|Full name||Hamilton Thunder Soccer Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Thunder, Thunder Bolts, Thunder Crew|
|Ground||Brian Timmis Stadium, Hamilton, Ontario|
|League||Canadian Professional Soccer League|
The Hamilton Thunder were a soccer team located in Hamilton, Ontario, playing in the Western Conference of the Canadian Professional Soccer League. The team played its home fixtures at Brian Timmis Stadium until a rent dispute with the city caused home games to be moved to Vaughan midway through the 2005 season. The Thunder won the regular season Western Conference championship each season from 2003 to 2005, but lost in the Rogers Cup semifinal each of those years.
Hamilton Thunder joined the Canadian Professional Soccer League in 2002, which marked the return of professional soccer to the city of Hamilton since the folding of the Hamilton Steelers of the original Canadian Soccer League in 1991. The club played its first competitive match on May 11, 2002 in a friendly against the Toronto Lynx of the USL A-League. Toronto won the match in a 1-0 victory, but Hamilton managed to attract over 2000 spectators to Brian Timmis Stadium a relatively high number for CPSL standards. The club hired Marko Maschke as head coach who previously coached professionally in Germany and China. Maschke brought in several players from the 2001 St. Catharines Wolves playoff champions roster, and signed promising players like Ian Bennett, Miles O'Connor, Matthew O'Connor, Orlin Chalmers, and young goalkeeping prospect Roberto Ferrari. In their debut match the Thunder wrecked the Vaughan Sun Devils in 5-1 victory at home.
Hamilton started off well with a three-game undefeated streak and had four players loaned out to the Calgary Storm of the A-League - Orlin Chalmers, Matthew O'Connor, Salvatore Borgh, and Wojtek Zarzycki. After struggling for a bit the Thunder managed to recuperate and finish third in the Western Conference standings, but missed out at the postseason by losing 3-2 to the Mississauga Olympians in a wildcard match. The 2002 season sparked numerous controversies within the club`s organization. One incident occurred on September 20, 2002 where most senior players boycotted a match scheduled that day, due to reports of unpaid salaries to players and staff members, and unpaid rent fees for stadium use. The incident resulted in the resignation of head coach Maschke, and the release of several senior players. The CPSL chairman Vincent Ursini responded that conditions will be applied to Hamilton owner Italo Ferrari.
In 2003, Hamilton hired the services of Duncan Wilde as the new head coach with coaching credentials from England. Wilde signed several new additions to the squad - acquiring Aaron Steele, Sergio De Luca, and Dave Simpson. The 2003 campaign started off well with a seven-game undefeated streak placing the Thunder on top of the Western Conference. Unfortunately Wilde announced his resignation as head coach after disagreements with team owner Italo Ferrari, and was replaced by Ivan Marković. Further changes were made by the hiring of former Canadian National Soccer League Commissioner Rocco Lofranco as the club's new CEO, and the signing of Croatian players Petar Dajak, Mario Zupetic, Vedran Bacek, and Zeljiko Dukic.
After only two weeks of coaching Markovic decided to return to Croatia due to unexpected health concerns. His replacement was former Portugal national football team and Benfica F.C. assistant coach Manuel Gonçalves Gomes. Hamilton`s situation improved under Gomes as he led them to a seven-game undefeated streak to retain their position on top of the standings in their conference. On the conclusion of the 2003 season Hamilton clinched their first trophy the Western Conference title and qualified for the postseason. Their playoff run came to a conclusion in the semi-finals against Vaughan Sun Devils losing to a score of 2-0.
For the 2004 season the organization brought in former North York Astros coach Jorge Armua. He signed Ottawa Wizards top goalscorer Kevin Nelson, added Charles Gbeke, Blazenko Bekavac, Saša Milaimović and Brazilian Edmilson de Carvalho Barbosa to his roster. Armua repeated Hamilton`s previous success by once again claiming the Western Conference title and securing a playoff berth. In the postseason the Thunder faced Toronto Croatia in the semi-finals, but were defeated by a score of 2-0. Armua resumed his duties as head coach for Hamilton for the 2005 season. Where he once again added more silverware to Hamilton`s cabinet by successfully defending their Western Conference title for the third year in a row. The achievement allowed the Thunder Crew a bye to the semi-finals, where the club would face the Oakville Blue Devils - unfortunately Hamilton were deprived of five core players from the starting lineup because the players were affiliated with the Woodbridge Azzuri which consequently discontinued their association with Hamilton resulting in a shortage of players for the club which led to their defeat to Oakville. Once more Hamilton was without controversy as the club was forced out of Brian Timmis Stadium due to unpaid rental fees with a debt over $26,074.21 over several years, which resulted in team to relocate to the Ontario Soccer Centre in Vaughan.
