* Sir Stanley Matthews *

An Overview and Brief History

of the

Shoreline Adult Soccer League's
Over-40 Division

Click here for an Overview and Brief History of the SASL (Over-30s)

The Shoreline Adult Soccer League (SASL) was founded in 1979 in Clinton, Connecticut. It was originally an open league but mainly for adults. In the spring of 1981 a team of college kids were dominating and after that it was decided to make it into an Over-30 league, starting with the 1981 fall season. The league grew by leaps and bounds and it became the premier Over-30 league in Connecticut. As early as 1990 the SASL were beginning to make plans to add an Over-40 division.

At about this time, early in 1990, a group of ex-SASL players were forming their own Over-40 team. They were lead by Alfie Campbell -- the founder of the SASL! By 1990 Alfie had been independent of his old league for several years while he was trying to form teams more suited to his own age. In 1990 Alfie was a very fit 60 years old!

Alfie and some of his team were invited to attend the SASL Annual General Meeting in 1990 with a view of installing them as the first team in the SASL Over-40 Division. There were several benefits, including insurance and referees. Alfie and the others thought over the offer, but after a couple of months they decided to stay independent. The major concern was that the SASL was too rigid with its rules and fines, etc. All that Alfie's team wanted to do was just play soccer without the hassle of an overbearing league looking over them.

In 1990 the SASL had an Over-40 Division but no teams! In 1990 Alfie's team, Guilford Over-40 SC, was playing regular friendly games with teams from other towns, notably Milford and Southington -- both of whom also were made up of ex-SASL players!

In 1991 the SASL again invited the fledgling Over-40 league that Alfie had formed to the Annual General Meeting. The offer was extended once more. Again it was thought over, and with the same result. The offer was declined. The SASL have made no further attempts to merge with any other league since this time. Forever jilted!

The SASL kept open an empty Over-40 Division but for years they could not attract any team to join it. Alfie's new league was expanding by at least two new teams every year and therein lay the problem for the SASL. New teams wanted to play in a league that already had teams! Alfie's league, which became known as the Connecticut Adult Recreational Soccer League (
CARSL), however, advertised itself as strictly recreational. No official results and no official standings.

The SASL wanted a competitive Over-40 league because most of it's Over-30 players were already playing competitively and would desire the same when they transitioned over to the Over-40s. It was clear, then, that the SASL would have to wait until it's own Over-30 teams would start to grow old and want to make the transition. The Over-40 Division would lie dormant for a few more years.

In 1992 the
National Soccer Hall of Fame in Oneonta, New York started an annual Men's Over-40 tournament. In 1993 an Over-40 team made up from Madison AFC and Glastonbury Celtic FC of the SASL First Division entered the second annual tournament, thereby being the first Over-40 team from Connecticut to enter this prestigious tournament. They entered as Madison Celtic FC, one of 16 teams in the tournament. It was clear from these tournaments in Oneonta that Over-40 soccer could be very competitive and still offer so much to those who wanted more than just a "kick around" on a Sunday morning when they were too old to play in the Over-30s. The 1993 tournament in Oneonta, more than anything, furthered the ambition of the SASL to get a competitive Over-40 soccer league going in Connecticut.

Unfortunately, it proved very difficult to convince teams and players to transition. CARSL continued to grow, however, but there were many rumblings that two or three of the teams were playing to a much higher standard than all of the others. The spirit of being a purely "recreational" league was very debatable.

In 1997, Madison AFC were struggling at the foot of the SASL First Division. They were arguably the oldest team at that level and they were struggling to field a team every week. A vote was taken and it was finally decided; Madison AFC would convert over to be the SASL's first ever Over-40 club. They dropped out of the Over-30 league. During the winter of 1997-1998, Glastonbury Celtic FC said that they could provide an Over-40 team too, in addition to their Over-30 team which was still very much a force in the SASL First Division. A new team of relative beginners was formed, called the Milford Hurricanes and the SASL Executive Board convinced them to start out in the new Over-40 Division, despite some of the players being under aged.

In early 1998 the SASL arranged a meeting with the new Over-40 Division teams and some of the CARSL teams known to be playing strong and hard in their league -- and anyone else who were also interested. Representatives from seven CARSL teams showed up. Their primary interest was obtaining insurance via CSSA association, something their own league lacked. When reminded that the SASL was attempting to form a competitive Over-40 Division, some of the CARSL teams cooled their interest, but three gave their assurance that they were very much interested. At that point, it looked like the SASL's inaugural Over-40 season was going to start with six teams which would have been impressive.

CARSL called an emergency league meeting the same week, fearing the SASL were attempting to steal several of their teams. During that meeting, which Alfie Campbell and his Guilford team very much dominated, all of the CARSL teams were firmly convinced to stay where they were. The details are very hazy, but it is understood that Alfie was very upset and it furthered the bad blood between the two leagues.

