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1974-1984 Vancouver Whitecaps

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Vancouver Whitecaps Media GuideNorth American Soccer League (1974-1984)

Born: December 11, 1973 – NASL expansion franchise.
Folded: January 1985



Team Colors:

  • 1977: Red & White
  • 1980: Cyan, Royal Blue & White


Soccer Bowl Champions: 1979


The original Vancouver Whitecaps were British Columbia’s beloved pro soccer club of the 1970’s and early 1980’s.  The club competed in the North American Soccer League from 1974 until 1984.  The ‘Caps also brought an attractive slate of international exhibitions to Vancouver, importing top foreign clubs such as Fluminense, Manchester City, Manchester United, Rangers and Roma for friendly matches and tournaments.  From 1980 to 1984, the Whitecaps played indoor soccer during the winter months.

Vancouver Whitecaps Media GuideOne of the NASL’s top clubs during the late 1970’s, the Whitecaps finest hour came at the conclusion of the 1979 season.  The Whitecaps dispatched the two-time defending champion New York Cosmos in the playoff semi-finals.  Then, on the Cosmos’ home ground at Giants Stadium in New Jersey, the Whitecaps beat the Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1 in Soccer Bowl ’79 to capture their first and only title.  An estimated 100,000 fans gathered in downtown Vancouver for a parade to honor the team.

Midway through the 1983 season, the Whitecaps left their long-time home at Empire Stadium to move into the 60,000-seat B.C. Place stadium.  The team’s first game at B.C. Place on June 20, 1983 drew 60,342 fans, which set a Canadian pro soccer attendance record which would stand for three decades.

But attendance in the new dome dipped quickly and by the start of the 1984 season, founding owner Herb Capozzi turned over controlling interest in the team to oil millionaire Bob Carter.  Carter’s reign was an embarrassment.  With the club bleeding millions of dollars, Carter made noises about folding the club in the middle of the 1984 NASL season.  The ‘Caps would end up finishing out the year, knocked out in the playoff semi-finals by the Chicago Sting.  While the ‘Caps were playing out what would be their final games in late 1984, Carter was busy getting himself into hot water for lurid S&M hijinks with a pair of underage prostitutes.

Deep in debt, and with the rest of the NASL collapsing around it, the Vancouver Whitecaps declared bankruptcy in January 1985 and went out of business.  The Whitecaps name was revived in 2001 and the “new” Whitecaps now compete in Major League Soccer.


Vancouver Whitecaps Memorabilia


In Memoriam

Alan Ball (Whitecaps ’79-’80) died April 25, 2007 of a heart attack while fighting a fire in his home. Daily Telegraph obituary.

Former Whitecaps GM Peter Bridgwater (’79-’83) passed away from cancer on June 21, 2005.  Soccer America obituary.

Vancouver Whitecaps founder and long-time owner Herb Capozzi died of cancer on November 21, 2011 at age 86.


Vancouver Whitecaps Video

The Whitecaps vs. Montreal Manic at Olympic Stadium in Montreal. August 1, 1981



North American Soccer League Media Guides

North American Soccer League Programs


August 26, 1981 – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
North American Soccer League Playoffs, Round 1, Game 2
August 26, 1981
Empire Stadium
Attendance: 28,896

North American Soccer League Programs


The Tampa Bay Rowdies really had no business in the North American Soccer League playoffs in 1981.  The Rowdies finished last in their division with a losing record of 15-17.  But they snuck into the NASL’s ultra generous playoff format, setting up a rematch of Soccer Bowl ’79  against the powerhouse Vancouver Whitecaps club in the first round.

The Whitecaps looked poised to make another strong Soccer Bowl run in 1981.  They had a prolific and democratic offense.  Vancouver ranked 3rd in the 21-team NASL in goals scored with 74 (trailing only eventual Soccer Bowl finalists Chicago & New York) despite the fact that their leading scorer Carl Valentine ranked just 20th in the league.  The defense, keyed by 2nd Team All-Star Pierce O’Leary, was even better.  The Whitecaps allowed a NASL-low 43 goals in 32 regular season matches.  Englishman Barry Siddall was among the league’s stingiest goalkeepers with a 1.30 goals against average and 6 clean sheets in 24 appearances.

