A history of Toronto’s soccer clubs

Toronto’s professional soccer scene was littered with failed franchises, fragmented soccer leagues and decades upon decades of unfulfilled hopes. During the North American Soccer League (NASL) era alone, Toronto had four soccer teams, each with a different name and nearly all of them playing at different venues. League bankruptcies, name changes and general apathy from the public for professional soccer in Toronto has made following a professional soccer team in Toronto a challenge. Here’s a brief history of professional teams that have called Toronto home since the 1960’s.

Toronto City 1961-1965 and 1967

The Toronto City Soccer Club was formed in 1961, in Steve Stavro’s new soccer venture called the Eastern Canadian Professional Soccer League. The league featured full club sides from Europe coming to various cities and play their during the summer. The Toronto City club was represented by Stoke City FC, featuring the legendary English winger Sir Stanley Matthews.

They played in the new North American soccer league called the United Soccer Association (USA). For a new club, it was rather successful, drawing nearly 7,000 a game at Varsity Stadium. Toronto City played a twelve game schedule, and had a record of 4-5-3 (W-T-L). Stavro withdrew the club in 1966 after falling out with the league.

Concurrently, another club, the Toronto Falcons played in the rival North America Professional Soccer League (NPSL). They didn’t attract the crowds or the popularity that  City was gathering, drawing roughly 4,000 a game also at Varsity Stadium.

After this 1967 season, the teams and league saw the potential if both leagues merged, and thus, the two clubs joined as the Falcons in the newly former North American Soccer League for the 1968 season.

Toronto Falcons 1967-1968

The Toronto Falcons joined the NASL in 1968, and on field the product was very solid. The Falcons went .500, winning thirteen, losing thirteen, and tying six, playing out of Varsity  Stadium. While the team had to be considered successful on field, off field there were disastrous problems. The 6,000 average crowds were definitely not enough to keep this club afloat, and combined with the previous losses during its year in the NPSL, the Falcons folded after only one season in the NASL citing serious financial problems. It would take another two years before a Toronto based NASL team would appear.

Toronto Metros 1971-1974

In 1971, a new group of investors came and resurrected the concept of top level professional soccer in the city of Toronto, and the once again played at the soccer shrine that was Varsity Stadium. Managed by Scottish legend Graham Leggat, and with Canadian legend Dick Howard between the pipes at the beginning, the team started out with hard times. After one and a half seasons below .500, Leggat was sacked as manager. The team continued on struggling for the next few seasons under the leadership of Arthur Rodriguez, although they went 6-9-4 (W-T-L) in 1973.

However, there were problems with money and attendance. It was rather low, again around the 6,000 mark, and the Metros were having financial problems. Eventually it became clear that the Metros would not be able to continue in their current state. New partners were needed as soon as possible.

Toronto Metros-Croatia 1975-1978

The saviours, a group of Torontonian Croatian businessmen invest and purchase the team, and  rename them “Metros-Croatia”. The team then began a considerable upswing towards the upper echelon of the NASL. This began with the signing of world famous Portuguese superstar Eusebio. Eusebio, nicknamed the “Black Panther”, was one of the finest players in soccer history. He played in the hollowed Varsity Stadium in 1976, and was integral with the teams drive to NASL supremacy. After a poor start of the season with nine losses, the Metros-Croatia have an unprecedented run straight to the top of the NASL, and winning the Championship, the only one to ever go to Toronto.

The Metros-Croatia managed to have a strong few years in the NASL, but only drew in the range of 6,000 at the gate. A new strategy had to come in the upcoming years to lead soccer in Toronto to importance. Enter the Toronto Blizzard.

Toronto Blizzard 1979-1993

The Toronto Blizzard, easily the most popular of all Toronto soccer clubs was born in 1979 and popularity caught on from that point. In their first season alone, the average attendance shot up  to roughly 12,000. Such popularity had never been seen in the professional game in Toronto, ever. This trend continued in 1980, when the Blizzard averaged 15,000 fans at Exhibition Stadium every game.  Fans had a lot to cheer for, with Italian international Roberto Bettega, South African star Ace Ntsoelengoe along with homegrown heroes Randy Ragan, Bruce Wilson and others, were always contenders and played with great skill and passion. The Blizzard faced many great European sides in exhibition matches and fared quite well against them. In 1980, defeating great Italian side AS Roma, 1982 defeating Juventus, and in 1983 and 84 defeating Portuguese side Benfica and German side VfB Stuttgart. As well, a defeat of Scottish powerhouse Rangers in 84 capped off an impressive exhibition schedule, showing that they were able to play on the same pitch as some of these great sides.

By 1984 the Blizzard made a major imprint on the sports scene in Toronto, and with the move to Varsity had a strong supporters club at the time, nicknamed the H-Block. Although there were some bad influences in this group, on a whole the H-Block were loud and proud supporters.

The peak of the Blizzard was in 1984 when they reached the NASL finals, however, disappointingly lost the final game at home to Chicago. Future for soccer in Toronto looked bright, but then the unthinkable happened and the NASL folded. The Blizzard needed a place to play, and in 1986 found it in the NSL. That season was merely a stopover for the Blizzard because that season, the new Canadian Soccer League was formed, and the Toronto Blizzard joined. The Canadian soccer league lasted for only 5 years

However, support waned, and over time, the Blizzard and the CSL became no more, a tragic end to what was once a great soccer club.

