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Playing for Uncle Sam: The Brits' Story of the North American Soccer League
 
 

Playing for Uncle Sam: The Brits' Story of the North American Soccer League [Kindle Edition]

David Tossell
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Review

A riveting and often hilarious book. A wonderful journey into nostalgia -- Soccer365

Enthrallingly told. Exhaustive and amusing -- Daily Mirror

Product Description

A coach transported to the field in a hearse as he played dead. An English manager taken at gunpoint to an Argentinian jail after trying to sign that country's World Cup captain. The hero of 1966 who talked his team out of going on strike on the eve of a title decider. All are part of the British professionals' story of life in the North American Soccer League (NASL) in the 1970s and early '80s, when star turn and unsung journeyman alike had the chance to play alongside Pelé, Cruyff, Beckenbauer and Eusebio in the greatest galaxy of world stars ever assembled in one league. Playing for Uncle Sam recalls the British players and coaches who were part of an organisation that changed the face of football with its shoot-outs, offside rule and wacky marketing methods.



It began with Stoke City and Wolverhampton Wanderers spending a bizarre summer posing as the Cleveland Stokers and Los Angeles Wolves in 1967. The late '70s saw the NASL, run by a former Welsh international, reach its peak, drawing crowds of 70,000 and featuring names like Banks, Moore, Hurst and Ball. Rodney Marsh pitched his tent in America by declaring famously that English football had become a grey game, while George Best used the NASL as an escape from the fishbowl of his life in Britain. Typically, the pair delighted and exasperated teammates and coaches in equal measure.



Through approximately 60 interviews with members of the British contingent who accepted the offer of the Yankee dollar, Playing for Uncle Sam recalls one of the most fascinating episodes in football history: the remarkable rise and chaotic collapse of the NASL.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 498 KB
  • Print Length: 268 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1840187484
  • Publisher: Mainstream Digital (13 April 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B007D1TI66
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #305,022 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

David Tossell has been a sports journalist for more than three decades. Currently head of European Public Affairs for the NFL (National Football League) and former Executive Sports Editor of the Today newspaper, he is the author of 12 sports books. Five of his books have been short-listed in the British Sports Book Awards - Bertie Mee (Best Biography, 2006); Grovel! (Best Cricket Book, 2008); Nobody Beats Us (Best Rugby Book, 2010); Tony Greig (Best Cricket Book, 2012) and The Great English Final (Best Football Book, 2014). He has also been short-listed twice for MCC/Cricket Society Book of the Year.
He has written books on football, cricket, rugby and American football.
Twitter: @David_Tossell

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The rise and fall of the NASL 13 Jun 2004
By Martin Percival VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
A book like this has been over due for years. It charts the rise and fall of the world game in the USA in the mid 70s to early 80s and lays the foundations for its recovery in 94 with the World Cup and the creation of the MSL in 96.
In 75/77/79 I was lucky enough to visit the US from the UK for the first times to visit family. It was a thrill a minute adventure to what seemed to be a technicolour land, compared to the relative drab of the UK at the time. The NASL reflected that vividness. Bright shirts, "uniforms", exotically named teams (Tulsa Roughnecks, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Vancouver Whitecaps) and some world class players (Cruyff, Pele, Best). The NASL really was a carnival like experience and where the quality of play was far higher than many people assumed it would be.
Sadly it all ended too soon with too many clubs ("franchises" in reality) over stretching themselves by paying too high wages to what, in many cases, were moderate players in cities with no historical roots or love of the game. But the NASL sowed a seed that helped lead to millions of Americans of both sexes playing the sport, a league in the shape of the MSL where profitability and having a core of local US players is a key factor and a national side that, in the 2002 World Cup in Japan, that really was a quality side and a surprise package with significant major future potential.
This book is very well written and David Tossell clearly did his homework with extensive interviews with a great many of the players and coaches of the NASL years, both the big names and the unknowns. The result is an excellent read for anyone interested in the NASL and the growth of the game in the US.
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Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The rise and fall of the NASL 13 Jun 2004
By Martin Percival - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A book like this has been over due for years. It charts the rise and fall of the world game in the USA in the mid 70s to early 80s and lays the foundations for its recovery in 94 with the World Cup and the creation of the MSL in 96.
In 1975/77/79 I was lucky enough to visit the US from the UK for the first times to visit family. It was a thrill a minute adventure to what seemed to be a technicolour land, compared to the relative drab of the UK at the time. The NASL reflected that vividness. Bright shirts, "uniforms", exotically named teams (Tulsa Roughnecks, Tampa Bay Rowdies, Vancouver Whitecaps) and some world class players (Cruyff, Pele, Best). The NASL really was a carnival like experience and where the quality of play was far higher than many people assumed it would be.
Sadly it all ended too soon with too many clubs ("franchises" in reality, not clubs in the European sense) over stretching themselves by paying too high wages to what, in many cases, were moderate players in cities with no historical roots or love of the game. But the NASL sowed a seed that helped lead to millions of Americans, of both sexes, playing the sport, a league in the shape of the MSL where profitability and having a core of local US players is a key factor and a national side that, in the 2002 World Cup in Japan, really was a quality side and a surprise package with significant major future potential.
This book is very well written and David Tossell clearly did his homework with extensive interviews with a great many of the players and coaches of the NASL years, both the big names and the unknowns. The result is an excellent read for anyone interested in the NASL and the growth of the game in the US.
3.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good 22 April 2014
By JonFoden - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Not at all what I was hoping for. A bit too much detail on recaps of every season and the resumes of the brit players in the league. A few good insights here and there about the league but just not as entertaining as I had hoped for.
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read. 3 April 2013
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A thorough look at the history of the NASL. This is a must read for any fan of American soccer or the NASL.
5.0 out of 5 stars absolutely great! 4 Nov 2011
By Brian Maitland - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
It's as close to definitive given the limitations (i.e., the focus on Brits because after all this is a book aimed at the British market). So much in here is new and fresh despite it being now over 20 years since the NASL folded. Learned such nuggets as the fact the Vancouver Whitecaps had a near mutiny on the eve of Soccer Bowl '79 over bonuses or that Brits actually came over to make more money than they could make in the English League. Seems so bizarre given the money flowing into the game in England now.

Also, did not forget the Trans-Atlantic Challenge Cup or the 1976 Bicentennial Cup in covering the NASL years so that is to be lauded as they were important tournaments over here. Did seem a bit too obsessed with "division titles" which are really irrelevant as fans care more about how deep teams went in the playoffs. One comment about Rodney Marsh mentioned his "winning two division championships" but of greater relevance are his two all-star selections.

Don't get hung up about the Brit angle as the author does cover the impact of other imports such as Pele, Eusebio and Johan Cruyff as well as NASL greats like Paul Child, Mike Flanagan, Alan Willey, Laurie Abrahams, etc. Also, he got the fact that Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Minnesota, Tampa and Ft. Lauderdale were important places where soccer grew and thrived and gave them their due.

I was disappointed to not learn much about the Chicago Sting (note--one huge editing miss as they are referred to as the Blitz [actually Chicago's USFL team] in Chapter 21). Maybe that's because many of their star players were German (Karl-Heinz Granitza, Arno Steffenhagen) or Dutch (Ingo Peter, Wim van Hanegam, Peter Ressel) but that's nitpicking.

Any soccer fan really will love this but for all NASL fans, this is an absolute must-have in your own libraries.
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