So it was a shock when the Rowdies blitzed Vancouver for a 4-1 victory in Game 1 at Tampa Bay on August 23rd.  Vancouver actually got on the board first, courtesy of a volley from Valentine.  But the Rowdies tied the match late in the first half and stunned the visiting ‘Caps with a three goal barrage in the second.  The best-of-three series now headed back to Vancouver’s Empire Stadium for Game 2 and, if necessary, Game 3.

“We’re a great team,” Siddall told The St. Petersburg Times resolutely after the Game 1 debacle.  “And I guarantee you, things will be different at our place.”

Siddall was right.  The Whitecaps couldn’t score at all three nights later in front of a near sellout at Empire Stadium.  Vancouver organized their defense and controlled the tempo in the first half, but it was the Rowdies that scored against he run of play.  English winger David Moss, playing his only season in America on a loan from Luton Town, beat the Vancouver defensive wall and Barry Siddall from 23 yards out on a free kick in the 28th minute.  Moss had also scored for Tampa in the Game 1 rout.

The Rowdies defense and goalkeeper Kevin “Cat” Keelan blanked Vancouver the rest of the way and Moss’ goal held up in the 1-0 victory.  The stunned Whitecaps went home in the first round for the second straight year.  Tampa’s lack of talent caught up with them in the next round, and they lost to the NASL’s top regular season team, the New York Cosmos in the quarterfinals.

Collector’s note: Angelo DiBernardo of the Cosmos was pictured on the cover of the evening’s KICK Magazine match program (above right).  This was the cover used for all NASL 1st round playoff matches in 1981.



Tampa Bay Rowdies Home Page

Vancouver Whitecaps Home Page





June 20, 1983 – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders


Vancouver Whitecaps ProgramVancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders
June 20, 1983
BC Place
Attendance: 60,342

North American Soccer League Programs
64 pages


Five matches into the 1983 North American Soccer League season, the Vancouver Whitecaps moved out of their long-time home at Empire Stadium into the brand new $126 million BC Place stadium.  The Whitecaps would be one of two anchor tenants, along with the Lions of the Canadian Football League.   Multi-purpose stadia were in vogue at the time and officials hoped the 60,000 seat dome might attract Major League Baseball to Vancouver as well.

The Whitecaps hosted the Seattle Sounders in the first sporting event at BC Place on June 20th, 1983.  The festivities attracted 60,342 fans – on a Monday night, no less – which set an all-time Canadian pro soccer attendance record which stood for nearly three decades.

The star of the match was the Whitecaps’ 22-year old English striker Peter Beardsley.  Beardsley was a peculiarity among NASL players.  A young import who would go on to his greatest success after a few early seasons of seasoning in North America.  The NASL was always heavy on British imports, but most were in their late 20’s to late 30’s with their best days behind them.  Guys like former Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Corrigan of the Seattle Sounders, who Beardsley beat for both Vancouver goals on this night, including the game-winner in the 68th minute.   The ‘Caps won the match 2-1.

In late 1983, BC Place hosted both the NASL’s Soccer Bowl championship match and the CFL’s Grey Cup title game.  Soccer Bowl ’83 attracted more than 53,000 fans despite the fact that the Whitecaps didn’t make the final.  Nevertheless, the move from Empire Stadium to BC Place ushered in rough times for the ‘Caps.  Just one year after the move, the team was on the verge of financial collapse and nearly folded without finishing the 1984 NASL season.  They made it through, but it was a moot point when the entire league folded the following winter.

Peter Beardsley went back to England after the 1983 season and starred for Newcastle United, Liverpool and Everton over the next 15 seasons.  He also earned 59 caps for the English National Team.  Beardsley was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in 2007.

On May 12, 2012 the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer broke the Whitecaps’ 29-year old Canadian attendance record.  60,860 fans turned out at Olympic Stadium to watch the Impact draw David Beckham and the Los Angeles Galaxy.






