Have Your Say : Chicago Sting 1981 Champions 30th Anniversary

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As part of our "Have Your Say" theme this summer, FireStingDoug will be looking back at key moments in commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Chicago Sting's 1981 championship season.  Here's the first post.........

"The Sting's home opener in 1981 was played on April 18th at Wrigley field against the Minnesota Kicks in front of 18,181 fans. It was a very boring game with little to no offense as Minnesota's Ron Futcher scored the only goal of the game with 2 minutes remaining to defeat the Sting 1-0. It was Minnesota's only real scoring chance of the game. The loss dropped the Sting's record to 1-1."

"Ron Futcher was involved in a lot of questionable plays against the Sting over the years.  He infamously came to be known as Ron "the Butcher" Futcher amongst Sting fans who believed he was one of the NASL's dirtiest players."

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  • Thank you for the great intro , very impressive section with the team logo. This will be great to look back at what was really the trail bazing season for Chicago soccer. The 1981 Sting season put Chicago soccer on the map nationally. I hope some of the former players find out about this and share their memories too.
    The 1980 outdoor season was the season when Chicago really first started to take notice of the Sting , Sting broadcasters at the time were Howard Balson , Roy Leonatd , Kenny Sterm , and current Bulls radio man Chuck Swirsky and each one had a very energetic call of the games. However, the 1981 outdoor team is what got everything going, this team was able to win low scoring games and high scoring games, they really had only one rough spot all season which I will talk about later in the year. The team however did not like playing on astroturf , the Cosmos however played better on it then they did on grass for some reason.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Ron Futcher nephew, Ben is a centerback for Oxford United. He is 29 years old and 6-7; the Fire could have used him Sunday against the Galaxy.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    I feel so old, but in a good way. Those were 4th and 5th grade years for me, I remember some Sting players did a clinic with AYSO, I think it was Wells park, they were so fast. I was too young to know who Frank Klopas was. But I loved seeing the Sting. And the hats - maybe made of styrofoam- that my dad got for my brother and me, that looked like the hat the bee was wearing, best kid souvenir ever.
    (I hate that the Crew now has black and yellow)
    Sting style jerseys for the alt. Jersey would be great!

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    I hear you, I think of the Sting with their black/yellow combo and hate how the Crew took that color scheme.

    Happy the Bulls have the black/red combo which is nice!

    The Fire have a very lack luster jersey and no sponsor which is sad for the 3rd largest market in the country...no DP as well!

  • In reply to smiley:

    You are right on Troy, They better learn to play as a team! Shoot ball in goal fast not wait around!

  • In reply to smiley:

    New England has picked up Feilhaber but are reportedly entertaining trade offers.

  • In reply to cesba:

    wouldn't surprise me if the Fire actually do put in an offer to NE.. problem is, I don't think he's worth the reported 400k. I may be wrong, I like him enough, but I have to feel that there's someone else better worth 400k.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    I would love to see the fire pick him up, for a couple fringe players or draft picks. The fire definitely need the most work at the back, but I don't see how u could pass on feilhaber. He provided a huge spark when used as a sub in the wc, and he will be dominant in mls. His salary is about what they paid mcbride, and considering him and all the other high paid players the fire lost, they should certainly have enough cap space.

  • In reply to fire1020:

    They won't get him for fringe players and picks. I don't think he'll be dominant either....he'll be solid but not dominant by any stretch.

  • In reply to cesba:

    If NE didn't want to pay him, they could've traded him for some cheap fringe players or draft picks to add depth. I also think that feilhaber is a better option than all the other usmnt players looking at coming back.

  • In reply to fire1020:

    Houston is apparently involved in trade talks for Feilhaber so he won't come cheaply given that NE will have an offer in hand.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Franz Mathieu (note there is no T in his first name) was nicknamed the "Haitian Hurricane" by Howard Balsom.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    I beg to differ on the nickname. We'll have to check with Howard on that. My guess is he used both because I'm sure I heard the "Magnet" name used. As for the spelling, I think you're wrong

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frantz_Mathieu

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    You are correct , that was Mathieu's nickname and he got it for his ability to stop on a defender and make a slide tackle and get right up to make an end to end rush with the ball.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    Brain cramp on the first name ... yes, there was a T. Unlike Beckenbauer who didn't.

    Howard did also call him "Magnet", but Mathieu's preferred nickname was the Haitan Hurricane - a nickname he received before joining the Sting. I have a Chicago Tribune article from April 1981 that supports this.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    My personal favorite nickname was "Perpetual Motion" for Dave Huson.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    I hope the Chicago-Fire and Coach Carlos get their Act Together
    and put together a Winning Streak that we all can be proud of.
    I am sure the Coach wants to get rid of his Current nick name
    which is "Carlos de los Crapos."

