Dips Fan Day

Dips Fan Day

Saturday, April 23, 2016

August 9, 1978: Playoff Pangs In Portland

In hindsight, it was a portent of the match to come. As Diplomats Gary Darrell and Paul Cannell dozed in the early morning hours of August 8, 1978, someone slipped in their hotel room and helped themselves to $50 and a wristwatch.

"I heard the door and thought it was me roommate going down for breakfast," Cannell stated. By the end of the playoff match the following evening, the entire team felt deprived of something they thought rightfully theirs.

In his pre-match analysis, Coach Gordon Bradley said the Dips would have "no excuses" if they failed to advance. "The majority of players really preferred Portland" as their first round opponent to any other team in the NASL's National Conference, Bradley confided. "I think that's because we lost so narrowly out here." The clubs had split two matches that season, each winning at home by a score of 2-1.

If Bradley was content playing in Portland, Cannell had one point of contention. "The Astroturf is the worst I've ever seen because it's so uneven. It has waves in it like an ocean. You can get seasick running from one side of the field to the other."

The red arrow demonstrates one of the waves in the Civic Stadium Astroturf.

Match photo of Paul Cannell.
Gordon Bradley inserted Ken Mokgojoa into the Dips starting lineup, hoping to take advantage of his superior athleticism and speed. The hunch proved opportune, as Steve Kelley of The Oregonian noted that "the dangerous winger caused problems" for the home team. Mokgojoa's dazzle set up Gary Darrell in the 26th minute, providing the latter with an open blast from eight yards out. Portland keeper Mick Poole made "a strong save" to keep the match scoreless.

If not for Poole, the Dips may have put the game away in the first half. In addition to his save on Darrell, Poole twice frustrated Diplomat Ray Graydon on 2 direct volleys, one a break away in the waning seconds of the first half.

The Dips Bobby Stokes marveled at Poole's play in the opening 45 minutes. "He made three or four exceptional saves. Especially one on Paul Cannell (a point blank-blank header). I don't know how he got it. That had to be the save of a lifetime." Hyperbolise or not, Portland had managed to keep the match even. Both teams entered their respective locker rooms knowing that the 1978 season would soon be over for one of them.

The action continued fast and furious after intermission. Finally, at the 58:47 mark of the second half, Portland broke the stalemate. John Bain of the Timbers intercepted a pass deep in the Washington penalty area and slipped the ball to Brian McNeal. His one bounce shot beat Dips goalkeeper Bill Irwin, who was partially screened and did not see McNeal fire.

 This Brian McNeal shot, which came off a quick feed from John Bain, gave the Timbers a 1-0 lead.

Now ahead, the Timbers settled back on defense. There were still a little more than 30 minutes left to play, and Gordon Bradley was not concerned. "There was never a doubt in my mind we weren't going to win it," he said. "There was no question." As the minutes ticked down on the season, however, Bradley turned to some creative substitutions.

At the 76:44 mark, Andries Maseko replaced an exhausted Carmine Marcantonio. NASL rules required each team must have a minimum of 2 North American players on the field the entire game. Marcantonio was a Canadian citizen, Maseko was from South Africa. In order to field a second North American, Bradley pulled starting goalkeeper Bill Irwin of Ireland and inserted American Bob Stetler.

It was a busy night for Carmine Marcantonio.

The fresh attacker sparked new energy into the Dips. "They weren't playing organized," Portland coach Don Megson noted. "They just put people forward. They had people flying all over the place." With one minute left it seemed as if the 1978 campaign was coming to a close-- then lightning struck.

Portland midfielder John Bain, handling the ball dangerously close to the Timbers goal, "should have been thinking safety first and just hooked the ball away, but instead he sent a pass that wasn't on the same wave length with the other lads." Bain's pass was intercepted by Diplomat Ken Mokgojoa, who fired a shot into Mick Poole. The Portland goalkeeper could not control the ball, and Bobby Stokes put the rebound into the back of the net with just 30 left, "casting a pall over the Civic Stadium crowd of 14,230."

"I tried to clear the ball away and I made a bad pass that cost us a goal. I was absolutely sick about it," Bain said.

In an instant, momentum had shifted to the good guys. "The Timbers," wrote the Oregonian, "appeared to be gasping their final breaths of the season." Now the teams would play fifteen minutes of overtime. If neither team scored in the two 7 1/2 minute half's, the game would proceed to a shoot-out.

The Dips carried the momentum of Bobby Stokes' goal into the extra period, controlling the ball consistently in Timbers territory for the first six minutes. After what must have seemed an intolerable amount of time on defense, Portland was able to cross midfield and launch a counter attack which resulted in a corner kick taken by Elson Seale.

"I didn't hit the ball as well as I can," Seale said, "but I just wanted to get it in a danger area." He did.

Jim Steele and a Portland attacker both went in the air to play the ball, but neither made contact. "You hardly ever see two players go for a ball on a corner kick and not flick it one way or the other," Gordon Bradley lamented. The ball landed in front of John Bain, whose miscue allowed the Dips to tie the match in the final seconds of regulation play.                                                                                                                                            
"That guy (Bain) must have been as surprised as anyone to see the ball sitting there like that. If the ball goes anywhere else, we clear it. But it didn't and he toe-poked it in. It was a matter of the ball landing at one of their player's feet. It's luck. That was the first time Portland was down our end of the field in the overtime. Portland didn't deserve to win. They had only one way of attacking: kick the ball 40 yards up-field to (Clyde) Best, that was the extent of their offense."

Despite his disappointment, Bradley was proud of his lads. "My team showed the same character, attitude and enthusiasm it showed over 30 games this year."

Was Bradley being unnecessarily bitter? Jim Steele didn't think do. "I think they (Portland) know they were lucky. We should have won, we had so many chances. They got a break." He paused for a moment. "They were fortunate, but they're a great bunch of lads."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Assorted Stickers

Here are some of the stickers the Dips put out through the years. If I've forgotten any, please feel free to send a picture.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Bob Stetler, 1979 Preseason Match, Florida

It was always good to see Bob Stetler get some PT, even if it was an exhibition game. Note the game ball; not the signature Adidas red, white and blue star ball, but what appears to be a K-Mart special.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Danny Molendyk 1980 Jersey

Danny Molendyk's son, David, shared a photo of his father's 1980 home jersey. Thanks,  David!