Toronto Blizzard (1971–84)

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This article is about the original Toronto Blizzard of the NASL. For the second team to use the name, see Toronto Blizzard (1986–1993)
Toronto Blizzard
Toronto Blizzard logo
Full name Toronto Blizzard
Nickname(s) Blizzard, Metros, Metros-Croatia
Founded 1971
Dissolved 1984
Stadium Varsity Stadium
Stadium
capacity
22,000
League North American Soccer League

The Toronto Blizzard were a professional soccer club based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada that played in the North American Soccer League.

History[edit]

The Toronto Metros joined the NASL in 1971.[1] Their home field was Varsity Stadium.

In 1975, 50% of the team was purchased for $250,000 by the Toronto Croatia of the National Soccer League, and the team became the Toronto Metros-Croatia.[2] The club won the 1976 Soccer Bowl championship. However, they continued to struggle at the gate.

The Global Television Network purchased 85% of the struggling Toronto Metros-Croatia on February 1, 1979 for $2.6 million.for $2.6 million.[3][4][5] Following the purchase, Toronto Croatia returned to the NSL as a separate club. With only 7 of the 26 players from the 1978 roster staying, the NASL team was renamed the Toronto Blizzard following the takeover. Under the new ownership, attendances nearly doubled.[5]

The Blizzard were members of the NASL until 1984, the last year of league operations. The team were runners-up for the league championship in 1983, losing the Soccer Bowl to the Tulsa Roughnecks 2–0 in front of nearly sixty thousand people at Vancouver's BC Place Stadium. They were runners-up again in 1984 when they lost to the Chicago Sting two games to none in a best of three championship series. The club was coached in these final two years by Bobby Houghton, assisted by Dave Turner and featured Roberto Bettega, David Byrne, Cliff Calvert, Pasquale De Luca, Charlie Falzon, Sven Habermann, Paul Hammond, Paul James, Conny Karlsson, Victor Kodelja, Trevor McCallum, Colin Miller, Jan Möller, Jimmy Nicholl, Ace Ntsoelengoe, Randy Ragan, Neill Roberts, John Paskin, Derek Spalding, and Bruce Wilson in its lineup.

The Blizzard qualified for the play-offs on only two other occasions, in 1979 and 1982, losing in the first round each time. Prominent players during the first four years included Clyde Best, Željko Bilecki, Jimmy Bone, Roberto Bettega, Drew Busby, David Byrne, Cliff Calvert, Tony Chursky, David Fairclough, Colin Franks, George Gibbs, Jimmy Greenhoff, Steve Harris-Byrne, Graham Hatley, Victor Kodelja, Sam Lenarduzzi, Peter Lorimer, Ivan Lukačević, Drago Vabec, Mike McLenaghen, Willie McVie, Alan Merrick, Charlie Mitchell, Juan Carlos Molina, Jan Möller, Francesco Morini, Ace Ntsoelengoe, Rob Prentice, Randy Ragan, Neill Roberts, Malcolm Robertson, Peter Roe, Jomo Sono, Gordon Sweetzer, Blagoje Tamindžić, Jose Velasquez, and Bruce Wilson.

The Metros-Croatia fielded a team in NASL's indoor league from 1975-76,[6] as did the Blizzard in 1980-82.[7]

In 2010, the 1976 Soccer Bowl winning team was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.

Toronto Metros-Croatia crest

Year-by-year team record[edit]

Metros[edit]

Year League W L T Pts Reg. Season Playoffs Avg. Attendance
1971 NASL 5 10 9 89 3rd, Northern Division Did not qualify 5,993
1972 NASL 4 6 4 53 4th, Northern Division Did not qualify 7,173
1973 NASL 6 4 9 89 1st, Northern Division Lost Semifinal (Philadelphia) 5,961
1974 NASL 9 10 1 87 2nd, Northern Division Did not qualify 3,458

Metros-Croatia[edit]

Year League W L T Pts Regular Season Playoffs Avg. Attendance
1975 NASL indoor 1 1 2 4th, Region 1 (in Dallas) Did not qualify
1975 NASL 13 9 114 2nd, Northern Division Lost Quarterfinal (Tampa Bay) 6,271
1976 NASL indoor 1 1 2 3rd, Midwest Regional (in Chicago) Did not qualify
1976 NASL 15 9 123 2nd, Atlantic Conference, Northern Division Won 1st Round (Rochester)
Won Division Championship (Chicago)
Won Conference Championship (Tampa Bay)
Won Soccer Bowl '76 (Minnesota)
5,555
1977 NASL 13 13 115 1st, Atlantic Conference, Northern Division Lost Conference Semifinal (Rochester) 7,321
1978 NASL 16 14 144 3rd, National Conference, Eastern Division Lost 1st Round (Vancouver) 6,233

Blizzard[edit]

Year League W L T Pts Reg. Season Playoffs Avg. Attendance
1979 NASL 14 16 133 3rd, National Conference,Eastern Division Lost Conference Quarterfinal (New York) 11,821
1979/80 NASL Indoor Did not enter
1980 NASL 14 18 128 3rd, National Conference, Eastern Division Won 1st Round (Los Angeles)
Lost Quarterfinal (Chicago)
15,043
1980/81 NASL Indoor 5 13 4th, Northern Division Did not qualify 5,702
1981 NASL 7 25 77 4th, Eastern Division Did not qualify 7,287
1981/82 NASL Indoor 8 10 2nd, American Conference, East Division Did not qualify 5,142
1982 NASL 17 15 151 3rd, Eastern Division Lost 1st Round (Seattle) 8,105
1982/83 NASL Indoor Season cancelled
1983 NASL 16 14 135 3rd, Eastern Division Won 1st Round (Vancouver)
Won Semifinals (Montreal)
Lost Soccer Bowl '83 (Tulsa)
11,630
1983/84 NASL Indoor Did not enter
1984 NASL 14 10 117 2nd, Eastern Division Won Semifinals (San Diego)
Lost Championship (Chicago)
11,452

Championships[edit]

Ownership[edit]

Head coaches[edit]

Assistant coaches[edit]

Players[edit]

After the NASL[edit]

On March 28, 1985, the NASL officially suspended operations for the 1985 season, when only Toronto and Minnesota Strikers were interested in playing.[8] In the meantime Blizzard owners York-Hanover purchased Dynamo Latino of the National Soccer League with the intention of renaming them the Toronto Blizzard. Though the Blizzard franchise had never actually folded, they had ceased operations for several months between these incarnations and NSL regulations did not permit a name change in the midst of the season. The following season (1986) Dynamo Latino began play as the Toronto Blizzard. A history of this team can be found at Toronto Blizzard (1986–93).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Toronto enters soccer team in U.S. league". Globe and Mail. 1970-12-11. 
  2. ^ Waring, Ed (1975-02-06). "Toronto Croatia purchases 50% share of soccer Metros". Globe and Mail. 
  3. ^ Labow, Jeffery (1979-02-01). "95% of shareholders in favor Sale of Metros approved". Globe and Mail. 
  4. ^ Labow, Jeffery (1979-02-06). "NASL gives Global unanimous support". Globe and Mail. 
  5. ^ a b Wangerin p.192
  6. ^ "Metros-Croatia split two games". Globe and Mail. 1976-03-15. 
  7. ^ Labow, Jeffery (1982-01-20). "NASL officials feeling good despite splotches of red ink". Globe and Mail. 
  8. ^ "NASL suspends operations for 1985" page 1D Minneapolis Star and Tribune March 29, 1985

External links[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

  • Wangerin, David. Soccer in a Football World: The Story of America's Forgotten Game. WSC Book (2006).