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The Independent Online

The playing careers of Peter Beardsley, Alan Ball and Bruce Grobbelaar all benefited from a spell with Vancouver Whitecaps when the North American Soccer League was at its zenith.

Although the NASL is long gone, soccer in Vancouver is still alive - but maybe not for much longer. Two years after the NASL - and the Whitecaps - folded in 1984, a new club was formed, called Vancouver 86ers. They won four of the first five titles in the Canadian Soccer League and now compete in the A-League, which is in effect North America's second professional division, one level below Major League Soccer.

Like the Whitecaps before them, the 86ers have supplied players to English football, including the Plymouth forward Carlo Corazzin. The supply line - and the focus for the many soccer lovers in Vancouver - may be about to end, though. Like many other professional soccer clubs in and the United States, the 86ers are in deep financial trouble.

The club was put up for sale in July, but there have been no takers. They are now on the brink. If a deposit of just pounds 32,000 is not lodged with the A-League by next week, the club's franchise will expire. The current, and possibly the last, 86ers' coach is Carl Valentine, the former Oldham and West Bromwich winger. He was not optimistic last week. "That's it. It's all over. I'm out of work," he said.

As a last resort the club have appealed to one of Vancouver's soccer heroes for help. Tony Waiters, the former Blackpool and England goalkeeper and Plymouth manager, took the Whitecaps to the NASL title in 1979 and then guided to the World Cup finals in 1986. He now runs a soccer coaching academy in Blaine, Washington, and has been asked to help in a last, desperate attempt to find new sponsors. It may be too late, though.


A non-League club called Eintracht Trier are the toast of Germany at the moment - except with fans of Borussia Dortmund and Schalke 04.

Trier, the leaders of the Regionalliga West-Sudwest, have reached the quarter-finals of the German League by beating the Uefa Cup holders (Schalke) in the second round and then the European champions (Dortmund) in Tuesday's third-round tie.

Goals from Rudi Thommes and Marek Czakon gave Trier a 2-1 home win in front of a sell-out 18,000 crowd. It was a humiliation for Dortmund, who are also having a bad time in the Bundesliga, where they are 14th out of 18 teams.

"We are in a crisis right now and no one knows what is going on," said Stefan Klos, Dortmund's goalkeeper, who was in tears after the defeat in Trier.

The experienced international defender, Jurgen Kohler, said: "We are facing a relegation struggle from the Bundesliga - anyone who doesn't understand the situation we are in should think about changing clubs."

Not surprisingly, questions are already being asked about the job security of Nevio Scala, formerly in charge of Parma, who replaced Ottmar Hitzfeld as coach at Dortmund in the summer.

- Rupert Metcalf