SI Vault
May 15, 1967
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May 15, 1967


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Never mind that many world-ranking soccer teams play a defensive game and that millions every year are thrilled by it. The owners of the Pittsburgh Phantoms have decided that defensive soccer is not very entertaining. "There is no action and no interest," Team President Peter Block said recently. "It's like hockey, if you dump the puck back to mid-ice all the time."

With that, Block instructed Coach Janos Bedl to change the Phantoms' tactics and play offensively. Understandably reluctant, since the Phantoms were undefeated and were leading the National League's Eastern Division, Bedl finally had to give in. "If we win every game 8-1, it is not good soccer," he said bitterly. The team tested the front-office strategy against the St. Louis Stars last week. With 20 minutes still to be played, Gerhard Wedemeier, a Phantom player, got a bit too offensive, so to speak, kicking the Stars' Rudolf Kolbi and knocking him down from behind. Weidemeier was ejected from the game, and St. Louis immediately scored three goals against the shorthanded Phantoms to win the game 4-1. The St. Louis coach said later, " Pittsburgh has no technique. They do not play with, with—how do you say?—Kultur."


Just consider the possibilities for a cat burglar. In the vaults of Madrid's Salmon Bank are some 10,000 pounds of fish, and official transactions—deposits, withdrawals and loans—are made in salmon. Established in 1964 by a former waiter, the bank now has a clientele that rivals the House of Rothschild. Among those with accounts are Generalissimo Francisco Franco, Emperor Haile Selassie, King Baudouin, El Cordob�s, the Maharaja of Mayurbaug and Prince Juan Carlos (who is, at present, six kilos overdrawn).

On a typical day last week a 31-pound fish killed on a Canadian river arrived by jet for deposit, and an 18-pound smoked salmon was dispatched to New York to be served as a first course at a diplomatic luncheon. The bank's depositors can draw fresh, frozen or smoked fish against the balance in their accounts and, on occasion, credit is extended, but a loan must be repaid in kind, not cash.

Ramon Mestanza Pascual, the 61-year-old founder and president of the establishment, says he has had a lifelong interest in salmon. "I've always felt an irresistible attraction toward this brave fish," he explains. "It is one of the most beautiful in existence."

In 1952 he designed and patented a platter especially for salmon. So popular was it that today nearly everyone in Spain who serves the fish owns one of Mestanza's dishes. About the same time he also began to experiment with methods of smoking salmon. His earliest attempts were made surreptitiously in the furnace of Mansard's, the chic Madrid restaurant where he was working as a waiter. "The result was not particularly appetizing," he says. Next he tried using sawdust from a piece of antique furniture, but "the fish smelled of termites" and tasted no better.

Mestanza's present formula, for which he has become internationally famous, is secret. He admits only to using special woods and aromatic herbs such as thyme and sweet marjoram. So great a delicacy is his smoked salmon that it is worth more per pound ($7.50) than Spanish pesetas. It would seem a solid base to bank on.


If you want a ticket to the tennis matches at Wimbledon this summer, you have about as much chance of getting one as you have of drawing a live number in the Irish Sweeps. The method of choosing is the same—by lottery—and the odds are not much better.

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