The SASL have always maintained that they want to form a competitive Over-40 league and wanted to provide that to
any Over-40 teams. There was no intent to steal teams from any other league, just to offer the option. CARSL want to stay recreational, which is fine, since there should be room for both recreational and competitive. It is a complete mystery, however, why the competitive teams in CARSL did not want to play in a more competitive environment. CARSL did have the advantage of having more teams, which means more games. But, that was their only advantage.

The SASL were determined to push on with just three teams in their inaugural Over-40 season in 1998. Madison FC, Glastonbury Celtic FC and Milford Hurricanes SC would supplement their few league games with friendlies versus SASL Fourth Division teams.

By the summer of 1998, however, Glastonbury Celtic FC withdrew from the SASL Over-40 Division unhappy with the lack of teams to play and the lack of competition. It was a devastating blow to the SASL which cost them years of development time.

Madison AFC were crowned the SASL's first ever Over-40 Champions, but with so few games it seemed so empty. Glastonbury Celtic FC's Over-40 players went over to play in CARSL, to add insult to injury.

At the end of 1998, the SASL received more devastating news. Madison FC wanted to revert back to the Over-30s. Madison FC had won most of their friendlies with the Over-30 Fourth Division teams and had even beaten Westbrook High School in a friendly. The consensus was that they felt they could compete in the SASL Fourth Division. The SASL, however, decided to merge the Third and Fourth Divisions in 1999 to Third Division East and Third Division West. Madison FC found themselves with much tougher games than they had bargained for!

1999 would prove to be a make or break year for the SASL Over-40 Division. Milford Hurricanes SC would return. The SASL convinced an aging Hamden Conte SC to drop out of the Over-30s and join the Over-40 Division. Hamden Conte had finished 1998 by losing all of their 14 games and scoring just four goals and conceding 76. At first they resisted, but ultimately they were convinced. Two new teams joined. West Haven Grays were formed by Dave Carmody who was also managing West Haven RTG in the Over-30 Second Division. Caffe Italia of Bridgeport were introduced to the SASL by Alberto Lopes, manager of White Eagles SC of the Over-30 First Division. Four teams played a Spring season and a separate Fall season. Unfortunately, regrettably, no scores or standings were recorded.

2000 saw more upheaval, but also the first signs of stability. As was their privilege Hamden Conte wanted to return to the Over-30s. Without even telling anyone of their retirement from the SASL, Caffe Italia, opted to join CARSL. The SASL did not know and were just about to publish the Over-40 schedule when they found out from a third party. It was very poor form by Caffe Italia, one the SASL will not forget too soon. It deepened the chasm between SASL and CARSL even more. Milford Hurricanes and West Haven Grays returned, however, and were joined by new Over-40 teams formed by current Over-30 SASL clubs North Branford and Hartford Cavaliers.

Finally, we were seeing SASL teams prepared to offer their older players a continued chance of still playing rather than a hopeful five or 10 minutes here or there in an Over-30 game. Unfortunately, during 2000, Milford Hurricanes and West Haven Grays were struggling for players and were actually borrowing each others' players to fulfill League games. During the summer, the two clubs decide to merge their resources. The name of West Haven Grays continued, and Milford Hurricanes was dissolved. Fortunately, a new club, Naugatuck Valley SC filled in for Milford Hurricanes in the Fall season. The luck was finally turning for the SASL Over-40 Division.

2000 saw an Over-40 team from Connecticut enter the United States Amateur Soccer Association's (
USASA) National Veteran's Cup Tournament. It was New Haven United, a representative team made up of primarily Wallingford NH United in the SASL First Division and several other SASL players from various other teams. New Haven United won the Men's Over-40 tournament and were crowned as Over-40 National Champions! It was a wonderful achievement and showed that the SASL had competitive and quality players at the Over-40 level.

In 2001 the Over-40 Division grew to six teams. The best part was that all four teams from 2000 returned and that the two new teams were Over-40 teams created from current SASL Over-30 clubs. The two new teams were Hamden United SC and Wallingford Morelia SC. Noteably, the quality of play and competitiveness had increased considerably.

The SASL's Wallingford NH United also now routinely enter the Over-40 tournament in Oneonta as New Haven Italians. In 2001 they won the tournament to add to their national championship from 2000!
Click here for more details.

In the summer of 2001 the SASL Over-40 Division was renamed the
SASL Masters League to recognise the pride of being an Over-40 player.

In 2002 the Masters League
doubled in size to 12 teams!

Since 1990, it has been a painfully slow evolution. It was not until 1998 when there was any actual Over-40 games in the SASL, but since then, with some inevitable growing pains, the SASL are now evolving an Over-40 league that will soon be the pride of Connecticut.