History

New Year’s Day soccer in Philly, 1915

Photo: Detail of Philadelphia Inquirer sports page, January 3, 1915

Local teams were active over the New Year’s Day holiday one hundred years ago with league games, benefit games, and American Cup games, concluding a series of holiday games that began with Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here’s a look at some of the highlights.

Disston knocked out of American Cup

Two days after Christmas, 1914, Philadelphia’s Disston, formerly known as Tacony FC, traveled to Newark to face the West Hudsons in the third round of the American Cup.

In 1910, Tacony had won the American Cup, losing the 1913 final to Patterson, and the 1914 final to Bethlehem. “Outwitted, demoralized and beaten at every point of the game,” Disston was defeated 4-1 by the West Hudsons.

Down 1-0 at the half, Disston crumbled in the second half, the Philadelphia Inquirer reporting on December 28,

So decisively did the Newarkers tower over their rivals that they scored two of their goals in the second period after Carter, their crack centre forward, had been carried off the field through injuring his right leg, after scoring his goal early in the second half. There was not one department of the game where Disstons excelled the Hudsons, the latter having the weight, speed, dash and also the team work, which is essential to a winning combination.

Disston’s elimination from the tournament meant that Bethlehem and Victor were the only representatives of Philadelphia leagues remaining in the tournament.

Hibs fall to New York Continentals and other New Year’s Day games

With New Year’s Day falling on a Friday in 1915, Philadelphia soccer fans had a rare opportunity to enjoy back-to-back days of games.

Hibernian, 1913-14

Hibernian, 1913-14

The big game of the day was an intercity match between Hibernian and New York Continentals at Fairhill Ball Park at Third and Lehigh. At the end of the half, Hibs was trailing, 2-0. They managed to cut the lead in half in the second period but could not breakthrough a strong Continental defense before conceding another goal, finishing the game the 3-1 losers.

Despite the loss by the Philadelphia side, the Inquirer was effusive in its praise of the quality of play, particularly of the Continentals goalkeeper “who practically saved his team from defeat.” Describing it as “the best match played in this city in some time,” the Inquirer’s January 2 match report continued,

Never before since the days of the old Thistles, Albions, Corinthians and the British-Americans has there been such a splendid exhibition witnessed of the dribbling and passing game as what took place in yesterday’s match. The forwards, ably fed by their half-backs on both teams, passed the ball like clockwork, which brought forth much favourable comment, especially among some of the old timers, who have been under the impression that the game was deteriorating since the retirement of some of the old stars.

Also on New Year’s Day, West Philadelphia’s Cardington team of the city’s United League “threw a rude jolt” into the American League’s Victor Talking Machine Company team (not to be confused with Victor FC), pulling off a shocking 6-0 away win in Camden.

Wanderers, 1914-15

Wanderers, 1914-15

It was proving to be something of a bad run of games for American League teams as Rangers lost 4-1 to the Allied American League’s Wanderers at Front and Erie.

More games

On Saturday, January 2, two games would be of particular interest.

Across the river in New Jersey, the Merchantville Field Club, formerly the Belmont Cricket Club, defeated Moorestown, 2-1 to claim the Cricket Club League title. Belmont/Merchantville now had an unbroken run of league titles stretching back to the 1909-1910 season.

Back in Philadelphia, an American League benefit match was played featuring the “Home-breds,” made up of American-born players, against an “Allies” side of foreign-born players.

The match ended in a 3-3 draw, the Inquirer announcing, “Just how advanced American-born soccer players have caught up with the game was demonstrated fully yesterday”. The Inquirer continued,

The “Home-breds” while not possessing  the science of their more experienced opponents, however, proved an aggressive team which counterbalanced the cleverness of the Allies, who gave a splendid exhibition of the dribbling game. The American-born players seemed to get going better at the beginning of the game and scored their three goals before their rivals had opened their account. In team work and manipulating the ball the Allies had it on their opponents, but the strong wind which blew from goal to goal had the effect of spoiling many passing movements of the Anglo-Saxon forward line.

The Inquirer noted that the “keen rivalry” between the two sides meant there was “lots of action and as the players never asked nor gave any quarter without losing their heads, this suited the spectators to a nicety, and in consequence play was fast all the way.”

Victor FC knocked out of the American Cup

A few weeks before in a Thanksgiving Day friendly, Victor FC and the Newark Scottish Americans had played to a 2-2 draw in East Newark. On that day, Victor had been the faster team, but the Scottish American defense was sound. On Sunday, January 3, 1915, the teams met again in East Newark for a third round American Cup match. The Inquirer reported, “Taking the run of play Victors did quite as much attacking as the Scots, but the latter made better use of their opportunities, being more aggressive in front of goal than the Quakers.”

Victors out of Amer Cup Ing p12 1-4-1915

Philadelphia Inquirer, January 4, 1915

That aggression paid off 19 minutes into the game when the Scottish Americans took a 1-0 lead, but Victor equalized nine minutes later with an “exceedingly slow” shot that was out of the reach of the Scots’ goalkeeper.

The game was level at 1-1 at the start of the half, but 15 minutes later the home team took the lead. Three minutes before the final whistle, the Scots made it 3-1 on a breakaway, and Victor was out of the American Cup. It was their first loss of the 1914-15 season.

The Inquirer pointed to weak play from the halfbacks as an on-field reason for the Philadelphia team’s loss, adding, “There is some excuse, however, for the Victors losing as their players did not show their real form due to participating in three hard games in as many days.”

Now only Bethlehem remained to represent Philadelphia leagues in the tournament. They were scheduled to face the Farr & Alpaca team of Holyoke, Massachusetts in the third round, but just where the game would be played had not yet been decided. The Inquirer reported on January 2 that Farr & Alpaca “has the choice of ground, but the Bethlehem club has offered the New England men a guarantee of $250 to come to Bethlehem and play the game.” The $250 offer was no small sum, being the equivalent of nearly $6000 today.

One Comment

  1. Thank you for your work…. I am looking for info on my grand father ‘Charles W. Danks’..
    who I am told played for the Hibernians in the early 1900s…I will appreciate any tips you might send…pix, roster etc…..

    Again Thank You

    Lou Bell

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