The 1981 Hamilton Steelers not only won the National Soccer League championship, a feat that had not been done for many years, but also won the triple-crown consisting of the league, league cup, and playoffs. They also did it in convincing style by blowing away the opposition with 16 wins, 1 tie, and 3 losses, for 33 points. The tie is the only point they lost at home that season. The 55 goals for, and the 16 goals against, were the best in the league. Center forward, Rennie Phillips, was the league’s top scorer with 18 goals, and goalie Carlo Greco and Ardo Perri letting in the least goals. The team was exclusively owned by Mario Di Bartolomeo, coached by Carlo Del Monte, managed by Mauro Di Pietro and the equipment manager was Al Swaizland.
The Hamilton Steelers were an off-shoot of the Italo Canadians that won the 1970 Ontario Cup, competed in the NSL from 1972-79 and won the NSL 2nd division in 1976. Mario, who was one of the Italo Canadians directors, brought in Carlo to assist coach Frank Donlavey in 1978. With the assistance of manager Mauro Di Pietro, Carlo took the team over in 1979, and finished 2nd to Toronto First Portuguese. Since his partners become disillusioned, Mario applied and was granted a leave of absence from the league in 1980. With the Steelers on leave of absence, Carlo coached Buffalo Blizzards for the first 8 games in 1980, leading them to 8 straight victories and 1 goal against.
Faced with financing the team on his own, Mario delayed re-entering the team in the NSL until the late date of February 1981. Wanting to put a Canadian identity on the game, the team was renamed Hamilton Steelers. Ecstatic of the team’s 1981 successes, Mario thanked Carlo Del Monte for putting the team together in such quick order, Mauro Di Pietro for his commitment and loyalty over the years, and announcer Mike Szkwara for promoting the team.
With quality returnees from the 1979 team, his Downsview Canadian youth championships teams of 1973-74-75, and the indoor Buffalo Stallions, Carlo had access to an excellent pool of players. In combination with an iron fisted manager like Mauro, and an owner like Mario Di Bartolomeo, who dug deep into his pocket but not only expected but demanded nothing less than 100% effort, the formula for a perfect season was assured.v