The Manning Bowl in the northern Boston suburb of Lynn is back in business as an American soccer venue.
Former National Premier Soccer League side Mass United F.C. has announced that it will play its home games at the historic site, now known as Manning Field, after becoming a founding member of the amateur American Soccer League.
Former NFL franchise the Boston Yanks were the first professional sports team to call the Manning Bowl home during its short-lived run in the 1940s. The stadium, completed in 1938, was mainly used as a high school football field with occasional usage for events ranging from a memorial mass for President John F. Kennedy to the first night of the Rolling Stones’ 1966 North American tour.
Boston Bruins president Weston Adams Sr. brought soccer to the Manning Bowl in 1967 when Ireland’s Shamrock Rovers represented his Boston Shamrock Rovers franchise during the inaugural United Soccer Association tournament.
The Irish part-timers were largely out of their depth against professional sides from England, Scotland, Italy and the Netherlands. They slumped to a 0-6-3 record ahead of the team’s final home game against the Houston Stars, represented by Rio de Janeiro state champions Bangu, on July 2, 1967.
Almost 6,000 fans braved lashing rain to see if the plucky Dubliners could finally get a win. Goals from Bobby Gilbert, Billy Dixon and player-coach Liam Tuohy earned an impressive 3-1 victory for the hosts after Jaime had given the Stars an early lead.
Houston’s players were not the only South Americans on the sodden field. Brazilian-born forward Carlos Metidieri was foisted upon the Irishmen after signing a contract with Boston for the 1968 season. Metidieri failed to make an impression upon the tourists. He later won back-to-back North American Soccer League Player of the Year awards after ending the 1970 and 1971 seasons as the league’s top goalscorer during his time with the Rochester Lancers.
The Manning Bowl hosted its final game in November 2004 when the town’s English and Classical high schools met in their traditional Thanksgiving Day clash. The facility has since been downsized and fitted with modern amenities for players, spectators and the media.
“Joining ASL is a magnificent opportunity,” said Mass United chief executive Jim Antonakas in a press release. “We’re very excited to be ushering in a new age of soccer that we feel will be good not only for Mass United but for soccer in North America as a whole.”
The American Soccer League commences in August with a split-season schedule following the FIFA calendar. Teams based in the northeastern United States will play up to 12 games by the end of November and a similar amount in the spring.
“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 United Soccer Association tournament and features interviews with two of the Shamrock Rovers players that represented Boston.
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