Dips Fan Day

Dips Fan Day

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Last Original

During their seven year tenure in DC, the one constant within the organization was Gary Darrell. The 5' 9" midfielder/defender was a fan favorite and constant contributor. Gordon Bradley stated, "Despite being 31 years old and seldom starting, Gary Darrell was probably our most valuable player in 1978. That tells you a lot about the character of this man." Indeed, Darrell was the heart and soul of the franchise.








Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Birth Announcement

On January 19, 1974, news broke that professional soccer was returning to DC. Both The Washington Post and The Washington Evening Star featured articles on the front page of their respective sports sections. Only four months later, the Diplomats would make their debut at RFK Stadium.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

A Portent of Things to Come

The 1978 Dips brought a 3-0 record into a Sunday, April 23, matinee against the Minnesota Kicks at RFK Stadium. The previous Sunday, they had thrashed the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers, 4-1, before 11,322 fans and the TVS Television Network. With quarter page advertisements in The Washington Post Sports section, the organization hoped to compete with the Cosmos and Rowdies in generating large home crowds.

When only 13,226 paying customers took advantage, however, Diplomats Coach Gordon Bradley spent a good deal of his post game press conference publicly expressing his bewilderment at the lack of support the team was receiving from the greater Washington, DC area. So much so, in fact, that an entire article was devoted to the subject in The Post.

It would have further bewildered Bradley that the 1979 Diplomats Media Guide listed this very game as the tenth largest home crowd in team history. The Dips won the match, 1-0, in a shootout, to raise their record to 4-0. The season's attendance average would be 10, 783. Following the 1979 season, their first as majority owners of the franchise, Madison Square Garden Corp. would express the same disappointment and bewilderment.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"The Greatest Day In Our History"

June 1 marks the 30th anniversary of the most memorable match in Dips history. On a hot, humid Sunday afternoon in 1980, the Johan Cruyff led Diplomats face the Cosmos before a then record setting crowd for soccer in the nation's capital, and a national television audience. The Washington Post's beat writer for the team, John Feinstein, described it as, "three hours of soccer and mayhem."

Mayhem, indeed. At the end of those three hours, the Cosmos left the field victorious, but the game was hardly over in the minds of the Dips and their faithful. Referee Toros Kibritjian and senior linesman Gordon Arrowsmith each nullified Diplomat goals on two controversial calls. Diplomats Johan Cruyff and Joe Horvath were both ejected; Arrowsmith would be rushed from the stands and punched by a spectator before being hit in the head with a rock. A second fan would rush the field after the game attempting to attack Cosmos defenseman Jeff Durgan.

The home team entered the match with a disappointing 3-6 record. Cruyff, the first player in Washington sports history to earn one million dollars for one season's work, had yet to score his first goal of 1980 and was openly critical of Head Coach Gordon Bradley. This had set an early tone for a season of frustration. The Cosmos entered 7-2, with the distinction of being the Dallas Cowboys of the NASL. Some loved, but most hated, the perennial contenders from New York. If the Dips were going to salvage their season, it would have to start with this game.

The Dips had controlled of the match early, and in the twenty-third minute appeared to take the lead. Joe Horvath send a corner kick from the left side into the middle of the box where Cruyff placed a header just over the outstretched has of Cosmos goalkeeper Hubert Birkenmeier.

As the Dips celebrated and the crowd of 53,351 thundered, Referee Kibritjian negated the goal, claiming Alan Green of the Diplomats had obstructed the goalie. "I was at least three yards awat from him," Green explained after the game. In the ensuing protest, Kibritjian issued Cruyff's first yellow card of the day for what he termed "verbal dissent." The outspoken Cruyff asked, "If the goalie was interfered with, how could he have dived to try to save the ball?" Observe the video stills below and decide for yourself.
1: Jeff Durgan (17), Alan Green (28) and Birkenmeier (1) just before Horvath's corner kick.

