Barry Mahy (left) before an international match in 1972.
By Michael Lewis
Former U.S. international defender Barry Mahy, who captained the Cosmos in their first five seasons, including their first league championship in 1972, passed away on Oct. 1.
Mahy, who also skippered the Cosmos in Pele’s first season with the club in 1975, was 78.
The West Sayville, N.Y. resident played 22 times for Scunthorpe United (England) from 1963-67. He was the first player to appear as a substitute for Scunthorpe, when a rule was introduced in 1965 to permit one sub per team.
Mahy ventured to the United States to perform 38 times while scoring eight goals for the New York Generals in the National Professional Soccer League and NASL from 1967-68. Among his Generals teammates was Cesar Menotti, who coached Argentina to the 1978 World Cup championship.
He also proved to be a marathon man of sorts. On Oct. 27, 1968, he played in two matches in one day. Mahy scored twice in New York Hota’s 7-1 victory over Blue Star in a German-American Soccer League match at the Eintracht Oval in Astoria, Queens.
Later in the day, Mahy, along with teammate Barrie Wright (he had a hat-trick for Hota), put on a New York Pros all-star uniform and scored the equalizing goal in the 83rd minute in a 1-1 draw with the Israeli Olympic team.
In his first year with the Generals, Mahy was quite optimistic about soccer’s future in this country.
“Soccer’s sure to catch on in the United States,” he told the Asbury Park Press July 7, 1967. “It’s the game in 130 countries around the world and Americans aren’t that different from the others. Right now they may not appreciate all of the skills that go into soccer but with a little education along the way, interest is bound to develop.
“It’s got to start with the kids. If we can get them interested in the game young enough, soccer might have a fighting chance of competing with baseball, football and all the rest.”
Beginning in 1971, Guernsey, Channel Islands native enjoyed a five-year North American Soccer League career with the Cosmos as he made 79 appearances and scored three times.
Mahy and his teammates weren’t getting rich during those early days of professional soccer in the U.S. He made $2,20 in 1972. His salary was raised to $2,800 in 1974 before he held out for $3,200.
“Salaries B.P. [Before Pele) were a laughing matter, though I didn’t think it was so funny at the time,” he told the New York Daily News in 1979.
His salary was raised to $2,800 in 1974 before he held out for $3,200.
“Oh, I was considered a rebel,” he told the Daily News. “Sat out the preseason and when all the other midfielders were down with injuries, I figured I had them eating out of my hand. I was sure they’d meet my demands, but they didn’t. I gave in the morning of the first game and drove into Manhattan to sign a contract. Why? Two reasons. I love the game and I felt a certain loyalty to my teammates.”
In a June 18, 1975 story reintroducing the Cosmos to his Daily News readers in the wake of Pele signing with the club, sportswriter Dave Hirshey wrote this about Mahy:
“Thirty-two-year English captain has steadying influence on team. Possesses excellent lungs and exercises them frequently to direct his teammates on the field. Rarely flash, he is a tough man to get by and those that do usually end up with grass stains on their shirts.”
When Mahy broke his ankle July 19 during the 1975 season, Werner Roth took over as team captain. He never played professional soccer again after that campaign.
In a Hirshey story from 1979, Mahy lamented that the original Cosmos never gained the glory of their latter counterparts of the seventies.
Prior to a game between his KLM Airlines team and the Cosmos reserve squad at an empty Giants Stadium, Mahy told the Daily News: “Just like old times. Jorge, Josef and me playing in front of 75 people.”
He was referring to former Cosmos and current KLM teammates Jorge Siega and Josef Jelinik, who won a NASL championship at Hofstra University in 1992 and toiled at Downing Stadium from 1974-75.
Mahy remembered when the Cosmos played an international friendly against a team from Honduras at Downing.
“We were hammering them by about 6-0 at halftime when half their team just disappeared,” he was quoted by the Daily News. “Only six guys came out of the locker room and they started calling people down from the stands. The funny thing was that they were better than the players they had on the field.”
The 5-8, 160-lbs. Mahy also played for the U.S. men’s national team four times in 1973. He made his international debut in a 1-0 loss to Haiti in Port-au-Prince Nov. 5, 1973. The defender played against Haiti again two days later at Israel twice later that month.
Visitation will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 7 from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at the Our West Sayville Funeral Home (245 Main St., West Sayville, N.Y. 11796).