Q&A: Catching up with an Earthquakes original Paul Child

Child talks the '74 Earthquakes, success & his San Jose Sports Hall of Fame induction

SJEarthquakes.com caught up with NASL legend Paul Child ahead of his San Jose Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony on Wednesday. Child joined his 1974 Quakes teammates and friends for a get-together ahead of the event. 

Child, who was inducted into the San Jose Earthquakes Hall of Fame in 2012, emerged as one of the first superstars of the original 1974 Earthquakes NASL squad. He led the league that year, scoring 15 goals, tallying 6 assists and earning First-Team All-Star honors.

The Birmingham, England native remembers his time in San Jose fondly. The great fans, his close teammates and community stand out to the prolific goal-scorer. He scored 61 goals over the course of 6 seasons for the club and led the Earthquakes to their NASL Indoor Tournament championship title in 1975.

SJEarthquakes.com: First of all, congratulations on your induction into the San Jose Sports Hall of Fame. You’ve already been inducted into the U.S. Soccer Hall of the Fame and the San Jose Earthquakes Hall of Fame – aren’t you running out of Hall of Fames to be inducted into?
PC: [Laughs] It looks like it. To be honest with you, I never would have believed that I  would have gotten into one Hall of Fame. All you do all of your life is play and you give everything you’ve got. You try the best you can. And, if you’re really lucky, something like this happens. I couldn’t be more proud. The guys that are here tonight with me make that possible.

SJEQ:  What was your most memorable Earthquakes moment?
PC: I think the most memorable moment for me is when we played the New York Cosmos. Playing against players that I grew up watching – Pele, Beckenbauer,- you know, all the top players in the world played for the New York Cosmos. The stadium being 21,000 people in a 19,000-seat stadium. We won the game 2-1. There is nothing better than coming home with a win when you play against the best players in the world.  

SJEQ: Any memorable Earthquakes moments off of the pitch? 
PC: [Laughs] I’m trying to think of the good ones I can tell you about…

SJEQ: Or the not-so-good ones?
PC: [Laughs] Don’t get me wrong – it was nothing crazy. We just had a group of guys that were so close-knit. You know, I went on to play a long time after I left San Jose, and I never came across a group of guys that were the same. When we would win a game, you would know it because we would go into a bar and liven that place up. We would have one guy singing and everybody joining in. It was kind of like a rugby team, you know, with songs after the game. That was the kind of group we had. Everyone came as well. There weren’t some guys that went somewhere else and didn’t turn up. Everybody went out together when we won a game, and everybody went out together when we lost a game.

SJEQ: Who was the prankster on the team?
PC: Oh, Johnny Moore. He was definitely one of the big pranksters. We had quite a few, actually. But, Johnny Moore is definitely the one.

SJEQ: Who was your favorite player to play against?
PC: The ones I really remember are the ones that gave me a real hard time and made it difficult for me. That was a guy called Dave Gillett, and he used to play for the Seattle Sounders.

SJEQ: We’re coming up on our 40th anniversary as a club next year – how has San Jose changed since you’ve been here?
PC: It’s grown incredibly. It’s funny to come back. It just seems like every spare piece of ground has a building on it. Obviously, the city is growing and the sports are growing with it.

SJEQ: What current Earthquakes remind you of yourself?
PC: Wondolowski: the goal-scorer. He’s a very good player. I think he has a lot of potential. He’s great for the city,  and it’s great to see the fans get behind him and help him.

SJEQ: What are you up to now?
PC: I’m still very involved with soccer. We have a professional team in Pittsburgh called The Pittsburgh Riverhounds. They are in the USL. I’m a commentator for the USL network. I enjoy doing that right now. I’m not really coaching as much anymore, but I may be getting back into that soon. I really like working with the youth players.  

SJEQ: Finally, if you could go back and give yourself advice at the peak of your career, what would it be?
PC: I wish I would have stayed in San Jose.