Tampa Bay Rowdies (1975–93)
|Full name||Tampa Bay Rowdies|
|Founded||June 19, 1974|
|Dissolved||January 31, 1994|
Tampa Stadium (71,000)
USF Soccer Stadium (4,000)
Bayfront Center (6,410)
Expo Hall (9,200)
Lakeland Civic Center (8,178)
|Owner||George W. Strawbridge, Jr.|
|Chairman||Beau Rogers, IV
Chas Serednesky, Jr
|Coach||Eddie Firmani, John Boyle,
Gordon Jago, Rodney Marsh
|League||North American Soccer League (1975–1984)
American Indoor Soccer Association (1986–1987)
American Soccer League (1988–1989)
American Professional Soccer League (1990–1993)
The Tampa Bay Rowdies were an American professional soccer team based in Tampa, Florida, that competed in the original North American Soccer League (NASL) from 1975 to 1984. They enjoyed broad popular support in the Tampa Bay area until the NASL folded in 1984, after which the team played in various minor indoor and outdoor leagues before finally folding on January 31, 1994. The Rowdies played nearly all of their outdoor home games at Tampa Stadium and nearly all of their indoor games at the Bayfront Center Arena in nearby St. Petersburg, Florida. Although San Diego played indoors until 1996, the Rowdies were the last surviving NASL franchise that played outdoor soccer on a regular basis.
- 1 NASL: 1975–1984
- 2 Post-NASL: 1985–1993
- 3 Legacy
- 4 References
- 5 External links
On June 19, 1974 George Strawbridge and Beau Rogers, IV purchased an expansion franchise in North American Soccer League for the sum of $25,000 and by July 24 they named Eddie Firmani their coach. The Rowdies played ten seasons at Tampa Stadium and won their only Soccer Bowl championship in their 1975 inaugural season, defeating the Portland Timbers 2–0 on August 24. The Rowdies also finished as runners-up in 1978 and 1979. The team showcased international stars such as midfield captain Rodney Marsh (England), 1979 league scoring leader Oscar Fabbiani (Chile), swift and lethal forward Steve Wegerle (South Africa), rock-solid defenseman Arsene Auguste (Haiti), 1976 NASL goal scoring champion Derek Smethurst (South Africa), who was also the franchise's all-time leading goal scorer with 57 tallies in 65 games, as well as Clyde Best (Bermuda). Coached along the way by Firmani, John Boyle, Gordon Jago, Al Miller, and Marsh after his retirement, their catch phrase and marketing slogan was "The Rowdies arrrre...a kick in the grass!"
While no NASL team ever captured a treble, in 1975–76 Tampa Bay came the closest by winning the three different NASL titles available at the time (Soccer Bowl '75, 1976 Indoor Title, 1976 Regular Season title) in succession within twelve months. On and off the pitch, the Rowdies would prove to be one of the league's most recognizable brands. At one three-year point in their history, the team regularly drew crowds of well over 25,000 a night. In 1979 three different matches were attended by over 40,000 people, and the following year two more surpassed the 50,000 mark. The Rowdies had long-standing rivalries with both the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers and the New York Cosmos.
Following the 1981 season the Dallas Tornado merged with Tampa Bay. At the time, Dallas principals Lamar Hunt and Bill McNutt retained a minority stake in the Rowdies. Two years later after the 1983 season, Strawbidge, Hunt and McNutt sold the team outright to local investors Stella Thayer, Bob Blanchard and Dick Corbett.
