The Lone Star Sports Ledger recently caught up with extraordinary actor Donal Logue.
Over a 20 year career, his film credits include Patriot, Gettysburg, Blade, Jerry McGuire, Reindeer Games, Zodiac, and Ghost Rider to name a few. But it was his starring role in the independent comedy, “The Tao of Steve” (2000) that won him the Sundance Film Festival: Special Jury Prize for Acting. Logue made his directorial debut with the independent film Tennis, Anyone?
Aside from the talented actor he has proven himself to be, very few outside Hollywood know that Logue is a soccer enthusiast. So much that he owns his own professional club, Hollywood United F.C.
The Ledger dug into the mind of the proven actor, as well as the passionate owner.
The Ledger: You currently own a professional soccer club that has historically fielded high-profile names since the early 80′s. From The Cult’s Billy Duffy & Ian Astbury; Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard; Paul Cook & Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, as well as current actors Dermot Mulroney and Jason Statham, to include former U.S. Men National Team stars Eric Wynalda, Alexi Lalas, & John Harkes. This isn’t your normal “Sunday league-just for fun” squad is it?
Donal: I came pretty late to a club that had been around for almost 20 years. Steve “Jonesy” Jones and Company fielded a team with mostly English expats to get a good kick-around going in Los Angeles. Since then, it became well-known for the celebrities and ex-internationals who have played for the club. It should be known, however, that the heart and soul of the organization are the teams that play in various leagues around Los Angeles: The “Over 30’s” and “Over 40’s” clubs, and the team that we fielded in a “7’s” league in Santa Monica. The part of the club I own is in part with Anthony LaPaglia (who is kind of the patron Saint of all the teams). It is actually a semi-pro team that comprises players who all have a fairly high level of experience, whether in Pro leagues or with National teams (both youth and full International level). I would say that anytime guys like Richard Gough, Frank Leboeuf and Eric Wynalda get on the pitch, the competitive spirit and the legs are still there. Same can be said for Steve Jones, Billy Duffy, Danny Cannon and Gilles Marini, they just want to score, mark, play, and win.
Also, our pro team GM (and they person who organizes the charity events) is a guy named Jason Mathot who used to play for the Canadian National Team. I don’t think I have met a more driven and competitive person anywhere. Takes a lot of people working for free to keep this kind of institution alive.
The Ledger: Hollywood United finished 2011 with a 11-1-2 record in the National Premier Soccer League, and made it to the finals. In most European leagues, that type of campaign would have promoted the United to the next level. Do you wish U.S. soccer had a Promotion/Relegations system similar to the Europeans?
Donal: I do wish we had promotion and relegation in the US. I have heard, however, that due to the fear of billionaire owners in the EPL that England was looking at abandoning it (much like all US Pro Sports leagues). Probably, there is no chance of that since English football is about the meteoric rise of small clubs and the fall of powers (like Forest and Leeds), and the desire for those teams to return to the top flight. I think, however, the chance of promotion only spurs the competitive spirit in clubs. Based on that, maybe the Austin Aztex, Charleston Battery, et al may be in the MLS without the need for huge financial backing. I fancy a lot of team’s chances at the top end of the teams just sub MLS with the lower MLS squads. I do think teams like the Galaxy and Houston are definitely at another level.
The Ledger: Hollywood United has organized several charity games, raising awareness and funds for several causes such as California’s wildfires, Survivors of Torture, & children of Puerto Vallarta. You yourself recently played in a Stand Up To Cancer charity event. Not many teams are as dynamic as yours. What’s the secret to your success?
Donal: We are lucky to have a pool of so many people who love the game and are willing to show up almost anywhere at anytime to play a game once we get it organized. We too, however, always fight the level of disinterest that exists in the US for soccer (unless a World Cup match is on). We also reach out to different communities in LA (especially the Mexican and El Salvadoran communities, where the passion for the game runs high). Our NPSL club played two highly entertaining matches against Isidro Metapan from El Salvador (one close loss and a tie) and it gets people out. We also held a charity event with the celebrity team for a Metapan player who was unfortunately murdered after we had played them the first time. They are a great club and it is a lot of fun to play them. The last event was a sad occasion, but soccer is a healing sport in many ways.
