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Hamilton Steelers (1981–1992)

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Hamilton Steelers
Founded1981
Dissolved1992
StadiumBrian Timmis Stadium
Capacity5000
OwnerMario DiBartolomeo
LeagueCSL
CPSL
NSL

The Hamilton Steelers were a Canadian soccer team in Hamilton, Ontario that competed in the original Canadian Soccer League, the original Canadian Professional Soccer League, National Soccer League and the Challenge Trophy. The club played mainly out of Brian Timmis Stadium, which was adjacent to Ivor Wynne Stadium.[1]

History

Pre-history

In 1954, the Hamilton Italo-Canadian Soccer Club was founded and in 1958, they joined the National Soccer League.[2] In 1961, the team changed names and became known as the Hamilton Steelers and moved to the Eastern Canada Professional Soccer League.[2][3] In 1964, the club was renamed the Hamilton Primos Soccer Club and returned to the NSL in 1967 following the NSL-ECPSL amalgamation.[4] The club folded after the 1967 season.[5]

Club history

National Soccer League (NSL)
This edition of the Hamilton Steelers was formed in 1981 by Mario DiBartolomeo and joined the National Soccer League.[6] The team was an off-shoot of the Hamilton Italo-Canadians that had competed in the NSL from 1972 to 1979, after which they had taken a leave of absence. When DiBartolemeo's partners decided to not return, he formed the Steelers on his own in 1981, choosing the name to give the club more of a Canadian identity.[7]

They captured the league triple crown in their inaugural season in the NSL winning the regular season, playoff, and league cup titles.[7] In 1982, they finished in second place during the regular season, but advanced to the playoff championship final where they defeated Toronto Italia to win their second consecutive title.[8]

Canadian Professional Soccer League (CPSL)
In 1983, the Steelers decided to join the new national professional league, Canadian Professional Soccer League.[6] Their first match was on May 22 against the Edmonton Eagles, in which they were defeated by the visiting side 2-1 in front of approximately 4,000 fans at Ivor Wynne Stadium.[9] After several draws and losses, the Steelers won their first game in the CPSL on June 15, when they defeated Inter-Montréal.[9] This league proved to be unsuccessful, unable to complete its first season fully, lasting only 73 days in total.[10] After two teams, folded mid-season, the remaining teams suspended the remainder of the season, and initiated a playoffs to determine a champion. After finishing in second at the time of the regular season suspension, Hamilton defeated Mississauga Croatia in the semi-finals, before falling to the Edmonton Eagles in the championship match.[11]

The Steelers fielded a reserve team in the NSL and some players returned to play for the NSL Steelers after the CPSL folded mid-season.[9]

Return to Amateur and Challenge Trophy
Following the CPSL folding in 1983, the Steelers returned to the amateur league and won the 1986 Ontario Cup as provincial champions.[6] As a result, they qualified for the national tournament, where they won the 1986 Challenge Trophy after defeating Vancouver Croatia 1-0 in the final.[6]The Hamilton Steelers also won the Challenge Trophy, Canada's national amateur soccer cup in 1986.[12]

Canadian Soccer League
In 1987, they returned to professional status, joining the new national Canadian Soccer League as one of the original eight teams.[13][14] In the league's inaugural season, they won the East Division and advanced to the playoff final where they were defeated by Calgary.[6][14] This began a recurring pattern for Hamilton. During the 1988 and 1989 seasons, they repeated as East Division champions, and advanced to the championship finals, where they were defeated by the Vancouver 86ers both years.[14] In 1990, they failed to win their division for the first time, but they nevertheless advanced to the CSL Championship final for the fourth consecutive year, but for the third year in a row, they were defeated by the 86ers.[6] Following the retirement of league commissioner Dale Barnes in 1991, Steelers owner Mario DiBartolomeo became the interim league president ahead of the 1991 season.[15] In 1991, the Steelers failed to advance to the championship final for the first time, losing in the semi-finals.[14]

Following the 1991 season, the club folded due to financial difficulties,[14] despite offers of cost sharing with the Vancouver and Montreal team owners.[16]

Future of Hamilton soccer
In 2019, professional soccer returned to the city of Hamilton with the founding of the Canadian Premier League. The Hamilton Steelers name had been trademarked as a potential name for the franchise,[17][18] which was ultimately named Forge FC.[19]

Seasons

Season Tier League Record Rank Playoffs Ref
1981 2 National Soccer League 16–1–3 1st Champions [20]
1982 9–5–4 2nd Champions
1983[note 1] 1 Canadian Professional Soccer League 4–4–4 2nd Finalists
1983[note 2] 2 National Soccer League (Hamilton B team) 5–4–18 8th Did not qualify [9]
1984 Operated at the amateur level
1985
1986
1987 1 Canadian Soccer League 10–6–4 1st, East Finalists [20]
1988 18–6–4 1st, East Finalists
1989 15–7–4 2nd, East Finalists
1990 10–9–7 3rd, East Finalists
1991 14–4–10 4th Semi-Finals
  1. ^ The 1983 CPSL regular season was cancelled partway through the season and playoffs began immediately after it
  2. ^ The Steelers operated a reserve team in the NSL during the 1983 season

Notable players

See also

References

  1. ^ "Tim Hortons Field". Forge FC.
  2. ^ a b "Hamilton Italo-Canadians". theCNSL.com.
  3. ^ Gzowski, Peter (July 25, 1964). "The rise and decline (more's the pity) of big-time Canadian soccer". Maclean's.
  4. ^ "The pros brought promise that never came to fruition". Hamilton Soccer. Archived from the original on February 7, 2019.
  5. ^ "1967 Season". theCNSL.com.
  6. ^ a b c d e f "Our Full Story". Hamilton Soccer.
  7. ^ a b "1981 Hamilton Steelers - Team of Distinction". Hamilton Soccer Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on September 24, 2020.
  8. ^ "1982 Season". theCNSL.com.
  9. ^ a b c d "1983 Season". theCNSL.com.
  10. ^ Huntley, E.J. 73 Days - The Story of the Canadian Professional Soccer League. Kindle.
  11. ^ "Canada - Canadian Professional Soccer League". RSSSF.
  12. ^ "Miscellany". The Montreal Gazette. October 15, 1986.
  13. ^ Van Diest, Derek (April 27, 2019). "Professional soccer league fills massive void for game in Canada". Edmonton Sun.
  14. ^ a b c d e "Hamilton Steelers (1987-91)". CSL Memories.
  15. ^ "1991 CSL Stats" (PDF). Canadian Soccer League.
  16. ^ Stinson, Dan (October 7, 1992). "Ilich's bankbook kept CSL on the field". The Vancouver Sun Newspaper via ProQuest Canadian Newsstream Database. Vancouver, BC. pp. D12. Retrieved November 2, 2017.
  17. ^ "Hamilton soccer team names trademarked, 'Hamilton Steelers' among them". CBC. October 14, 2016.
  18. ^ "Hamilton named a founding city for Canadian pro soccer league". CBC. May 7, 2017.
  19. ^ McIsaac, Greg; Gogishvili, Aaron (July 12, 2018). "Forge FC unveiled as Hamilton's Canadian Premier League Club". Canadian Premier League.
  20. ^ a b "Hamilton Steelers". Canadian Soccer History Archives.
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Hamilton Steelers (1981–1992)
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