 4-3.  Charlie Fajkus (2 goals) and Ingo Peter scored for the Sting in a losing effort.

 

==Links==

Chicago Sting Home Page

New York Cosmos Home Page

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Written by andycrossley

December 27th, 2013 at 12:15 am

March 25, 1979 – New York Cosmos vs. Estudiantes Tecos

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New York Cosmos vs. Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara
March 25, 1979
Kezar Stadium
Attendance: 9,000 (estimated)

North American Soccer League Programs
4 pages

 

Over the past six months or so I’ve pumped an absurd amount of money that should have gone into retirement savings or my baby girl’s college fund into acquiring large chunks of the remarkable estate collection of the late Newark Star-Ledger sportswriter Ike Kuhns.  Kuhns covered all sorts of events, but I’ve been focusing on his meticulous New York Cosmos soccer archives, which probably should have been sent to the National Soccer Hall of Fame, except that the Hall is currently out of business and its collection is currently gathering dust in a storage facility somewhere in North Carolina.

Anyway.  If you’ve been annoyed with the heavy soccer coverage on Fun While It Lasted during the past year – especially the Cosmos – you can blame it almost solely on Ike and his awesome, once-in-a-lifetime collection.  Or you can blame me.  It makes no difference to either of us at this point.

This is one of the cooler finds from Kuhns’ files.  A four-age tabloid newspaper style match program for a March 1979 pre-season exhibition between the Cosmos and Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara (colloquially known as “Tecos”) at San Franscisco’s Kezar Stadium.  I can’t imagine many of these broadsheets survived the walk home from Golden Gate Park that day, let alone 35 years moldering away in somebody’s attic.  Maybe this is the only one – you can download the whole thing at the bottom of the page.

Tecos traces its history back to 1935, but the club only became fully professional in 1971.  Nevertheless, by 1979 they were a competitive team in the Mexican First Division and worthy of facing the Cosmos in this 1979 pre-season tune-up, played before 9,000 or so mostly Mexican-American fans in San Francisco.  And the Tecos held their own on this day, drawing the Cosmos 2-2.  Giorgio Chinaglia scored two in the first half to give the New Yorkers a 2-0 advantage at intermission.  But the Tecos clawed their way back in the second half to earn the tie courtesy of goals by Eladio Vera and David Salas.

In fairness, Cosmos manager Eddie Firmani was without two of his best players – Carlos Alberto and Dennis Tueart – and he started Trinidadian Earl “Spiderman” Carter in goal.  Carter had an awesome nickname but he was also a 9th stringer who literally never played in a North American Soccer League regular season game when it counted.

One last (ultra geeky) curiosity about this match.  The NASL had two Bay Area franchises in 1978.  The San Jose Earthquakes played at Spartan Stadium and the Oakland Stompers lasted just a single season at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.  A month prior to this match the Stompers were sold to Canadian interests and moved to Edmonton, Alberta.  So I was surprised to see the Tecos Game Notes (download them below) printed on Stompers letterhead.  Either the Stompers were due to be the organizational “hosts” of this exhibition before their abrupt move to the Great White North, or else some lone Stompers PR flack was left behind with a few leftover piles of Stompers stationary and he offered to help out with the event promotion.

 

==Downloads==

March 25, 1979 New York Cosmos vs. Tecos Game Program

March 25, 1979 New York Cosmos Game Notes

March 25, 1979 Tecos Roster & Game Notes

March 25, 1979 New York Cosmos vs. Tecos Official Scorer’s Sheet

 

==Links==

More NASL International Friendlies

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Written by andycrossley

October 13th, 2013 at 4:10 am

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.

 

==Downloads==

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

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Written by andycrossley

October 10th, 2013 at 5:58 pm

June 24, 1979 – New York Cosmos vs. New England Tea Men

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New York Cosmos vs. New England Tea Men
June 24, 1979
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 41,428

North American Soccer League Programs
130 pages

 

This June 1979 match marked the North American Soccer League debut of Dutch national team midfielder Johan Neeskens.  Neeskens, a key member of Holland’s World Cup final teams in 1974 and 1978, was arguably the last truly impactful European star imported by the New York Cosmos (1971-1985), a club that became world famous for importing foreign stars to America.  (Neeskens would also hang on longer than the others and was the last big name left when the Cosmos played their final season in 1984).

The Cosmos’ opponent on this Sunday afternoon were the New England Tea Men, and a national TV audience on ABC joined the 41,428 on hand at Giants Stadium.  The Tea Men were struggling through a wretched sophomore jinx season, but they always played the Cosmos tough.  During New England’s expansion season in 1978, the Tea Men were the only NASL club to beat the eventual champion Cosmos twice.  On July 12th, 1978 New England beat the Cosmos 3-1 in New Jersey, ending the Cosmos two-year, 23-match unbeaten streak at home.  Coming into this game 11 months later, the Cosmos had built up a new 12-game home winning streak.

Neeskens was the story going into the match, and he was strong in midfield, nearly scoring on a volley just over the New England crossbar in the 55th minute.  But the story of the day – surprisingly – was a pair of young American stars who’d dropped out of college the previous year to play for the Cosmos.

21-year old David Brcic, who left soccer power St. Louis University in 1978 to sign with New York, got his first start of the season, after spending the first sixteen matches deep on the bench behind both Jack Brand and Erol Yasin.  Brcic was outstanding, making 10 saves and recording a clean sheet against the Tea Men.  It was a rare moment of outdoor glory for Brcic.  Though he stayed with the team until it’s demise in 1985, he never won the outdoor starting job, seeing most of his action during the Cosmos’ winter indoor seasons of the 1980’s, which the club never seemed to take especially seriously.

The other young standout was 20-year old midfielder Rick Davis, considered by many to be the finest American player in the game.  Playing in his 30th pro match, Davis had earned a reputation as a reliable distributor, earning 7 assists through the first 16 matches of the 1979 season.  But he had never scored a goal, until the 50th minute of this game, when he put a knuckling shot past Tea Men goalkeeper Kevin “Cat” Keelan.  Davis was too surprised to celebrate and walked calmly back to midfield while his teammates leaped and yelled around him.  It was the only goal of the match in the Cosmos 1-0 victory.

Prior to the 2:30 PM kickoff, there was a preliminary match between the New York Freedoms, champions of the amateur Cosmopolitan Soccer League’s Major Division, and a team of Cosmopolitan League All-Stars.  Over the years, more than a dozen Cosmopolitan League alumni made it up to the NASL and other American pro leagues.  You can check out the press notes and rosters from this match in the Downloads section below.  The All-Stars head coach was Dr. Gerry Klivecka, brother of Cosmos’ manager Ray Klivecka.

Former Cosmos star goalkeeper Shep Messing is pictured on the cover of the day’s KICK Magazine program, but by this time he was upstate New York, playing his final season of outdoor soccer with the anything-but-glamorous Rochester Lancers.

 

==Downloads==

June 11, 1979 – Dutch Star Johan Neeskens Signs With Cosmos Press Release

June 24, 1979 New England Tea Men Game Notes 

June 24, 1979 New York Cosmos Game Notes

June 24, 1979 New York Freedoms vs. Cosmopolitan All-Stars Game Notes

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Written by andycrossley

September 8th, 2013 at 3:21 am