Have Your Say : This Day In 1981

FireStingDoug takes a trip back to 1981 as the Sting played for a chance to advance to the Soccer Bowl.  A game he attended at Comiskey Park on September 21, 1981 against the San Diego Sockers would lead to the Sting’s first title opportunity………

“A deciding game three of the semi-final series against the San Diego Sockers was played on a wet field at Comiskey Park.  This caused some concern for Sting coach Willy Roy as Pato Margetic had just returned to the line up in game two after a long absence due to a hamstring injury. 

The Sockers played a cautious first half as the Sting chose to attack with the same line-up used during a victorious game two.  A very physical game that saw several chances for both sides stopped by the opposing goalkeepers remained scoreless through regulation and headed into a tension filled overtime session. 

The Sting appeared to be on their way to taking the lead in the ninth minute of overtime when Ingo Peter was tripped in the box setting up a penalty kick.  Derek Spalding, who was usually automatic from spot was denied by Sting nemesis Volkmar Gross whose diving save kept the Sockers alive and pushed the game into a shootout to decide which team would advance to the Soccer Bowl. 

The Sting was 3-0 during shootouts but the confident, seemingly always smirking Gross stood in the way.  Julie Veee scored on San Diego’s first chance during the shootout but Margetic quickly tied it as he dribbled around Gross and tapped the ball into the net. 

In the second round Kaz Deyna scored for San Diego but Charlie Fajkus missed his chance for the Sting.  The third round saw Dieter Ferner stop San Diego’s chance but Derek Spalding failed on the Chicago attempt to keep the Sockers in the lead.

In round four, Sano missed high for San Diego allowing Dave Huson to tie the shootout by once again driblling around the Sockers’ keeper.  Martin Donnelly was stopped by Ferner in round six after both teams failed to score in round five.  This set up a chance for the Sting to advance to the Soccer Bowl with a conversion of the next shootout attempt. 

Willy Roy selected Franz Mathieu, who had the speed and skill to dribble around most players in the NASL.  Mathieu approached goal with the imposing Gross coming towards him and with a few quick moves manuevered around him to tap home a winner and send the Sting on to Soccer Bowl ’81. 

With the crowd cheering wildly and players running around the field the Comiskey Park scoreboard exploded with fireworks as sirens blared.  Gross continued to sit in front of his goal in disbelief as fans poured onto the field in excitement taking down the nets and carrying Franz Mathieu around in triumph. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes watching a Chicago team celebrating a chance to play for a title for the first time in my memory.  The local television news crews were in attendance  as the Sting won the right to play the New York Cosmos in Toronto for the championship.” 




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  • The Fire are hosting a US Open Cup prep party at Globe Pub on Monday at 7:00. Details here.........


  • I remember this day with great pleasure. Frantz Mathieu was my favorite player because I was a defender and it was a thrill watching him tackle and race up the field. I think I recall hearing that this was the first time he'd ever taken an NASL shootout attempt. The parking lot after the game was a throng of people honking horns and screaming. This was the first time Chicago had been in a championship game since the '63 Bears. That and the just-ended baseball strike made the city really get behind the team. I also recall that on this same day, the Cubs were playing the Cardinals and had about 8,000 fans. Can you imagine such a scenario today?

  • In reply to Doug:

    I remember when comcast sports net did a tribute to the 1981 Sting a few years back they said the Cub game that day had 3000 people.

  • In reply to FireStingDoug:

    That's where I heard it. I forgot the number but I knew it was low. Heck, I remember going to Wrigley in the 70's and the upper deck was closed.

  • In reply to Doug:

    Wrigley was a graveyard in the late 70's. It didn't become the place to be until Harry Caray got there in 1982 and brought the party with him.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    The Cubs two game series with the Cardinals, on Sept 21 and Sept 22, drew 3635 and 4531 to Wrigley Field.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    The June Sting-Cosmos game with a crowd over 30,000 was the second highest att'd figure for a game at Wrigley Field that year. The only day that had a bigger crowd was the Cubs home opener with 37,030 against the Mets.

    As for Harry Caray's impact on crowds at Wrigley, that's way over-blown. Well into the 1984 season, when the Cubs made the post-season for the first time in 39 years, crowds of under 20,000 was common-place with crowds below 10,000 not being that rare.

  • In reply to Lewis26:

    I didn't want to insinuate that it was all Harry Caray's doing but he played a big part in developing that party atmosphere for Cubs games. The pieces just fell into place when the Cubs finally put together a good team in 1984. That reminds me.....I still hate Steve Garvey........

  • Jeffries is hoping the "strategic alliance" announced yesterday will result in possible player loans...........


  • As I recall, there were over 39,000 fans at old Comisky Park that night. I vividly remember Stanley Sting running down the field at the end of the game with his head under his arm trying to escape the wild throngs of jubilant fans. I wrenched my shoulder going over the right-field wall onto the field. Probably the origin of my rotator cuff problem.

  • Mathieu had not participated in a shootout before, but he begged Coach Roy to let him shoot. Mathieu later commented that he noticed how Margetic, with a bad hamstring, was able to make a quick cut to beat Gross on the wet turf. A healthy Mathieu figured he could too.

    Gross would later complain that Margetic and Huson's goals came after the 5 second clock had expired.

