100 days – Day 56: Soccer
Stayed up beyond 1.00 am watching the World Cup game: Ghana v’s USA – and delighted with the outcome. Well done, our former Colonial sons.
Soccer – football to us – doesn’t grab the attention of Americans, as much as it does most of the rest of the world.
For most, it’s a religion; in America, it tends to be what prepubescent girls play – escorted and encouraged by their “soccer moms”
USA beat Ghana 2-1, with sub John Brooks scoring late headed winner
After the match his Wikipedia page was repeatedly hacked into. First he was described as “the greatest American since Abraham Lincoln”. That then became “the greatest American since Evil Knievel, Bill Clinton and Abe Lincoln”. Finally he was “a god among men”, before Wikipedia put a stop to the changes
At the moment, I’m reading this excellent book – and recommend that you buy it
On July 30, 1966, nine million American viewers tuned in to watch the FIFA World Cup Final on the NBC channel. It was the first stand-alone broadcast of a soccer game on U.S. network television, and England’s pulsating extra-time win over West Germany left the audience enthralled..
Within weeks, two groups of North American sports promoters were seeking to tap into soccer’s newfound popularity by launching rival professional leagues – the National Professional Soccer League and the United Soccer Association. The inaugural USA tournament featured 10 European teams and two from South America jetting across the continent from the end of May to mid-July. Aberdeen, Dundee United and Hibernian arrived from Scotland. Stoke City, Sunderland and Wolverhampton Wanderers represented England. Top Serie A side Cagliari came from Italy boasting Italian national team forwards Roberto Boninsegna and Luigi Riva. ADO Den Haag traveled from the Netherlands, Rio state champions Bangu from Brazil and Cerro from Uruguay. Glentoran and Shamrock Rovers, two semi-professional clubs from north and south of the Irish border, completed the line-up.
Legendary Wolves striker Derek Dougan led his team to the Western Division crown under the guise of the Los Angeles Wolves. Aberdeen, representing the Washington Whips and boasting U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson as a season ticket holder, won the Eastern Division with a young team including future Manchester United captain Martin Buchan and American college soccer coaching guru Bobby Clark. The Wolves and the Whips produced an epic encounter at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on July 14, 1967 to determine who would become the first, and ultimately only, United Soccer Association champions.
It was the greatest soccer final played on American soil. “Summer Of ’67” charts the story of the tournament’s creation and demise, and recalls the experiences of its participants including Buchan, Clark, former Hibernian and Liverpool midfielder Peter Cormack, Stoke legend Terry Conroy and ex-Wolves winger Terry Wharton. Sixteen players from eight clubs share their memories of the capers, the gimmicks, the celebrity brushes and the games that combined to provide them with the trip of a lifetime
Perhaps, after the USA soccer team’s performance in the World Cup, we’ll see a revival.
Oh, and as an afterthought….. perhaps a certain Glaswegian football team, which is in some degree of off-field turmoil, could reinvent itself “across the pond” – as the “Newco Bears”? (I’m sure that that some of Mr Blatter’s nice colleagues could be “persuaded”)