2: The ball has just left Cruyff's head, Birk-
enmeier has not yet reacted.

3: Birkenmeier dives to his right.

4: Birkenmeier in fully extended dive, the ball just over his white gloved hand. Note Alan Green is still in the same spot as photo 1.

Bob Iarusci converted a penalty kick and the Dips led 1-0 at the half. Giorgio Chinaglia scored on an excellent header in the fifty-fifth minute and the game stood tied 1-1 with 3:53 remaining in the contest.

The play started with Alan Green dribbling into the right side of the Cosmos box. As Hubert Birkenmeier moved out to contest the ball, Green out maneuvered him by going further right. Green's eight yard skipped off Birkenmeier and slowly roller toward the goal. As it did, Diplomat Ken Mokgojoa and Cosmo Jeff Durgan both aggressively pursued. Each missed the ball, but collided in the goal mouth.

Dips goal? No. Linesman Gordon Arrowsmith ruled that, "The Washington player fouled the Cosmos player by going through him to get the ball." Durgan stated, "I went to clear out the ball when he cut me down." Mokgojoa countered, "My leg hit his as we went for the ball. It was a very bad call.

1: Alan Green has outmaneuvered Hubert Birkenmeier and prepares to shoot with just under four minutes left in the match.

2: The ball strikes Birkenmeier as Green falls to the ground.

3: Jeff Durgan attempts to clear the ball, but it is already past his reach.

4: Durgan and Mokgojoa collide as the ball rolls into the goal.

Now the mayhem truly began. Diplomats Bob Iarusci and Joe Horvath raced to confront Arrowsmith. When their argument fell on deaf ears, Horvath, who had been replaced in the game by Mokgojoa, pushed Arrowsmith two times. Upon the second, Iarusci turned and shoved his teammate to keep him from further exacerbating the situation.

Alan Green, left, tries to separate Bob Irausci and Joe Horvath. Note how close the crowd is to the incident, and the grey gravel under the ABC Sports sign. Arrowsmith is blocked from the frame by Iarusci, but his flag can be seen between Green's and Iaursci's legs.

As Arrowsmith raised his flag to request a card be issued to Horvath, a spectator came out of the crowd and punched him, knocking him to the ground. When he got up, Dips Coach Gordon Bradley and Johan Cruyff were trying to restore order. Iarusci had to be restrained from both officials.

As Iarusci was led away by his teammates, Arrowsmith was hit in the head with a rock and collapsed. He finished the game, but was still groggy afterwards. While he was being attended too, Referee Kibritjian proceeded to the Dips bench to issue Horvath a red card.

Gordon Arrowsmith is given a standing eight count by Dips medical staff.

While there, Cruyff picked up his second yellow card of the day. "I told him he didn't know what he was doing," Cruyff said, "that he was a terrible official." Kibritjian stated Cruyff was, "using abusive language and inciting the other players. I gave him all the rope I could because of his stature, when he didn't stop, I gave him the card."

Emotionally drained, stripped of two goals, the Dips eventually fell in a shootout. As both teams left the field, a spectator tried to jump the Cosmos Jeff Durgan, who swung immediately at the transgressor. "The guy ran out to get me or maybe Hubert. I don't know. But if anyone runs out of the stands, he's going to get flattened. That's for sure."

The team treated the game as a victory, however. "We told (the players) that as far as we all are concerned, we won this game 3-1," team president Steve Danzansky said. The team filed a formal protest the following morning, but knew this would do little. Dave Kindred of The Washington Post wrote, "The Diplomats lost, yes, but they won more than they lost."

Many in the organization echoed these sentiments. Cruyff said that the crowd was, "great, fantastic."

"I was awe-stricken," Bob Iarusci admitted. I didn't realize how beautiful this stadium (RFK) could be when, filled up. My adrenaline was going all game. No one time on the field was I tired."

"It was," noted Diplomats public relations director, Jim Trecker, "the greatest day in our history."

Friday, May 14, 2010