Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Everything you ever wanted to know about the Strikers...

Everything you want to know about the Strikers you can find out by just going to www.ftlauderdalestrikers.com It's a site created by Jeffrey Duly, a soccer fan who grew up following the most successful team in South Florida soccer history. Jeffrey was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Strikers of old and the Strikers to come.

Uncle Ed (UE): I appreciate you letting me interview you for my humble blog.

Jeffrey Duly (JD): Not a problem at all. Glad to talk Strikers old and new.

UE: Could you tell us a little about you? Where do you live now?

JD: I grew up in Plantation and started playing as part of that first big wave of youth soccer. I didn't play more than a few years, but unlike a lot of people who played in their youth and then didn't make the transformation from player to fan and supporter I remain a devout follower of the beautiful game. In fact when I travel overseas I try to catch a match if possible. I've been to games in England, Scotland, Germany, Belgium and Japan so far.

I have lived in Nashville now for almost twenty years now. I've been a supporter of our local USL team, the Nashville Metros since around 1994 or so. In fact I worked with the club for eight years from 2001 through 2008 (for no pay I might add) as their webmaster, scoreboard operator, match textcaster, music coordinator and occasional National Anthem singer. I eventually gave it up because I was getting burned out, but I still go to the games despite their recent run of awful play lately.

UE: What made you a fan of the Strikers?

JD: The first professional match I attended as a kid was either in 1975 or 1976 when we drove down to the Orange Bowl to see the Miami Toros play. It was great when they moved up to Lockhart in 1977. We went to a few matches that first year and from 1978 until the team left after the 1983 season we had season tickets. My sister and I were members of the Striker Liker Club and sat in their section in the east end zone. My parents' tickets were in the south stand so we didn't even watch the matches together. I think in later years we eventually sat in the south stand as well.

It was new. The excitement was there. It broke my heart when in December 1983 as a freshman at Florida State I was walking through the union to the post office and saw the cover of the Sun-Sentinel in the machine announcing that the team was moving to Minnesota.

UE: Do you by any chance have video of games?

JD: I have about a half dozen or so old matches on DVD that I got on Ebay over the past few years, including Soccer Bowl 80.

UE: Who was your favorite player?

JD: In the early years my favorite player was Maurice Whittle, mostly because he was a defender like me and we shared the same uniform number 2. But when you talk about the eternal Strikers, two names have to beat the top of the list: Ray Hudson and Teofilo 'Nene' Cubillas. Rocky was so enthusiastic from the time the club was a conglomeration of English lads through the later years when it was more of an international mix. Nene was in many ways the same after he came. After all he not only played for the Strikers in the NASL, but also the South Florida Sun in the USL and the new Strikers in the ASL. And let's not forget Hudson's involvement with the Fusion. Those two guys weren't just players who came and went. They came and stayed. They became part of the community.

UE: Why create a page dedicated to the Strikers?

JD: I had noticed only a couple of other pages devoted to old clubs. If I remember correctly there was one for the Cosmos and maybe the Sting (I can't find one now. I might have been dreaming that one.). I think the one that impressed me most was the one for the Philadelphia Atoms. There is so much information there. Remember this was before Wikipedia was around so sites like this were the only place to get information like this.

Then I asked myself "Why is there no page for the Strikers?" So I took it upon myself to do one. I had kept some stuff from the old days and acquired other memorabilia on Ebay, so I had plenty of information to use. It's not fancy and for a club that ceased to exist almost thirty years ago it doesn't need much updating, but I enjoyed putting it together. In fact it has gotten interest from all over the world, including a former player or two (I specifically remember Steve Zerhusen being one of them), a former general manager, Greg Cote at the Miami Herald, a few Brits who stumbled upon my site when looking for information about George Best after he passed away, and a man from the Netherlands who was writing a book about Jan Van Beveren.

UE: What persuaded you to acquire the www.ftlauderdalestrikers.com address? (Do you also own another web page?)

JD: A couple of years ago I thought about getting a proper domain name. Prior to that the address was just part of my Comcast account. The only way you would find it was from a Google search, but people still found it just the same. I just figured it would be easier to remember or find if it had a good domain name. I think the fortlauderdalestrikers domain was taken at the time so I got the ftlauderdalestrikers.com. Then when Miami FC announced their intention to "honor the legacy" of the old club I noticed that the fortlauderdalestrikers.com domain was
available. I decided to get that one too just so that someone wouldn't buy it and try to hold the club hostage for lots of money if they wanted to buy it. And if they didn't want it I would just have both of them for my website. I have some experience with these people who buy domain names in hopes of getting a payday. Right before I became the webmaster for the Nashville Metros, the club let the domain expire before renewing it. Some guy in Taiwan bought it and wanted money to get it back. Of course he didn't know the Metros' owners. If he had he would have known that he wasn't going to get any money out of them. We just registered a different domain. That Chinese fellow still has the name and renews it every couple of years.

UE: Did you also follow the Miami Fusion?

JD: By the time MLS started up I was living in Nashville, so following any MLS club wasn't really an option. I do have a Fusion jersey hanging in my closet though.

UE: Could you tell us an anecdote of your time as a Ft. Lauderdale Strikers fan?

JD: My fondest memories were the matches against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. They were spectacles and not so much for the play on the pitch. When they would come to town their supporters would drive through the parking lot at Lockhart wearing their green and yellow and singing that annoying
Rowdies song. Of course the Strikers fans would naturally responded in kind changing "the Rowdies are a kick in the grass" to "the Rowdies are a pain in the ass". And I recall the song we sang to the tune of "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" that went "Rod, Rod, Rodney Marsh. He has got no class. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily. We will kick his ass." We took a trip to Tampa one year to see a match at the old Tampa Stadium.
When we were leaving after the Strikers win, my mother and her friend were skipping down the ramp happily singing at the tops of their lungs.
It was great. Both fan bases cared passionately. I like what I see now at MLS matches with the supporters group sections standing and singing the whole match. It's reminds me a bit of the passion of the Strikers-Rowdies days.
I won't even mention being a kid and smelling the odor of marijuana wafting up from under the east stand. It was the '70's after all. ;)

UE: What do you think of the new 2011 Strikers?

JD: I think it can be a good thing if done right. With the Clash becoming the Earthquakes several years ago and the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps from the USL all moving up to MLS, there is a lot of nostalgia for the old teams. I think the move to Lockhart made all the sense in the world. No offense to any fans from Miami, but clubs in Broward have always been better supported. I can understand the concern of some that if it doesn't go well that it will taint the legacy and I hope that is not the case. But I remain optimistic that despite the ever-changing landscape of second division soccer in the U.S. the Strikers will survive and flourish. Success on the field would help too. The NASL Strikers played in the Soccer Bowl. The ASL Strikers won a national title. This version needs to start winning trophies. Oh, and bring back the red and yellow hoops. That is a must.

UE: A word to the fans?

JD: Support your team through thick or thin. If you do not, you won't have a team. It's as simple as that. Heck, even if you do you might not be there the next year. That is just the perpetually unstable landscape of soccer in this country. The Fusion won the Supporters' Shield in 2001
and the next year they were gone. Make Lockhart Stadium live again, even if the old gal is going to be in a water park soon enough.***A lot of the player photos on JD's website came from Dave Morrison's NASL jerseys website
(http://www.nasljerseys.com/) He was happy to let JD use some of them for his site.
For more information on the Strikers to come, be sure to check out: http://www.strikers2011.com/ for updates.

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