Lively Tales About Dead Teams

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1978-1984 Tulsa Roughnecks

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1983 Tulsa Roughnecks Media GuideNorth American Soccer League (1978-1984)

Born: November 1977 – Team Hawaii relocates to Tulsa, OK
Folded: September 1984
Born Again: January 1985
Folded Again: July 1985

Stadium: Skelly Stadium (41,000)

Arena: Expo Square Pavilion (6,300)

Team Colors: Red, Black & White


Soccer Bowl Champions: 1983


Text coming soon…


Tulsa Roughnecks Memorabilia



North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs


April 26, 1980 – Tulsa Roughnecks vs. New York Cosmos

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Keith Furphy Detroit ExpressTulsa Roughnecks vs. New York Cosmos
April 26, 1980
Skelly Stadium
Attendance: 30,822

North American Soccer League Programs
96 pages


One of the all-time great matches in the history of the Tulsa Roughnecks (1978-1985) club.  The New York Cosmos brought all of their international stars to Oklahoma for this early season 1980 match – Alberto, Beckenbauer, Chinaglia.  30,822 fans turned out, a Tulsa club record which would never be surpassed.

The match was physical. Roughnecks coach Charlie Mitchell instructed his players to get after the Cosmos’ aging stars.  Tulsa imposed their style on the match.  Referee Dante Maglio whistled 59 fouls and issued five yellow cards in the match.  The Cosmos got few clean chances on Roughnecks goalkeeper Gene DuChateau, who needed to make only one save in the match.

Nevertheless, the Cosmos got on the board first, when a bad clearance by Billy Gazonas led to Giorgio Chinaglia’s 99th league goal and a 1-0 New York lead in 24th minute.  The Cosmos took the lead into the locker room at the intermission.

But in the second half, Tulsa’s Northern Irish internationals Billy Caskey and Victor Moreland took over.  The Roughnecks tied the match in the 62nd minute, when Moreland punched in a corner kick from Alan Woodward amidst a scrum in front of the net (the goal was initially credited to Caskey).  Caskey got the game winner in the 79th minute, beating New York ‘keeper Hubert Birkenmeier one-on-one after a Cosmos’ defensive lapse.  The Roughnecks held on for the 2-1 upset.

After the match, Tulsa sweeper Jo Edvaldsson shared his assessment with Randy Krehbiel of The Tulsa World:

They’re superstars,” said the Icelandic international.  “They’re not used to playing from behind.  They have seven or eight superstars out there.  But we have a team of players who care about each other.  You didn’t see them going after tackles.  We have more character.  We deserved to win it.”

The Cosmos and the Roughnecks would meet again in the 1st round of the 1980 NASL playoffs. The Cosmos annihilated Tulsa 11-2 in the two-game series, including a record-shattering 8-1 beating in Game Two that featured seven goals from Chinaglia.



Dodgy pre-game show footage from the Cosmos’ local WOR-TV coverage of the match.




April 26, 1980 Tulsa Roughnecks Game Notes

April 26, 1980 New York Cosmos Game Notes



New York Cosmos Home Page


==Additional Sources==

“Rufnex Forced Cosmos Out of Their Orbit”, Randy Krehbiel, The Tulsa World, April 27, 1980



1982-1985 Oklahoma City Slickers / Oklahoma City Stampede / Tulsa Tornados

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The Oklahoma City Slickers were an expansion entry in the American Soccer League in the spring of 1982.   The ASL was a de facto 2nd Division league that traced its roots back to the early 1930’s.  By the time the Slickers entered the league in 1982, the ASL was on its last legs, doomed by over expansion, invisibility and constant franchise turnover.

Slickers Head Coach Brian Harvey put together a stellar expansion side, led by English NASL veterans Phil Parkes in goal and Jeff Bourne at forward.  Parkes played all 28 games, posting a 19-6-3 record.  Bourne finished third in the ASL in scoring with 20 goals and eight assists.

The Slickers carried a 13-match winning streak into the best-of-three ASL championship series against the Detroit Express in late September 1982.  The Slickers won the first match on the road at the Pontiac Silverdome and had the chance to ice the series at home, where the Slickers had a 15-game unbeaten streak.  But the Express scored two late goals to defeat the Slickers 2-0 at Taft Stadium and send the series back to Pontiac for a deciding Game Three.  The Express won the rubber match 4-1 before an announced crowd of 33,762 at the Silverdome on September 22, 1982.

