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1974-1975 Philadelphia Bell

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1974 Philadelphia BellWorld Football League (1974-1975)

Born: 1973 – WFL founding franchise
Folded: October 22, 1975

Stadiums: 

Team Colors:

Owners: 

WFL Championships: None

 

The Philadelphia Bell were one of twelve original franchises in the World Football League in 1974. The Bell made several efforts to poach high profile stars and draft picks from the National Football League during their brief lifespan. But the team was best known for “Papergate”, an attendance reporting and accounting scandal that demolished the fledgling WFL’s credibility barely than a month into its debut season.

The Bell organization took shape along with the rest of the WFL over the winter of 1973-74. John B. Kelly, Jr., a local sports hero and the elder brother of actress Grace Kelly, served as the front man for the Bell ownership group. The team offered a reported 3-year, $500,000 contract offer to the 1973 Heisman Trophy winner, running back John Cappelletti of Penn State.  Cappelletti, picked #11 overall in the NFL draft that winter, wisely chose to sign with the Los Angeles Rams for less money. The Bell biggest “name” signing in 1974 was linebacker/madman Tim Rossovich, the Eagles’ #1 draft pick back in 1968. Ron Waller, who finished out the 1973 NFL season.

Ron Waller hired on to coach the Bell. Though Waller finished the 1973 NFL season as interim head coach of the San Diego Chargers, he spent much of his coaching career in the bush leagues. Waller stocked the Bell roster with skill position players from the defunct Pottstown (PA) Firebirds, a championship minor league club that he coached in the late 1960’s. Quarterback Jim “King” Corcoran and the running back tandem of John Land and Claude Watts were all Firebirds alums.

1974 Philadelphia Bell ProgramThe Bell debuted at 100,000-seat John F. Kennedy Stadium on July 10th, 1974. Waller’s squad drubbed the visiting Portland Storm 33-8. But the big headline was the crowd. Bell officials announced a stunning attendance figure of 55,534. When the team returned two weeks later for its second home game against the New York Stars on July 25th, an even larger mob of 64,719 fans gathered at JFK Stadium. The TVS network broadcast the game nationwide. The Bell blew two go-ahead field goal attempts in the game’s final three minutes and lost 17-15.

120,000 fans for the Bell’s first two home games! Local journos assumed that team officials must have papered the city with free tickets. Not so, claimed the team’s Executive Vice President Barry Leib when questioned after the New York game. Leib obfuscated, indicating a minority of tickets were discounted for group sale or distributed to corporate sponsors. Left unsaid was an implication that Philly fans bought the majority of the tickets at face values of $2, $5 and $8. The Bell were forced to disclose actual paid attendance figures when it came time to pay city taxes on the sale of the tickets. The Bell actually sold fewer than 20,000 for the first two home games. Just 6,200 fans – less than 1/10th the announced crowd – paid for the New York game on July 25th.

On August 8th, 1974, one day before Richard Nixon’s resignation as President, the Bell held a press conference to apologize for the deception. The press dubbed the scandal “Papergate” and various outlets, including Sports Illustrated, pejoratively began referring to the WFL as the “World Freebie League”. Bell President John B. Kelly, Jr. resigned from the club in mortification. Attendance crashed, bottoming out at the Bell’s ninth home game against the Shreveport Steamer on October 16th, 1974. Just 750 fans showed up for the game on rainy Wednesday night. It was the smallest crowd in World Football League history.

On the field, the Bell underachieved. The offense, led by the Pottstown contingent, was high powered. Corcoran threw for 3,631 yards and 31 touchdowns (albeit with 30 picks to match). John Land and Claude Watts combined for over 2,000 yards rushing. The defense was suspect though and the Bell entered the final week of the WFL season with an 8-11 record. The Bell were scheduled to play the Chicago Fire at JFK Stadium on November 13, 1974. But Fire owner Tom Origer had had enough of the WFL. Rather than travel to Philadelphia, he forfeited the game and folded his franchise. With a 9-11 record, the Bell were on the outside looking in for the postseason. Until the Charlotte Hornets decided they couldn’t afford to compete in the playoffs and withdrew. The Bell replaced Charlotte on the league’s playoff schedule. The team traveled to Orlando and lost to the Florida Blazers 18-3 in the divisional round on November 21, 1974.

