In the Trenton area, where they’ve been playing soccer since the start of the 20th century, few players have had a bigger influence on the development of soccer than Charlie “Ping Pong”Farrauto.
The “soccer guru” of the Mercer Country area, Charlie Farrauto not only played the game at the highest levels, but also helped develop the careers of countless players who went on to successful collegiate and professional careers.
During the 1970’s a dozen of Farrauto’s soccer “pupils” we playing in the North American Soccer League. Two of them – Glenn Myernick in 1976 and Bill Gazonas in 1977 – won the Hermann Trophy as the nation’s top collegiate players. Teammates at Hartwick (N.Y.) College, they developed into premier players under the tutelage of “Ping Pong” as high school players in Trenton.
His active playing career spanned over 40 years, and even after his days on the field ended because of knee problems, “Ping Pong” remained close to the game as a top high school referee and amateur team coach.
It was a career that began shortly after World Was II in the youth leagues in Trenton, and even before he had completed high school “Ping Pong” was playing with the top amateur teams in the state.
A skillful midfielder whose keen insight for the game made him a most valuable player on virtually every team he played for. Charlie’s list of accolades began in 1953 when he led Trenton’s Extension Tavern Juniors to the finals of the U.S. National Junior cup where they lost to Newark Boys Club, 1-0. The following season he helped Trenton’s Olden bar SC win the Philadelphia Men’s League and New Jersey state Cup.
He spent the next three years playing for Newark Portuguese in the American Soccer League, helping the team win two Kearney Charity Cup titles. He starred collegiate at Rider and in the off season played for Newark Sports Club in the German American League.
It was during that period “ Ping Pong” gained international experience facing Wolverhampton of England, Glasgow Celtics of Scotland and Warsaw Legia of Poland as a member of Newark Portugese.
He spent the 1968-69 season with Phoenix SC of the Philadelphia League, and the next year returned home to Trenton as player/coach for Trenton Extension.
His Extension teams won six Mercer County League titles, and in 1976 led Trenton to the Eastern Amateur Cup title and runner-up in the U.S. Men’s Amateur Cup finals after a loss to Bavarian Blue Ribbon in Milwaukee.
Myernick, currently coaching the Colorado Rapids in MLS and a former U.S. National Team captain, attributed much of his development as a soccer player to lessons he learned from Charlie Farrauto. Former Trenton-bred NASL players like Bob Smith (Cosmos), Kevin Welsh (Hartford), Gazonas (Tulsa), Tim Murphy (Portland) and Art Napolitano (Houston) honored their soccer skills playing alongside Farauto.
His career as a player ended just short of his 50th birthday when he helped Hiberians and Trenton Panorama win Mercer County League titles. His love for soccer enabled him to view four World Cup tournaments in person – Chile (1962), Mexico (1986), Italy (1990) and the U.S. (1994).