|Year||Record||Regular Season Finish||Playoffs||Leading Goal Scorers||Avg Attend.|
|1975||16–6||1st, Eastern Division||NASL Champions||Derek Smethurst-18, Stewart Scullion-7||10,728|
|1976||18–6||1st, Eastern Division, Atlantic Conference||Atlantic Conference Championship||Derek Smethurst-20, Rodney Marsh-11, Stewart Scullion-10||16,452|
|1977||14–12||3rd, Eastern Division, Atlantic Conference||Divisional Playoffs||Derek Smethurst-19, Rodney Marsh-8, David Robb-8||19,491|
|1978||18–12||1st, Eastern Division, American Conference||Runners-up||Rodney Marsh-18, David Robb-16, Steve Wegerle-7||18,123|
|1979||19–11||1st, Eastern Division, American Conference||Runners-up||Oscar Fabbiani-25, Rodney Marsh-11, Petar Baralić-9||27,650|
|1980||19–13||1st, Eastern Division, American Conference||American Conference Semifinals||Oscar Fabbiani-13, Neill Roberts-10, Steve Wegerle-9||28,345|
|1981||15–17||4th, Southern Division||Quarterfinals||Frank Worthington-11, Luis Fernando-9, David Moss-9||22,299|
|1982||12–20||3rd, Southern Division||Did Not Qualify||Luis Fernando-16, Tatu-7||22,532|
|1983||7–23||3rd, Southern Division||Did Not Qualify||Tatu-12, Manny Rojas-8||18,507|
|1984||9–15||4th, Eastern Division||Did Not Qualify||Roy Wegerle-9, Neill Roberts-9, Wes McLeod-7||10,932|
Home Attendance Records
NASL Indoor Soccer
In the winter of 1975, the NASL ran a two-tiered, 16 team indoor tournament with four regional winners meeting in a "final-four" style championship. The Rowdies defeated the New York Cosmos 13–5 in the semi-final, before losing 8–5 to the host San Jose Earthquakes in the finals on March 16 at the Cow Palace. The Rowdies again reached the final-four in 1976, but that year were the host team. This time Tampa Bay would not be denied, as they followed up a 6–2 semi-final win over Dallas with a 6–4 finals triumph over the Rochester Lancers on March 27 in the Bayfront Center. Over the next few years, the Rowdies (and a hand full of other NASL teams) played indoor friendlies and invitationals as preparation for the start of the outdoor season. The NASL did not sanction a full indoor season until 1979–80, when the Rowdies won the championship by defeating the Memphis Rogues 2 games to 1. In the 1981–82 season they lost the finals to the San Diego Sockers 2 games to 0. Once again the NASL chose not to sanction a full indoor season in 1982–83, but (in addition to a few friendlies) Tampa Bay and three other teams participated in the Grand Prix of Indoor Soccer. The Rowdies finished second in the round-robin stage and subsequently went on to defeat Montreal for the championship in a double overtime thriller at the Montreal Forum; 5–4. The final NASL indoor season took place in 1983–84 and the Rowdies finished last out of the seven teams. Due to scheduling issues that season, the Rowdies played five games at the Bayfront Center, eight at the State Fairgrounds' Expo Hall in Tampa, and three in the Lakeland Civic Center. Tampa Bay regularly drew home crowds of over five thousand "fannies" to the Bayfront Center, despite the arena's limited seating capacity and relatively remote location.
|Indoor Year||Record||Regular Season Finish||Playoffs||Leading Goal Scorers||Avg Attend.|
|1975||3–1||1st, Region 3||Runners-up||Doug Wark-10, Ringo Cantillo-5, Bernard Hartze-4||4,235|
|1976||4–0||1st, Eastern Region||NASL Champions||Clyde Best-7, Stewart Scullion-4, Derek Smethurst-4||5,458|
|1977||1–1||(friendlies only)||none||Derek Smethurst-5, Rodney Marsh-4, Steve Wegerle-3 ||5,685|
|1978||6–2||(friendlies only)||none||Derek Smethurst-14, Joey Fink-10 Rodney Marsh-9, Wes McLeod-8||5,901|
|1979||3–2||2nd, Budweiser Invitational (2–0)||Runners-up||Mirandinha-5, Steve Wegerle-5, Rodney Marsh-4 ||6,181|
|1979–80||8–4||2nd, Eastern Division||NASL Champions||Peter Baralić-21, Wes McLeod-13, Peter Anderson-7||5,712|
|1980–81||9–9||2nd, Eastern Division||Did not qualify||Óscar Fabbiani-31, Steve Wegerle-25, Wes McLeod-21||5,175|
|1981–82||11–7||2nd, Cent. Division, American Conference||Runners-up||Tatu-21, Zequinha-19, Wes McLeod-15, Njego Pesa-15||5,372|
