Thursday, 31 March 2011

The legacy, the myths & the future of the New York Cosmos.

The late 60's early 70's! What a fantastic generation for football fans all over the world, football was becoming a big business, T.V's became more affordable and television stations started to broadcast more & more games! The future was calling. During the 70's Britain's own cult footballing T.V program Match of the Day became the BBC's most watched program, with an average of 12 million people tuning in each week.... 

Pie & Mash with a cheeky cup of tea, with match of the day on the box it must of been heaven! 

We had some fantastic players playing their trade in England, The likes of Keegan, Best, Moore & of course Pat Jennings! Across the pond......The Americans for some unknown reason hadn't really taken that much interest in the world's most popular sport, they had been blinded by their own brand of 'football'. This was until the NASL had formed. 

In 1968 the two 'soccer' leagues in the States formed to create one ultimate league The NASL. The first winners of the league were Atlanta Chiefs. The NASL run from the 1968 season up until the 1984 seasonThe last winners of the title were Chicago Sting. The first few seasons of the NASL became a bit of a learning curve. 

After a few seasons, interest grew within the States & it was in the early 70's that a new iconic team was born.

The first signing The Cosmos made was in the shape of an Englishman named Gordon Bradley. Bradley moved to the States in 63 and was playing professionally for another New york team; New York Generals. Bradley was made player-coach on his arrival and worked miracles with the group of players he had @ his disposal. In only their second season in the NASL The Cosmos became Champions. Playing attractive football.
A chap who went by the name of Randy Horton was grabbing the headlines scoring for fun. The man from Bermuda was voted the leagues Most Valuable player during the 72 season. 

In 1975 New York Cosmos signed 'The Greatest Player' on the planet : Pele.
Pele was coming towards the end of his career, but this didn't stop the powers that run The Cosmos from offering the Brazilian a massive $1.4 million per year. *Thats a lot of Coffee! 

The Pelé deal was later described by Gavin Newsham, an English writer, as "the transfer coup of the century". His arrival turned the Cosmos from a "ragbag assembly of students, foreigners and part-timers" to a huge commercial presence. After hearing that the Brazilian's debut for New York was to be broadcast live on CBS,the club's groundsman decided to spray-paint the pitch green to disguise how little grass was on it. The match, against the Dallas Tornado, was broadcast to 22 countries and covered by more than 300 journalists from all over the world rumor has it that that NASA beamed the live event in to space just incase martians wanted to watch it.

@ the end of Pele's first season The Cosmos finished third. This was frowned upon by the owners, after all they had just gone out and brought "The Greatest Player in The World". After a cup of coffee and a few cookies Manager Bradley was given a pat on the back and sent on his way. The Cosmos turned to another English coach called Ken Furphy, in hope of silverware. 

For the start of 76 season Pelé had a new strike partner, Italian international Giorgio Chinaglia. In contrast to Pele & most of the overseas stars bought by NASL teams, Chinaglia was signed in his prime. 

Chinaglia went on to play for the Cosmos for the rest of his career, scoring a record number of goals and points not only for the Cosmos, but for the entire league. Scoring 242 goals in 254 games (including regular season and playoff competition.) 

After a bit of banter Bradley returned as coach for the 77 season in place of the dismissed Furphy, but was removed after half of the season to become the club's vice-president of player personnel. Former Italian international Eddie Firmani took over the hot seat. Pelé played his last professional match on 1 October 1977, in front of a capacity crowd @ Giants Stadium, In an exhibition match between New York and his former club Santos, Pelé appeared for both sides, playing one half for each. The Cosmos won the game 2–1.

The Cosmos decided to splash the cash again. Former Brazil captain Carlos Alberto was signed in 77 @ the same time as German legend Franz Beckenbauer. New York went on to win three out of the next four championships, in 77, 78 and 80, playing an attacking brand of football 'soccer' that was pleasing to the eye. 

The Decline of  the NASL

After the retirement of Pelé in 1977, much of the progress that American soccer had made during his stay was lost. The Americans felt that there was no star at the same level to replace him as the NASL's headline act. (How naive they were!) The attendances dropped during the 1980's. The sport's popularity fell and the media lost interest 'soccer' had once again been kicked to the curb. The deal with T.V broadcaster ABC to broadcast NASL matches was also lost in 1980, and the 1981 Soccer Bowl was only shown on 'tape' delay. All of the franchises quickly became unprofitable, and a salary cap enforced before the 1984 season only delayed the inevitable. The league folded at the end of 1984, following the loss of most of its franchises. Shocking really! 

The Cosmos had financial problems of their own, on top of those affecting the league in general. Much of the Cosmos' ability to attract the well-known overseas players it had acquired was due to the financial resources of parent company Warner Communications. In the early 1980s, Warner was the target of a hostile takeover bid by Australian media magnate Rupert Murdoch....... although this attempt did not succeed, Warner sold off several of its assets, among them Atari and Global Soccer, the subsidiary that operated the Cosmos. 

Chinaglia bought Global Soccer, and thus controlled the team. His group did not have the capital necessary to keep all of the players signed on expensive contracts by Warner, which resulted in many of the stars being sold. The club won its last title in 1982

The Second coming 

Since the original New York Cosmos club stopped competing in 1985, there have been frequent attempts to revive it! many of these attempts have failed to even make it past the drawing board, with American businessmen ending up in a starbucks located in downtown Manhattan trying to understand what the offside rule is...... 

Then In 2009 The Cosmos name and brand was sold to an English businessman and Spurs fan who goes by the name of Paul Kemsley. Whose group, fronted by Pelé and including many well-known soccer figures, announced a new team with the Cosmos' name in August 2010. 

As of January 2011, The Cosmos are attempting to re-write history. With Eric Cantona and Umbro onboard, could we see the likes of Beckham, Giggs & Owen wearing the famous Cosmos jersey? After all this is the second coming of a Footballing giant! 

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