    Dieter Ferner stopped Martin Donnelly in the sixth round - twice as the refs let Donnelly go again after the 5 second clock failed to start after Ferner stopped his first attempt.

  • Pretty good read on supporters and the changing demographic in MLS........


  • Classless move by Rafa Marquez to say his teammates are not on par with him.

  • In reply to colton:

    Wheels are falling off the wagon in New York. Ridiculous comments from Marquez after the match. Backe topped the night by blaming the media for fans booing Marquez.

  • Have you watched any NYRB games to determine if Marquez is in fact sucking?

  • In reply to iron81:

    He's played in about half their games and in a good amount of those he has not played particularly well in. Even if he was playing at all-star level the comments he made throwing his teammates under the bus were just something that shouldn't be done.

  • Even more pearls from Marquez......



    Some of this may have been lost in translation and may not be as bad as it sounds when read in English but still........

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Who does that? When McBride, Beckham, or Donovan had struggling teams you never heard them talking about how great they are and how bad their teammates are. Not what you really want to see from someone who is supposed to be one of the faces of the league.

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    I know the news is that JM made stupid statements... but here is the situation now.

    Chivas, DC, NYRB, Portland and San Jose all gained 1pt or less. These are basically all the teams we are battling for the final spot. I would say this is fantastic news, and if we can win this weekend, instead of being 6 back, at worst, we will be 4 back. Not bad.

  • In reply to waam:

    Good point Waam, Marquez' silliness has overshadowed the fact that all three results last night were very favorable for the Fire. That very slim chance to make the playoffs increased slightly and will get more interesting this weekend. I still don't see it happening though....

  • I think this season would be more painful to be a red bulls fan, that is if they do miss the playoffs. With that team and the money they've spent, it would be a huge disappointment, a lot like the sox this year. It does debunk my many entries asking for the fire to spend more and to make moves earlier in the season. Of course throwing money at a team doesn't always work, but it does increase ones odds of having a good team. Anyway, I hope they do miss the playoffs, continued karma from JCO leaving us years ago! ;)

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    In reply to Drew:

    You mean from Bradley leaving us years and years ago. :)

    J/K. I want them to fail forever.

  • Shouldn't be surprised by Marquez, he sucked at Barca when he was able to get in, and was dumped by "Pep".
    Never understood what the big deal was about his signing with Redbull, just happy he was out of Barca and glad he signed with N.Y.
    On defense he'd make Cuesta look like an allstar.

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    Bad fit with NY and MLS in general.

  • Video of most of the Marquez comments......


    Not quite as brutal as they read but still wrong IMO.

  • Big question is who will be the general manager and coach next year. It would completely unbelievable if they tried to come back with klopas.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    I think Klopas coming back is a certainty....whether or not it's behind the bench is the question.

  • Could you imagine any other Chicago professional team staying with a gm that has one of the worst overall records in the league. In his two full years in control of the team he has won approx 15 games out of a possible 57, in business that is called bankruptcy.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Wasn't he in control in 2009 when they made it to the Conference Final?

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Would you rather have Christian Nazarit for $300,000 OR Chris Rolfe for $300,000? Rolfe walked out on the Fire because he was making a little over $100k a year. I believe that nothing we could have given him could match AB, but we could have shored this all up earlier in his contract. Heck, Mapp was making double Rolfe was, and he was a bench warmer. This team has lacked leadership, last year and this year, especially on the field (no offense to Pause), but there was just too little of it. Nevermind the decision to remove Busch before the start of the season, signing of Castillo, and then striking out huge with de los Cobos. He's done many things well, but the negatives are there.

  • In reply to waam:

    There are surely negatives that can be pointed out but I think you have to take the entire tenure into consideration and not just the last two seasons. I'd take Rolfe any day but the issue with him was more about negotiations with the league than the Fire and it was going to be tough to match what Aalborg was offering when it became obvious he had options overseas. The error with Rolfe was not locking him in when the chance was there to do so.

    Castillo was a huge whiff, but many thought the gamble was worth it at the time.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Sorry dude, not pressin... I know, and I'm not trying to be negative. To be fair, someone should have called me out and pointed out some positive examples as well, but I was just picking out the dirt, thats all.

  • In reply to waam:

    Nothing wrong with pointing out the negatives.....*cough*Maric for 200K*cough*.....just trying to be fair.

  • In reply to brokerjohn:

    Bears did stick with Wannie from 1993 all the way to 1998. That is a coach , but his record was poor.

  • TV Broadcast update..........

    The Fire v Revs match on Sunday will be shown live on CSN+ at 3 pm. A replay will be shown at 7:30 on CSN.

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    In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Thanks for the update. Looks like I'm going to have to TiVo the Bears game.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    MLS needs to address this issue on scheduling games on NFL Sundays. The only way to schedule Sunday games is during the spring and summer and it is very difficult to compete with the NFL on those time slots. MLS needs a flexible schedule and put the best matchups on Soccer Game of the Week for viewers interest.

  • Crud. I thought it was on MY50. Does anyone happen to know what channel CSN+ is on DISH (assuming they have it).

  • In reply to Doug:

    CSN+ channel finder guide........


    It's 450 on Dish

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