It was the Summer of Love, Scott McKenzie’s “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair)” was working its way up the Billboard charts in the United States, and the city’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood was becoming the epicenter of the Flower Power movement.
Perfect timing then for the Scottish soccer team Hibernian, playing under the guise of Toronto City, to arrive in Northern California for their United Soccer Association clash with the Golden Gate Gales, or Dutch side ADO Den Haag, on June 4, 1967. The Edinburgh-based side soon found themselves among friends and friendly strangers.
“We were training in a park one day and this guy appeared wearing a bandana round his head,” former defender and club legend Pat Stanton recalled.
“Hey man, what’s all this man?” the conspicuously dressed passer-by asked trainer Tom McNiven as the players carried out their stretching exercises. McNiven froze, unsure how to respond.
“The guy was very nice,” Stanton said. “But he was definitely away somewhere else.”
The Scottish owner of San Francisco’s Edinburgh Castle bar, which still exists today in the Tenderloin district, arranged a fleet of cars to drive the touring players around the city’s major attractions. They saw Chinatown, Fisherman’s Wharf and the Golden Gate Bridge, but forward Jimmy O’Rourke baffled his teammates with his strangely intense glares toward a busload of convicts emerging from the main gate at the infamous San Quentin State Prison.
“I’m just trying to see if there’s anyone from Clermiston on it,” O’Rourke explained, referring to the Edinburgh housing estate where he grew up.
Only 3,853 fans attended Kezar Stadium to witness the joust between Bob Shankly’s Scots and Ernst Happel’s Dutchmen. Happel would go on to lead Feyenoord and Hamburg to the European Cup, making him the first head coach to win the prize with two separate clubs, but he was outmaneuvered by Liverpool legend Bill Shankly’s elder brother on this occasion.
A penalty kick from Joe Davis and a rare Stanton goal sealed a 2-0 win for Toronto against a San Francisco team with teenage midfielder Dick Advocaat on the substitutes’ bench.
“Summer Of ’67: Flower Power, Race Riots, Vietnam and the Greatest Soccer Final Played on American Soil” by Ian Thomson charts the story of the 1967 USA tournament. Former Hibernian trio Peter Cormack, Colin Grant and Pat Stanton are among the participants from eight clubs that recall the capers, the gimmicks, the celebrity brushes and the games that provided them with the trip of a lifetime.
The book is set for release through Amazon.com in July 2013. For further updates, follow @SoccerObserver on Twitter or ‘The Soccer Observer’ on Facebook.
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