Stern, Foulkes and Hill

A Brief History of the Chicago Sting: Part 1

The Chicago Sting were the dream child of Lee Stern, a leading Chicago broker who in 1974 took a not inexpensive gamble that his hometown would accept football as a major league sport. And he wouldn’t be without competition for the Chicago public’s sports dollar as the city already had five major sports franchises in the shape of the Bears (American Football), Cubs and White Sox (Baseball), Blackhawks (Ice Hockey) and Bulls (Basketball). He applied for, and won, a franchise with the North American Soccer League and the Sting were born on 31-10-1974.

Stern turned to England for a coach in the shape of ‘Busby Babe’ Bill Foulkes, the former Manchester United defender. Foulkes built a team of predominantly British players (there were 10 in the 1975 squad and 11 in ’76 and ’77) including Gordon Hill who would later win 6 England caps and play over a hundred games for Manchester United including the 1976 FA Cup Final. In Chicago he hit six goals in the Sting’s inaugural season and firmly established himself as a fan’s favourite.

In the summer of 1975 a sparse crowd of 4,500 watched the Sting’s very first home game and as it began so it continued with an average that year of around the 4,000 mark – although close to 14,000 did turn out to see the Sting take on the 1974 Polish World Cup team in a friendly.

The Sting missed out on the playoffs by a single point losing the final game of the season in a penalty shoot-out (Hill missing his attempt).

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