1969 National Soccer League

President: Joe Piccininni
Directors: Zoltan Czimbalmos, Harry Bogdanow and Nick Martel
Secretary-treasurer: Conrad Schmidt

Annual general meeting

At the annual meeting at the Seaway Hotel, on Saturday March 8, 1969, Alderman Joseph Piccininni was elected president of the NSL. He replaced Bill Boytchuk who had been president of the league for seven years. Windsor Teutonia dropped out from the previous season and the National League added five teams before the season to become a fourteen-team league. New clubs were Italia, London, Arsenal Oakville, Hamilton Homer and Montreal Inter Italia.

Clubs and players

With the demise of the Toronto Falcons of the NASL a new Italia team was formed in Toronto and were led off the field by Gino Ventresca and on the field by player-coach Anders Yrfelt. However they failed to capture the interest of the Italian community. The club only drew a total of 4,566 fans and folded after the season.

First Portuguese was coached by Artur Rodrigues. Portugese’s main attraction was former Belenenses and Portugal star Matateu. Matateu had played in 27 internationals and scored 13 goals for the Portugal. He was born in the same town in Mozambique and had a similar path to Portugal as fellow Portuguese star Eusebio. He was twice top scorer in the Portuguese first division. After leaving Belenenses in 1964 he played for several smaller teams in Portugal until he went over to Canada and signed for First Portuguese. Matateu continued to play until the age of 50 and retired from soccer in 1978. He died in Victoria, British Columbia in January 2000.

Review of the season

The season started with a crowd of 6,000 attending the opening game between Italia and Hellas. Of these a healthy 5,348 paid to get in. With no professional team left in Toronto, the semi-pro league enjoyed success at the gate and already after six weeks more attendance marks had passed the 1969 total of 23,700. First Portuguese were the biggest success taking $18,000 at the gate, double of what number two Hellas took in.

The league kept their semi-pro status with players recieving an average of $30 a game plus bonuses for wins and ties. In an interview during the season with the Toronto Star, Croatia’s Marijan Bilic compared the league with the third division in Yugoslavia and added that the league only had about 14-15 good players. Croatia represented the 15,000 ethnic Croatians living in Toronto. A notable addition to the Croatia squad was Alija Solak from Yugoslavian side Famos. The club was suspended as the result of linesman George Bailey suffering broken ribs on August 23. Toronto Croatia put up a $1,000 bond with the Ontario Football Association as part of the reinstatement.

On Tuesday September 2 the largest crowd of the season, nearly 7,000, watched First Portuguese and Toronto Hellas tie 1-1. The two teams were leading the league with 27 points each.

In their final game of the season, First Portuguese won the league title when they beat Toronto Hungaria 2-0 on October 9. More than 4,000 fans watched the game. The victory gave First Portuguese a total of 38 points for the season.

Total attendance for the year was 84,000

NSL All-Stars

The NSL All-Stars played two exhibtion matches this season. In the first match they lost 7-3 to the touring Hungarian team Ferencvaros, the All-Stars led 3-2 at the interval. In the second match they played Rochester Lancers at Aquinas Stadium in Rochester. The Lancers won the match 3-1 in front of 650 fans, their lowest gate of the season.

Sudbury Italia, Toronto Italia, Arsenal and Montreal Italia dropped out after the season.

League table (as of July 18, 1969)
                 GP W  T  L   GF  GA Pts
Toronto Croatia  13  8  2  3  26  15  18
Toronto Hellas   14  7  4  3  26  20  18
First Portuguese 11  7  2  2  22  11  16
Toronto Italia   13  7  2  4  30  21  16
Sudbury Italia   11  7  1  3  27  15  15
White Eagles     12  7  1  4  24  21  15
Hungaria         10  4  5  1  16   8  13
Ukraina           8  4  0  4  15  14   8
Montreal Inter    9  3  2  3  12  17   8
German-Canadians 10  2  3  5  13  16   7
Arsenal Port.    10  2  2  6  12  26   6
Kitchener        13  2  2  9  16  29   6
Olympia          11  2  1  8  16  29   5   
Hamilton Homer   11  1  3  7   6  19   5

League champions: First Portuguese  

Leading goalscorers (as of July 18, 1969)
1. John Ognanjac (White Eagles)   9 goals
2. Anders Yrfelt (Toronto Italia) 8 goals 
League MVP
Bill Scott (Hamilton Homer)

NSL League Cup Final
October 26, 1969 Toronto
Toronto Italia 2
Toronto Hungaria 1