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History

Tribute to Orginal Roughneck Alan "Boomer" Woodward

Tulsa Roughnecks radio broadcaster Jeremie Poplin paid tribute to Original Roughneck Alan Woodward before Roughnecks FC match with Austin Aztex on Sunday morning. Have a listen. 

woody_tribute.mp3


Tulsa Roughnecks Soccer was born when Texas business man H. Ward Lay decided to move his North American Soccer League franchise from Hawaii to the “Oil Capital of the World.” The team had also previously played in San Antonio.

Team Brought the World's Game to Tulsa


Tulsa Roughnecks Soccer was born when Texas business man H. Ward Lay decided to move his North American Soccer League franchise from Hawaii to the “Oil Capital of the World.” The team had also previously played in San Antonio.
 

The team’s first-ever game was played on April 1, 1978. The Roughnecks hosted the Detroit Express at Tulsa’s Skelly Stadium and a disappointing Saturday afternoon crowd of only 5,872 turned out to see the home team lose 2-1. It would prove to be a building block as results and attendance steadily improved.

One week later, attendance reached five figures in a 2-0 home win over Toronto. Confidence and momentum swelled with a narrow 1-0 loss on the road to the mighty New York Cosmos before over 41,000 at Giants Stadium as Franz Beckenbauer scored on a late free kick.Attendance peaked with over 19,000 fans turning out for the regular season home finale in Tulsa as the Roughnecks blanked the Houston Hurricane 4-0. Two road losses followed to end the regular season, but the team still qualified for the NASL playoffs with a 15-15 record.

Tulsa traveled to Minnesota for its post-season debut and dropped a 3-1 decision to the Kicks after having two goals disallowed before 36,000 at Metropolitan Stadium. The 1979 season saw Alan Hinton take over as head coach, and the franchise continued its growth. The team opened the season with four straight wins, and attendance marks were often set.

A record 21,114 turned out for the home opener at Skelly Stadium, and that mark fell two weeks later when 25,738 watched a 3-2 win over Dallas. Tulsa Roughnecks Soccer was born when Texas business man H. Ward Lay decided to move his North American Soccer League franchise from Hawaii to the “Oil Capital of the World.” The team had also previously played in San Antonio. The team’s first-ever game was played on April 1, 1978.

The Roughnecks hosted the Detroit Express at Tulsa’s Skelly Stadium and a disappointing Saturday afternoon crowd of only 5,872 turned out to see the home team lose 2-1. It would prove to be a building block as results and attendance steadily improved. The highlight and lowlight of the season came on June 13. The first-ever crowd to top 30,000 (30,162) filed into Skelly Stadium for the Cosmos first-ever visit to Tulsa. The two teams provided plenty of drama for the large crowd as the Roughnecks jumped to a 2-0 lead. The night ended with heartbreak as the Cosmos rallied for a controversial 3-2 win, but it would not be the last meeting with the NASL giants.

The Roughnecks finished the ’79 season with a 14-16 mark but still qualified for the playoffs. In the first round, Alan Woodward netted two goals in a 2-1 win over Minnesota, and the Roughnecks survived a late equalizer for Ace Ntsoelengoe to record a another 2-1 win in overtime to move to the second round and another meeting with New York.

On Thursday, August 23, Tulsa sent a message to the entire soccer world with a dominant 3-0 win in the first game, its first-ever victory over the Cosmos. A crowd of over 26,000 packed Skelly Stadium for the mid-week game as renovation closed the east side of the stadium. Two goals from Roger Davies and another from Wayne Hughes produced the impressive result and set the stage for the return meetings at Giants Stadium.

Unfortunately, for the Roughnecks, the Cosmos were the Cosmos. They posted a 3-0 win in the second game and then a 3-1 victory in the ensuing mini-game to claim the series and end Tulsa’s season.

The 1980 season saw the return of Charlie Mitchell to the club. Mitchell, who was a defender on the original ’78 team, became the team’s fourth head coach. He guided the club to its best-ever start, compiling a 9-3 record in the first 12 games. The stretch included a pair of 2-1 wins over the previous Soccer Bowl participants, New York and Ft. Lauderdale.

The victory over New York took place on April 26 before record soccer crowd at Skelly Stadium of 30,822

Injuries and tough luck helped to derail the quick start as the Roughnecks suffered through a seven-game losing streak with six the first six defeats by one goal each. Mitchell and the club recovered to win their final five home matches and clinch a third straight playoff berth.

The season would again end in New York with a tough 8-1 loss to the Cosmos, as Giorgio Chinaglia scored for a record six of the goals.