By the 1983 season, the ASL had dwindled to just six franchises, with five southern clubs scattered from Dallas to Charlotte, plus Allentown, Pennsylvania.  The team was unable to retain Jeff Bourne who joined the ASL’s lone expansion club in Dallas.  Phil Parkes returned for part of the season, but the Slickers sold his contract to the Toronto Blizzard of the North American Soccer League in early July 1983.  Brian Harvey’s team could not recapture the magic of the first season and the Slickers dropped to a league-worst record of 8-17.

In late 1983, the American Soccer League finally threw in the towel after 51 years of operation.  The Slickers joined three other ASL clubs – the Rochester Flash, the Dallas American and the Jacksonville Tea Men – to help form a successor organization, the United Soccer League.  The USL debuted in the spring of 1984 with nine franchises. The USL intended to operated year-round, playing both indoor and outdoor soccer, something the ASL had never attempted.  The league also made a firm commitment to Americanization, requiring that fourteen of the eighteen players on each roster be Americans.

 As part of the shift to the new league, the Slickers changed their name to the Oklahoma City Stampede for the 1984 season.  The Stampede bounced back in a big way from the disappointment of the 1983 season.  NASL veterans Thompson Usiyan and David Kemp provided a new scoring punch, finishing 2nd and 3rd in the league in total points.  Jamaican-born Delroy Allen handled the bulk of the goalkeeping duties.

The Stampede finished the 1984 USL season at 15-9, tied for the best record in the league.  The Houston Dynamos eliminated the Stampede in the semi-finals in a mild upset.

Following the 1984 season, six of the nine USL franchises folded or withdrew from the league.  Stampede owner David Fraser moved his club to Skelly Stadium in Tulsa and renamed it the Tulsa Tornados.  Brian Harvey was once again tabbed to coach.

The 1985 USL season was a disaster from the word go.  Just one week into the campaign, the Tornados cancelled their June 1st home game after the team missed its payroll and the unpaid players balked.  The league played only six matches in total before creditors foreclosed on the league, forcing its shutdown in midseason.   Coupled with the demise of the 1st Division North American Soccer League several months earlier, this left the United States without any league for professional outdoor soccer during 1985.


1982 Oklahoma City Slickers Roster as of 5-15-1982

1984 Oklahoma Outlaws

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doug williams oklahoma outlawsUnited States Football League (1984)

Born: July 7, 1983 – USFL expansion franchise.
Died: December 5, 1984 – Merged with Arizona Wranglers.

Stadium: Skelly Stadium

Team Colors:

Owners: William Tatham, Sr. & Willliam Tatham, Jr.


The United States Football League awarded an expansion franchise to Fresno businessman William Tatham, Sr., his son William Tatham, Jr. and San Diego political consultant Ken Rietz on May 16th, 1983.  Tatham Sr. was the former owner of the World Football League’s short-lived Portland Thunder franchise.  The investors paid a $6 million expansion fee to join the springtime football league for its second season.  Tatham and the USFL sought to place the club – due to begin play in March 1984 – at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium.  This marked the second time in two years that the USFL attempted to plant its flag in San Diego.   The new league was first rebuffed by the city’s stadium committee in 1982, when investors Bill Daniels and Alan Harmon were turned away and moved their franchise to the Los Angeles Coliseum instead.

Both USFL bids faced opposition from Jack Murphy’s three existing tenants, the San Diego Padres baseball team, the NFL’s San Diego Chargers and the San Diego Sockers of the North American Soccer League.  While the Tatham group awaited a response from the City Council, the proposed club moved forward in other areas, hiring Pro Football Hall-of-Fame and longtime San Diego Chargers head coach Sid Gillman as General Manager and negotiating with Chargers All-Pro free agent quarterback Dan Fouts.  But in mid-June 1983, the City Council voted 4-3 not to open lease negotiations with the USFL, leaving the Tatham group without a home.