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    Next for the Sting on the afternoon of Saturday April 25th would be first game of the year at Comiskey Park and it would be a rematch against Tulsa. The Sting won the game 1-0 on another direct free kick goal by Granitza dispite Tulsa outshooting the Sting by a wide margin , the Granitza goal was scored in the first half. The win moved the Sting record to 2-1 but in the early going it was clear that the long indoor season took a toll on them because their first 3 games they looked tired. This game was televised on the main ESPN Network.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    The Sting looked more than tired ... they looked disinterested!!! Granitza's free kick goal at 3:20 into the game was his only shot as he retreated into midfield for the rest of the match. Tulsa's Duncan McKenzie (a future Sting player) had as many shots at halftime as the Sting did for the whole game. And the Sting benefited from a blown call from the ref when Ingo Peter admittedly used his hands to clear a ball off the line late in the game. They certainly didn't look like champions earlier on - even though 22 of 23 writers in the Soccer Digest magazine released that week predicted a Sting-Cosmos Soccer Bowl.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    Yep , Duncan Mckenzie was on that team , a year later he would be with the Sting.
    Another thing I think that lead to the slow start was the addition of the new talent.
    As great as Pato Margetic was , it did take time for the team to adapt to having such a skilled and fast dribbler on the team.
    Not many people remember this but the team started the year using a 3 man front line of Granitza , Margetic , and Huson...yes Huson , he started the season up front before Roy moved him to fullback.
    Howard Balson called the line " the hair line " , he did this because he said that Granitza had the right amount of hair , Pato had long hair , Huson had not much hair.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    I had forgotten the Huson started the year up front. Good call.
    Granitza seemed to have problems adjusting to Margetic. He did have a run of goals early in the year - including scoring in six straight games. But he also had a nine game stretch without a goal. He looked lost during that period, often dropping into the midfield, not taking shots and picking up reckless yellow cards - forcing him to sit a game. I recall him saying that Margetic held the ball too much. Also, there was talk of Granitza leaving to join an English club.

    Karl Heinz seemed to snap out of it during a three game stretch in mid-July, while Margetic was out with an injury.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    Yes , there was alot of talk that 1981 was going to be Granitza's last year in Chicago , not until the victory parade did everyone know that he was coming back.
    There was talk about him playing in England nut that would have not served him well because at the time English soccer was nothing but long ballas at all times and that was not Branitza's game at all.
    Granitza played alot in the midfield and I think he did alot of that until late June, I remember Howard Balson stating that Willy Roy did that early in games just to have him distribute the ball and feel teams out.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Any word on Juho makela?

  • In reply to fire1020:

    I'll ask about him, but soonest another international could play here is July 15.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Maybe it's just the USMNT homer in me, but 400k seems like a bargain for Feilhaber.

  • In reply to ChrisConnolly:

    Yeah Odura got a yellow card telling him to get his lazy butt of the field! :-)

  • Howard Balson always called out the dirty players , it was great to hear his calls when a guy like Futcher would make a dirty foul and he would really let him have it.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    So he was the original Demo Kovalenko

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    I remember Balson assigning a bunch of nicknames.
    Frantz "The Magnet" Mathieu (my favorite player)
    Bret "The Toy Bulldog" Hall
    Pato "The Magic Man" Margetic

    Great times. Miss those radio calls

  • In reply to oliotya:

    I was only 6 years old then, but I have so many good memories of the Sting both outdoor, but especially indoor!

    Pato "The Magic Man" Margetic sure could dribble better then anyone I've ever seen!!!
    Karl Heinz Granitza with his back to the goal was ever so dangerous and did great indoors with no offsides called! :-)

    Those were glorious days....along with our 1998 Chicago Fire what an expansion team we were winning it all in our 1st year...only time we did that in our existence!

  • In reply to smiley:

    Yep....the Sting is the reason I became a soccer fan as a youngster.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Me too .

  • In reply to smiley:

    Yep , the offsides line was the 35 yard line until the end of this 1981 season , then they moved it to midfield.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Dave Huson ( Perpetual Motion )
    Derrick Spalding ( Scotty )
    Charlie Fajkus ( The Wheaton Wonder )

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    It was just this past Sunday, while getting dressed for the Fire match against the Galaxy that I reached into the deep end of the closet to pull out my 2006 long-sleeve that with "FIRE" on the chest that I realized it's been 30 years since the Soccer Bowl victory. I purchased that particular jersey from a "shirt off our back night" in one of the auctions for FIREWORKS FOR KIDS on a night honoring the 25th anniversary of the '81 champs. It's adorned with Sting and NASL patches and though the Sting was mostly before my time as I was a mere 1 year old when the sting last one it in '84, your stories help fill me in on what seems like a very exciting time for soccer in our City. Thanks Doug!

