Philadelphia Soccer History

Philly Soccer 100: New Year’s Day soccer, 1914

Photo: Bethlehem FC, 1913-14

Our series looking at Philly soccer happenings 100 years ago continues.

The Philadelphia soccer schedule, full as it was in the lead-up to Christmas Day in 1913, continued to be very busy as the calendar moved into the new year.

American Cup, league games, and exhibition games before New Year’s Day

With Christmas Day falling on a Thursday in 1913, there was little time for players and teams to recover before the usual Saturday matchday on Dec. 27. Area grounds would also have little time to be mended following the half-an-inch of rain that had fallen on Christmas Day. While some league games were on the schedule, the big contests were two American Cup third round games and an intercity cup game.

In American Cup play, Victor of the professional Pennsylvania League hosted Jersey City AC while in Bethlehem, Bethlehem FC hosted the West Hudsons. Playing at Front and Erie, Victor was the better team in the first half despite, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Dec. 28, 1913, “the fact that they played up the hill with the wind against them.” But while they may have been the better team, the home side couldn’t find the back of the net, the Victor forwards not combining well “as is their wont.” Inside right Arthur Newton finally put Victor up 1-0 23 minutes into the second half. Soon after, Jersey City equalized when a Victor player whiffed a clearance. Those two goals would be all the scoring in the game, forcing a replay in Jersey City the following weekend.

West Hudson FC

West Hudson AA

Some 2,000 spectators were on hand to see Bethlehem host the West Hudsons of Harrison, New Jersey on a field covered in ice and snow. Despite the conditions, the Inquirer match report on Dec. 28 called the game the fastest ever seen in Bethlehem. The report said, “The game was started in whirlwind fashion, West Hudson trying to play Bethlehem off their feet.” The Steel Workers were able to weather the West Hudson assault and created at least three good scoring chances but the first half ended with both teams scoreless. After 20 minutes of second half play, Bethlehem took the lead when a corner kick from outside right Galbraith deflected off of the back of a West Hudson defender. The Inquirer reported, “Play then became fierce, for the visitors were determined to retrieve their ground.” The visitors would soon find their equalizer off of a breakaway. Bethlehem goalkeeper Scaife was able to make the initial stop but the West Hudsons pounced on the rebound for the leveler. As was the case with the meeting between Victor and Jersey City, a replay would be necessary to determine which team would advance to the next round and was scheduled to be played the next weekend at the Harrison Oval. Little did anyone know that it would take three replays for the winner of each contest to be determined.

Crescent AC

Crescent AC

An intercity match between Merchantville Cricket Club and Brooklyn’s Crescent AC was scheduled for Dec. 27 to determine the winner of the Crescent Cup, the annual contest between the reigning champions of the Associated Cricket Club League of Philadelphia and the Field Club League of New York. Merchantville had previously called West Philadelphia their home and played as Belmont but had recently made the move across the Delaware to New Jersey when the city bought their grounds for what is now the Kingsessing Recreation Center. The Inquirer reported on Dec. 28 that, since both teams were without many of their star players, both teams agreed to play a friendly instead and determine the cup champion at a later date. On this day, the Crescents defeated Merchantville 2-1 in a game the Inquirer described as “well worth witnessing.”

In league play, two Allied first division games took place, with Peabody defeating Kensington AA 2-1 at B and Clearfield Streets and West Philadelphia traveling to Reading for a scoreless draw. Three Allied League second division games were played. Putnam remained undefeated with a 4-0 win over Fairhill at Frankford and Berks. Marcus Hook defeated Hope Lodge 2-1 and in Wilmington, Windsor defeated the visiting Manchester Unity team 2-1 at Shellpot Park. In third division play, Disston Reserves topped Providence 5-1 at Torresdale and Princeton Avenues, while Centenary defeated Darby YMA 2-1 at 22nd and Huntingdon. In Delaware, Edgemoor topped Puritan YML, 2-1.

In the United League, five games were played. While first place North Philadelphia had the day off, second place P.H.L., third place West End, and fourth place Vincome each won to maintain their positions on the league table. The highlight of the day was Era AA’s first win of the season. After suffering ten straight defeats, Era defeated Roxborough 5-0 at 5th and Wyoming, a scoreline that included a hat tick from outside left Irwin.

New Year’s Day games

The New Year’s Day schedule included two first round Philadelphia Challenge Cup games, two intercity friendlies, a benefit double header, exhibition games, as well as a smattering of league games.

Despite playing the entire game with only ten men, Tacony of the professional Pennsylvania League easily defeated Victor AA of the American League 4-2 in Philadelphia Challenge Cup play at Tacony Ballpark, located at State and Unruh. When Allied League first division side Smith AA faced Victor of the Pennsylvania League at Third and Lehigh, they too came with only ten players. Unlike Tacony, the omission cost them, and Victor finished the easy 6-1 winners.

Philadelphia Hibernian

Philadelphia Hibernian

The big game of the day was the friendly between two professional sides, Philadelphia’s Hibernian and New York’s Clan MacDonald of the National Association Foot Ball League, at Potter’s Field at Front and Erie. The Hibs were the 2-0 winners, with both goals coming in the first half. In the day’s other intercity friendly, American League leaders Philadelphia Electric traveled to the shore to face the Atlantic City Athletic Club and returned with a 2-1 victory.

A benefit doubleheader took place at Third and Lehigh to raise funds for two La Mott players who had suffered serious injuries earlier in the season. This was a time of no social safety net — no health insurance, no unemployment insurance — so an injury received playing soccer could be devastating to players who were typically industrial workers.

The first game of the doubleheader featured youth teams, with Hanson FC of the Philadelphia Junior League against Wissinoming of the Northeast Junior League. Hanson were the 3-2 winners in what the Inquirer match report of Jan. 2 described as an interesting game in which “all the players gave a good sample of what to expect of the coming future greats in the soccer field.”

The second game of the doubleheader was billed as featuring the pick of the United League against the pick of the American League. While the United League side featured players from the Christ Church, Logan, North Philadelphia, P.H.L. Vincome, and West End teams, the American League side was made up entirely of players from Rangers FC. The Inquirer described, “Despite the fact that the Rangers have not done anything worthy of note so far this season in the league series, they nevertheless can be counted upon to make the strongest eleven hustle.” They were apparently successful in doing so and for 70 minutes, the game was was scoreless. The final 20 minutes of play finished with a explosion of goal scoring before the game ended in a 3-3 draw.

Chester's Linwood Hibernians, 1913-14

Chester’s Linwood Hibernians

Two other friendlies of note took place on New Year’s Day 1914, with the Linwood Hibernians of Chester defeating Marcus Hook’s Viscose, 4-2, and Kensington defeating Manchester Unity at Front and Allegheny, 4-1.

In league play, Bethlehem defeated Reading 1-0 in an Allied League first division game at Lauer’s Park in Reading.  The Globe of South Bethlehem reported, “Before the kick-off, President Judd, Reading, presented the Bethlehems team with four handsome corner flags, in Blue and White, the Bethlehems colors, as a token of the good friendship that exists between the two clubs and with the hope that the same would continue.” While the Inquirer described the match as “a battle royal” the Globe said that, after scoring the lone goal 30 minutes into the game, Bethlehem was content to defend and “took no chances in the second half,” mindful as they were of the American Cup replay against West Hudson taking place only three days later.

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