I got to see the new movie, the one about the US National team’s game against England in the 1950 World Cup, last night while I was in STL on business. It’s directed by David Anspaugh who also directed “Rudy” & “Hoosiers”. If you enjoyed those movies, you’ll come away satisfied yet again. I enjoyed the movie but I have to admit to being biased. That bias comes from some personal history. I have played on the same field with Harry Keough, a member of that team, and his son Ty.
I’m an Army brat. Even though I was born in Munich and attended 3rd through 5th grade in Kaiserslautern on a 2nd tour in Germany, I didn’t become a soccer fan until we left Honolulu in 1974 to move to St. Louis. I had just graduated from HS and we lived in Florissant, a Northern suburb. While attending Florissant Valley Community College, I worked as a photographer for the college paper and the local weekly paper where I shot high school sports. I discovered that the kids at Rosary HS and Aquinas HS that played soccer were bigger heros then the football players. The FVCC kids, coached by Pete Sorber (son Mike went on to be a US National team midfielder, play in the Mexican 1st Division and now coaches at SLU), were winning National JC championships. STL was a soccer hotbed. I finally got onto the pitch myself when I transfered to the UM-Rolla and was recruited to play on the GDI intramural soccer team. I was hooked.
When I moved back to STL after college, my buddies and I started teams and began competing in any league we could get into. My first indoor season was played at a facility near Chesterfield Mall and we talked the league administrator into letting us play in an Over 30 league by explaining how bad, I mean new, we were to the game. Turned out there were a group of 50 year old guys playing in the league as well and we were pretty excited to think we might actually win a game that season. Well, the old guys disabused us of that notion pretty quickly. Turns out the team included Harry Keough and Bob Guelker and a number of coaches in the area. They schooled us. It was not pretty. Here I am, early 20’s and I spent the whole game chasing the ball. It was a clinic in one touch passes and keepaway.
Later I went on to earn my MO “D” Coaching licenses at clinics that were run by Harry & Bob who were coaching at SLU and SIU-E respectively. The annual match between the two teams had to be played at Busch Stadium because of the crowds they drew. My opportunity to play with Ty came during the regular pick up games that went on at Shaw Park, in downtown Clayton. The fondest memory I have of STL soccer is the fact that I could go anywhere in town and be accepted on the field regardless of skill level. It isn’t that way in Chicago or other areas I’ve played but in the 80’s in STL, it rocked.
Those experiences, and the new friends I make because of ‘the beautiful game’ are what drive my enthusiasm for soccer. It’s why I hope this site will become a small part of the effort many people in this area make to grow the game and to introduce as many people as possible to the world’s game.
If you want to learn more about the movie, the IMDB is a good starting point or do a Google search on the title. There is also a site run by a family from “The Hill” that are related to one of the players featured in the book and the movie with interesting background information. Finally, if you’d like to know more about the history of soccer in St. Louis, the place to go is here.