The ROWDIES are here, the ROWDIES are there ... a kick in the grass. The 1970's theme song was a hit in the early days of Florida's permier sports teams. Before the Rowdies, the only professional franchise in the Sunshine State was an obsecure ABA basketball team and the NFL Miami Dolphins.
But all that changed in 1975 - when the NASL awarded a franchise to the city of Tampa. By 1976, the Rowdies were the most popular team in Florida. The New York Cosmos signed the legendary PELE' to a multimillion dollar contract. It is no secret this is what prompted baseball's N.Y. Yankees to do the same with Jim "Catfish" Hunter - the first million dollar player in MLB.
But the Rowdies went out and got a wild one ... the quick witted, clown prince of soccer - RODNEY MARSH. A superstar in England, best selling author by age 20, and the hero of the stadium terraces. HE - came to Tampa Bay.
When the Rowdies opened their 2010 season at Steinbrenner Field on May 8th - the fans were introduced to 10 of the original Rowdies. Rodney was one of those in attendance. I did not hesitate to have him autograph his 1977 Topps card and his 1967 Autobiography.
While I was at it, I added to my 1990 ProSet England soccer cards with former Everton and Manchester City star - Adrian Heath. Heath is now the head coach of the visiting Austin Aztex. This was my 3rd signed Manchester City player in this set.
This is not you father's NASL - but the teams are young and exciting. Hopefully, there will be more collectables on the horizon.