Sounders broadcast analyst Alan Hinton was a player and coach in the old North American Soccer League and knows a thing or two about the original Tampa Bay Rowdies.
In advance of the U.S. Open Cup meeting of the current Seattle Sounders and Rowdies at 4:30 p.m. at Tampa Bay, I asked Hinton to share some of his memories:
"Rodney Marsh was a huge player for the Tampa Bay Rowdies. There were many many top players playing for them. It was always an exciting game because they were almost the most popular team in the North American Soccer League with their yellow and green uniforms, very popular in England because of Rodney Marsh, who was one of England’s favorite sons playing and then coaching.
"My memory of the Tampa Bay Rowdies: All my teams did well against them. Now, we did lose 4-3 in the Kingdome one night against Tampa Bay, and I knew that I had to make some changes with the lineup, and I did, and then we really started to rock and roll. And then another time in ’82, the end of a slow start was in Tampa, when we were all over them – lost 1-0 – and then we went on a real tear and won the division and went to Soccer Bowl.
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"Plus, Tampa was always the home of the league meetings. I had a wonderful hour with George Steinbrenner one night down there when I was coaching the Whitecaps -- he owned the hotel we were stay in: the Bay Harbor Towers – and that was really lovely. And he liked soccer, George Steinbrenner. Down in Tampa was when I made the trade for Roger Davies, David Nish and Jack Brand to come from Tulsa to Seattle. So I’ve got a lot of fine memories from Tampa.
"They played in the NFL stadium and (had) very good support. I’m thinking Major League Soccer might (expand there), it seems to me how important the Cascadia Cup is and the rivalry here. We’ve got three of the most successful teams in the league, and I think he’s trying to do the same thing in New York, and I see the same thing out near Tampa: You’ve got Tampa, Orlando, you’ve got Jacksonville, and you’ve got Fort Lauderdale and Miami. … I think Florida is perfect weather, a lot of Europeans live there now. But always you probably saw more Tampa Bay Rowdies uniforms being worn all over the world than any other team."
I also asked Sigi Schmid, who is about 10 years younger than Hinton, if he had any memories or connections with the original Rowdies:
Tampa Bay has obviously a great history when you have players like Rodney Marsh, whose nickname was “The Crown Prince,” the guy who’d show up in all white suits or lime green suits for gamedays. Clive Best was a robust quality forward in the league at the time. Winston DuBose, a goalkeeper for them, is a friend of mine. I saw him a couple of years ago, I thought he almost broke my shoulder when he clapped me on the back. Perry Van Der Beck, an old American player here who got a lot of minutes. The Wegerle brothers were both here – Roy Wegerle was here, Coach Waverly with the U.S. national team.
There’s a lot of history that was here, and there was a lot of quality soccer that was played here and they had some great crowds. Really, at the beginning of MLS when Tampa Bay had a team (the Mutiny), I think everybody was hoping that that Rowdy magic would come back, and it just didn’t catch hold for some reason. Maybe down the line in the future it will again, because just like Seattle I think there’s a great history there and if they can tap into that and use everything that’s new it might be a great franchise in the future.