During the 2005 playoffs, the Hamilton Spectator revealed that Italo Ferrari, thought to be the owner of the team, was involved in personal bankruptcy proceedings with no assets, and debts of $2 million; Ferrari claimed to in fact not be the owner. Two weeks after the semifinal loss, the league announced the revocation of the franchise. On October 22, 2005 the CPSL Board of Governors revoked the franchise of the Hamilton Thunder Soccer Club as a member of the CPSL. Top sales rep of the franchise was Gerry Fonzo, now a successful Director of Business Development and Client Retention at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
|2002||Maschke, MarkoMarko Maschke||Germany|
|2003||Wilde, DuncanDuncan Wilde||England|
|2003||Marković, IvanIvan Marković||Croatia|
|2003||Gomes, ManuelManuel Gomes||Portugal|
|2004-2005||Armua, JorgeJorge Armua||Uruguay|
- Canadian Professional Soccer League Western Conference Champions/Regular Season Champions (3): 2003, 2004, 2005
|2002||1 - Western Conference||CPSL||Third||Quarter-finals|
|2003||1 - Western Conference||CPSL||First||Semi-finals|
|2004||1 - Western Conference||CPSL||First||Semi-finals|
|2005||1 - Western Conference||CPSL||First||Semi-finals|
- Peters, Ken (May 7, 2002). "Hamilton Spectator: Pro Soccer Returns to City". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. The Hamilton Spectator.
- Glover, Robin (May 11, 2002). "Result of the Exhibition game between Hamilton Thunder of the CPSL and Toronto Lynx of the A-League played at 4:00pm at Brian Timmis Stadium in Hamilton.". Rocket Robin`s Home Page.
- "CPSL First week summary (includes all first week results).". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. CPSL game report. May 26, 2002.
- "Hamilton Spectator: Hamilton Players Move Up". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. Hamilton Spectator. June 29, 2002.
- Glover, Robin (October 8, 2002). "Result of the Tuesday October 8th, 2002 CPSL game between Mississauga Olympians and Hamilton Thunder played at Centennial Stadium in Etobicoke at 8:00pm. This was considered the one game playoff of 2nd and 3rd place teams in the Western Conference for a spot in the CPSL Playoffs.". Rocket Robin`s Home Page.
- Glover, Robin (September 20, 2002). "September 20, 2002 Rocket Robin's comments about the CPSL Hamilton Thunder situation". Rocket Robin`s Home Page.
- "Insider report on the Hamilton Thunder". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. Voyageurs Soccer Talk. September 21, 2002.
- "Thunder going UNDER!". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. Voyageurs Soccer Talk. September 22, 2002.
- Glover, Robin (September 29, 2002). "September 29, 2002 CPSL expansion plans as of this date". Rocket Robin`s Home Page.
- Glover, Robin (May 15, 2003). "Details of the CPSL Press Conference held Thursday May 15th, 2003 at Toronto City Hall Members Lounge at 12:00pm.". Rocket Robin`s Home Page.
- Brown, Josh (July 22, 2003). "Hamilton Spectator: Thunder - 3 coaches out, Lofranco new CEO, A-League 2004". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. Hamilton Spectator.
- Rumleski, Kathy. "London Free Press: Sports Section - CPSL This Week". www.canoe.ca. Retrieved 2016-01-31.
- Brown, Josh (August 6, 2003). "HAMILTON THUNDER MAKES ADJUSTMENT TO LEADERSHIP". Voyageurs. The Hamilton Spectator.
- Brown, Josh (September 8, 2003). "Thunder rolling under new coach". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. The Hamilton Spectator.
- "THIS IS THE BIG ONE". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. CPSL new. October 2, 2003.
- Glover, Robin (October 4, 2003). "Result of the Saturday October 4th, 2003 CPSL semi-final game between Hamilton Thunder and Vaughan Sun Devils played at Cove Road Field in London at 5:30pm.". Rocket Robin`s Home Page.
- "IT'S PLAYOFF TIME IN THE CPSL". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. CPSL media. October 1, 2004.
- Glover, Robin (October 9, 2004). "Result of the Saturday October 9th, 2004 CPSL game between Hamilton Thunder and Toronto Croatia played at Victoria Park in Brampton at 1:00pm. This was a semi-final game of the Rogers Cup tournament.". Rocket Robin`s Home Page.
- "October 4, 2005 CPSL Week 20 Standings (Amended) (end of Regular Season)". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. CPSL media. October 4, 2005.
- Glover, Robin (October 8, 2005). "Result of the Saturday October 8th, 2005 CPSL game between Hamilton Thunder and Oakville Blue Devils played at Esther Shiner Stadium in North York at 2:00pm. This was the final of the Western Conference.". Rocket Robin`s Home Page.
- Moko, Larry (September 10, 2005). "September 10, 2005 CPSL story on Hamilton Thunder forced out of town (from Hamilton Spectator)". Rocket Robin`s Home Page. The Hamilton Spectator.
- "Hamilton Thunder Franchise Revoked". Nuke Soccer. October 22, 2005.
- "Monday October 14, 2002 CPSL Final Standings". www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
- "October 2, 2003 CPSL Final Regular Season Standings". www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
- "September 30, 2004 CPSL Week 20 Standings (End of Regular Season)". www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com. Retrieved 2016-10-15.
- "October 4, 2005 CPSL Week 20 Standings (Amended) (end of Regular Season)". www.rocketrobinsoccerintoronto.com. Retrieved 2016-10-15.