Portland Timbers vs New York Cosmos 1976, NASL

Ah Pele, with a shout out to the NASL Photo Contest Entry winner, welcomes you to Civic Stadium for tonight's game

Ah Pele, with a shout out to the NASL Photo Contest Entry winner, welcomes you to Civic Stadium for tonight’s game

By Miles McClagan

Programme: Portland Timbers vs New York Cosmos

Date: June 12, 1976

Score: 0-3

So let’s get this out of the way: I LOVE the NASL.

And not just the cheerleaders, although my soft spot for the Tampa Bay “Rowdies Wowdies” can’t be under-stated.

What a league. The weird mix of crooks and chancers (including a fleeing the country Jimmy Hill), ex-pat celebrities like Rick Wakeman and Elton John getting involved, teams coming and going, and teams featuring terrible American players, 4th division ex-Rochdale pros and Pele all in one set of jerseys make for the greatest history of any league ever written.

Alas, while I’ve devoured several histories and know a lot more about the Boston Minutemen or the Memphis Rogues, finding programmes or magazines from the late 70s hey day is prohibitive. Ebay peddlers want 50 or 60 bucks just to flick through articles on Pele (or as I know him, “Pete”, after a Daily Record press release referred to everyone’s favourite Viagra booster as “the immortal Pete”) or how a Playboy playmate was kicking off a Chicago Sting game.

So the only programme I can share with you comes from 1976 – the Portland Timbers taking on “Pete” and his New York Cosmos.

This is of course a mere sampling of a fantastic document – we’ve had to skip the moment Portland compare Eusebio to Chris Dangerfield, George Best has a “poor physique”, the celebrity tennis tournament where Charlton Heston plays Bill Cosby (ahem), and the soccer IQ Quiz where question 12 is: “What is a striker?”

Instead, here’s a small sampling featuring Dr Pepper soccer balls, Pete selling Pepsi, and the official grooming gear of the NASL. Oh, and the answer to Question 12? “A central forward position in the team with a major responsibility for scoring goals”…so now you know.

Coca Cola - not given out to any team I played for, we were lucky if we got an orange, etc, etc...

Coca Cola – not given out to any team I played for, we were lucky if we got an orange, etc, etc…

The Dr Pepper Soccerball - 32 panels, plenty of fun, although 30 days to wait for it to arrive might mean you are on to another sport by then...

The Dr Pepper Soccerball – 32 panels, plenty of fun, although 30 days to wait for it to arrive might mean you are on to another sport by then…

The good people at English Leather want to flog their wares - where soccer is defined as "kicking the leather around" apparently.

The good people at English Leather want to flog their wares – where soccer is defined as “kicking the leather around” apparently. And what on earth is “Casual Shampoo”? Is there “Formal Shampoo”?

The NASL season - it's building to The Soccer Bowl, but I should also give a shout out to the almighty San Diego Jaws...

The NASL season – it’s building to The Soccer Bowl, but I should also give a shout out to the almighty San Diego Jaws…

American Airlines - where flying is like a good game of soccer.

American Airlines – where flying is like a good game of soccer.

You young uns out there need to know that "Pete" flogging some tat really isn't a new thing...

You young uns out there need to know that “Pete” flogging some tat really isn’t a new thing…

Ah, the Sheraton Renton Inn - if the walls could talk etc etc

Ah, the Sheraton Renton Inn – if the walls could talk etc etc

You can follow Miles on Twitter.