The Tathams now looked eastward to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  On July 7th, 1983, the USFL formally announced the Oklahoma Outlaws as a new franchise for the 1984 season.  The move was part of an aggressive expansion campaign by the young league, which would add six new cities for its second season after beginning play with twelve clubs in 1983.  The Outlaws signed a lease with the University of Tulsa to play at 40,000-seat Skelly Stadium, which also played host to the Tulsa Roughnecks of the North American Soccer League.

On August 9, 1983 the Outlaws announced the signing of Tampa Bay Buccaneers free agent quarterback Doug Williams.  The Bucs drafted Williams in 1978 out of Grambling, the first black quarterback ever selected in the first round of the NFL Draft.  Between 1979 and 1982, Williams led the Bucs to three playoff appearances in four seasons including an appearance in the 1980 NFC Championship Game.  Yet by the end of his fifth season, Williams remained one of the lowest paid starting quarterbacks in the NFL, having earned $120,000 for the 1982 campaign.  He rejected a new contract from Bucs owner Hugh Culverhouse to jump to the USFL.

After the Williams signing, the Outlaws seemed to stall for the remainder of 1983.  The club made no other major free agent signings.  29-year old President William Tatham, Jr. fired Hall-of-Famer Sid Gillman in December and assumed the General Manager reigns himself.  Tatham openly courted Washington Redskins quarterbacks coach and former University of Tulsa star Jerry Rhome for the head coaching post, only to be rejected by Rhome on January 1st, 1984, three days before the USFL’s college draft.

Sidney Thornton Oklahoma OutlawsBy this point, the Outlaws were the only team among the USFL’s eighteen members without a coaching staff, with the 1984 season opener less than two months away.  The Tathams scrambled to hire longtime Pittsburgh Steelers defensive assistant Woody Widenhofer.  By Widenhofer’s own account, Tatham Jr. called him at 6:00 AM in the morning on January 2nd to offer him the job.  Widenhofer didn’t know who Tatham was and had to call a former Steelers colleague working in the USFL to confirm that Tatham actually owned the team.  Nevertheless, Widenhofer accepted the job the next day, with one day to prepare for the 1984 USFL draft, in which the Outlaws held the #2 overall selection.  Only four of the Outlaws twenty-six open draft picks made the 1984 roster and the club failed to sign either of its first round selections, Ron Faurot or Conrad Goode.

==Gil Swalls – Outlaws Director of Public Relations 1984==

Our open tryouts were interesting. One guy showed up in a tuxedo, ran the 40, and kept on going like Forrest Gump.

The Outlaws made their USFL debut on February 26th, 1984 taking on the Pittsburgh Maulers at wet, frigid Skelly Stadium.  The 20-degree windchill depressed attendance, with Outlaws officials providing unusually specific figures to the press: 11,638 in attendance with 4,300 no-shows.

Less than a month into the Outlaws debut season in Tulsa, Owner/GM Bill Tatham Jr. announced that the club was unlikely to remain viable in Skelly Stadium.  Tatham went on to claim that Honolulu, Indianapolis, Miami, Portland (Ore.) and Seattle had expressed interest in hosting the franchise, effectively putting Tulsa on notice that the Outlaws were lame ducks after only two home games.

==Gil Swalls==

“Bill Jr. came in to the office one day and announced to the staff that we were going to demand Tulsa build us a new domed stadium. My heart sank, because I knew we were heading from stability to crazy.  I had no real inside knowledge about Bill’s financial status, his political skills, or his ability to pull off such a big project, but I did know Tulsa, and I was quite sure a domed stadium demand wasn’t going to fly.  Maybe that was his way of moving the team.  He kept talking about Oklahoma City, but I wasn’t sure if he had any real prospects there.  Even though I felt this announcement was a mistake, I liked Bill and wanted him and all of us to succeed.”

On the field, the Outlaws raced to a surprising 6-2 start.  Ralph Wiley of Sports Illustrated profiled the team on April 23, 1984, noting that the Outlaws had achieved their success despite a payroll of $2.1 million, second lowest in the 18-team USFL.  The article also painted an unflattering portrait of the young Tatham, noting that the novice football exec “seems to revel in issuing ultimatums”.  After the Sports Illustrated feature appeared, the Outlaws lost ten consecutive games to finish the season at 6-12.  Williams had a poor season, hobbled by a knee injury and a weak supporting cast.  Over 18 games, the Outlaws could not produce one running back who accumulated 300 yards rushing.  Williams passed for 3,084 yards in 15 games, but completed less then 50% of his passes and threw 21 interceptions.

