The whirlwind adventures of the NASL’s Dallas Tornado: Memories with footballer Jan Book
WST: The next stop was Iran. What was it like playing there?
JB: At that time in history, the Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and his wife Farah, ruled Persia (Iran). We played during the preparation for the “Crowning “, to make them “King of Kings”. The entire country was in a festive mood. People were happy and friendly. The team was welcomed and popular wherever we played and visited. Hard to believe that only a decade later, the American Embassy was attacked and 52 American diplomats were held hostage for 444 days. Our only complaints playing in Iran were the local referees being used for all of our games. It was impossible to win. Even if we were ahead after 90 minutes of play, the referee would not blow the final whistle, until Iran had scored to tie the game, or win the game.
WST: There was a player called Graham Stirland on the tour at that point. What happened to him?
JB: Mr. Kap decided that Graham did not live up to the quality of play that was required. Therefore he was sent back to his home country England, when we arrived in Teheran. Since Bob Kap was the only coach and manager during the entire the World Tour, his expectations on the field, as well as off the field, was very high. We were 16 young talented single players, all under 21 years of age, with one adult, Bob Kap. No team doctor, assistant coaches, trainers or anyone else.
WST: Following your game in Iran you had some matches in Pakistan, Bangladesh and India. The border crossing from Bangladesh to India was interesting to say the least. What are your recollections?
JB: At the time, Pakistan and India was at war with each other. It was very difficult to cross the borders from one country to the other, without Visas and government documentation.
While trying to cross the border it seemed that 11 of the 16 players, who did not carry a British passport, did not have the correct papers, to enter India. We were detained in a small jungle village close to the border, on the Pakistani side. A local Football Association representative was to leave the team and find us proper documentation to enter India.
As hours passed, we realized we would be stuck in this small village for the night. Luckily we found a small bamboo hut that would accommodate all 11 of us. Dirt floor, with only two beds and six chairs we would take turns resting. Small and some large bugs and creatures occupied the hut on a regular basis.