L.A. has Beckham, but York County can boast about Souza
David Beckham has brought Major League Soccer into the spotlight in his debut with the Los Angeles Galaxy.
He remains a member of England’s national team.
England’s national team. That’s the one that lost to America’s entry in the World Cup in 1950.
That 500-to-1 upset is outlined in the book, “The Game of Their Lives,” and the movie with the same name.
That upset featured the great play of a York countian, John “Clarkie” Souza.
Here’s York Daily Record/Sunday News writer Frank Bodani’s 2004 story on York County’s most famous soccer player:
The old soccer star got the ball in the middle of RFK Stadium.
Once again, memories flashed of that wondrous World Cup upset 54 years ago.
It turned out that John “Clarkie” Souza was doing more than shooting a movie scene last weekend in Washington, D.C.
“I haven’t kicked a ball for how long? It felt good,” Souza said. “I felt like raising the ball up a little bit. But I didn’t want to get too ambitious.”
He was the best dribbler and the lungs of that team in 1950, the man some credit for saving that grand upset over England.
He is now 84 and lives near Dover.
And it seems that, after all, Souza and his four living teammates will get bit parts in the big-screen movie being made about their game, about their lives.
Some extra star power has been added at the last minute, too: Patrick Stewart, of Star Trek fame, will play the only American reporter who traveled to Brazil to cover the team.
The movie is called “The Game of Their Lives” and is based on the book of the same title by Geoffrey Douglas.
It will detail how the Americans, 500-to-1 underdogs, somehow upset the powerful English, the ones who invented the game.
It will tell the stories of these Americans — immigrant, part-time pros who were brilliant but unknown, players thrown together at the last moment for the World Cup.
It will tell the story of Walter Bahr, who went on to coach the Penn State men’s soccer team and whose sons, Chris and Matt, became NFL kickers.
And it will tell the story of Souza, who used his speed and dribbling skills to keep the ball away from the English players as the final seconds ticked down on that 1-0 victory.
Souza moved from Florida to the Dover area a year ago to be close to his daughter, Marsha Carupella. The octogenarian still goes through daily workouts at the Dover YMCA.
The movie will give Souza, Bahr and three other surviving teammates a late but sweet reward, their accomplishment mostly forgotten for five decades.
But the film release, originally set for this summer or fall, was pushed back after a change in production companies.
And the reward, in a way, was put on hold.
That is, until Souza recently received a phone call about some extra filming.
Souza and his teammates “weren’t clear on why things were taking so long. They suspected that something was wrong, that we were scrambling
to fix something broken, but that wasn’t the truth,” said Angelo Pizzo, who wrote the movie. He also worked on feel-good sports movies “Hoosiers” and “Rudy.”
“We were on pace, but then all of a sudden a change was made in the regime in the studio. New people came in who had never seen the movie before.”
The film is now expected to be released in the spring, Pizzo said. It is being produced by Bristol Bay Productions.
The final piece might have been getting the five old soccer stars to film a framing scene, one that will begin and end the movie.
So they were brought together last weekend at RFK Stadium for the Major League Soccer All-Star Game.
They were introduced to the crowd before the game.
They got to meet Stewart, the actor, and Freddy Adu, the 15-year-old soccer phenom.
And they put up with about six hours of filming at RFK last Sunday.
Time and again they were introduced as they waved to the crowd of about 500 “extras.”
But they had to wave a certain way. Shake hands a certain way.
The crowd, including Souza’s two daughters, had to cheer loudly, but not too loudly.
For their work, the men earned $750 each, free transportation and lodging, and $60 a day for meals.
“I would have done it for nothing,” Souza said.
All that’s left now is to keep waiting.
But it’s no big deal. These men lived their lives fine for more than 50 years without a movie and autographs and a publicity tour.
What’s a few extra months?
Plus, the rewards really do keep coming, at least in small doses.
The latest is getting to keep one of the soccer balls used in the filming.
And more importantly, it was getting together again with old buddies on a steamy weekend in Washington, D.C.
The reminiscing. The catching up.
As it turns out, that game “bonded them for life,” Pizzo said.
Once again, they were able to relive one of their most wonderful times.
“It sure felt good to kick the ball around,” Souza said. “In fact, I wanted to stay there a little longer.”
Other York Town Square posts involving national newsmakers or news stories with Dover ties: Jeff Koons, Ray Krone, Daniel Drawbaugh, Jeb Stuart, John Kuhn , Scott Strausbaugh and the intelligent design case.
Also: John “Clarkie” Souza, Cate Reinart (mother of Nick and Drew Lachey), long trumpeter Bill School, rock group Blind Melon’s Chris Thorn, Jeff Koons, Part II, Gov. George Leader, weightlifting guru Bob Hoffman.