The WFL re-grouped to stage a second season in the fall of 1975. Bell owner John Bosacco was one of only two original WFL owners with the stomach to carry on for a second campaign. The rest of the 1975 WFL investors were new guys who apparently never read the newspaper. The Bell moved from 100,000-seat JFK Stadium to 60,000-seat Franklin Field for the new season. The team fired head coach Ron Waller during training camp in July 1975, just one week before the regular season opener. Team owner John Bosacco promoted Willie Wood, the team’s defensive coordinator, to the head job three days before . Wood, a former All-Pro safety for the Green Bay Packers, became the first African-American head coach in pro football since Fritz Pollard in 1925. Only 3,266 fans turned up at Franklin Field for the Bell’s 1975 home opener on July 19th.

The Bell had one of the most prolific offenses in the WFL in 1974.  All three skill players returned in 1975. The Bell added former NFL All-Pro tight end Ted Kwalick and running back J.J. Jennings, one of the WFL “Tri-MVP’s” in 1974 with Memphis. But the offense went backwards under Wood’s direction. Land and Watts remained a fearsome ground force. Along with Jennings, they racked up nearly 1,500 yards in eleven games. The passing game, however, collapsed. Wood benched Corcoran in favor NFL journeyman Bob Davis, who quarterbacked the Florida Blazers to the WFL’s World Bowl title in 1974. Both signal callers saw action in 1975, but neither found consistent form.

By October 1975 the writing was on the wall for the Bell and the WFL. After five home games at Franklin Field, the Bell averaged a league-worst 3,705 fans per game. National media outlets began to speculate that the WFL would terminate the club’s membership before the end of the season. Instead, the entire league voted to cease operations entirely on October 22, 1975 without completing its second season of play.  The Philadelphia Bell’s final game was played at Franklin Field four days earlier on October 18, 1975. Just 1,293 fans showed up.

 

Philadelphia Bell Shop


Bell Retro T-Shirt by Throwback Max

WIFFLE: The Wild, Zany and Sometimes Hilariously True Story of the World Football League by Mark Speck

Philadelphia Bell Memorabilia

 

In Memoriam

Bell team President Jack Kelly Jr. (Bell ’74) died of a heart attack while jogging on March 2, 1985. He was 57.

Quarterback Jim “King” Corcoran (Bell ’74-’75) passed away in 2009 at the age of 65. Washington Post obituary.

Linzy Cole (Bell ’74) died in September 2016. The wide receiver, who was the first African-American to play football at Texas Christian University in 1968, was 68 years old.

 

Downloads

1975 World Football League Standard Player Contract

 

Links

World Football League Media Guides

World Football League Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

November 13th, 2017 at 4:52 pm

2001-2003 Philadelphia Charge

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2001 Philadelphia Charge Media GuideWomen’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003)

Founded
: April 10, 2000 – WUSA founding franchise
Folded: September 15, 2003

Stadium: Villanova Stadium (11,800)

Team Colors: Red & Black

Investor-Operator: Comcast

Founders Cup Championships: None

 

The Philadelphia Charge were a three-year entry in the Women’s United Soccer Association (2001-2003), the first pro soccer league for women in the United States.

The big impact players on the Charge were the team’s foreign stars – striker Marinette Pichon of France and midfielder/forward Kelly Smith of England. Pichon won the WUSA’s Most Valuable Player award in 2002. Smith, though limited by injuries during her Charge days, is widely considered one of the greatest offensive forces in the history of the women’s game.

