.MLS History Flowed Through Quakes’ 50th Anniversary Weekend

The only Bosnian graduate of Silver Creek High School to play for the New York Cosmos when Mick Jagger was on the board of directors recently returned to San Jose.

Born in the former Yugoslavia, Boris Bandov was among 100-plus former Earthquakes players, staff, coaches, PR people and general managers who showed up to a massive 50th anniversary party a few weeks ago, all to celebrate half a century since 1974. During the opening night reception in the City Hall Rotunda, Bandov told me stories about the Quakes and the Cosmos.

There is no other Silver Creek graduate with a career like his, one that took him from San Jose State directly to the first two San Jose Earthquakes seasons in 1974 and 1975, before moving on to Seattle, Tampa Bay and then the Cosmos for four seasons (1979-1982), which included two championships. By then an American citizen, he played for the US national team for several years.

THAT WAS THEN Boris Bandov in 1972, as seen in the Silver Creek High School yearbook.

During those heady days of the old North American Soccer League, even after Pele retired, the Cosmos were still the multimillion-dollar rock-star team unlike anything else on earth. The story is well documented in numerous books and films. Andy Warhol and Robert Redford were among the fans shadowing the team at Studio 54. Jagger famously showed up to the stadium after one game and almost got thrown out because the team thought a random druggie had sneaked into the locker room. They didn’t know it was Mick.

The Rolling Stones singer later joined the Cosmos board with the title of “International Consultant,” exactly during the years Bandov played there. What a time to be alive.

SJSU Connections

Bandov’s story was just one example of the deep historical connections between the Quakes and San Jose State, especially that of Spartan soccer coach Julius Menendez—universally referred to as Julie—who was instrumental in securing Spartan Stadium as a place to play when the Quakes first convinced the league executives to put a team here in 1974.

Menendez coached SJSU soccer for 36 years, but also coached boxing. In 1960, for example, he coached the US Men’s Olympic boxing team in Rome, which included a young Cassius Clay. When Julie later led the US men’s soccer team in the 1976 Montreal Olympics, he became the only American in history to coach two different sports in the Games.

Similar historical tidbits flowed like water all throughout the Quakes 50th anniversary reunion weekend. Everybody was catching up and telling stories, rekindling old friendships and old grudges. The modern-era Major League Soccer alumni from the Quakes championship years (2001-2003) told their own stories. The old-timers connected with the kids in ways that hadn’t really happened before.

Milan Is the Man

Especially at the gala banquet on June 28, there was never a moment that more emotionally demonstrated the battles and obstacles overcome by this team, this sport and this city, in the Bay Area, throughout the last 50 years. Original Quakes owner Milan Mandaric, also from the former Yugoslavia, took the podium and told the now-famous Quakes origin story right from his own memory bank.

Along with original General Manager Dick Berg, Mandaric in 1974 saw hope for San Jose, California. As the North American Soccer League was reconfiguring itself and adding four new teams on the West Coast, the league executives, led by Lamar Hunt, insisted the new Bay Area soccer franchise be named after San Francisco. They considered San Jose an unknown hick town and would not accept a team named after San Jose. After more than one meeting, Mandaric and Berg eventually convinced the executives otherwise and won the argument. The rest is history as the Quakes became a true community club, sort of like the anti-Cosmos.

Watching the 85-year-old Mandaric at PayPal Park tell that story in his own words 50 years later—with Mayor Matt Mahan, former Mayor Sam Liccardo, county supe Cindy Chavez and other councilmembers in the audience—just about gave me goosebumps. Mandaric himself was almost in tears afterward, as fans, friends, supporters’ groups, sponsors and players all requested photographs with him. It finally hit him that everything he threw together 50 years ago was not in vain.

More proof that Milan is the man. Who needs Mick Jagger anyway?

Gary Singh
Gary Singhhttps://www.garysingh.info/
Gary Singh’s byline has appeared over 1500 times, including newspaper columns, travel essays, art and music criticism, profiles, business journalism, lifestyle articles, poetry and short fiction. He is the author of The San Jose Earthquakes: A Seismic Soccer Legacy (2015, The History Press) and was recently a Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing at San Jose State University. An anthology of his Metro columns, Silicon Alleys, was published in 2020.

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