    P.S. Does anyone know what ever happened to Leonard Griffen, #4?

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Apologies for the grammar, of course I meant "...last won it in '84." Being the younger brother of an English major I was tormented with grammar lessons from an early age. "Turkeys are 'done', people are 'finished'"!

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    I think your brother is the turkey. Correcting someone's grammar is the surest way to torque them off.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    From Sports Business Daily.......

    http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Morning-Buzz/2011/04/19/Fire.aspx

    Yet another avenue for increasing ticket sales.

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Bad news for MLS bashing columnist/poker commentator Norman Chad. ESPN drops poker programming........

    http://www.sportsbusinessdaily.com/Daily/Issues/2011/04/19/Media/ESPN-Poker.aspx

  • In reply to cesba:

    I'm anxious for the next media report.

    Sunday was a tough media day for the Fire with the Hawks, Cubs, and Sox all playing plus the Bulls hoopla. Still the Trib gave them a good spread on the back page and even mentioned the result on the bottom of page 1. CSN stuck the highlights at the end of the report (after everything else had been repeated). NPR mentioned the score, I don't think Mary Dixon mentioned it on XRT.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    We'll see....the Blackhawks bandwagon is just about to empty but they'll all be jumping on the Bulls (or should I say Derrick Rose) bus.

  • In reply to cesba:

    I was listening to 780am (which i think is a CBS station w/ 670am) and they mentioned the final score on the way home from the game... so that was a quick turnaround!

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Yeah...it's a shame we have to be surprised when they actually mention a score.

  • In reply to oliotya:

    Galaxy defender Leonardo is out for the season after tearing an ACL near the end of the game on Sunday. Fans booed him loudly as he stayed down near the sideline appearing to attempt to kill time.

  • In reply to cesba:

    It sounds bad in retrospect, but I don't think anyone needs to apologize for the actions of the fans, if that's what you're inferring. We were disappointed and aggravated with the result, and a player on the other team goes down for a while right at the end of the game after tackling Oduro (the guy who just scored to make the game interesting)... I'm not saying it's right, but I think it's understandable.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Not inferring that at all. Just pointing it out....I along with everyone else suspected he was killing clock. Understandable given the situation.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Right on. No doubt.

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    What's going on with Feilhaber? C'mon Fire, make it happen.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    i was wondering the same thing, i'm not sure if i would want the fire to pick him up though.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    have you heard if the fire will be commemorating the 30 year anniversary?

  • In reply to firefan1998:

    I have heard of no plans to do so.

  • In reply to firefan1998:

    They of course did a 25 year tribute which honest to God feels like that was only 2 years ago , I am sure they will honor it.

  • In reply to Ufficio:

    Feilhaber would be the type of player they need but the cap hit is something that could be an issue. Not that they don't have the cap space, but teams must decide if he is going to be worth DP money (cap wise).

  • In reply to cesba:

    Oh my , what is Chadd going to do !

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Get lost hopefully.

  • In reply to cesba:

    Or maybe go work for ESPN Classic talking about boxing in the 70's.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Chivas USA passes on Feilhaber. The Union are next up but Nowak said they weren't interested.

    Next in order New England, Houston, Toronto, Chicago.

  • In reply to cesba:

    GR, do u know if there's room under fire cap for Feilhaber?

  • In reply to Adam25:

    i think we got one more space open on roster...

  • In reply to Adam25:

    Players union hasn't released 2011 salary info yet so I haven't had a chance to crunch numbers but I'm pretty sure they have room for him. There is indeed one roster spot open.

  • In reply to Adam25:

    The Chicago Sting had the German Strike Force
    Of Karl Heinz Granitza and Arno Stephenhagen.
    Howard Balsom nick named them Lightning and Thunder.
    Granitza being Thunder because of his Powerful Shot and
    Stephenhagen being Lightning because of his speed.
    Those were the Good Old Days that I was hoping the
    Chicago-Fire can achieve.

  • In reply to TigerJMS:

    Yes , in fact , Granitza , Steffenhagen , and Ingo Peter were on AM Chicago the week of the San Diego playoff series in 1981 and Granitza said they were the German Connection.
    The 3 players were demonstrating the art of heading the ball on this show.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    Ron Futcher made Dema look like a Boy Scout. Goalkeepers didn't get the protection from referees in those days like they do now and Futcher was an old-school English striker who made it a point to take a run at the opposing goalie every chance he got. There was nothing wrong with Futcher that a broken leg couldn't cure.

  • In reply to ggorecki:

    Right on with your Futcher takes , I remember he did that to Dieter Ferner many times.

  • Excellent.. this is a great idea. Fantastic beginning!

  • In reply to RedLine55:

    Thank you REd Line , Thanks to Guillermo for setting it up the page for me to work with .
    I welcome everyone's feedback and memories.
    Every game will be covered.

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