FireStingDoug wraps up his look back at the 1981 Chicago Sting with the SoccerBowl against the New York Cosmos….
“In a sign of times, the Soccer Bowl was televised on tape delay because ABC insisted on showing a Love Boat rerun. The Sting had many great chances in the first half but couldn’t break through while the Cosmos had only one good chance coming from a dead ball situation. The Chicago Sting contolled the run of play after a scoreless first forty five minutes.
Things evened out in the second half as both teams had good chances but neither side was able to score. Once again an overtime period provided no winner and the champion was to be decided in a shootout.
All three games between the Sting and Cosmos in 1981 needed extra time and this one was no exception. Pato Margetic and Seninho both failed to score in round one of the shootout while Derek Spalding and Giorgio Chinaglia both sent their shots wide left in the second stanza.
In round three Ingo Peter was stopped by Hubert Birkenmeier but the Cosmos finally broke through when Vladislav Bogicevic hit a high shot over Ferner to give the New York the lead. Karl-Heinz Granitza was entrusted with the Sting’s fourth attempt and the player who had been clutch all year (and for his career for that matter) delivered again by hitting a low shot to the left of Birkenmeier into the net. Ivan Buljan then tried a chip a shot over Ferner but the Sting keeper make a great athletic move to take the ball out of the air.
Round five would decide the champion as Rudy Glenn stepped up to take the shot for the Sting. The defender had previously beaten Birkenmeier in Chicago with a shot to the keeper’s right during the regular season. During a conversation I had with Glenn in the summer of 2004, he told me that he truly believed that Birkenmeier would be expecting him to try beating him in the same manner again so he decided to shoot at Birkenmeier’s left. The plan worked like a charm as the keeper managed to get an outstretched hand on the ball but Glenn’s shot was past him and went into the net to give the Sting a 2-1 shootout lead.
With the Sting leading 2-1, all Ferner has to do was stop the Cosmos’ Bob Iarusci and the team would win the soccer bowl. The moment of truth was here and as Ferner came out of the net Howard Balson’s radio call described the action. “Stop! It’s over! The Sting has won the soccer bowl! Chicago, you have a champion! Chicago, you have a champion! The Sting has won the soccer bowl! Dieter Ferner has done it, he has done it! He has stopped Iarusci!”
Listening to the radio call and watching the game later was exciting and emotional with the adrenaline of an overtime win and a feeling of disbelief that a Chicago team finally won a championship all rolled into one night of soccer.
Within seconds of Ferner’s stop Sting fans poured onto the field to celebrate with the team. It was time to make the championship official as Sting captains Derek Spalding and Ingo Peter accepted the trophy. The two teams then traded jerseys during one of my proudest moments as a sports fan.
Later that week, Mayor Jane Byrne and the City of Chicago honored the Sting with an outstanding ticker tape parade. Mayor Byrne rode in an antique car with Sting owner Lee Stern as the City celebrated a victory over the world famous New York Cosmos.
Here’s the roster for that great 1981 Chicago Sting team.
Willy Roy, head coach
1. Phil Parkes
2. Ivan Miljkovic
3. Greg Ryan
4. Derek Spalding
5. Paul Hahn
6. Arno Steffenhagen
7. Franz Mathieu
8. Rudy Glenn
9. Charlie Fajkus
10 Pato Margetic
11. Mark Simanton
12. Karl Heinz Granitza
13. Tasso Koutsoukos
14. Ingo Peter
16. Dave Huson
17. Steve Long
18. John Tyma
20. Paul Coffee
22. Dieter Ferner
23. Brett Hall
Chicago Sting. 1981 Soccer Bowl Champions