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Gloves I've Loved, Part I

Written By Justin on Monday, December 13, 2010 | 12:59:00 AM

This is the Reusch Toni, dating from 1988. I loved this glove because I wore it during some of my fondest memories playing the game. In September 1988, my team, Orlando Lions of the old American Soccer League, toured Scotland and played Celtic, St. Mirren, Aberdeen, and Dunfermline. The tour was my first experience as a contracted professional. It rescued me from a job behind a hotel front desk, where I worked while home from my first season at Boreham Wood FC. In short order, the Lions called, I quit the job, and we flew to Glasgow to set up a training base at Jordanhill College.

Money was so tight prior to getting the call from the Lions that I had been getting by on a single pair of weathered Cannonball gloves (the model worn by Dave Beasant at the time). The first free afternoon I had in Glasgow, I headed to a sports shop and found a pair of these Reusch. They featured a luxuriously thick and soft latex palm and pretty colors. I wore the Cannonballs in training and debuted in the second half of the game against St. Mirren at Love Street. Here are the teams before kickoff:

It was a cool late-summer night in Glasgow. Three or four thousand fans came out to see the friendly, most of them in the low terracing to my right. They stood clustered together and looked and sounded like a much bigger crowd. We were two goals down from the first half, and I was so nervous I found it difficult to muster enough spit to dampen my gleaming new gloves (we didn't know about pre-washing back then). I was called on almost immediately, claiming a straightforward cross that, thankfully, nobody challenged me for. Later I made a really good save, diving low to my left and cleanly holding a hard, curling shot that was destined for the bottom corner. I made a few other straightforward saves, and the game ended 2-0. Despite the loss, I was delighted with my performance, as you might be able to tell from the look on my face.

I played well a few nights later at Aberdeen, and the game against Dunfermline was the stuff dreams are made of, but I'll save that story for another time.

The glove itself was a simple flat palm, as they almost all were back then, with a velcro wrist strap over an elastic closure. The latex was thick for that era - probably 2.5 mm, when most palms were less than 2mm. Grip in all conditions was very good, but durability was not - after the Scotland tour, the gloves lasted only a few more games.

Next week I'll look back fondly at another gem from Reusch, the 1990 Tony Meola World Cup model, the world's first rollfinger glove (the same model was introduced at the same time in Europe but with different cosmetics and was called the International).


Penguin said...

First of all, this is my first time on this blog. Great site and great topic. I was starting my goalie adventures in the late '80s and these Reusch gloves were one of my first.

I look forward to your post on the Meola gloves. When I bought a new pair in 1990, I had to choose between the Meola and the Italia '90 model (Do you remember that one?). I chose the Italia '90 and turned out to be one of the most durable pairs I ever had. I had a teammate who went with the Meola's and they were completely shot after one fall season.

PS - I believe the Meola's were originally under Jean Marie Pfaff's name, no?

Justin said...

Hi Penguin,

Thanks for reading, and for the memories. It's funny, I had the opposite experience with the Meolas - they lasted me an entire 33-game season in terrible weather.

The Pfaff glove you're thinking of was similar, but it was a negative cut model. I think it had the same latex as the rollfinger Meolas, though.