St. Louis Stars (soccer)

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St. Louis Stars
St. Louis Stars NASL logo.png
Full name St. Louis Stars
Founded 1966–1977
Stadium Busch Memorial Stadium;
Francis Field at
Washington University
St. Louis Arena (indoor)
Ground Capacity 55,000 & 6,000
18,006 (indoor)
Chairman Bob Hermann
Manager defunct
League NPSL (1967)
NASL (1968-1977)
1976/77 NASL, Atlantic Conference, Northern Division 2nd

The St. Louis Stars were a soccer team based in St. Louis, Missouri that played in the original North American Soccer League from 1968 to 1977. The Stars were known for playing mostly American players, many from the St. Louis area, in contrast to other NASL teams' reliance on foreign players.[1] The team relocated to Anaheim in 1978 and became the California Surf.

History[edit]

1960's[edit]

The St. Louis Stars, founded in 1967 as a team in the National Professional Soccer League, were the first ever professional soccer team in St. Louis, although St. Louis had a long history of strong play in amateur leagues and college soccer.[2] The Stars were headed by St. Louis businessman Bob Hermann. Hermann later went on to become president of the NPSL, and to create the Hermann Trophy, college soccer's version of the Heisman Trophy. The Stars immediately stole the spotlight from the local amateur clubs and attracted many mainstream sports fans. The first Stars team included players from nine different countries, with nine players from Yugoslavia, and the majority of the team did not speak English.[3][4] The Stars' average attendance 7,613 was the highest in the league.[5] After the season, the NPSL merged with the rival United Soccer Association to form the North American Soccer League. The Stars became a member of the newly-merged league.

Following the 1968 NASL season, the league was in trouble with ten franchises having folded. The team's owners cut back on players' salaries, and the team became semi-pro.[6] The 1969 season was split into two halves. The first half was called the International Cup, a double round robin tournament in which the remaining NASL clubs were represented by teams imported from the United Kingdom. The Stars were represented by Kilmarnock F.C. of Scotland. The Stars came in last for the Cup with a 2–5–1 record. For the second half of the 1969 season, the teams returned to their normal rosters, and played a 16 game schedule with no playoffs.

1970's[edit]

After the first two money-losing seasons, the team's owners cut back. The Stars became a semi-pro team, with players paid by the game and holding other jobs.[7] Consequently, the team began to draw poor crowds, averaging fewer than 4,000 fans per game for the three seasons from 1969-71.

The Stars best season was 1972. The Stars won the Southern Division that year, defeated the Rochester Lancers 2-1 in a semifinal match held at Busch Memorial Stadium in St. Louis, and in Final they lost 2-1 to the Cosmos in a match played at Hofstra Stadium in New York. Pat McBride (MF) and John Sewell (DF) were named first team all-stars for the 1972 season. The team's success reinvigorated fan appeal, leading the league in attendance in 1972 with close to 8,000 fans per match, and continuing to draw over 6,000 fans each season from 1972 to 1977.[8]

The Stars' legacy is one of developing American players, in particular drawing players from the local St. Louis area talent pool, instead of recruiting aging foreign players with high contracts.[9] From 1969 to 1976, the Stars' squads were mostly American players.[10][11] The Stars could afford to rely on local talent because at the time St. Louis had strong college teams and amateur competitions, with St. Louis University winning 10 NCAA national championships from 1959 to 1973.[12] This strategy is one of the reasons for the Stars' longevity (lasting ten seasons during some the NASL's most turbulent times), but often the team was mediocre. On February 13, 1974 the Stars played host (and lost, 11–4) to the Red Army team at the St. Louis Arena in the final match of Russian squad's three city, North American indoor soccer tour.[13][14][15] St. Louis went on to participate in both the 1975 and 1976 NASL indoor tournaments with little success.

In 1975 the Stars signed a foreign star in Peter Bonetti. Bonetti had played for England from 1966-1970, was the backup goalkeeper to Gordon Banks on England's winning team in the 1966 World Cup, and had started one match at the 1970 World Cup. Bonetti had a solid season with the Stars, and was named a NASL first-team all-star for the 1975 season.[16] The Stars won the Central Division in 1975, defeated the L.A. Aztecs in the quarterfinals at Busch Memorial Stadium, and lost to the Portland Timbers in the semifinals. John Sewell was named NASL Coach of the Year.

In 1977, the Stars once again recruited an English goalkeeper, Bill Glazier, who was supposed to be England's backup goalkeeper at the 1966 World Cup, but had suffered a broken leg.[17] Glazier was not successful, however, as John Jackson won the starting goalkeeper role for the 1977 season.[18] In 1977 the Stars finished second in the Northern Division, qualifying for the playoffs, where they lost in the first round to Rochester at Busch Memorial Stadium. Key players for the 1977 Stars team were DF Ray Evans (NASL second-team all-star) and MF Al Trost (NASL honorable mention).

From 1967–68 and 1971–74 the Stars played at Busch Memorial Stadium and from 1969–70 and 1975–77 the home games were held at Francis Field.

