From the time he first put on a green, gold and white No. 10 Rowdies uniform in 1976, Rodney Marsh was one of the Tampa Bay area’s most loved athletes. With his long flowing hair, to his brilliant flair as a player Marsh was not just a talented soccer player he was an artist and a showman. In his first year with the team, Tampa Bay beat the Portland Timbers 2–0 on August 24, 1976, to win their first and only North American Soccer League Championship.
In 1976, I was a 22 year old member of the Tampa Rowdies broadcast team for WTOG TV channel 44 and soccer was king. Our Rowdies broadcasts were some of the highest rated telecasts in the history of Bay Area sports television at that time. By the summer of 1979 the Rowdies had become a true hit at the gate as well regularly drawing an average of just under 30,000 fans per game. That year they drew over 40,000 fans four times, and games against their bitter rivals the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers and the New York Cosmos, saw more than 50,000 fans find their way to Tampa Stadium. It was the golden age of soccer in the Tampa Bay area and while glory days of the NASL would be over by 1983, with Marsh and the Rowdies it was one fun run.
In 1975 Marsh, who the Capitan of Manchester City at the time was invited to come to the United States to play in the NASL by Elton John. However, while Marsh was listening to the pitch to become a member of the rock star’s Los Angeles Aztecs, it was Rowdies general manager Beau Rodgers who sold him on coming to Tampa Bay.
Marsh said “Once I stepped off the plane in Tampa, I never wanted to leave.”
For those wishing to talk to Marsh he and long time ESPN analyst, Tommy Smyth about soccer. The duo are hosting “Grumpy Pundits,” a new show on SiriusXM FC, SiriusXM’s 24/7 soccer channel. The program airs every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9-11 am ET on SiriusXM FC, channel 94.