Bring up the topic of indoor soccer and you’re bound to get several opinionated viewpoints on it. Many soccer fans love it. Many hate it. But no matter which side of the Atlantic you live on, the fact of the matter is that both the United States and, to a lesser degree, the United Kingdom has had an interesting history involving the indoor game.
In the United Kingdom, five-a-side football was popular when I was growing up there in the early 1980’s. I have fuzzy memories of staying up late at night to watch players from then First Division sides playing indoor football. After doing some research, the memories flooded back after reading an article about Celtic winning the annual Daily Express Five-A-Side Challenge Cup after defeating Southampton (and Saints star Kevin Keegan) at Wembley Arena.
After moving to the States in 1984, the North American Soccer League had already disbanded. In the mid-to-late 80’s, soccer was practically non-existent on US TV, but there was the occasional US national team match and Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) featuring former NASL players, young Americans and some washed up foreigners. I tried to watch it, but I never got into it no matter how big of a soccer fan I was and how rare it was to see the sport on US television during those dark years.
Fast forwarding to this weekend, indoor soccer returns to our TV screens with the Midland Masters competition featuring six-a-side teams from West Bromwich Albion, Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Birmingham City. Sky Sports 3 will be broadcasting the tournament at 8pm UK time this Saturday, June 13, 2009 — and it’ll also be broadcasted live on Setanta Sports in the United States at 3pm ET.
Some of the players participating in the tournament whose names may be familiar to you include Tony Daley (Aston Villa), Mark Kinsella (Aston Villa), Dean Saunders (Aston Villa), Bob Taylor (West Bromwich Albion), Don Goodman (Wolves), Martin O’Connor (Birmingham City) and others.
So if you’re in the mood for some nostalgia, want to see what indoor soccer is all about or if you’re jonesing to watch some football, tune in to the Midland Masters Cup this Saturday.