“Football is dead,” said Kevin Baxter of the Los Angeles Times. “Then the wolves came.”
Few Wolverhampton Wanderers supporters, and even fewer football fans in general, know the story of how the English West Midlands club helped introduce “soccer” to the United States.
But Wolves marketing director Russell Jones told the audience at the film’s premiere last week that the events of 1967 ranked third in historical status, behind only the founding members of the League of Legends. football unions and their role in pioneering Europe. football in the 1950s.
So it’s no surprise that Jones decided to bring the story to the screen.
“Ten years before Pelé, 30 years before MLS, 56 years before Messi” is the opening caption of the film titled 1967:
When the Los Angeles Wolves Conquered the United States.
“Los Angeles Wolves was the spark for soccer on the North American continent,” argues Les Wilson, a former Wolves player, at the end of the film.
A bold claim, perhaps.
But by the time Wilson makes it, filmmakers Owen Blackhurst and James Bird, both of whom were brought up in the Black Country, have done a solid job of making his case.
“America is still a young country, and it was a younger country then,” Blackhurst, of football content creators Mundial, tells The Athletic.
“We all know the story of the Wild West, we’ve all been brought up on stuff like that. It’s a bit like that with football.
The Wolf Pack’s 1967 American adventure story is both simple in concept and remarkable in its execution and impact.
It all started when Jack Kent Cooke, then owner of the Los Angeles Lakers NBA basketball team and general sports mogul in Southern California, decided it was time to bring soccer to the United States.
However, because the sport is largely played by the state’s relatively small minority communities, it lacks the elite players to cobble together a mainstream league.
Cooke’s solution was to invite 12 established clubs from Europe and South America to spend nine weeks in the United States and his native Canada, each based in their “home town”. ” and renamed with the new team name and new badge.
The Wolves, newly promoted to England’s elite under the management of Ronnie Allen, were tasked with representing Los Angeles.
“I never left England,” said legendary Wolves goalkeeper Phil Parkes, who turned 20 that summer. “I’ve never been to Wales! [The Anglo-Welsh border is about a 90-minute drive from Wolverhampton.]