Philadelphia Soccer History

Philly Soccer 100: Play resumes after a month of winter postponements

Photo: 1913-14 Philadelphia Electrics

Our series on Philadelphia soccer happenings one hundred years ago continues

Between Sunday, March 1, 1914, and Saturday, March 7, 1914, 10 inches of snow fell on the Philadelphia region. And so, for the fourth Saturday in a row, no league games were played in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on March 8, 1914, “Many important games were scheduled, but the snow on Friday evening rendered all the grounds in a totally unfit condition for play.”

Postponed games still piling up

Detail from Philadelphia Inquirer article, March 8, 1914

By now, the schedules of the city’s leagues were in dire straits. The Inquirer reported, “The soccer season closes May 15, and unless special permission can be obtained from the United States Football Association it is more than likely that it will be impossible to finish the schedule of the majority of the leagues and also the final rounds of the various cup competitions may not be reached.”

Actually, one area team did get a game in. With the start of the intercollegiate season just a week away, Penn played Philadelphia Cricket Club in a friendly and managed to win, 3-0. The Inquirer reported on March 8, “The field was inches deep in snow, but enough of it had been cleared off to allow the players to, at least, follow the course of the ball.” On March 14, Penn would open its season with a 6-3 win over Yale after a second half rally in New Haven.

Save for a midweek dusting of a half inch of snow, the week leading up to the March 14 matchday was free of winter precipitation and league play was able to resume on a somewhat abbreviated for the first time in a month. Some players were uncertain whether or not scheduled games would be played, and many of the day’s  games featured shorthanded teams. The return of league play was also affected by the fact that some teams had games in the city’s Allied Amateur Cup tournament scheduled.

Perhaps the biggest news leading up to the March 14 matchday wasn’t that games would be played. Rather, it was the news that the American Cup semifinal between Philadelphia Hibernian and Tacony at Tacony Ball Park had been postponed until the following week, “provided the grounds are fit at that time.” The Inquirer reported on March 13, “Although efforts have been made during the week to have the grounds playable for Saturday through having a large force of men clearing the snow, it was found that a thick layer of ice underneath the snow practically made it impossible to allow the game to be played as scheduled.” The semifinal match between Bethlehem and Jersey AC, scheduled to be played on Sunday, March 15, 1914, in Jersey City, was also postponed and wouldn’t be played until March 29.

In the Allied League, two second division games were played. Playing at B and Clearfield streets, Centenary romped against St. Nathaniel, who had arrived with only eight players, for a 14-1 win, the biggest scoreline of the season. At Central Park, Falls YMA showed up to face Puritan YML with only seven players and returned home 7-0 losers.

Two United League games were played. At Second and Wyoming, PHL defeated Kensington Boys’ Club Reserves 3-2 on a field “inches deep in mire.” Nine men West End defeated eight-men Roxborough, 4-0.

Five Amateur Cup games were contested. Playing “in a sea of mud with a plentiful mixture of ice” Audubon and Manchester Unity remained level at 1-1 after 90 minutes and extra time. In Point Breeze, Kensington AA easily defeated the Atlantic Refinery team, 10-3.

Linwood Hibernians “gained a meritorious victory” in Chester over Fairhill Wanderers, winning 3-1 in Amateur Cup play. In Wilmington, West Philadelphia trounced Windsor 11-0 with center forward Robinson tallying five goals. Playing at home, Reading thumped Philadelphia’s Allegheny AC 9-1, the Inquirer reporting on March 15, “the front rank of the home team scored goal after goal until it became monotonous.”

It appears that only one American League game was scheduled, a match between Frankford Boys’ Club and undefeated league leaders Philadelphia Electrics, but a pitch inspection on Friday had shown the grounds to be unplayable and the game was postponed.

Hibs v Phil Electric ad 3-14-1914 p10

Ad from the March 14, 1914 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer

The postponement resulted in an opportunity for the Electrics. The Saturday morning edition of the Inquirer reported on March 14, 1914, that Hibernian, desirous of playing time before their rescheduled American Cup semifianl against Tacony, had organized an exhibition game to be played that day against Philadelphia Electrics at Third and Lehigh. The Inquirer reassured its readers, “The grounds have been cleared and the match is certain to be played.”

To the surprise of most observers, the amateur “Live Wires” defeated the professional Hibernians, 3-2. While the March 15 match report noted that Hibs “did not infuse as much grit into their play as they might have done,” the Inquirer declared the Electrics were “thoroughly entitled to the victory, for they had the better of the game, their forwards working together with more unionism than the Irishmen.”

Still conditions were not ideal and, while the field may have been “cleared” for the game, the Inquirer reported that, nevertheless, “the ground was in bad condition.”

“Taking everything into consideration,” the Inquirer concluded, “the contest yesterday was interesting from every standpoint, for if there was not anything doing in the way of passing movement the spectators were given lots of amusement through the players wading through the water which covered the ground in certain places.”

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