Philadelphia Soccer History

Philly soccer 100: USFA founded, Cup semis, Bethlehem tops Boys Club

Featured image: Kensington Boys’ Club in 1913

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

United States Football Association founded

At Astor House in New York on April 5, the United States Football Association, known today as the US Soccer Federation, was founded. As described in an earlier article on PSP, Philadelphia was a significant part of that historic event.

Cup play

When Smith AA and Wilmington Irish-Americans met in their Allied Amateur Cup semifinal on March 22, the game finished as a 1–1 draw. When they met for the semifinal replay on April 5, 1913 at Washington Park at 26th and Allegheny, the scoreline was the same after 90 minutes of play. At the end of the first half, the Irish-Americans were up 1–0 but Smith found a second half equalizer and so the replay went to extra time. There, the Inquirer reported on April 6, “The Irish Americans proved themselves better stayers,” finding the back of the net twice to book their ticket to the Amateur Cup final where they would face West Philadelphia.

In Philadelphia Challenge Cup play, Tacony FC and Wissinoming had met in a scoreless quarterfinal draw on March 29. But when it was discovered that Wissinoming had fielded ineligible players, the Challenge Cup committee awarded Tacony a victory. The decision set up an April 5 semifinal match between Tacony and Camden at Tacony Ballpark at State and Unruh Street. While Camden converted a penalty kick, the score was 2–1 in favor of Tacony at the half. By the end of 90 minutes, Tacony had scored two more goals, setting the stage for a Challenge Cup final between Tacony and Pennsylvania League champions Hibernians.

Before that, the American Cup final, scheduled to take place in Philadelphia on April 12 against Patterson True Blues, would offer Tacony a major opportunity to put a shine on an otherwise disappointing season.

“Amateur Championship of Pennsylvania,” Game Two

When Kensington Boys’ Club and Bethlehem FC met in the first game of the three-game series billed as the “Amateur Championship of Pennsylvania,” Boys’ Club had managed to pull off a 2–0 upset win on the road in Bethlehem. When the two teams met for the second game at Front and Erie on on April 5, it would be Bethlehem who would finish the 2–0 winners.

The Inquirer reported on April 6, “While it was expected that the game would prove one of the best of the season with so much at stake, and also on account of the great reputation of the two teams, it did not come up to expectations, there being entirely too much roughness infused into the game and the scientific end of the contest suffered in consequence.” Just how rough was the game? Boys’ Club played most of the game with ten men after Danny Gilmore, “their crack left half-back,” had his leg broken in two places after a collision with Bethlehem’s Tommy Fleming “when both were in hot pursuit for the ball, the affair being entirely accidental.”

The Inquirer continued, “Outside left Fleming, who injured his leg in the brush with Gilmore, created lots of amusement among the spectators by limping around the field and it looked as if he were injured seriously, but every time the ball came his way he must have forgotten his injury, for he sprinted and dribbled the ball as if nothing were the matter with him.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Fleming scored both of Bethlehem’s goals.

Still, even before going down to ten men, Boys’ Club didn’t appear up for the match. The Inquirer reported, “There was no denying the superiority of the winners, for they outclassed their opponents, both fore and aft…Right from the start with a strong wind against them, Boys’ Club played like a beaten team.” The Kensington team would have the third and final game of the championship series to change things around.

League play

In United League play, Frankford Boys’ Club easily defeated Olney 5–1 in the final game of the season to claim the league title. Finishing in second place was Whitehall Rovers, with Logan in third place.

The college game

Haverford had started the Intercollegiate soccer season strongly, defeating Columbia on the road and University of Pennsylvania in a local college derby. After falling to Harvard on April 5, however, Haverford’s hopes for a collegiate championship took a serious hit. They gained a win when Yale failed to show for a match at Haverford on April 8 and then easily defeated Cornell 6–1 on April 11.

University of Pennsylvania traveled to Columbia on April 5 and returned with a point from a scoreless draw.



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