The Ledger: Hot Seat Question: If you could put a players face on the franchise, past or present, who would it be?
Donal: I would put three- Steve Jones and Anthony LaPaglia for being high-profile guys who love the game and brought the team along, as well as Emmanuel Bentil for our younger pro team (even though he is the old vet of the squad). Emma (as we call him) captained the Ghana U-17 team to the World Cup Championship in 1995 and scored two goals against Brazil in the Final. He went on to play for Bayern Munich, Kalamata in Greece, in Russia, Bulgaria, Vietnam, Israel, El Salvador, the Galaxy and now, with us. Emma is a true pro. It is a hard life to stay that focused, especially as one gets older and the leagues and level of atmosphere changes drastically.
The Ledger: EPL, La Liga, Seria A, or MLS? Why?
Donal: I love the EPL and the Bundesliga. I think the pace of the EPL is thrilling and the level of competition in Germany is amazing. La Liga has the two super teams in the world right now, but it might not have the parity of England. Serie A is incredible technically, but the league has been so beaten with scandal that it takes a bit of gloss off the Milan clubs and Juventus (who are all awesome). I love the MLS because I live in the US and my kids and I have great bonding memories from being hard-core Galaxy fans and going to the matches here in LA.
The Ledger: Alright Donal, The Ledger is handing you a blank check. What sport franchise would you buy and who would be the first player your signed?
Donal: Tottenham, and I would buy Messi (ha ha- if only!) I like the squad the Spurs have put together as it is. So many great players though. I do love the technical skill of the Brazilian Ganso on Santos- he is brilliant and I can’t wait to follow his career.
The Ledger: If you weren’t running the Hollywood United, you’d be _______:
Donal: Still struggling in my Hollywood career as an actor.
The Ledger: Do you need to recruit or does the history of the team gravitate players?
Donal: Both. We have great coaches in Jose Botello (ex LA Galaxy star) and Hunberto “Pony” Mier and they have a nose for all of the talent in Southern California. Pony, because he played in Mexico for most of his career, uses those friendships to pull in great players from Mexico and Central America. We are lucky to have those guys.
The Ledger: What career has been more gratifying? Acting or owning a professional soccer club?
Donal: Both are a dream come true. I just hope the acting holds up enough to allow me to support a soccer team! It is a labor of love at this time and place in America, but hopefully the day will come when we feel as strongly about our own clubs and players as we do about the Messi’s and Zlatan’s and Rooney’s of the world!
The Ledger: Switching gears to acting. Guys have to know the truth on this one: When filming The Patriot, how awesome was it to spill virtual “blood and guts” on the battlefield next to Mel Gibson?
Donal: Filming the Patriot and just charging on horseback across fields with Mel and Heath Ledger (and all the other 100’s of great people working on that project) was a blast. Mel was really cool to me and it was my second film back to back with him. I had my first son on the first flick and he was a really good person to talk to about all that. I know Mel has gone through a rough patch, but as Robert Downey Jr. pointed out, he has a huge heart and is a loyal person. Wish him, and everyone on planet earth, just the best. If anyone goes through a hard time, all you can do is pray for them and hope it gets easier.
Donal Logue has accepted the task of two of the most difficult and harshest professions in the world. Hollywood actor, and owner of a professional American soccer club. On any given day, either one will rear its ugly head and crush your spirit. Logue’s spirit however, has withstood the test of cruelty, as he continuously moves forward one step at a time. Success doesn’t come without failure. Donal has ensured that regardless of what roadblocks may stand before him, he will always have his talent, as well as his footie mates to lean on.
The Ledger wishes Donal Logue the best of good fortunes and many blessings for each road he travels!
Visit Donal Logue’s home page here.