Seventeen of us gathered together on Thursday night at Scaletta's Restauratn on West 77th Street to celebrate Paul Gardner's 78th Birthday. Even though this was immediately following a full day of meetings with our Executive Committee, it wasn't a dinner that I, nor my friends like Clive Toye, Sunil Gulati or Ted Howard would have missed. Our friendship with Paul goes back over 25 years. Others too, like Ben Boehm, Emil Cohill and Milton Espinoza of the Cosmopolitan League in New York, wouldn't miss the opportunity to share our friend's birthday. Lawrie Miflin with the NY Times and Mike Woitalla of Soccer America were also there and others of literary hand and an appreciation for beautiful game.
Paul is full of opinions. Many of the correct, othes not as much so, but he is never shy or retiring when it comes to his expressions on how we or others should be doing things better.
Other critical writers were also at the big table where we were hosted by restaurant owner former Cosmo and Arrow's player Freddy Grgurev.
A publisher's description of one of Paul's books sounds like this...
About this title: The Simplest Game is the definitive reference to soccer, the world's most popular sport. Fully revised to coincide with the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, and the continuing explosion of American interest in the game since the 1994 World Cup, The Simplest Game explores the game, its players, and its history. Paul Gardner provides an authoritative and entertaining view of soccer's colorful history and lore. Originally published in 1976, The Simplest Game was heralded as "a storehouse of valuable information" by the U.S. Soccer Federation. Now completely revised and updated to reflect the changes the game has undergone since then and published for the first time with photos of the most memorable and talented players, the book offers a wealth of facts, figures, and anecdotes that enable one to become part of the knowledgeable fraternity that speaks intelligently about the sport. The Simplest Game traces the evolution of soccer from a crude, rustic pastime into a sophisticated worldwide business. It sketches the history and achievements of soccer, highlights world competitions and important players, examines the growth of divergent national playing styles, and spells out what is needed for the United States to develop an indigenous style of play and players of international caliber. The Simplest Game is for anyone searching for an introduction to, or a better understanding of, the world's most followed sport.
Paul is a great observer and over years of my developing leadership role in the sport, Paul has helped me develop a view of what I feel is best for the game and in sync with the needs of the people who watch and report on it. Paul can be read in New York in the Daily Sun and Soccer America in his Soccer Talk column. Paul also contributes to World Soccer.
Thanks for your help over the years. Your continuing support and assistance continues to be greatly appreciated. Happy Birthday.