|1983||10–2||(2nd, in Grand Prix preliminaries)||NASL Grand Prix Champions||Hugo Pérez-12, Tatu-12, Mark Karpun-11, Wes McLeod-8||4,771|
|1983–84||9–23||7th||Did not qualify||Tatu-49, Peter Roe-22, Perry Van der Beck-18||2,334|
Indoor Home Attendance Records
Players, coaches, and honors – NASL era
|NASL Championships (1)
NASL Indoor Championships (3)
Regular Season Premiership (1)
Division Titles (5)
Conference Titles (3)
Regional Titles (2)
League Scoring Champion
League Goal Scoring Champion
Indoor Grand Prix Assists Leader
Coach of the Year
Rookie of the Year
North American Player of the Year
NASL All-time Leaders
|All-Star First Team Selections
All-Star Second Team Selections
All-Star Honorable Mentions
U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame members
Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame members
Indoor Soccer Hall of Fame members
- Eddie Firmani (1975–1977)
- John Boyle (1977)
- Gordon Jago (1978–1982)
- Kevin Keelan (1982) (interim)
- Al Miller (1982–83)
- Rodney Marsh (1984)
An attorney from Tampa won the club's name-the-team contest and was given a lifetime pass to all home games along with a trip to Acapulco for his efforts. The Rowdies' fans were known as "Fannies". Advertisements for the club declared that "Soccer is a kick in the grass" and encouraged their supporters to "Get up, got out, and get Rowdy!" and to "make a fanny of yourself!". The calls were answered by fans who threw confetti, drank beer, chanted during games, and generally "let the guys know we're behind them." One memorable fan named Bob Rogers won a "Rowdiest Fan" contest by donning a giant soccer head and throwing himself into the Tampa Stadium goal. The club gave "Soccer Head" complimentary tickets to future games so that he could continue his antics for the crowd, even bringing him along when the Rowdies played in Soccer Bowl '79.
While anyone who supported the club could call themselves a Fanny, members of the official Rowdies Fan Club particularly claimed the moniker as their own. The fan club held regular meetings and social events and published a newsletter.
The NASL folded in 1984, but the Rowdies continued to play for several more years. Tampa Stadium continued to be used as their home ground for outdoor games except during the 1991 and 1992 seasons in the APSL. Those two years were spent at the USF Soccer Stadium, before returning to Tampa Stadium in 1993 for the team's final season in existence.
With Rodney Marsh staying on as coach (through 1987), the Rowdies operated as an independent team for two years before joining the American Indoor Soccer Association for one season (1986–87). Cornelia Corbett, Dick Corbett's wife and a businesswoman in her own right, became sole owner of the team in 1986. As a footnote, in 2011 the University of South Florida opened the new Corbett Soccer Stadium for their NCAA Division I men's and women's teams, after the Corbetts had made a $1.5 million donation to the project. The stadium features several display cases that highlight the history of the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Since 2005, the USF Bulls and the crosstown rival University of Tampa Spartans men's squads have competed annually for the preseason Rowdies Cup, which celebrates the city's rich soccer history. To date the NCAA Division II Spartans have only captured the trophy once, back in 2012.
The Rowdies played one season of indoor soccer in the American Indoor Soccer Association, once again using the Bayfront Center as their home. After a strong start they finished third in their division and eventually lost in the first round of the playoffs.
|Year||League||Games||Won||Lost||GF||GA||Regular Season||Playoffs||Avg. Attendance|
In the summer of 1988, the Rowdies joined the third incarnation of the American Soccer League. They would stay in this league and its successor (the APSL) until the team folded after the 1993 season. During this six year stretch they achieve moderate success, winning one division title and making the playoffs four times. In 1992 they finished as runners-up to Colorado in the regular season, the Professional Cup final, and the league final.
