Boston Minutemen

The Boston Minutemen were a professional soccer team who competed in the North American Soccer League (NASL) for 3 seasons between 1974 and 1976.

The Minutemen were owned by businessman John Sterge, who also named himself President. Stereg was a Boston based oil-stock dealer. Casey Frankiewicz was named as Assistant General Manager.

The Minutemen began play at the 30,000 capacity Alumni Stadium in 1974. This stadium was on the campus of Boston University in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts.
German Hubert Vogelsinger was named as Head Coach. He had previously been Head Coach at Yale University.

For their debut season they paid a $75,000 franchise fee to join the league, and were placed in the Northern Division of the NASL, lining up against the New York Cosmos, Rochester Lancers, and Toronto Metros.

There were few big names on the 1974 Minutemen roster. The biggest was West Ham striker Ade Coker on loan, and although they did sign English striker Tony Hateley he only featured on a 3 game trial basis and was not kept on. The Minutemen also signed English winger Graham French. French had been a highly rated player during 5 seasons with Luton Town, but in 1970 was implicated in a shooting at a London pub. He served a 3-year sentence, and when released was unable to re-capture his form with Luton, so moved to the U.S.

After the 20 game regular season the Minutemen topped their division and qualified for the playoffs. They won 10 games, tied 1 and lost 9, scoring 36 goals and conceding 23. In the playoffs they defeated the Baltimore Comets in the quarter finals 1-0, before losing 2-0 to the Los Angeles Aztecs in the semis.

The teams leading goal scorer was Nigerian forward Ade Coker with 7. English midfielder John Coyne registered most assists with 7, and finished as the sides leading points scorer with 21. Graham French played only 3 games before returning to the UK and drifting out of the game.
The team’s average attendance was a very healthy 9,642, 5th highest in the NASL that year.

For the 1975 season the Northern Division featured one extra team, the expansion Hartford Bicentennials.

For the 1975 season the team moved stadium to Nickerson Field, which was still on the campus of Boston University. The stadium had a capacity of 10,412, substantially less than the Alumni.

German midfielder Wolfgang Suhnholz was signed to the playing roster, and also served as Vogelsinger’s Assistant Coach for the 1975 season.
Signing for the Minutemen was the Portuguese legend Antonio Simoes who had played over 600 games for Benfica, and 46 games for Portugal. Also signed were Danish defender Henning Boel and English forward Geoff Davies. Nigerian striker Ade Coker was signed permanently from West Ham United, and goalkeeper Shep Messing was signed from the New York Cosmos after he had appeared in a nude photo shoot for ‘Viva!’ magazine.

Portuguese superstar Eusebio was signed midway through the season. The ‘Black Pearl’ had been playing in the second-tier American Soccer league (ASL) with the Rhode Island Oceaneers.

During the season Portuguese superstar Eusebio was signed. The ‘Black Pearl’ had been playing in the second-tier American Soccer league (ASL) with the Rhode Island Oceaneers. His signing was criticised by Tampa Bay Rowdies Head Coach Eddie Firmani, because he thought they had blown all their budget on one star signing. He also thought that the signing of too many foreign stars would destabilize the league.
For Eusebio’s debut, the Minutemen were playing host to the New York Cosmos, who had Pele in their ranks. The game was won 2-1 by the Minutemen but ended up being replayed after a protest by the Cosmos after a pitch invasion took place during the game after Pele had scored (though it was later disallowed). According to Minutemen goalkeeper around 1,000 fans took to the field to mob Pele, tearing off his shirt and boot. Pele was substituted as he had sustained a bruise behind the right knee and a sprained ankle in the melee. He was carried from the field by his bodyguards and hidden in a university athletics building until the game had finished. The Minutemen claimed they had sold 14,500 tickets for the game, enough for a capacity crowd, but their were allegedly thousands more in the stadium (18,000 by one estimate).The Cosmos claimed that the Minutemen had failed to provide sufficient security for the players and won their appeal, and the replay 5-0.

After a 22 game regular season the Minutemen finished top of their division for the 2nd year running, qualifying for the playoffs. Their record was 13 wins and 9 losses, scoring 41 goals and conceding 29. In the playoffs they went out in the quarterfinals to the Miami Toros 2-1 in overtime.

