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Philly Soccer 100: Bethlehem knocked out of Philly’s Allied Amateur Cup

Photo: The 1912-13 Bethlehem FC team

2013 is the centennial of the US Soccer Federation. Our series looking back at the Philadelphia soccer scene one hundred years ago continues.

While Bethlehem had been playing exhibition games against Philadelphia teams since 1908, the club officially entered the Philadelphia soccer scene in February of 1912 when it joined the city’s Allied Amateur Football Association in order to participate in the annual Allied Amateur Cup tournament. Bethlehem made it to the tournament final only to lose 3–1 to Cardington FC.

In August of 1912, Bethlehem applied to play in the city’s newly formed Allied American Football Association, which had been formed by the amalgamation of the city’s St. George Soccer League, the Inter-State  Association Football League, and the Philadelphia and Suburban Football League.

Bethlehem promptly dominated the first division of the new league and was undefeated and on a 14-game winning streak in league play when the Allied Amateur Cup tournament, also known as the Telegraph Cup, kicked off on Feb. 8, 1913. Bethlehem would open the first round at home.

Facing them would be Tacony AC (not to be confused with Tacony FC, reigning champs of the city’s professional Pennsylvania League for three seasons and the winners of the 1910 American Cup), currently in fourth place in the Allied American second division. Bethlehem were clear favorites to win the first round game, if not the tournament itself.

Instead, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Feb. 9, 1913, it was lowly Tacony who “put it all over Bethlehem.”

Bethlehem took the field with a weakened side, the Inquirer reporting, “Without making any excuses, the locals came on the field minus Captain Galbraith and Lawler, two of their best players.” Missing two key starters, Bethlehem were soon down to playing with ten men when left fullback Peacock left the game with an injury early in the first half. (This in the time before substitutions were allowed in soccer.)

Tacony opened the scoring when outside right Parks converted a penalty kick. Bethlehem fought back and equalized with a goal from future National Soccer Hall of Famer Thomas “Whitey” Fleming before the half.

But in the second half, it was all Tacony, who scored three unanswered goals to advance to the second round as 4–1 winners.

The Inquirer’s match report said, “It was a hard game to lose” for Bethlehem “but all credit goes to the victors.” In particular, the Inquirer singled out Tacony’s goalkeeper Beck, “whose remarkable work saved the Philadelphian’s many a goal.”

Tacony AC would make it all the way to the semifinals where they lost to eventual Cup winners West Philadelphia.

Bethlehem would have to wait until 1914 to win the Telegraph Cup. Along the way they would win two more Allied American league championships as well as their first American Cup and US Open Cup titles.


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