The Tulsa Roughnecks FC named former original Tulsa Roughnecks player David Irving as their first head coach on Wednesday.
Irving, who spent 14-years as the head coach of the Wilmington Hammerheads, has ties to the old NASL Tulsa Roughnecks as a player. Tulsa general manager Noel Lemon acquired the striker in 1980, bringing him to Tulsa. Irving scored three goals in only seven appearances for the Roughnecks before joining the Atlanta Chiefs in mid-season. He played the 1981 season for the San Jose Earthquakes.
Irving comes to Tulsa after serving as head coach of the USL PRO’s Wilmington Hammerheads for 14 seasons.
During his tenure in North Carolina, the Hammerheads became one of the most accomplished franchises in USL PRO and he was inducted into the league’s Hall of Fame. He left his position with Wilmington in August of this season.
Irving, a native of Workington England, led the Hammerheads to 10 playoff appearances and three trips to the league championship game, winning the USL title in 2003. His teams have also excelled in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, reaching the quarterfinals on two occasions and claiming wins over Major League Soccer clubs Dallas and Chicago.
Irving played professionally, beginning his career with hometown Workington AFC before moving on a transfer to Everton FC in what was then the English First Division, the equivalent to today’s English Premier League. He also spent time with Sheffield United, Oldham Athletic and Shamrock Rovers. In 1978, Irving came to the United States and joined the Ft. Lauderdale Strikers in the old North American Soccer League, scoring 27 goals in 72 appearances for the Strikers.
Irving remember the enthusiastic crowds that filled Skelly Stadium (now H.A. Chapman Stadium) when he played in Tulsa 34 years ago.
“I do remember the Roughneck fans and how they filled Skelly Stadium,” he said. “After all these years, I feel privileged to be back in Tulsa, and I look forward to meeting and talking with those fans. The Roughnecks were a big part of the wonderful Tulsa soccer community, and I know that I have a tough act to follow with the legendary Roughneck players and coaches.”
“I want to thank the Roughnecks’ organization for this opportunity,” said Irving. “I am very excited.”
“We feel very fortunate to obtain a coach with David’s experience,” said Brian Carroll, Roughnecks Vice President of Public Relations. “His knowledge and understanding of how to construct a team to compete in USL PRO is invaluable. The fact that he played with the original Roughnecks is an added bonus. The entire Roughnecks organization looks forward to working with David to build a team that Tulsa fans will enjoy and take pride in supporting.”
If the team history is to be followed back to the NASL days, Irving is the seventh coach to manage a team with the Roughnecks name and the third former player to assume the head coaching position. He joins Alex Skotarek (1978), Charlie Mitchell (1980-81) as former players who became the teams head coach.
Irving’s role with the Roughnecks begins immediately. As head coach, he will oversee all aspects of the team’s operation, including scouting and signing players.
The Roughnecks will kick off their inaugural season in the USL in March 2015. Their home grounds will be at ONEOK Field in downtown Tulsa. Season tickets are on sale now at ONEOK Field at 201 N Elgin. More information on season tickets or the team can be obtained at tulsaroughnecksfc.com.