Shortly after the Outlaws season ended in early July 1984, Tatham Jr. declared the team would not return to Tulsa, again citing the deficiencies of Skelly Stadium.  Announced attendance had improved from the freezing opener, totalling 189,342 for an average of 21,038 per game.  Nevertheless, the Tathams projected losses of $3 million for the 1984 season.  At the USFL owners meetings in August,  a faction of USFL owners led by Donald Trump of the New Jersey Generals pushed through a resolution to move to a fall season in 1986, after one final spring campaign in 1985.  The move, combined with the substantial financial losses of many franchises, set off a flurry of merger and relocation talks.  At the same August meeting, the league approved the merger of the Outlaws with the Oakland Invaders.  The merged club would remain in Oakland under the Invaders name, with William Tatham Sr. and Invaders owner Tad Taube as equal partners.  But by early October, the planned merger was scrapped.  The Invaders went on to merge with the Michigan Panthers.  The Tathams shifted their sights to Arizona Wranglers owner Dr. Ted Diethrich.

Diethrich, a Phoenix-based heart surgeon, was an original USFL investor.  Although his Wranglers club appeared in the 1984 USFL Championship game, he was approaching financial exhaustion with the league, having lost approximately $14 million between May 1982 and October 1984.  Reported as a merger, the transaction saw the Tathams purchase controlling interest in the Wranglers in December 1984.  The team took the name Arizona Outlaws, relocating to the Wranglers old home at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe.  Widenhofer and the Outlaws coaching staff were dismissed, while Wranglers Head Coach/part-owner George Allen stepped down, along with his son, Bruce Allen, the Wranglers General Manager.  William Tatham Jr. remained as President/GM of the Outlaws and hired controversial long-time Arizona State Head Coach Frank Kush to coach the club.


1984 proved out to be a rough year for the Tulsa sporting scene.  The city’s long-time minor league hockey franchise, the Tulsa Oilers, folded in the spring, along with the rest of the Central Hockey League.  The Outlaws announced their departure in July and their fellow Skelly Stadium tenant the Tulsa Roughnecks soccer team folded in September.

Doug Williams returned to the NFL with the Washington Redskins in 1986.  On January 31, 1988, Williams quarterbacked the Redskins to a 42-10 victory over the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, becoming the first black quarterback to start in and win a Super Bowl.  He also became the first of two USFL quarterbacks (Steve Young being the other) to win a Super Bowl.  Ironically, the game was played at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium, where the Outlaws’ odyssey began.


==Oklahoma Outlaws Programs on Fun While It Lasted==

Year Date Opponent Score Program Other


1984 2/26/1984 vs. Pittsburgh Maulers  W 7-3
1984 3/3/1984 vs. Denver Gold L 17-14 (OT)
1984 3/11/1984 vs. San Antonio Gunslingers W 14-7
1984 3/17/1984 @ Chicago Blitz W 17-14 Program
1984 3/24/1984 @ Arizona Wranglers L 49-7
1984 3/31/1984 vs. Houston Gamblers W 31-28 (OT)
1984 4/7/1984 vs. Michigan Panthers W 20-17
1984 4/14/1984 @ Washington Federals W 20-16 Program
1984 4/21/1984 @ Birmingham Stallions L 41-17
1984 4/27/1984 vs. Jacksonville Bulls L 34-6
1984 5/6/1984 @ New Jersey Generals L 49-17 Program Roster
1984 5/14/1984 @ Tampa Bay Bandits L 48-21
1984 5/20/1984 @ Houston Gamblers L 31-12
1984 5/26/1984 vs. Oakland Invaders L 17-14
1984 6/2/1984 vs. Chicago Blitz L 14-0
1984 6/10/1984 vs Los Angeles Express L 17-10
1984 6/18/1984 @ Michigan Panthers L 34-24
1984 6/24/1984 @ San Antonio Gunslingers L 23-0


==Key Players==



2011 Interview with Oklahoma Outlaws PR Director Gil Swalls

Article Sources



United States Football League Media Guides

United States Football League Programs



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