Oh, What A Nwokocha!

stoners-columbus-june15
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The artist responsible for this marvelous little sketch of Pennsylvania Stoners winger STEVE LONG, the native Englishman who starred alongside countryman Jeff Tipping at Hartwick College before ending his rookie professional season having shot eleven goals over the course of the entire 1979 American Soccer League campaign (playoffs included), must regrettably remain unknown here.
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Former Clemson University star striker CHRISTIAN NWOKOCHA, who would later sign for crack Portuguese first division club Sporting Lisbon and also go on to appear for Nigeria during the 1982 FIFA World Cup qualification campaign, nets the only goal of the game as the would-be 1980 American Soccer League champions PENNSYLVANIA STONERS blanks the visiting COLUMBUS MAGIC by the minimum scoreline at the old Allentown School District Stadium.

Pennsylvania Stoners goalkeeper SCOTT MANNING keeps the sheet clean for a fifth time on his tenth appearance of the 1980 American Soccer League season as trainer WILLIE EHLRICH’s second-year side earns a measure of revenge against the very same club that knocked the fledgling Stoners out of the 1979 A.S.L. playoffs at the semifinal stage, but only on traditonal penalty kicks from the spot (as compared to the ‘shootout’ method then employed by the rival North American Soccer League).

The numerical rosters for the two opposing sides on the night of June 15, 1980, were as follows :

PENNSYLVANIA STONERS
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1 – Scott MANNING … fr Buffalo Stallions – MISL (Cortland State)
2 – Eric SMITH … fr Clemson Univ
3 – Jeff TIPPING … fr Hartwick College
4 – Ken MCDONALD … fr San Diego Sockers – NASL (Penn State)
5 – Ron OST … fr Harvard Univ
6 – Mike MANCKE … fr Philadelphia Textile
7 – Clyde WATSON … fr New York Eagles – ASL (Clemson Univ)
8 – Steve LONG … fr Hartwick College
9 – Christian NWOKOCHA … fr Tulsa Roughnecks – NASL (Clemson Univ)
10 – John MCDERMOTT … fr Las Vegas Seagulls – ASL (Univ Nevada-LV)
11 – Rich REICE … fr Philadelphia Fury – NASL (Penn State)
12 – Paulo Nani DASILVA … fr New York Eagles – ASL … (Brazil)
13 – Adrian BROOKS … fr Atlanta Chiefs – NASL (Phila Textille)
14 – Bob EHRLICH … fr Penn State
15 – Roman URBANCZUK … fr Cleveland Force – MISL (Louis E. Dieruff HS)
16 – Mark NIGH … fr Pittsburgh Univ
17 – George GORLEKU … fr Eastern Illinois Univ
18 – Dave HUNDELT … fr Seattle Sounders – NASL (Southern Illinois Univ)
22 – Bill FINNEYFROCK … fr Clemson Univ

At this point in time, many teams in the wealthier North American Soccer League as well as other rival clubs in the American Soccer League often preferred to stock their rosters with veteran players from abroad, some of whom even had experience at the highest international level.

Although the 1980 A.S.L. champion PENNSYLVANIA STONERS deployed some players who were not actually born in the United States, itself, the truth of the matter is that virtually none of these ‘imports’, save creative midfielder PAULO NANI DASILVA, had ever played professionally before coming to America. The popular DaSilva did cut his teeth in the crack Brazilian first division with renowned clubs Sao Paulo FC, Fluminense FC as well as Santos FC and also appeared with CF Puebla in the Mexican first divison before signing with the New York Eagles of the American Soccer League in 1979. Still, almost all of the title-winning Stoners fielded by A.S.L. Coach of the Year WILLIE EHRLICH had first graduated from the ranks of the American collegiate system.

