1978 National Soccer League

President: John Fischer
Secretary: Job Jones


Chief-referee: Larry Naccarato

Referees: Frank Pavicic, Nevio Novacco (Chatham, Ontario), Phil Clarke (London, Ontario) and Larry Naccarato

Annual general meeting

At the Annual General Meeting held in Sudbury on March 5, 1978, John Fischer was named president of the NSL. 44 years old at the time and from Kitchener he was also a director of non-amateur and professional soccer in Canada. He succeeded 56-year old Joseph Piccininni who stepped down after 12 years as president.

Toronto Macedonia surrendered its franchise at the meeting. Owner Dr. Dragi Denkowski wanted to sell his teams first division franchise rights to second division Club Montreal Stars, but this was refused by the league.

Toronto Ukraina returned to the NSL and played in the second division.

Clubs and players

Buffalo Blazers

Founded: 1976
Stadium: War Memorial Stadium, Buffalo, New York; Hyde Park Stadium, Niagara Falls, New York
President: Anthony Bodami
Head Coach: Sam Buscarino

Roster included goalkeepers Bran McLaughlin and Alan Giangreco; defenders John Priest, John Freitas and Robert Gemert; Al Lawrence; forwards David Sarachan and Emanuel Kulu.

After the season Dave Sarachan joined Pittsburgh Spirit in the Major Indoor Soccer League.

First Portuguese

Founded: September 23, 1956
Head coach: Benvindo Assis Viola

Roster included goalkeeper Tony Dallas; defender Rodney Desmeules; forwards Armando Costa and John Hold.

Firts Portuguese were coached by former Belenenses- and Farense-player Benvindo Assis Viola.

Hamilton Italo-Canadians
Head Coach: Frank Donlavey

Roster included goalkeepers Ardo Perri and Victor Petrini; defenders James Sinclair and Kevin Gant; forwards Stewart McBean and Valdi Greco.
Former NSL and NASL player Frank Donlavey coached the Hamilton Italo-Canadians to the play-off finals. The team was strengthened by the signing of Stewart McBean, formerly of London City and Scottish club St. Johnstone.

London City

Founded: February 14, 1973
Stadium: Cove Road Field, London, Ontario
President: Markus Gauss
General manager: Harry Gauss
Head coach: Graham Sawyer

Roster included goalkeepers Bob Simko and Dieter Wolters; midfielders Dave Jennings and Graham Sawyer; forward John Hold

On March 14, 1978 London City hired 34-year old Graham Sawyer as their head coach.

Veteran German keeper Dieter Wolters and 18-year old Bob Simko shared the goalkeeping duties. Other players were Paul Ellison, Clive Adams, Raymond Taylor and Paul Smith.

Montreal Castors (Les Castors de Montreal)

Founded: 1975
Stadium: Claude Robillard Stadium, Montreal
Owner: Tony Iammatteo
Head coach:

Roster included goalkeeper Blagoje Tamindzic; defenders Sal Vetrano, Antonio Barros, Renato Cila and Chris Horrocks; midfielders Jose Marconi, Graham Byford and Tibor Molnar; forwards Sergio Ianniculli, Denys Courage, Sergio Clerici, Jose Testas and Gordon Wallace.

After winning the league championship the Castors decided not to take part in the play-offs or the NSL Cup. Despite the success on the field, the club lost almost $250.000 in 1978. They averaged about 1,000 for their home league games. The club spent heavily to build a strong team only to see their best players depart to the NASL without the club recieving any compensation. Owner Tony Iammatteo applied for a franchise in the North American Soccer League but this was rejected by the NASL. After the season Montreal Castors asked for a one-year leave of absence but never returned.

Ottawa Tigers

Founded: 1965
Stadium: Lansdowne Park, Ottawa
Player coach: Tommy Henderson

Roster included goalkeepers Wilner Piquant, Tony de Curtis and Dimitri Senis; defenders Louidor Labissieri and Mick Wharton; midfielders Gordon Armstrong, Manfred Michel, Tommy Henderson and Steve Matthews; forwards Billy Telford, Ilyasa Sykes and Robert Lacossade.

