1976 National Soccer League

Division 1

President: Joe Piccininni

Clubs and players

A.S. Italia started the year by losing its three Canadian national team stars Paul D’Agostino, Robert Iarusci and Carmine Marcantonio. As they had played as amateurs during the 1976 season they were free to sign for any club and all three signed for the Metros-Croatia. Italia however made headlines on May 15, 1976, when they signed the great former Juventus star Jose Altafini. They also added future Canadian Olympic stars Jack Brand, Peter Roe and Tony Lawrence.

Panhellenic replaced the former Homer franchise. The failure to get the international release for several veteran players they had signed forced the club to start with eight junior players in their first game. The eigth players, all from Pauline Jets in the NSL Under-18 league, helped the Greek team to a one-nil victory over Les Castors of Montreal. Notable new players were Araquem DeMelo, a Brazilian star that lately had been playing in Greece; Pedro Kozak from Toronto Italia; South American player Alberto Gerez; Manolis Rakinzoglou and Petros Kontopoulos from Greece. Key native players were goalkeeper Tony Dallas, Telly Batakis and John Stavropoulos. After the season Fernando Barbosa joined Rochester Lancers.  

Led by the offensive play of Armando Costa and Joao Moniz the First Portuguese finished in the top half of the league.

In May the Welland Lions, formerly Hamilton City, aquired four League of Ireland players from Sligo Rovers. These four were Mick Leonard, Chris Rutherford, Graham Fox and Alan Paterson. Players joining the team from the Hamilton Croatia franchise included Bill Millar, Bill McIlveen, Don Davidson and Chris Conlon.

After their promotion Windsor Stars’ coach Roy Cheetham strengthened his team with Alan Hopes who had in total scored 28 goals for Les Castors de Montreal the previous summer. Other newcomers were Ariel Gomez Reynolds, who had played for Atletic Espanol in Mexico; Nelson Pratas from Hamilton Italo-Canadians; Doug Pollard from Ontario Selects; Tom Thompson, a Scot; Brazilians Antonio Dias Araujo and Pedro Braz, the latter known as known as Pepe. Midway through the season Cheetham fell out with the directors of the club and was replaced by former Metros-Croatia coach Ivan Markovic. Markovic led the team from eight place in the standings to a fifth place finish. They also added Stan Puskas from London City; Ivan Mrsic and Victor Batista from the Serbian White Eagles. After the season Eddy Dickson went on a trial with Stockport County in England.

At the start of the season the Serbian White Eagles was said to have a massive $100,000 pay-roll. They had signed John Dempsey of Chelsea, England; Victor Battista of Fenix, Uruguay; Pedro Martinez of Vera Cruz, Mexico; Joao da Costa of Estoril, Portugal, and Ivan Mrsic of Radnicki, Yugoslavia. Blagoje Tamindzic started the season in goal but was sold to Rochester Lancers in April. He was replaced by Dursa Stepanovic. Among the returnees were Mike Bakic and Milan Zlatar. The Eagles’ heavy investment would however lead them into many problems. On Tuesday June 26 five Serbian White Eagles players were given their releases following a league meeting. The five players were John Dempsey, Ivan Mrsic, Tony Lawrence, Victor Batista and Pedro Martinez. The club was given ten days to pay what they owed Dragan Denkovski. Dempsey returned to Chelsea, Victor Batista and Ivan Mrsic joined Windsor Stars.

Review of the season

The season kicked off on Wednesday April 29, 1976, in Hamilton. Hamilton Croatia scored two goals in the second half to tie First Portuguese 2-2. Goalscorers for Hamilton Croatia were Stejpan Loparic and Slobodan Hrstic. Goalscorers for First Portuguese were Armando Costa and Jim McLean.

Windsor Stars opened their season in Hamilton by beating Hamilton Croatia on Sunday May 2. The game was watched by 1,000 fans at Brian Timmis Stadium. Joe Vitale and Manfred Michel scored the goals for Windsor Stars.

Due to snow in Montreal the Les Castors Montreal had to switch their home game against Macadonia to Toronto on May 8.

First Division       GP W  L  T  GF GA Pts
Toronto Italia       27 17  3  7 53 13  41
Montreal Castors     27 16  6  5 47 18  37
Panhellenic          27 15  5  7 46 19  37
First Portuguese     27 14  8  5 51 27  33
Windsor Stars        27 11 10  6 47 31  28
London City          27 10  9  8 44 40  28
Serbian White Eagles 27 10 11  6 38 48  26
Macedonia            27  8 14  5 33 49  21
Hamilton Croatia     27  4 20  3 26 68  11
Welland Lions        27  3 22  2 18 88   8
  
Leading goalscorers                   Goals
(as of August 9, 1976)
Saban Romanovic (Serbian White Eagles)  9  
Mike Bakic (Serbian White Eagles)       8 
  
Play-offs semi-finals
October ??, 1976
First Portuguese 2
Toronto Italia 0

October 4, 1976 Lamport Stadium, Toronto
First Portuguese 2 (Armando Costa 2)
Toronto Italia 1 (John Fahy)
First Portuguese won two-game total-goals semi-finals