Submitted by John J. Ryan

Apr 1976 Base Soccer Team

U.S. Navy "Touring F.C." Londonderry, NI.
by Rick Cavazos

The U.S. Navcommsta Londonderry had traditionally fielded a football (soccer) team that represented the U.S. Base locally and promoted friendly interaction via sports by playing teams from Derry and surrounding towns such as Strabane, Dungiven, Buncrana and Maydown to name a few. Normally these Navy teams were not competitive against local opposition at most matches (games), however friendly they may have been, It just wasn't our game. That is until the formation of the 1975 through 1977 football club (FC). Some of the more experienced members of the squad decided they wanted to "match up" against our friends from outside the perimeter of the "Yankee camp". They were eventually introduced to a very successful coach and trainer who had been a dynamic star for Derry City FC, Mr. Roy Seddon. Mr. Seddon was currently a professional coach and trainer with Colraine FC a strong contender and Cup Wining team, member of the Irish League of Northern Ireland. He took an interest in developing football players out of boys who knew nothing about football, was how he put it, but not publically or to the squad. He treated the "Yanks" as a real team from his very first introduction and training session, expressing his theories and tactics for "winning football". A few new men transferred onto the command and joined the team, attempting to win a place on the playing squad for each match (game). The competitiveness and enthusiam were tremendous. Soon after Coach Seddon brought in an assistant, another former Derry City star striker Mr. John Rowland. We were being totally transformed and it was decided to seek membership into the Saturday Morning D&D League, comprised of teams well advanced from ours. As the coaches stressed, you can't learn and progress unless you compete against better sides (teams). We started out slowly, however by mid-season or so we sensed a great improvement. We weren't getting pounded anymore and we actually had some pretty close matches. Then the breakthrough, we actually won a match in the League. Now we expected to win every match. It felt great to win and we wanted more. The Coach's Project team was getting dangerous. Even the local lads would commend our coaches and our players on how well we were currently playing, after all they used to laugh and make remarks at us earlier, mostly in a friendly way. At this point we began to consider entry into the U.K. Military Championship playoffs in England. We submitted our request to the Skipper and it was very well received and given the "go ahead" by Captain McKeown who had to give the thumbs up. Only one hitch or maybe two, it would take money and transportation. We each had our share of special services funds that we would contribute, and then we went on a blitz of car washes, booze raffles, barbecues, Mexican dinners, boxing smokers where we sold food and beer,and the such. We never quit and we reached our goals and a bit more. Two of our wives, Ms. Marie Whitehurst and Ms. Bridget Cavazos were instrumental and provided hands-on assistance during these fund raising activities. Not to mention cheering us on in the rain and snow. Meanwhile we had been contacting the Special Services Officers of the Army and Air Force teams in the U.K. whose teams were winning their respective leagues and would be involved in the Championship playoffs. We were allowed to play because we were a "league of one", as we had no other military teams in the region, thus we were the representatives from the Irish side of the U.K. across the Irish Sea from the rest of the U.K. We arranged for sleeping quarters (usually an abandoned barracks or a gym training room with thick mats) at the different bases such as RAF Mildenhall, Lakenheath, RAF GreenHand Common and a stop at Leeds University where Coach Seddon had a friend named Nick Whitehead (Athletics Director) who set us up for a warmup match against the University squad, a visit to the student pub and sleeping quarters. Very nice, friendly visit. Mr. Whitehead had won the Bronze Medal for Britain in the 100 meters Tokoyo Olympics of 1960. A great chap. We eventually arrived at Mildenhall to start our playoffs. AT Mildenhall there was a Navy first class Petty Officer who loved football but could not get on the RAF side because he was Navy. He came to visit us on the night before our first game and told us his story. Our Coaches and players had a very short pow-wow and decided to give this Navy chap a chance to play on our team. We signed him up as one of ours and the next day spoke with league and game officials and they had no concerns. You should have seen the smile on this man's face. Game on, we dominated play early, gave everyone of our lads a chance to play some good minutes and then brought on our "new lad" for a"spot of football mate". We took the match 9 to 1. This was the start of a string of three victories with similar scores. After scouting our team for our final game, our fourth opponent declared they they could not field a team on that day due to operational committments. We took that as a win too and that made us the Champions of the Military Leagues in the U.K. A call to the Skipper before we started back to let him know the good news. He was very pleased and passed on a "Well Done to all the lads. Apparently our coaches Roy Seddon and John Rowland were excellent teachers of the game of football as applied to "Yanks who hadn't a clue". Our play and experience gained by playing in the Saturday morning D&D League of Derry gave us the advantage when playing against teams whose coaches did not hafve that foresight. We won because we had the best coaches. In 1977 we organized the last squad of the now famous U.S. Navy "Touring F.C." (fc-football club). Our coaches who had become our much appreciated friends, stuck with us for a second year and we added a few new faces that had come aboard. We were very excited for this season to start as it would be thd last season to be played by a football team from the U.S. Navcommsta Londonderry. That being, we set a goal to do even better than the previous year. we believe we did and made many many friends for us, for the Navy and for America along the way. We won our second consecutive U.K. Military Championship. We were really going to miss this great game of football and we were going to miss each other, this "band of brothers" who overcame the odds and though learning and playing a foreign game, became successful winners and Champions. During our first tour our coaches coaxed us into making up a fight song, as all good teams should have. It's called Black and Red are the Colours (the colour of of uniforms). Goes like this:

Black and Red are the Colours Football is the Game We're all Together and Winning is our Aim So cheer us on Through the Wind and Rain The U.S. Navy is Touring Again!!! Clap...Clap...Clap Clap Clap

Note: I may have gotten a fact or three mixed up within the two year period, but this is as best as I can remember. Thank you

Several of the lads went back to the Land of the Big PX and started their own football teams, some in the PeeWee leagues, some in the City Leagues, some continued playing with adult teams in their home areas. Several were very successful in coaching and getting their players scolarships to Universities. The experience or more like an adventure in Derry had a positive and significant impact on all our lives. Several of us remain in contact with each other frequently and relive the moments of those wonderful years spent on the pitch come snow, hail, rain or sun. We never gave up. Black and Red are the Colours!!!

All the Best Lads........hopefully see you in NO
Bridget 'n me

Submitted by Rick Cavazos

Certificate of Appreciation awarded to John Rowland

Certificate of Appreciation awarded to Roy Seddon

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