Toronto Blizzard (1971–1984)
|Full name||Toronto Blizzard|
|Nickname(s)||Blizzard, Metros, Metros-Croatia|
Exhibition Stadium (1979–1983)
Maple Leaf Gardens
|League||North American Soccer League|
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. 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. 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. From 1979–1983 the Blizzard played home games at Exhibition Stadium before returning to Varsity Stadium for the 1984 NASL season.
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, Bobby Prentice, Randy Ragan, Neill Roberts, Malcolm Robertson, Peter Roe, Jomo Sono, Gordon Sweetzer, Blagoje Tamindžić, Jose Velasquez, and Bruce Wilson.
In 2010, the 1976 Soccer Bowl winning team was inducted into the Canada Soccer Hall of Fame.
Year-by-year team record
|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|
|Year||League||W||L||T||Pts||Regular Season||Playoffs||Avg. Attendance|
|1975||NASL indoor||2||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)
|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|
|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)
|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)
|1983/84||NASL Indoor||Did not enter|
|1984||NASL||14||10||—||117||2nd, Eastern Division||Won Semifinals (San Diego)
Lost Championship (Chicago)
- John Fisher (1971–74)
- Sam Paric (1975–78)
- Global Television Network (1979–81)
- Karsten von Werseb (1981–84)
- Graham Leggat (1971–72)
- Arthur Rodrigues (1972–74)
- Frank Pike (1975 indoor season only)
- Ivan Marković (1975–76)
- Domagoj Kapetanović (1976, 1978)
- Ivan Sangulin (1977)
- Keith Eddy (1979–81)
- Bob Houghton (1982–84)
- Dave Turner (1982–84)
After the NASL
On March 28, 1985, the NASL officially suspended operations for the 1985 season, when only Toronto and Minnesota Strikers were interested in playing. 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).
- "Toronto enters soccer team in U.S. league". The Globe and Mail. 1970-12-11.
- Waring, Ed (1975-02-06). "Toronto Croatia purchases 50% share of soccer Metros". The Globe and Mail.
- Labow, Jeffery (1979-02-01). "95% of shareholders in favor Sale of Metros approved". The Globe and Mail.
- Labow, Jeffery (1979-02-06). "NASL gives Global unanimous support". The Globe and Mail.
- Wangerin p.192
- Beard, Randy (April 25, 1979). "Blizzard Hope Revenge Snowballs The Rowdies". Evening Independent. p. 1C. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
- Beard, Randy (May 4, 1984). "Down 3 more teams, but NASL is stronger". Evening Independent. p. 6C. Retrieved July 3, 2016.
- Lewis, Micheal (March 30, 1975). "Lancers bow to Toronto's surge". Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. p. 2D. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
- "Metros-Croatia split two games". The Globe and Mail. 1976-03-15.
- Labow, Jeffery (1982-01-20). "NASL officials feeling good despite splotches of red ink". The Globe and Mail.
- "THROWBACK THURSDAY | Toronto Metros-Croatia Win First NASL Title By Canadian Side In 1976". Retrieved 2018-06-02.
- "NASL suspends operations for 1985" page 1D Minneapolis Star and Tribune March 29, 1985
- Wangerin, David. Soccer in a Football World: The Story of America's Forgotten Game. WSC Book (2006).