New England Soccer Today

NASL’s Armada Dons Tea Men Attire

Photo credit: Jacksonville Armada

Photo credit: Jacksonville Armada

Decades removed from their last proper match, the Tea Men made their triumphant return to the pitch this weekend. Well, at least their classic red and tangerine look did.

The NASL’s Jacksonville Armada sported a Tea Men-inspired look against the Tampa Bay Rowdies on Saturday as a tribute to the franchise that was originally founded in New England during the late-1970s. The Armada won the match 2-0.

The New England Tea Men entered the original NASL as an expansion side in 1978, and played its home games at Foxboro Stadium for two seasons. They relocated to Jacksonville in 1981.

The club – which was originally owned by the Lipton Tea Company – went a combined 59-43 in their three seasons in New England. The organization also fielded a team in NASL Indoor during the winter of 1979-80, playing its games at the Providence Civic Center.

After attendance plummeted in 1980, the Tea Men moved into the Gator Bowl for the 1981 season, becoming the first pro soccer franchise to call Jacksonville its home. The team ceased operations in 1984, but not before securing a championship in the second iteration of the ASL in 1983.

Saturday’s match is believed to be the only public celebration of the Tea Men’s history since the club’s demise. The festivites at the Armada’s home grounds at Community First Park included a reunion of former Tea Men players and staff, along with the team’s cheerleading squad, the Tea Gals.

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