Mitchell returned for his second season on the Tulsa bench in 1981. The year began with away wins over Tampa Bay and Dallas, but the Roughnecks dropped a 3-2 overtime decision to Chicago before 26,000 in the home opener.

With team’s record at 10-9, Mitchell was replaced in July by Terry Hennessey. Hennessey led the Roughnecks to 7 wins in their final 13 games to qualify for a fourth straight playoff appearance.

Another first-round elimination followed as the Minnesota Kicks took two straight to end Tulsa’s season.

In 1982, Hennessey enjoyed his first full-season as Roughnecks head coach and guided the team to a 16-16 record and a fifth post-season appearance.

Regular season highlights included five straight home wins in July, including a 4-0 shutout over the Portland Timbers and a 5-1 win over the Toronto Blizzard.

The playoffs meant another matchup against the Cosmos who had run away with the NASL regular season crown, winning the top spot by 37 points. The Cosmos, whose 1982 lineup included Chinaglia, Carlos Alberto and Johan Neeskens, won the first game 5-0 in New York before Tulsa answered with a 1-0 win at Skelly Stadium. In the third and decisive game back at Giants Stadium, the Cosmos eked out a 1-0 victory and would eventually go on to claim their fifth Soccer Bowl crown.

The 1983 season would mark the pinnacle of the Roughnecks NASL franchise. Terry Hennessey returned for his third season on the Tulsa bench and the year began auspiciously with defeats in five of the first six games and in eight of their first ten.

The season turned with a 2-1 win in overtime over Ft. Lauderdale before only 7,500 at Skelly Stadium. A road win in San Diego followed, then a 4-0 drubbing of Chicago in front of 16,000 in Tulsa.

The Roughnecks concluded the regular season with six straight victories, outscoring their opponents 16-6 in the streak. The result was a 17-13 record and a Southern Division title as Tulsa topped the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers by 9 points.

Defender Barry Wallace became the first Roughnecks player to be named to the first-team all NASL squad, joining world stars such as Beckenbauer, Jan Van Beveren and Andranik Eskandarian.

This time, Tulsa avoided a first-round meeting with the Cosmos and instead met the Strikers. The Roughnecks swept the series in two games, winning 3-2 at home and 4-2 in Ft. Lauderdale.

A semifinal matchup with Montreal followed, as the Manic upset the Cosmos in two straight games in the first round. Tulsa survived for a 2-1 win in a shootout at Skelly Stadium in the opener, before dropping a 1-0 decision at Olympic Stadium in Montreal, setting the stage for a winner-take-all rematch in Oklahoma.

A crowd of over 18,000 cheered the Roughnecks to a 3-1 victory and the club’s first-ever berth in the Soccer Bowl.

Tulsa’s opponent in the championship game would be the Toronto Blizzard with the meeting scheduled for October 1 at Vancouver’s indoor B.C. Place Stadium. Controversy would take center stage in the days leading to the championship as it was announced that Tulsa’s leading scorer, Ron Futcher, would be suspended for the title game because of yellow card accumulation in the playoffs. Futcher had netted 15 goals in the regular season and 5 more in the playoffs and would have been a huge loss for the Roughnecks.

Tulsa initial appeal of the suspension was first rejected before NASL President Howard Samuels overturned the ruling and stated that Futcher could play.

With Futcher on the field, the Roughnecks broke a scoreless deadlock when ten minutes into the second half, Njego Pesa scored on a free kick to bring the crowd of 53,000 to its feet.

Another goal from Futcher put the icing on the cake of a 2-0 victory, giving the city of Tulsa its first major league sports title.

A team that Sports Illustrated referred to as “a crazy quilt of other teams' rejects,” was the 1983 Soccer Bowl Champions.

Unfortunately, the euphoria of the title was short-lived as ownership money issues were plaguing the team and the North American Soccer League. Radio station KRMG led a fundraising effort in November of 1983 that raised nearly $40,000 to help the club meet payroll.

The 1984 season would mark the team’s final season in the NASL and head coach Wim Suubier led the team to a disappointing 10-14 record. The last game was played on September 8 as 7,683 were on hand at Skelly Stadium for a 2-0 victory over New York.

It was the final game in Tulsa’s run in the North American Soccer League, but it was not the end of the legacy that was established by players and coaches such as Mitchell and Hennessey and Victor Moreleand, Billy Caskey, Alan Woodward, Winston DuBose and Iraj Danaifard. They were all part of team and a club that introduced the world’s game to Tulsans.