News and reviews of Rock n Roll Soccer

ROCK N ROLL SOCCER: The Short Life and Fast Times of the North American Soccer League, by Ian Plenderleith. This is the blog to back the book hailed as "fantastic" by Danny Kelly on
Talksport Radio, and described as a "vividly entertaining history of the league" in the Independent on Sunday. In the US, Booklist described it as "a gift to US soccer fans". The UK paperback edition published by Icon Books is now available here for just £8.99, while the North America edition published by St. Martin's Press/Thomas Dunne Books can be found here for $11.98. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

"I'm thinking about getting him caught in a Playboy club"

Chapter 2 of Rock n Roll Soccer, ‘Hot Property Getting Mobbed’, looks at an extraordinary game featuring Pelé and Eusebio in June 1975, just one month after both had signed for their new North American Soccer League teams. At a later nullified game in a 12,500-seater college stadium (Nickerson Field) in Massachusetts between Pelé’s New York Cosmos and Eusebio’s Boston Minutemen, the two players faced off in a competitive match for the first time since the 1966 World Cup. Neither Boston nor the NASL were prepared for the far-beyond-capacity crowd that turned up that night, nor the riot that resulted from a disallowed Pelé goal…

Promotional tool for later
Pelé-Eusbeio clash in the NASL
Like Pelé, Eusebio had come to the NASL just the month before [May 1975], but without any of the fanfare of Pelé’s multi-million dollar contract, and certainly on a comparatively smaller sal­ary – the Toronto Star reported that Eusebio would be paid $1,000 per game. Still, that wage was enough to cause unease in the Boston dressing room, where most players were still on peanuts and holding down part-time jobs to supplement their soccer money. In New York, under the auspices of Cosmos’ owners Warner Communications, Pelé could be paraded as a superstar and used for all kinds of marketing misdemeanours. The Minutemen, however, seemed to have no idea what to do with Eusebio, especially as he was by now pretty much hobbled thanks to several knee operations. The team’s PR director, Fred Clashman, said that Eusebio’s signing had not triggered a surge in season ticket sales, but added, ‘I’m getting crap from up top because I’m supposedly not pushing Eusebio. He’s been profiled in the paper, but I’m thinking about get­ting him caught in a Playboy club or something. People want a human personality. He hasn’t really caught on.’
    Prior to the game at Nickerson Field, the out-of-training Pelé had played one hastily arranged, and televised, exhibition game on Randalls Island against Dallas (he duly scored in a 2–2 draw), and one home game against Toronto (a 2–0 win in front of 22,000). Eusebio had played one away game for Boston, a 4–1 defeat at Rochester, in front of what had been Rochester’s lowest gate of the season (just above 4,000). It’s impossible to say whether it was Pelé alone that brought so many to the game that night, or the belated realization among the local Portuguese community that one of their national heroes was in town for the medium term at least. But come they did, prompting the Boston Globe to write the next day: ‘For a league that prides itself on being professional, it was a hopelessly amateur display of planning and crowd control.’

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