International Friendlies

International Friendlies for Toronto City

  • ?/??/61 Toronto City 2 Reims 1
  • ?/??/61 Toronto City 4 A.E.K. Athens 1

International Friendlies for the Toronto Metros

  • 5/24/71 Toronto Metros 0 Heart of Midlothian 3
  • 7/28/71 Toronto Metros ? Appollon  ?
  • 5/31/72 Toronto Metros 0 Aberdeen 0
  • 6/21/72 Toronto Metros 0 U.S. Catanzaro 2
  • 7/05/72 Toronto Metros 2 Santos F.C. 4
  • 7/19/72 Toronto Metros 0 Werder Bremen 6
  • 8/02/72 Toronto Metros 2 Birmingham City 3
  • ?/??/7? Toronto Metros 1 Maccabi Tel Aviv 0
  • ?/??/7? Toronto Metros 2 Torpedo Moscow 1
  • 5/27/73 Toronto Metros 4 Finn Harps 0
  • 6/06/73 Toronto Metros 1 S.S. Lazio 2

International Friendlies for the Toronto Metros-Croatia

  • 1976? Toronto Metros-Croatia 1 Glasgow Rangers (18,000) ex-stad 2
  • 1976 Toronto Metros-Croatia 1 Tottenham Hotspur 0

International Friendlies for Toronto Blizzard

  • 3/05/80 Portimonense 2 Toronto Blizzard 1
  • 3/10/80 Othanense 2 Toronto Blizzard 0
  • 5/29/80 Toronto Blizzard 2 A.S. Roma 1
  • 7/31/80 Toronto Blizzard 1 Nottingham Forest 3
  • 3/11/81 Somerset Trojans 0 Toronto Blizzard 1
  • 3/16/81 Pembroke-Hamilton Club 0 Toronto Blizzard 2
  • 3/18/81 Somerset Trojans 2 Toronto Blizzard 5
  • 3/21/81 Bermuda Selects  2 Toronto Blizzard 6
  • 5/30/82 Toronto Blizzard 1 Juventus of Turin 0
  • 7/06/82 Toronto Blizzard 0 Sporting Cristal 1
  • 7/08/82 Toronto Blizzard 2 Aris 1
  • 5/31/83 Toronto Blizzard 2 Nottingham Forest 1
  • 8/07/83 Toronto Blizzard 1 Benfica 0
  • 8/11/83 Toronto Blizzard 0 Juventus of Turin 0
  • 4/04/84 Juventus of Turin 0 Toronto Blizzard 0
  • 4/07/84 Sampdoria 3 Toronto Blizzard 2
  • 4/10/84 Inter Milan 2 Toronto Blizzard 0
  • 4/12/84 Triestina 3 Toronto Blizzard 0
  • 4/18/84 Livorno 4 Toronto Blizzard 2
  • 5/21/84 Toronto Blizzard 0 Ajax Amsterdam 1
  • 6/13/84 Toronto Blizzard 2 VfB Stuttgart 0
  • 6/15/84 Toronto Blizzard 2 Glasgow Rangers 0
  • 8/05/84 Toronto Blizzard 2 Benfica 0
  • 8/08/84 Toronto Blizzard 1 Juventus of Turin 2
  • ?/??/85 Toronto Blizzard ? Everton ?
  • 5/18/86 Toronto Blizzard 1 River Plate 4
  • 8/03/86 Toronto Blizzard 0 Avellino 1
  • 8/10/87 Toronto Blizzard 1 Benfica 2
  • 5/06/89 Toronto Blizzard 0 Flamengo 2
  • 5/24/92 Toronto Blizzard ? Inter Milan ?

Toronto Soccer Club Timeline (1960’s to 1990’s)

  • Toronto City                           1961
  • Toronto City                           1962
  • Toronto City                           1963
  • Toronto City                           1964
  • Toronto City                           1965
  • No Club                                  1966
  • Toronto City                           1967
  • Toronto Falcons                      1967
  • Toronto Falcons                      1968
  • No Club                                  1969
  • No Club                                  1970
  • Toronto Metros                       1971    (NASL)
  • Toronto Metro                         1972    (NASL)
  • Toronto Metros                       1973    (NASL)
  • Toronto Metros                       1974    (NASL)
  • Toronto Metros-Croatia          1975    (NASL)
  • Toronto Metros-Croatia          1976    (NASL)
  • Toronto Metros-Croatia          1977    (NASL)
  • Toronto Metros-Croatia          1978    (NASL)
  • Toronto Blizzard                     1979    (NASL)
  • Toronto Blizzard                     1980    (NASL)
  • Toronto Blizzard                     1981    (NASL)
  • Toronto Blizzard                     1982    (NASL)
  • Toronto Blizzard                     1983    (NASL)
  • Toronto Blizzard                     1984    (NASL)
  • INEX (Toronto Blizzard)       1985    (Touring Exhibition)
  • Toronto Blizzard                     1986    (NSL)
  • Toronto Blizzard                     1987    (CSL)
  • Toronto Blizzard – 1988    (CSL)
  • Toronto Blizzard – 1989    (CSL)
  • Toronto Blizzard – 1990    (CSL)
  • Toronto Blizzard – 1991    (CSL)
  • Toronto Blizzard – 1992    (CSL)
  • Toronto Blizzard – 1993    (APSL)