The Rochester Lancers have always been one of the North American Soccer League's shakiest franchises. They have finished each year with their books in the red and have never drawn well, even though they won a league title in 1970 and have been perennial contenders.
Terry Hanson, assistant general manager of the Washington Diplomats is fond of telling the story of a promotion the Lancers sponsored in 1976 when he was publicly director for the club.
"What time does the game start tonight," said a caller interested in the giveaway. "What time can you get here," Hanson reported he answered.
Nevertheless, jokes and all, the Lancers survived in the same city for nine seasons, something few franchises can say.
Now, however, they may be in trouble.
Seven members of the nine-man front office resigned last week after Charles Schiano, the flamboyant chairman of the board, fired publicity director Jerry Epstein in a dispute over promotions.
Epstein and other members of the front office apparently felt that the Lancers were not enough of an attraction as a soccer team to draw - 8,200 fans showed up opening day - and attempted to use many of the gimmicks and Dips have employed in Washington.
Schiano and Coach Dragon Popovic disagree with the tactic and Epstein was fired. At that point, General Manager Richard Kraft led a parade of resignations.
Schiano is not one to hide his feelings.
Last summer, when a Washington reporter referred to the Lancers as "one of the league's less-exciting draws," Schiano sent his radio play-by-play man to tell the reporter he wasn't doing his job right: "Charlie thinks your job is to help sell tickets," the reporter was told.
The Oakland Stompers are trying to do an imitation of the 1977 Texas Rangers. Last summer, the Rangers went through four managers including three in one week.
Last week, five men held the title of Stomper coach, and before this week is over, a sixth could be added to the list.
Tuesday, team owner Milan Mandaric fired coach Mirko Stojanovic with the Stompers in last place in their division with a 4-4 record, and named Jack Hyde as interim coach.
The next day, Hyde was fired after making what Mandaric called "certain demands" on his contract. Faced with a game against Memphis that night, Stojanovic named active players Shep Messing, the club's goalkeeper, Charlie Mrosko, a midfielder, and Johnny Moore, a forward, as coaches - all with equal say in running things.
The triumvirate is now 1-3-0 after the Stompers beat Memphis, 1-0, Wednesday. Mandaric says he hopes to hire a new coach this week.
With three goals and three assists in his last two games, Dip striker Paul Cannell has jumped to second place in the NASL scoring race with 20 points, one shy of league leader Giorgio Chinaglia of the Cosmos.
In third place is New England's Mike Flanagan, who has 17 pounds and followed a four-goal game with a two-goal contest in toting up seven consecutive goals for his team.
Once coach who might have been a candidate for unemployment, Malcolm been given a vote of confidence by his club.
Musgrove of the 0-9 Chicago Sting, has tact prior to the season, was given an Musgrove, signed to a one-year con-extension through 1979 in spite of the team's record.