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July 25-31, 2007

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Silicon Alleys - Gary Singh

Silicon Alleys

Old School Quakes

By Gary Singh

LAST WEEK, Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber announced that Lew Wolff and John Fisher, owners of the Oakland A's, will be awarded an expansion franchise, meaning the San Jose Earthquakes will be reborn in 2008. This spawned a media flurry, with articles popping up all over the place. Hard to believe it was just last year that Wolff opened an office inside the Fairmont Hotel to house the operation to bring the Quakes back.

Now that he's succeeded, I just had to go explore the location of the old Earthquakes office, which sits abandoned 100 N. Almaden Ave. The neighborhood is a drop-dead gorgeous area of things that are run down and things that are fixed up. The old office sits there with a "For Lease" sign on it and the blue Earthquakes awnings are still there. I don't know why they needed the Fairmont. They could have just brushed the dust off the awnings and moved into this place instead. The building is called Peralta Square, as it's right adjacent to the Peralta Adobe, San Jose's oldest address. Built in 1797, the Peralta Adobe is the last remaining structure from the original El Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe settlement. The original San Jose Earthquakes were also the city's first major professional sports team back in the old league in the '70s. Fancy that.

I turned the corner and spotted a broken wrought-iron gate and some crumbling bricks on the Almaden side of the Adobe. Somehow the abandoned Earthquakes office and the crumbling bricks resonated like someone was trying to tell me something. But anyway, there's more than enough run-down blight in this week's issue, so we'll pass on that for the moment.

Instead, I segued one down the street to Britannia Arms, where several folks decked out in Earthquakes blue were celebrating the team's return and swilling champagne while watching the Major League Soccer all-star team play against Celtic, one of Scotland's most storied clubs.

For the last five years that they were here, the Quakes were always the most exciting team in the league to watch. It was constantly attacking soccer. General Manager Johnny Moore, who presided over their two championships, and who played for and once managed the old Quakes in the '70s, prided the team on the fact that the closer they were to the fans, the better, because they would eventually be fans themselves. The dedication to the team took priority above all else. He didn't hire any head cases or rock star players with an attitude. If someone copped an attitude, they got rid of him.

In a now legendary post in the soccer online forums, Moore said this: "I can assure you that in the early years if a player was doing anything to harm the team spirit we kicked lumps out of him in practice. It was always the Earthquake way or hit the road and some guys hit the road hard. We were going to do it the right way or else, no stars, no divers, no moaners, no lazy players and no bigheads. We always had creative attacking players but we also had the steel type, 'thou shall not pass' defenders who played with pride."

Other skeptical journalists in this town just did not believe that the Quakes would come back, let alone with their new stadium eventually. I can claim to have always believed they would come back; however, the same way that I always believed they weren't ever going to leave in the first place. So what d'ya do?

At the Britannia Arms party, one more piece of wisdom from that same Johnny Moore post was printed out and stuck all over the walls of the patio where the Quakes fans were celebrating: "We will be back and we will be lifting trophies while others scratch their heads and ask themselves how do they do it? The answer is simple, we are Earthquakes and we know what it takes. Just do it the right way and everything else will fall in place."

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