But the big drawing cards of the WUSA were the American stars.  The league was formed by a consortium of cable companies and executives who were intoxicated by the attendance and TV ratings of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, won by the USA women.  Comcast backed the Charge franchise. Each of the eight WUSA franchises was “allocated” three of the U.S. National Team members in late 2000. The allocations were conducted via a matching process that took into account both team and player desires. The big name American stars (Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, Brandi Chastain, et al.) expressed no willingness to play in Philly. As a result, the Charge received the least impressive allocation of U.S. National Team players among the WUSA’s eight clubs: Mandy Clemens, Lorrie Fair and Saskia Webber.

Heather Mitts Philadelphia Charge

Heather Mitts Bobblehead Night. June 8, 2002

The breakout American star turned out to be a college draft pick: defender Heather Mitts from the University of Florida. Mitts was a stalwart for the Charge during the three-year run of the WUSA, appearing in 51 of the team’s 63 matches and earning all-league honors as a defender in 2003. Off the field, Mitts appeared on the cover of Philadelphia Magazine as one of the city’s sexiest singles and dated Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Pat Burrell and later Eagles quarterback A.J. Feeley (whom she married in 2010). Mitts went on to play 137 games with the U.S. National Team, earning an Olympic gold medal with the team in 2008.

During the WUSA’s final season, the Charge drafted goalkeeper Hope Solo out of the University of Washington. Solo would eventually become the greatest American goalkeeper of all-time and a World Cup and Olympic champion. But as a rookie with the Charge in 2003, she spent most of the season on the bench backing up Melissa Moore.

Solo would never get a chance to establish herself as one of the rising young stars of the league. Late in the 2003 season, rumors emerged that Comcast was through backing the Charge, throwing the team’s future in Philly into question. In fact, Comcast’s desire to get out was a symptom of a broader loss of investor confidence in the WUSA.  On September 15th, 2003 the league folded after three seasons of play, taking the Charge down along with it.

 

Philadelphia Charge Memorabilia

 

Philadelphia Charge Video

 

Links

Women’s United Soccer Association Media Guides

Women’s United Soccer Association Programs

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Written by Drew Crossley

May 24th, 2016 at 2:05 am

1972-73 Philadelphia Blazers

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Derek Sanderson Philadelphia BlazersWorld Hockey Association (1972-1973)

Born: May 1972 – The WHA’s planned Miami franchise shifts to Philadelphia.
Moved: 
May 1973 (Vancouver Blazers)

Arena: Philadelphia Civic Center

Team Colors:

Owners: Bernard Brown & James Cooper

 

Text coming soon…

 

Philadelphia Blazers Shop


Blazers Replica Jersey by K-1 Sportswear

 

Philadelphia Blazers Memorabilia

 

Links

World Hockey Association Media Guides

World Hockey Association Programs

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1983-1984 Philadelphia Stars

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Philadelphia Stars USFLUnited States Football League (1983-1984)

Born: May 11, 1982 – USFL founding franchise.
Moved: October 1984 (Baltimore Stars)

Stadiums:

Team Colors:

Owner: Myles Tannenbaum

 

 

 

==Philadelphia Stars Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other

1983

1983 3/6/1983 @ Denver Gold W 13-7 Program Video
1983 3/21/1983 @ Birmingham Stallions W 17-10 Program
1983 4/16/1983 @ Oakland Invaders W 17-7 Program
1983 5/29/1983 @ Boston Breakers  L 21-17 Video
1983 7/9/1983 vs. Chicago Blitz W 44-38 (OT) Program Video
1983 7/17/1983 Michigan Panthers L 24-22 Program Video

1984

1984 4/1/1984 vs. Tampa Bay Bandits W 38-24 Program Video
1984 4/15/1984 vs. Chicago Blitz W 41-7 Program
1984 5/13/1984 vs. Los Angeles Express W 18-14 Program Video
1984 6/30/1984 vs. New Jersey Generals W 28-7 Video
1984 7/7/1984 vs. Birmingham Stallions W 20-10 Program

 

==Key Players==

 

==YouTube==

1983 USFL Championship Game on ABC Sports.  Michigan Panthers vs. Philadelphia Stars at Denver, Co. July 17, 1983…

1984 Inside The USFL feature on the Stars’ remarkable track record…

==In Memoriam==

Former Stars linebacker Sam Mills passed away April 18, 2005 at age 45 after a two-year battle with cancer.