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ronwigg
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After signing from English fourth division side Scunthorpe United in the spring of 1979, experienced import RON WIGG led the COLUMBUS MAGIC by scoring 13 goals in 27 regular season games during the subsequent American Soccer League campaign. As an 18-year-old, Wigg had made his professional debut by notching four goals in five league games over the course of the 1967/68 schedule to help Ipswich Town earn promotion to what is now the English Premier League. After netting ten goals on 30 appearances in two seasons for Ipswich Town at the elite First Division level, the youthful Wigg was peddled to then-second divison side Watford FC for a fee of 18,000 English pounds in June of 1970 and embarked on a journey which would include stops at third division clubs Rotherham United, Grimsby Town and Barnsley FC.
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COLUMBUS MAGIC
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00 – Graham TUTT … Arcadia Shepherds – South Africa (England)
1 – Van TAYLOR … fr New York Eagles – ASL (Erskine College)
2 – John O’HARA … fr Pennsylvania Stoners – ASL (Pittsburgh Univ)
3 – Wayne JENTAS … fr Cleveland Cobras – ASL (Canada)
4 – Ray SCHNETTGOECKE … fr Philadelphia Fury – NASL (Brown Univ)
5 – Daniel MAMMANA … fr Sacramento Gold – ASL (Argentina)
6 – Andjelko TESAN … fr New York Eagles – ASL (Yugoslavia)
7 – Miodrag LACEVIC … fr Las Vegas Seagulls – ASL (Yugoslavia)
8 – Norman PIPER … fr Fort Lauderdale Strikers – NASL (England)
9 – Mike BARRY … fr Bristol Rovers (England)
10 – Ron WIGG … fr Scunthorpe United (England)
11 – Tony GRAHAM … fr St. Louis Steamers – MISL (Univ San Francisco)
12 – Terry HICKEY … fr Seattle Sounders – NASL (England)
14 – Neil HAGUE … fr FC Darlington (England)
15 – Bob ROHRBACH … fr Detroit Express – NASL (Dayton Univ)
16 – Bryan HARMAN … fr Arcadia Shepherds (South Africa)
17 – George DEWSNIP … fr Atlanta Chiefs – NASL (England)
19 – Steve NEWMAN … fr Seattle Sounders – NASL (Seattle Pacific Univ)

The COLUMBUS MAGIC were trained by 31-year-old PAUL TAYLOR, the recently-retired professional who had begun his career as a midfielder with hometown club Sheffield Wednesday in the English second division before moving on to third division outfit York FC and, ultimately, fourth division side Southport FC; after suiting up as a a player for the Las Vegas Skyhawks and Columbus Magic in the American Soccer League, Taylor directed the Magic to the 1979 A.S.L. title game, where Columbus lost 1-0 to the Sacramento Gold.

Coming into the June 15th engagement at the old Allentown School District stadium, imported forward GEORGE DEWSNIP, a 24-year-old who had been sold by the very same Southport FC to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers of the North American Soccer League for a fee of 11,000 pounds sterling in June of 1977, was leading the Columbus Magic with five goals in eleven A.S.L. contests; the previous season, Dewsnip had been teammates of Pennsylvania Stoners midfielder ADRIAN BROOKS in the more lucrative N.A.S.L. with budding television magnate Ted Turner’s Atlanta Chiefs.

Imported netminder GRAHAM TUTT, the native of London who began his professional career with hometown club Charlton Athletic in the English second division before twice being voted the best goalkeeper in South Africa, was leading the entire American Soccer League with a goals-against-average of 0.89 (three shutouts) after starting ten of the Columbus Magic’s first eleven games of the 1980 A.S.L. season.

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Spirit 79-80 Home John O'Hara
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Pittsburgh Spirit defender JOHN O’HARA, the local product from Mount Lebanon High School who signed with the Pennsylvania Stoners of the American Soccer League after two seasons with the University of Pittsburgh, dribbles the distinctive orange ball against the visiting intra-state rival Philadelphia Fever during the 1979/80 Major Indoor Soccer League match on the rug at the venerable Pittsburgh Civic Center.
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Turning out at the Allentown School District Stadium in the colors of the visiting Columbus Magic on June 15th was former University of Pittsburgh defender JOHN O’HARA, an original member of the Pennsylvania Stoners for its inaugural run in the American Soccer League; it had been the 20-year-old O’Hara who had netted the first goal for the winners when the Columbus Magic defeated the incoming Pennsylvania Stoners 2-1 at the Franklin County Stadium in the capital city of Ohio only five weeks earlier.

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