Philadelphia Soccer History

Philly Soccer 100: Allied Amateur and Philly Challenge Cup semis, college derby.

Featured image: Belmont Cricket Club association football team, 1912-13.

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

One hundred years ago this week in Philadelphia soccer, the American League and recently formed United League continued league play. But the marquee games of the weekend were in the semifinals of the city’s two Cup tournaments, the Allied Amateur Cup and the Philadelphia Challenge Cup, and a college derby between Haverford and University of Pennsylvania. Also, more bad news for Belmont Cricket Club.

Semifinal Cup play

In semifinal play in the Allied Amateur Cup—also referred to as the Telegraph Cup in the Philadelphia Inquirer—on March 29, 1913, West Philadelphia, which had finished in second place behind Bethlehem in the Allied American first division, traveled across the Schuylkill to face Tacony AC, who had finished fourth in the Allied American second division (and are not to confused with Tacony FC of the professional Pennsylvania League). While there would be no upset as West Philadelphia defeated Tacony 2–1, that is not to say that the semifinal was not a nervy game. The Inquirer reported on March 30, “Typical cup tie form was displayed by the teams and scientific football was at a premium owing to the anxiousness of the teams to win out.” West Philadelphia center forward Robinson scored both of his club’s goals.

In the Philadelphia Challenge Cup, Hibernians defeated fellow Pennsylvania League club Thistles 3–1 at Washington Park, located at 26th and Allegheny. The Inquirer reported on March 30, “Despite the fact that the Hibs were compelled at the last moment to change the lineup, owing to having players on the injured list, they were the best team on the day’s play.” Hibs center forward McNichol scored a hat trick in the win.

Owing to delays due to protests and the weather, Tacony FC and Wissinoming finally met in the second round of the Philadelphia Challenge Cup only for the teams to finish with a scoreless draw.

League play

In the United League, first place Frankford Boys’ Club continued to dominate, thrashing Hohlfeld 5–0 at Harrison and Horrock’s Streets in Frankford. While second place Whitehall Rovers kept pace with Frankford thanks to a 5–2 win over Roxborough, the math was against their hopes of catching the league leaders. North Philadelphia’s dip in form continued as the team went down in a 3–0 loss to Logan. The Inquirer reported on March 30, “Logan played in unbeatable form and held the advantage from start to finish.” Logan’s goalkeeper not only kept a clean sheet, he scored from a penalty kick. With the win, Logan moved into third place with North Philadelphia falling to fourth.

While Boys’ Club had already clinched the American League championship, league play continued with Philadelphia Athletics easily defeating Camden 2–0 at Second and Allegheny. With the win, the Athletics moved one point clear of Camden and into fifth place in the standings. The Pennsylvania & Reading Railroad Athletic Association and Collingwood met for a scoreless draw, a result that saw the two teams level on points in the standings but Collingwood in third place on goal difference and with a game in hand.

College derby

Haverford began their 1913 campaign in the Intercollegiate League with a decisive 3–1 road win at Columbia University on March 22. They continued their strong start with a 2–1 win over University of Pennsylvania on March 29. The Inquirer reported on March 31, “The Main Liners have one of the strongest teams in the history of the college, which was proved last Saturday when they so handsomely defeated Pennsylvania, which was regarded as the favorites for this year’s title.

Cricket Club matchup

Belmont Cricket Club, who had won the Associated Cricket Clubs’ League first division championship, traveled to Staten Island to face the Staten Island Field Club, champions of the Field Club League of New York, for the Crescent Challenge Cup. When the two clubs met in Philadelphia for the Cup in 1912, Belmont had won, 2–1. Playing in Livingston, Staten Island on March 29, 1913, Staten Island emerged the winner by the same score.

The loss was a tough blow for a team that had already had its share of bad news, a team that had been so instrumental in reviving soccer in Philadelphia in 1901. The Inquirer reported on March 31, “This may probably be the last season for Belmont, that is, unless the players stick together and secure new grounds for next season, as their grounds at Elmwood have been taken over by the city for a playground.”

You can visit that playground today at the Kingsessing Recreation Center, located between Chester Avenue and Kingsessing Avenue, and 49th and 51st Streets.


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