Jim Fryatt was dangerous on headers during his heyday. (Photo courtesy of Oldham Athletic)
Jim Fryatt, a striker the 1973 North American Soccer League champion Philadelphia Atoms, passed away at his home in Henderson, Nev. on Friday.
He was 79.
Some of Fryatt’s best days came during his tenure with Oldham Athletic, when he made 76 appearances and scored 40 goals from 1970-71.
“Oldham Athletic is saddened to share the news of the passing of its former striker, Jim Fryatt,” the team said on its website.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to the whole Fryatt family and Jim’s friends during this sad time. A memorable player of a certain generation of supporter who were luckily enough to witness his talents in person, and as a result will never be forgotten.”
The Southend United Ex-Players Association added on Twitter:
“We are saddened to learn that SUEPA member Jim Fryatt passed away this afternoon in his Las Vegas home aged 79. ‘Pancho’ as he was affectionately known, was an imposing striker who was with us during the 60/1 to 62/3 seasons scoring 25 gls in 64 apps. RIP Jim, forever a Shrimper.”
Fryatt’s specialty was headers.
After one game in which he scored two headers for the Atoms in their 2-1 win over the visiting Montreal Olympique on June 1, 1973, Fryatt told Phil Jasner of the Philadelphia Daily News that “People [everywhere bu in the United States] call it football and they want to see foot skills. I gave that up for this.”
The striker got praise that day.
“You pick the best five or six soccer players in the world and, in that one phase of the game, Jim Fryatt is equal to any of them,” Atoms technical adviser Walt Chyzowych told the paper.
“Put it this way,” head coach Al Miller added. “He’s one of the best at that in England definitely the best in America. First, he keeps his eyes open when he does it and the natural reflex might be close [to] them. Beyond that, his accuracy is fantastic and he has an incredible facility for hanging in the air. What he really has is a magic head. He does with his head what a lot of people can do with his hands.”
Unfortunately, Fryatt and teammate Andy Provan were called back to play for Southport and missed the NASL championship game in which Philadelphia blanked the Dallas Tornado, 2-0.
They left after the Atoms recorded a 3-0 win over the Toronto Metros as Fryatt converted a second-half penalty kick.
Needless to say, Fryatt was disappointed he could not see the championship season out with the Atoms.
“It’s like climbing to the top of the mountain and then seeing a big blizzard come along and blow you down,” he told the Daily News.
As it turned out, the same day Philly won its title, Southport dropped a 2-0 decision to Cambridge in the English Third Division opener.
On loan from Southport (England), Fryatt tallied seven goals in 18 matches for the Atoms in their championship season.
He returned to play for the Atoms in 1974, finding the net eight times in 20 matches. Fryatt returned to his native England to play for Stockport County and Torquay United in 1974 and 1975. He came back to the USA to play for the Hartford Bicentennials (one goal in six games) and the Atoms (no goals in five appearances).
During an 18-year career, Fryatt also played for Charlton Athletic, Bradford Park Avenue and Blackburn Rovers.