It’s always refreshing to see the tables turned. While English football clubs have been coming over to the United States to play pre-season friendlies for, off and on, a few decades, it’s seldom that US teams conduct their own tours of England. One exception was in 1980 when NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies conducted a tour in the autumn of 1980.
After winning the European Cup for the second year in a row, Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest played a friendly at the City Ground against Tampa Bay Rowdies on October 13, 1980 (see above photo for the programme cover). Forest won the match 7-1.
On that same tour, Tampa Bay played Luton, Birmingham City, Linfield, St Mirren and Hereford. The only match the Rowdies won on that tour was against Luton.
That same year, Nottingham Forest returned the favor by playing a friendly against Tampa Bay Rowdies at Tampa Stadium (see photo below of Mike Connell and Manny Andruszewski in action against Nottingham Forest’s Kenny Burns).
Two years later, Ipswich Town — who had won the UEFA Cup in 1981 and came second in the league in 1982 — were the opposition for the Rowdies, again at Tampa Stadium.
In the photograph below, Tampa’s Wes McLeod take a shot against the Ipswich goalkeeper.
Last but not least is a photograph of the Tampa Bay Rowdies against Detroit Express from a NASL game in 1979 featuring Tampa’s Manny Andruszewski (left) trying to steal the ball away from Trevor Francis. During his time at Detroit, where he was on loan from Birmingham City, Francis scored 22 goals in 19 games. Just months later, Francis would become the very first English footballer to be sold for £1 million.