The Minutemen’s leading goal scorer was again Nigerian striker Ade Coker with 10, and he also finished as leading points scorer with 26. Portuguese midfielder Antonio Simoes led the team with 9 assists, and made the NASL All-Star team. Eusebio scored 2 goals in 7 appearances.

Their average attendance dropped to 4,422, barely half of their previous season’s total. This was all the more surprising giving it was another successful season and the roster was now stocked with some major European stars.

For the 1976 season the Minutemen were again in a slightly re-jigged Northern Division (this time part of the Atlantic Conference). The league’s line up was nearly the same, only with the Chicago sting replacing the New York Cosmos who were moved to another division. The Minutemen were widely tipped to win their division.

The Minutemen were due to relocate to the 57,166 capacity Harvard Stadium, however the deal fell through 3 days before the season started as the Minutemen could not provide the required deposit. The Minutemen had to postpone their first 2 home games of the season. This was the first indication that the franchise was in financial trouble. The Minutemen signed a deal to play the majority of their home games at the Veterans Memorial Stadium in Quincy, but they would have to wait until the field was re-turfed . Whilst they were waiting for this, their first game would take place at Sargent Field in New Bedford against the Philadelphia Fury. The second fixture against the Cosmos would be played at the 61,279 capacity Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro. The Cosmos game attracted only 7,367 fans for what would be Giorgio Chinaglia’s first game for the Cosmos. The Minutemen then returned for one more game at Sargent Field against the Washington Diplomats. The Veterans Memorial Stadium was not totally suitable either as it had no floodlights, meaning that games kicked off at 5 P.M. Despite this, and Quincy being a 20 minute drive out of Boston, admission prices were hiked from $3 to $5.

During the season owner John Sterge announced that he was going broke and threatened to fold the team mid-season unless he was able to sell the club. The financial losses were blamed on poor attendances. This led to a fire-sale by the club, Shep Messing went back to the Cosmos, Simoes went to the San Jose Earthquakes, Suhnholz to the Vancouver Whitecaps, Coker to the Minnesota Kicks, Geoff Davies to the Chicago Sting, and English defender Derek Jefferson to the Washington Diplomats. American player Gene Geimer left to join the Chicago Sting after 10 games.

Michael Bosson was named as new General Manager of the team but quit a week later.
After he had sure that all the players were looked after, Vogelsinger quit himself on July 8th leaving the Minutemen with a 7-8 record, saying soccer in Boston was good, but a “lousy operation, and a lousy franchise were to blame”. John Bertos was named as Head Coach and General Manager for the rest of the season.

The team hired semi-professional players to complete the season. Attendances plummeted, including 3-digit crowds of 531, 986, and 583. They lost their final 12 games of the season.

After their 24 game regular season, the Minutemen placed dead last of the Northern Division, winning 7 and losing 17 games. They scored 35 goals and conceded a NASL low of 64 for the season. The team’s leading scorer in goals, assists and points was St. Kitts forward was Bert Bowery with 11 goals, 8 assists, and 30 points. The average attendance for the 1976 season was 2,581, which was the lowest in the NASL that season.

After the troubled 1976 season the team folded. John Sterge ended up being investigated by the Securities & Exchange Commission for diverting investor’s money on the stock exchange into the Minutemen. He consented to the entry or a permanent injunction against himself.

Just after the season finished Ice Hockey stars Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr expressed an interest in buying the Minutemen, however nothing came of this.

In total they played 66 regular season games, winning 27, losing 35, and drawing 1. They scored 112 goals and conceded 116. Their playoff record was 3 games played, winning one and losing two, scoring 2 and conceding 4.

The Minutemen’s leading appearance maker was English defender Alan Wooler with 66. Their leading goal scorer was Nigerian striker Ade Coker with 22. Coker shared the record of most assists (11) with Portuguese midfielder Antonio Simoes.

The team’s all time attendance was 16,645, for an average of 5,548 per season. Their largest crowd was the 18,126 who attended to watch them play the New York Cosmos (and Pele) in 1975.

In 1977 the Boston area NASL franchise spot was bought by the Lipton Tea Company for $370001. In 1979 John Sterge was indicted by a grand jury for alleged securities and mail fraud in the sale of interests in Ohio and Tennessee oil and gas wells. In 1980 he was sentenced to two 30 months prison terms (to run concurrently) for these violations. He was also given a one-year suspended sentence for obtaining money under false pretences, which he had pleaded guilty to.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s