|Year||League||Regular Season||Playoffs||U.S. Open Cup|
|1988||ASL||3rd, Southern||Did not qualify||Did not enter|
|1989||ASL||1st, Southern||Semifinals||Did not enter|
|1990||APSL||2nd, ASL South||ASL Semifinals||Did not enter|
|1991||APSL||3rd, American||Did not qualify||Did not enter|
|1992||APSL||2nd||Runners-up||Did not enter|
|1993||APSL||3rd||Semifinals||Did not enter|
Players, coaches, and honors – post-NASL era
Honors – post-NASL
Coach of the Year
First Team All Star
Second Team All Star
U.S. Soccer Hall of Fame members
Coaches – post-NASL
- Rodney Marsh: 1984–1987
- Wim Suurbier: 1986–87
- Ken Fogarty: 1989–1992
- Steve Wegerle: 1991–1992
- Ricky Hill: 1992
- Ken Fogarty: 1993
Tampa Bay Mutiny: 1996–2001
Due in large part to the Rowdies' historical success on and off the pitch, in 1994 MLS selected the Tampa Bay Mutiny as one of its original ten teams. The Mutiny won the first ever Supporters' Shield and qualified for the playoffs in four of their six seasons. Several former Rowdies, including Perry Van der Beck, Farrukh Quraishi, Roy Wegerle and Steve Trittschuh among others, worked for the franchise as front office staff, coaches and even players. The new league initially operated the team, with the hope of selling to a private local owner. Unfortunately they were hampered by low revenues, a bad stadium lease, and an inability to find that local ownership. Faced with financial losses up to $2 million a year, MLS desperately courted future Manchester United owner, Malcolm Glazer, to purchase the team. When the Glazers declined, the league was left with no viable options and opted to fold the Mutiny, along with other Florida-based MLS team of that era, the Miami Fusion, in early 2002.
New Rowdies: 2010–present
In 2008, it was announced that a new incarnation of the Tampa Bay Rowdies would play in a new second division NASL. They wore striped green and gold kits similar to the old Rowdies, and a star reflecting the 1975 championship. After several changes to the league, Tampa Bay finally kicked off their existence in the summer of 2010. To date, the new Rowdies have honored both Mike Connell's and Perry Van der Beck's significant contribution to soccer, both on and off the field in the community at large, by retiring their jerseys. The Rowdies won the 2012 NASL Championship.
The USF Bulls annually face their crosstown rivals, the University of Tampa Spartans, in an NCAA men's preseason soccer match which celebrates the Tampa Bay Area's rich soccer history. In addition to holding the Rowdies Cup trophy for the next 12 months, the winning side also get to hoist the actual Soccer Bowl trophy that was won originally by the Rowdies in 1975. The trophy is housed at Corbett Soccer Stadium on the USF campus. Formerly called the Mayor's Cup until 2005, as of the 2015 edition, USF holds 18–9–3 edge in the all-time series, which dates back to 1972.
- Bunch, Ken (November 8, 1983). "Arena possible site for Rowdies". Milwaukee Sentinel. p. 1-2. Retrieved 2016-03-25.
- "Rowdies decide to fold sales falls through". St. Petersburg Times. 1 February 1994. p. 1C. Retrieved 24 August 2015.
- "Kasey Keller, Sigi Schmid and Glenn "Mooch" Myernick Elected to National Soccer Hall of Fame".
- "Rowdies fans are loyal all the way" – The Lakeland Ledger, June 29, 1979
- "Soccer Head" – The (St. Pete) evening Independent, June 28, 1980
- Pearce, Alan (September 27, 1992). "Colorado blanks Rowdies for league championship". St. Petersburg Times. p. 3C. Retrieved 2016-06-11.
- "The Times Of Best Former Striker Known For Kicks As Well As Soccer". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 14 July 2015.
- Dure, Beau (2010). Long-Range Goals: The Success Story of Major League Soccer. Potomac Books. pp. 16, 130. ISBN 1597975095. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Dure, Beau (2010). Long-Range Goals: The Success Story of Major League Soccer. Potomac Books. pp. 129–130. ISBN 1597975095. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- "Mutiny Renews Lease" – St. Pete Times
- "MLS fold Mutiny" – St. Pete Times
- Dure, Beau (2010). Long-Range Goals: The Success Story of Major League Soccer. Potomac Books. p. 130. ISBN 1597975095. Retrieved March 4, 2015.
- Tampa To Get New Pro Soccer Team, Stadium
- Encina, Eduardo A. (2008-06-19). "Tampa Bay Rowdies to get new life in USL". St. Petersburg Times. Retrieved 2008-06-20.
- Bulls Looking to Bring Rowdies Cup Back to USF – GoUSFBulls.com—Official Athletics Web Site of the University of South Florida
- "Bulls Down Spartans to Claim Rowdies Cup". gousfbulls.com. Retrieved August 24, 2015.