6-20-1983 Seattle Sounders Roster



Written by AC

July 10th, 2013 at 3:05 am

May 27, 1984 – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Ajax

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs. AjaxVancouver Whitecaps vs. Ajax (Holland)
May 27, 1984
BC Place
Attendance: 12,509

North American Soccer League Programs
28 pages


A late era international friendly between the original Vancouver Whitecaps of the North American Soccer League (1968-1984) and Holland’s mighty Ajax.   The two clubs met once before in 1981, when the Dutchmen blanked the Whitecaps 4-0 in Amsterdam.

Ajax was wrapping up a brief three-city tour of the NASL that included previous victories over the Toronto Blizzard (1-0) and the Minnesota Strikers (4-2).  The Whitecaps were wrapping up an 11-year run in the NASL.  Both the club and the league were in bad shape by this point.  Just one week following this match, Whitecaps majority owner Bob Carter announced the club was in financial crisis and its existence was day to day.  Vancouver Mayor Michael Harcourt launched a Save The Whitecaps campaign, which fell far short of its targets.  The Whitecaps survived the season thanks only to a seven-figure cash infusion from Carter and his partners in mid-June 1984.

Ajax got the best of it in this match, winning 2-1 thanks to a 75th minute header from substitute Vilco Van Durer.

The Whitecaps, by the way, had a couple of terrific Dutch imports over the years, including long-time Dutch National Team and Ajax defender Rudi Krol and midfielder Frans Thijssen, who was a 1st Team All-NASL performer in 1983 and 1984 and was pictured on the cover of the evening’s match program (above right).



More NASL International Friendlies


Written by AC

June 25th, 2013 at 1:39 am

September 8, 1979 – Soccer Bowl ’79 – Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

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Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies
Soccer Bowl ’79
September 8, 1979
Giants Stadium
Attendance: 50,669

North American Soccer League Programs
112 pages


It was a disgruntled crowd of 50,669 that turned out at the Meadowlands on September 8, 1979 for Soccer Bowl 1979, the title match of the North American Soccer League.  The actual ticket sales reportedly exceeded 66,000, but nearly 25% of the crowd stayed home, despite nice weather.  Perhaps they were still disgruntled over the events of a week prior.  Local fans of the two-time defending champion New York Cosmos had plenty of reasons to expect their club to enjoy home field advantage in the final.  They were accustomed to having the best and highest paid team in theNASL and the Cosmos steamrolled through the 1979 regular season with a 24-6 record.

But exactly one week earlier, the Vancouver Whitecaps came into Giants Stadium and stunned the Cosmos, eliminating the New Yorkers on their home turf in the second leg of a two-game Semi-Final series.  Among those graying elders who loved the NASL, the second leg of the 1979 Cosmos-Whitecaps semi-final is considered one of the greatest games ever played in the NASL.  The Whitecaps took the first leg by a score of 2-0 three nights earlier in Vancouver.  Cosmos defender Andranik Eskandarian got a red card for a hard foul on Vancouver’s Kevin Hector with less than 10 seconds left in the match, suspending him for the second leg.  After the match, superstar defender Carlos Alberto accosted game officials over a non-call and allegedly spit at the linesman.  NASL Commissioner Phil Woosnam immediately suspended Alberto for the rest of the season.  To Cosmos fans, it was the ultimate bag job – sure evidence that the league wanted somebody else to win for once.  Cosmos officials were livid as well.  They threatened to sue Woosnam and the league.

To advance to Soccer Bowl ’79, the Cosmos would need defeat the Whitecaps at home in the second leg, and then win a 30-minute “Mini-Game” to break the 1-1 split in games.  This was due to the NASL’s obsession with avoiding draws of all types.   In fact, the second leg of the series would finish in a draw, as the Whitecaps secured a 2-2 result in regulation, thanks to a late equalizer by British import Trevor Whymark.  Anywhere else in the world, that would have been enough to send the ‘Caps onto the Soccer Bowl on aggregate goals (4-2).  But not in the NASL.  First there was a 15-minute overtime to break the 2-2 deadlock.  When that passed without incident, the game was settled by a shootout.  The Cosmos got the best of Vancouver’s Phil Parkes, the league’s best goalkeeper in 1979, to win the shootout and earn a 3-2 victory and keep their season alive.

