Thanks to Ken Jamieson for writing this article - featured in the August Edition of The Eddie!
Edmonton, AB (July 31,2013) - In Edmonton – the self-styled “City of Champions” – 1983 is looked at as the transition year. The year between the end of the Eskimos five consecutive Grey Cups (1978-82) and the start of the Oilers dynasty of five Stanley Cups in seven years (1984-1990), this was the year the Eskimos didn’t make it to the Grey Cup and the Oilers were swept in the Stanley Cup final. Yet 1983 was not a year without a professional championship in the Alberta capital, although the achievement of its professional soccer team that summer has by and large been forgotten.
30 years ago in August, at the same location currently used by FC Edmonton, another team – the Edmonton Eagles – had an amazing summer and captured Edmonton’s first, and so far only, outdoor professional soccer championship.
The Edmonton Eagles played in the Canadian Professional Soccer League, a six-team league launched in May, 1983. The league, whose teams were originally scheduled to play a 30-game schedule, abruptly halted the regular season after only a month and a half when its two marquee teams, the Toronto Nationals and Inter-Montreal folded due to mounting financial losses.
At the time, the Eagles had completed a third of their schedule unbeaten with a record of seven wins, three ties, and were in first place. Despite their impressive record, the Eagles were plagued by financial difficulties, many reports indicating that team ownership was behind in meeting the payroll, yet the players played on, not for the money but for the pride of the team and of the city.
With the regular season suspended, the league moved to playoffs with a championship game to be played on August 1st. The four remaining teams were grouped in eastern and western duos for the semi-finals to determine which teams would play for the championship. Edmonton was paired with the Calgary Mustangs, while out east the Hamilton Steelers took on the Mississauga Croatia. Edmonton continued their unbeaten record with a pair of 2-1 victories at home and in Calgary, while Hamilton needed a third game to decide their series in the east. So, on August 1st, the Edmonton Eagles hosted the Hamilton Steelers at Clarke Stadium.
An estimated crowd of 7,000 attended the game, the second-largest crowd in the league that summer. The evening was warm but pleasant, as the two teams took to the field. Few details of the game itself exist, but it is known that John Connor opened the scoring for the Eagles in the 41st minute, allowing the home team to take a lead into halftime. There would be no more scoring until the 90th minute when Chilean import Carlos Rivas put the insurance goal past Hamilton ‘keeper Don Ferguson and sealed the victory and the championship. Minutes later the final whistle was blown and Edmonton had captured the league’s first and only championship.
Despite valiant efforts to keep the league alive over the next two months, by the end of September the Canadian Professional Soccer League was no more than a memory, and the Edmonton Eagles the only winners of the “Tip Top Cup.”
As FC Edmonton and the NASL return to play in August for the Fall Schedule of the 2013 Season, we can look back and remember a true championship team that had battles both on and off the field, yet persevered with an unblemished season and a championship. After 30 years, it’s time to properly recognize the Edmonton Eagles as a proud member of the City of Champions, and get behind FC Edmonton in their pursuit of a Soccer Bowl Championship.
1983 Edmonton Eagles
Owner – John Tiemessen
General Manager – Joe Petrone
Head Coach – Dieter Hochheimer
Players: Dino Alberti, Goalkeeper
Wayne Gordey, Goalkeeper
Randy Samuels, Defender
Joe Raduka, Defender
Allan Spink, Defender
Tedd Hamilton, Defender
Hans Granander, Defender
Dubrako Ledic, Midfielder
Carlos Rivas, Midfielder
Hans Kraay, Jr., Midfielder
Ross Ongaro, Midfielder
Tony Peznecker, Jr., Midfielder
Mark Peckham, Midfielder
John Connor, Forward
Billy Connor, Forward
Norm Odinag, Forward
Bob Roselund, Forward
Jim Barbieri, Forward
The above list is the most complete list I have been able to accumulate for the 1983 Edmonton Eagles. If I have missed any names or erred in the information provided, please accept my apologies.
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