Gavric and Bridgewater Voted Into Earthquakes Hall of Fame
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The San Jose Earthquakes announced today that former defender Momcilo "Gabbo" Gavric and former president Peter Bridgwater have been voted into the Earthquakes Hall of Fame. The pair will be inducted to the club's Hall of Fame in a ceremony during halftime of San Jose's match on July 27 against the Portland Timbers.
"Both Gabbo and Peter are iconic figures from our club's history," said Earthquakes President Dave Kaval. "We are honored that they will be entering our Hall of Fame after such storied careers both with our club and in promoting soccer around the Bay Area."
Bridgwater, who will be inducted in the Hall of Fame's 'Builder' category, was one of the most influential leaders in the growth of the soccer in the United States and especially in the Bay Area. After serving as general manager of the Vancouver Whitecaps, he started his Bay Area soccer career as the general manager for the San Jose Earthquakes in the North American Soccer League in 1984. After the league folded one year later, he bought the Quakes name and team and founded the Western Soccer Alliance, a league that featured teams on the West Coast of the United States and Canada. This league kept pro soccer alive in the Bay Area.
During that time, he also was responsible for promoting numerous international soccer matches in San Jose and the Bay Area, including matches that featured Real Madrid, Napoli and Bayern Munich, among others. In his career, he promoted over 200 international matches. As a leader in soccer in the U.S., he was a key figure in brining the World Cup to the Bay Area. He served as the venue director for Stanford Stadium during the 1994 FIFA World Cup, the location of the U.S. National Team's historic second round match against Brazil.
He remained an instrumental figure in the Bay Area soccer scene afterward, helping San Jose secure one of MLS's original teams in 1995. Under his guidance, San Jose hosted MLS' Inaugural Match at Spartan Stadium on April 6, 1996 with the Clash defeating D.C. United 1-0 in front of a then record crowd for a sports event in San Jose history, 31,683. Bridgwater served as the club president from 1996-98 before moving on to his next soccer venture, bringing the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup to the Bay Area. He continued promoting international soccer matches and serving as a consultant to the Earthquakes through 2005. He died on June 21, 2005 at the age of 70.
Gavric was born in Yugoslavia and played for OFK Belgrade from 1959-67, helping them win two League Cups and a semifinal appearance in the Cup Winners Cup in 1963. He moved to the Bay Area in 1967 to join the Oakland Clippers of the National Professional Soccer League, helping the Clippers capture the league championship that season. He remained with the Clippers during their transition to the NASL in 1968. Overall, he played 53 games for the Clippers and scored four goals as a hard-nosed defender.
Without any local professional option following the 1968 season, he went on to spend a season as a kicker with the San Francisco 49ers in 1969. However, he returned to the soccer field in 1971, signing with Lamar Hunt's Dallas Tornado in the NASL, appearing in 24 games and notching two goals. The Tornado finished second in the Southern Division that season, before going on to win the NASL Championship, beating the Atlanta Chiefs in the final.
He joined the inaugural Earthquakes NASL squad in 1974 as a player, but moved into a player-coach roll when head coach Ivan Toplak had to return to Yugoslavia for a brief period of time. Toplak returned part way through the season and Gavric spent the rest of the season as a star defender for a Quakes team that would qualify for the playoffs in their first season in the NASL. In his Quakes career, Gavric appeared in 46 games on San Jose's back line, helping the club to a Southern Division title and appearance in the Conference Championship game in 1976. Gavric also helped the Earthquakes to an NASL Indoor title in 1975, earning co-Most Valuable Player honors along with Paul Child for the championship tournament; Child was inducted to the Earthquakes Hall of Fame in 2012. Following his retirement as a player, Gavric served as the Quakes head coach through the 1978 season.
Following his professional playing and coaching career, he continued his involvement in local soccer, as he coached Zagreb, the Portuguese Athletic Club and Portola Valley in Bay Area amateur leagues. Gavric died on March 13, 2010.
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