After two games in four days, a cross-continental plane trip, and 105 minutes of soccer already in the books on this day, the series victor would be decided by a 30-minute mini-game. Both clubs had their chances.  Carl Valentine banged the cross bar for Vancouver and Mark Liveric put one in the back of the net for the Cosmos in the final minute, but the goal was waved off.  In the end, no one could score and the mini-game itself went to a shootout.  This time Parkes was just a little bit better than Cosmos ‘keeperHubert Birkenmeier.  The Whitecaps were going to Soccer Bowl ’79.  The Cosmos were going home – as the league wished, in the minds of some Cosmos supporters.

The Whitecaps returned to Giants Stadium – now, shockingly, a neutral site – to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The Rowdies had never won in four previous trips to the Meadowlands, including a 3-1 defeat at the hands of the Cosmos in Soccer Bowl ’78.  The Rowdies featured the NASL’s leading scorer in the 1979 regular season, the Argentinean striker Oscar Fabbiani.  But Fabbiani had gone ice cold in the playoffs and was pouting in the press about lack of service from his teammates.  The Rowdies other scoring threat was English striker Rodney Marsh, who previously announced that the Soccer Bowl would be his final match before retirement.  Marsh was a tremendously popular figure in Tampa and a testimonial exhibition in his honor was already scheduled for the following week at Tampa Stadium.

But it was Vancouver, who hadn’t placed any players in the NASL’s top dozen scorers in 1979, who had the man with the hot hand in the postseason.  The Whitecaps paid a $400,000 transfer fee to acquire long-time Ipswich Town striker Trevor Whymark at the beginning of 1979.  At first, Whymark was considered a something of a bust.  Whitecaps Head Coach Tony Waiters benched him early in the season and it took an injury to starting midfielder John Craven for the Englishman to work his way back into the starting XI.  Whymark did manage to finish the season with 10 goals, but it was in the playoffs that he really found his form.  He scored in both legs of the classic semi-final with the Cosmos.  And he would open the scoring in Soccer Bowl ’79 as well.

The Giants Stadium crowd booed loudly as the Whitecaps were introduced.  Chants of “Cosmos…Cosmos…Cosmos” persisted throughout the match.  The Rowdies may have become the local favorites by default, but it wouldn’t be their day.  Whymark put the Whitecaps up 1-0 in the 13th minute, beating Rowdies goalkeeper Zeljko Bilecki.  Vancouver could have blown the game open a few minutes later, but Kevin Hector, faced with a wide open net, hit the crossbar.  Instead, Jan Van Der Veen of the Rowdies tied the match at 1-1 in the 23rd minute.  Both teams had goals waved off late in the first half.  A Fabbiani header off of a Marsh pass was ruled offsides, while Trevor Whymark appeared to have his second goal for Vancouver only to see it nullified by a pushing foul.

The teams entered the second half knotted at 1-1.  The game winner developed in the 60th minute when Vancouver’s 5′ 4″ midfielder Alan Ball (later voted MVP of the postseason) found Whymark again.  Whymark’s volley ricocheted off Rowdies defender Barry Kitchener and past Bilecki to give Vancouver a 2-1 lead.  The Rowdies poured into the attack and dominated the game’s final minutes, but they couldn’t beat Phil Parkes, who made key late saves on Fabbiani and Marsh.  Rowdies Head Coach Gordon Jago angered the 34-year old Marsh by pulling him from his final match with 10 minutes remaining, adding a late story line to the proceedings.

The 2-1 margin held up despite the Rowdies’ late surge and Vancouver won its first and only NASL title.

One interesting footnote…not a single American player appeared in Soccer Bowl ’79.  The NASL had a rule at the time requiring two North Americans to be in the line-up at all times.   Both clubs filled this requirement with Canadians.  The Whitecaps played Vancouer natives Bob Bolitho, Bob Lenarduzzi and Buzz Parsons, while the Rowdies used Wes McLeod (another Vancouver product) and Croatian-born Zeljko Bilecki, who had Canadian citizenship.





NASL Soccer Bowl ’79 Media Guides (20 pages)

NASL Soccer Bowl ’79 Starting Line-Ups



Tampa Bay Rowdies Home Page

Vancouver Whitecaps Home Page


Written by AC

March 30th, 2013 at 5:33 pm


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