Stars founder and owner Myles Tannenbaum died on August 31, 2012 at the age of 82 years old.

 

==Links==

United States Football League Media Guides

United States Football League Programs

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1978-1980 Philadelphia Fury

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Philadelphia FuryNorth American Soccer League (1978-1980)

Born: November 15, 1977 – NASL expansion franchise
Moved: October 1980 (Montreal Manic)

Stadium: Veterans Stadium (56,000)

Team Colors: Burgundy, Gold & White

Owners: Frank Barsalona, Elliot Hoffman, Larry Levine, Peter Rudge, et al.

Soccer Bowl Championships: None

 

The Philadelphia Fury marked the second go round for the North American Soccer League in the City of Brotherly Love.  The Fury followed on the heels of the Philadelphia Atoms (1973-1976), who won the league championship as an expansion team in 1973 and became the first NASL team featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  A handful of popular players from the Atoms era returned, including goalkeeper Bob Rigby and defender Bobby Smith.

The Fury weren’t able to replicate the on-field success of the Atoms or anything close to it.  In their debut season of 1978, the club was managed by player-coach Alan Ball.  Thanks to the NASL’s forgiving playoff system, the Fury squeaked into the postseason despite a 12-18 last place record.  They were quickly dispatched by fellow expansioneers the Detroit Express in the opening round.

Philadelphia Fury Tony GlavinIn 1979 the Fury were worse, dropping to 10-20 in the regular season.  Once again this was good enough for the playoffs though and, in the franchise’s finest hour, the Fury shocked the Houston Hurricane (22-8) in the first round.  The Philadelphians were eliminated by eventual Soccer Bowl ’79 finalists Tampa Bay Rowdies in the quarterfinals.  Scottish forward David Robb finished 5th in the NASL in scoring in 1979 with 16 goals and 20 assists, but he would not return to the club in 1980.

In 1980 the Fury hired Eddie Firmani to manage the club.  Firmani was one of the NASL’s most successful coaches, having won three of the previous five Soccer Bowls as manager at Tampa Bay and New York Cosmos.  But the club regressed again, finishing with a franchise worst 10-22 record and missing the playoffs for the first time.  Worse yet, the Fury had the worst home attendance in the 24-team NASL for the second season in a row, pulling fewer than 5,000 per match at Veterans Stadium.

In October 1980 Molson Breweries purchased the franchise and moved it to Montreal’s Olympic Stadium.  The former Fury franchise played three more seasons as the Montreal Manic before going out of business in November 1983.

With their mediocre performance on-field, the Fury were best known for their sprawling 15-man ownership group.  The syndicate included rock music impresarios such as Rolling Stones manager Peter Rudge, concert promoter Frank Barsalona and stars Paul Simon, Rick Wakeman (of the band Yes) and Peter Frampton.

 

Philadelphia Fury Shop


Fury Retro T-Shirt by Throwback Max


Fury Yellow Weathered Retro T-Shirt by UGP Campus Apparel

Ian Plenderleith’s Definitive Account of “The Short Life & Fast Times of the North American Soccer League

 

Philadelphia Fury Memorabilia

 

Philadelphia Fury Video

Grim times for the Fury in 1980 in a near-empty Veterans Stadium:

 

The Fury on the road at Tampa Bay in the 1979 NASL quarterfinals. August 25, 1979

 

Links

North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs

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