Tommy Henderson was the player coach of the team. Returning players from the 1977 season were Bill Telford, Henderson, Nino Flamini, Marino De Bellis, Steve Matthews, Mick Wharton and Robert Lacossade. Barry Friend returned after a one year absence. Tigers also signed two star players from Haiti, goalkeeper Wilner Piquant and fullback Louidor Labissieri. Dimitri Senis, from Kingston, was Tigers’ back-up goalie.


Founded: 1976
Head Coach:

Roster included goalkeeper Peter Draga; fullback John Stavropoulos; forwards Dennis D’Hugo, Saban Romanovic and Luis Alberto.

After the season Luis Alberto joined Rochester Lancers in the North American Soccer League.

Toronto Croatia

Founded: 1956
Head Coach:

Roster included goalkeeper John Saric; forward George Watts

Toronto Falcons
Founded: 1975
Head Coach:

Roster included defender Krzysztof Reszny; midfielder Adam Popowicz; forward Zygfryd Szoltysik.

Led by strong imports from Poland the Toronto Falcons finsihed third.

Toronto Italia

Founded: 1972
General manager: Joe Vaccari
Head Coach: Bill Clarkin replaced by Fiorigi Pagliuso

Roster included goalkeeper Enzo DiPede; defender Bob McAvan; Gino Schiraldi, Dave Currie; forwards Gerry McCabe, Mike Burke and Sid Nolan.

Before the season started Toronto Italia according to the Toronto Star boldly announced that they would “sink or swim with Canadian players”. At the time they had only five returnees from the previous season and aimed to get young college players to fill out the roster. The goalscoring of Mike Burke and Sid Nolan helped them to fifth place finish.

After the season had finished Italia dropped out of the league. Sid Nolan joined Pittsburgh Spirit in the Major Indoor Soccer League

Windsor Stars

Founded: 1975
Stadium: Windsor Stadium, Windsor and Wigle Park, Windsor
General manager:
Player Coach: Pedro daSilva

Roster included goalkeepers John Licata and Dimitrios Sirigos; defenders Jose Cuevas and Eddie Dickson; midfielders Manfred Michel, Nenad Jokic, Joe Martire and Pedro daSilva; Tony Gonsalves, forwards Jorge (George) Bran, Rodrigues Pena and Ian Guthrie.

Windsor Stars had a team payroll of $60,000 but struggled on with low attendances at their matches. After the season the Stars decided to take a one-year leave of absence after losing $300,000 since 1975. The franchise however did not return.

Review of the season

The opening games of the 1978 season was played on Sunday May 7. In Toronto First Portuguese and London City tied 1-1. John Hold scored for London City and Joao Moniz for the Portuguese club. In Buffalo Toronto Croatia defeated the Blazers 2-1. Montreal Castors played their opening game at Robillard Stadium. In front of 4,000 fans they defeated Panhellenic 2-1.

Hamilton Italo-Canadians opened their 1978 NSL season by beating Buffalo Blazers 6-0 on Wednesday night May 10. Gabriele Cortellucci scored two of the goals.

On Sunday July 16 the game between Buffalo Blazers and Windsor Stars was cancelled when members of the visiting team was detained at the border.

Montreal Castors won the league championship. After winning the league championship the Castors decided not to take part in the play-offs or the NSL Cup.

Toronto Falcons won the playoff championship.

At the end of the season London City and Buffalo Blazers were relegated to the second division.  St. Catharines Roma, St. Catharines Heidelberg and Sudbury Cyclones were promoted from the Second Division to the First Division. The NSL would however operate with only a First Division in the 1979 season.

After the season Montreal Castors asked for a one-year leave of absence but never returned.

Results and standings

National Soccer League Play-offs:
September ??, 1978
Toronto Falcons 1
First Portuguese 0
September 20, 1978 Lamport Stadium
Toronto Falcons 0
First Portuguese 0
Toronto Falcons won the two-game, total-goal series
Montreal Castors vs Hamilton Italo-Canadians
Hamilton Italo-Canadians won on default.

September 22, 1978 Lamport Stadium
Toronto Falcons
Hamilton Italo-Canadians
September 24, 1978 Ivor Wynne Stadium
Hamilton Italo-Canadians
Toronto Falcons
Toronto Falcons won the NSL play-offs championship

National Soccer League Cup Finals
Toronto Falcons won over Hamilton Italo-Canadians

Exhibition games

July 26, 1978 Toronto
Panhellenic 2 (Dennis D’Hugo 2)
Lusitano (Portugal) 0