1995 Canadian National Soccer League

Annual general meeting

Before the season started the league dropped the two Montreal franchises, Croatia and Ramblers, in order to reduce travelling costs. The league added the Hamilton White Eagles. Returning teams were London City, Scarborough Astros, St. Catharines Roma, Toronto Italia and Toronto Jets.

The league started using the three points for a win, one point for a draw system for the first time.

Clubs and players

Hamilton White Eagles

Stadium: Brian Timmis Stadium, Hamilton
General manager: Boge Miceski
Head Coach: Lucio Bravo
Key players: Goalkeeper Goran Beader; defender Gary Tennant; forward Sasa Vukovic

London City

Founded: February 14, 1973
Stadium: Cove Road Field, London
General manager: Harry Paul Gauss
Head Coach: Harry Paul Gauss
Key players: Goalkeepers Fedja Dimitrov and Craig Sinnott; defenders Jeff Brown, Shawn Taggart and Paul Hillman; midfielders Tonino Commisso and Andrew Logaue; forwards Nathan Eldridge and John Bottineau.

St. Catharines Wolves

Founded: 1967
Stadium: Club Roma Field, St. Catharines
General manager:
Head Coach: Mark Konert
Key players: Goalkeepers Dino Perri and Lee Burrows; defender Broomes McIver; midfielders Chris Handsor and Lucio Ianiero; forward Tom Bernardi

Scarborough Astros

Founded: November 23, 1990 as North York Atletico Argentina Soccer Club
Stadium: Birchmount Stadium, Scarborough
Owner and general manager: Bruno Ierullo
Head coach: Jorge Armua
Key players: Goalkeeper Paulo Silva; defenders Rene Martin and Kevin Galindo; midfielder Basil Hanna; forwards Gary Deleon and Rick Titus

Toronto Italia

Stadium: Etobicoke Centennial Stadium, Toronto
General manager:
Head coach: David Gee
Key players: Goalkeeper Roman Harapyn; defenders Peyvand Mossavat, Jens Kraemer and Franco Spadafina; midfielders Lalo Maradona, Mike Mazza and Mike Palmiotta; forwards Jin Rii and Ryan Gamble

Toronto Jets

Stadium: Esther Shiner Stadium, North York
General manager:
Head coach: Vincent Solomita
Key players: Goalkeeper Joe Ciaravino; defenders Richard Alexander and Tom Perks; midfielders Jack Zomparelli, Miguel Ferreira, Gavin Houston and Orlando Rizzo; forwards Michele Gioia and Robert Marcucci

Review of the season

The big headline before the start of the season was the signing of Maradona, not Diego, but his brother Raul Alfredo (Lalo). Lalo had a bright start in soccer with Boca Juniors in Argentina and then was signed by Spanish club Granada. Failing to live up to his older brother’s level he soon found himself drifting around in the soccer world, palying in Japan, Venezuela, the United States and also playing futsal.

Other noticeable signings in the NSL before the season were Iraqi midfielder Basil Gorgis Hanna by the Scarborough Astros and Cameroon sweeper Patrice Tobo by Toronto Italia. Hanna played in Iraq’s three matches in the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Before joining the Astros he had been playing local soccer in Toronto for Nineveh Star. Patrice Tobo had played in Cameroon’s first division.

The CNSL opened what they said was its 73rd season on Friday May 26, 1995 at the Cove Road Field in London. The season opener, played between London City and Scarborough Astros ended in a 1-0 win for City. Toronto Italia opened its season against the Hamilton White Eagles on May 29. Lalo Maradona had a goalscoring debut getting Italia’s final goal in the 3-1 win.

Mark Konert led the St. Catharines Wolves to all three titles. Wolves winning the league championship, the league play-offs and the Umbro Cup final. Konert won the NSL Coach-of-the-Year award and Chris Handsor was voted league MVP. The awards night was held on November 17th at the City of North York Council Chambers. Other winners were Rookie-of-the-Year John Bottineau (London City) and Goalie-of-the-Year Joe Ciaravino (Toronto Jets)

The highlight of the season was the exhibition match between the CNSL All-Stars and Parma of Italy. Parma had won the 1994-95 UEFA Cup and featured world class stars like Dino Baggio, Gianfranco Zola, Hristov Stoickov and Inzhaghi. The match was played at Varsity Stadium and was watched by more than 17,000 fans, with Parma winning 5-0. Rocket Robin in his summary of the match on his website in 1995 considered Lalo Maradona to be the only CNSL player to be world class. As he ”constantly set up De Leon with passes at midfield. Parma had the finishing touches needed though”. 

After the season the Hamilton White Eagles joined the Puma League that had been formed in Toronto in 1995. Toronto Jets merged with Toronto Italia.

1995 CNSL All-Star XI

Dino Perri (St. Catharines Wolves); Rene Martin (Scarborough Astros), Jeff Brown (London City), Shawn Taggart (London City), Tom Perks  (Toronto Jets); Chris Handsor (St. Catharines Wolves), Jack Zomparelli (Toronto Jets), Orlando Rizzo (Toronto Jets), Lucio Ianiero (St. Catharines Wolves); John Bottineau (London City), Gary Deleon (Scarborough Astros)

Results and standings

NSL Playoff Finals
October 30, 1995 St. Catharines
St. Catharines Wolves 1
Toronto Jets 1
November 2, 1995 Esther Shiner Stadium, North York
St. Catharines Wolves 2
Toronto Jets 1

St. Catharines Wolves won the series

Umbro Cup Finals 
October 10, 1995 St. Catharines
St. Catharines Wolves 0
Scarborough Astros 0
October 15, 1995 Birchmount Stadium, Scarborough
Scarborough Astros 0
St. Catharines Wolves 0
After two 0-0 draws St. Catharines Wolves won 3-0 on a shootout in the last game.

Exhibition game
August 13, 1995 Varsity Stadium, Toronto
Attendance: 18,000
CNSL All-Stars 0
Parma (Italy) 5
CNSL: Paulo Silva, Rene Martin, Franco Spadafina, Richard Alexander, Chris Handsor, Brown, Jack Zomparelli, Lucio Ianierio, Peyvand Mossavat, Lalo Maradona, Gary DeLeon 
Parma: Luca Bucci, Benarrivo, Apolloni, Minotti, Alberto, Sesini, Dino Baggio, Pripa, Hristo Stoichkov, Gianfranco Zola, Filippo Inzhagi