Relocation[edit]

By 1977, the Stars emphasis on American players had begun to erode slightly. Although the 1977 squad was still mostly American, the squad did include eight Englishmen.[19] There was an attempt to return to Busch for 1978, but the Stars were not able to secure a lease to their liking. With only small Francis Field available as an option and player salaries rising sharply, there seemed little alternative but to relocate. So after the 1977 season, the Stars moved to Anaheim and became the California Surf. Although the California Surf retained their core group of American (mostly St. Louis) players, under English coach John Sewell the California Surf imported more English players.[20]

Year-by-year[edit]

Year Record Regular Season Finish Playoffs Avg Attend.
1967 14–7–11 2nd, Western Division Did Not Qualify 7,613
1968 12–6–14 3rd, Gulf Division Did Not Qualify 5,388
1969 3–2–11 4th, NASL Did Not Qualify 2,274
1970 5–2–17 3rd, Eastern Division, Northern Division Did Not Qualify 2,745
1971 6–5–13 4th, Southern Division Did Not Qualify 3,579
1972 7–3–4 1st, Southern Division Runners-up 7,773
1973 7–5–7 2nd, Southern Division Did Not Qualify 6,337
1974 4–1–15 4th, Central Division Did Not Qualify 7,374
1975 indoor 1–1 2nd, Region 1 Did Not Qualify n/a
1975 13–9 1st, Central Division Semi-Finals 6,071
1976 indoor 0–2 4th, Midwest Regional Did Not Qualify n/a
1976 5–19 5th, Pacific Conference, Western Division Did Not Qualify 6,150
1977 12–14 2nd, Atlantic Conference, Northern Division First round 9.794

Honors[edit]

NASL Championships

Division Titles

  • 1972 Southern Division
  • 1975 Central Division

Rookie of the Year

Coach of the Year

U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame

Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame[21]

All-Star First Team Selections

All-Star Second Team Selections

All-Star Honorable Mentions

Notable players[edit]

Leading scorers[edit]

  • 1967 - Germany Rudi Kolbl (15 G)[22]
  • 1968 - Poland Kazimierz Frankiewicz (16 G)
  • 1969 - United States Tommy Ferguson (7 G)
  • 1970 - United States Pat McBride (7 G)
  • 1971 - Poland Kazimierz Frankiewicz (14 G)
  • 1972 - United States Willy Roy (7 G)
  • 1973 - United States Willy Roy (7 G)
  • 1974 - United States Dennis Vaninger (6 G)
  • 1975 - England John Hawley (11 G)
  • 1976 - United States Al Trost (12 G)
  • 1977 - England Fred Binney (9 G)

Coaches[edit]

See also[edit]

External Links[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "History of Soccer in St. Louis", David Litterer.
  2. ^ "Ambush return to St. Louis", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 22, 2013
  3. ^ St. Louis Stars Rosters, http://www.nasljerseys.com/Rosters/StarsStL_Rosters.htm
  4. ^ "Ambush return to St. Louis", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 22, 2013
  5. ^ History of Soccer in St. Louis, David Litterer, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/saintlouis.html
  6. ^ "Ambush return to St. Louis", St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 22, 2013
  7. ^ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ambush return to St. Louis, June 22, 2013, http://www.stltoday.com/sports/soccer/ambush-return-to-st-louis/article_2b7bef83-0b83-5d16-8ed9-e69b3f826797.html
  8. ^ History of Soccer in St. Louis, David Litterer, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/saintlouis.html
  9. ^ History of Soccer in St. Louis, David Litterer, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/saintlouis.html
  10. ^ St. Louis Stars Rosters, http://www.nasljerseys.com/Rosters/StarsStL_Rosters.htm
  11. ^ St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Ambush return to St. Louis, June 22, 2013, http://www.stltoday.com/sports/soccer/ambush-return-to-st-louis/article_2b7bef83-0b83-5d16-8ed9-e69b3f826797.html
  12. ^ History of Soccer in St. Louis, David Litterer, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/saintlouis.html
  13. ^ http://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=1499&dat=19740214&id=UAQqAAAAIBAJ&sjid=6CgEAAAAIBAJ&pg=7404,1627357
  14. ^ http://www.nasljerseys.com/Friendlies/Teams/StarsStl%20Friendlies.htm
  15. ^ http://www.soccermadeinstlouis.com/Soccer_Made_in_St._Louis/Statistics/Entries/2013/11/18_International_Matches_in_St._Louis_%28updated%29.html
  16. ^ The Year in American Soccer - 1975, Steve Holroyd, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1975.html
  17. ^ The Year in American Soccer - 1977, Steve Holroyd, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1977.html
  18. ^ The Year in American Soccer - 1977, Steve Holroyd, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1977.html
  19. ^ St. Louis Stars Rosters, http://www.nasljerseys.com/Rosters/StarsStL_Rosters.htm
  20. ^ This Year in American Soccer - 1978, David Litterer, http://homepages.sover.net/~spectrum/year/1978.html
  21. ^ http://www.indoorsoccerhall.com/hall-of-fame-classes
  22. ^ NASL St. Louis Stars Rosters, http://www.nasljerseys.com/Rosters/StarsStL_Rosters.htm