Philadelphia Soccer History

Philly Soccer 100: All-Philadelphia American Cup semi, benefit match draw & more

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

Tacony advance to American Cup final

Before the founding of the National Challenge Cup—known today as the US Open Cup—in the fall of 1913, the American Football Association’s American Cup was the premier soccer tournament in the US. First founded in 1885, the American Cup was throughout its history more of a regional rather than national tournament, and typically included clubs from New England down through Philadelphia. In the 1910s, Philadelphia-area teams would appear in nine American Cup finals, winning the championship six times.

Six Philadelphia clubs had started in the 1913 tournament in the fall of 1912. Two of those clubs—Tacony, winners of the 1910 American Cup, and 1911 finalists Hibernians—would meet in the semifinals on March 15, 1913.

Tacony and Hibernian both participated in the city’s professional Pennsylvania League, in which Tacony had been the champion since the 1909-10 season, eclipsing Hibernian, who had been champion four times previously since the leagues founding in 1902. But in the 1912-13 season, Tacony has started poorly and Hibernian had been the stronger club. Hibernian now led the league, although Tacony had climbed its way into second place. Heading into the tournament semifinal, Hibernians were the clear favorites to advance to the Cup final.

The two teams met on a heavy pitch at Tacony Ballpark at State Road and Unruh Streets on March 15, 1913 with Hibernians opening the scoring in the 34th minute, carrying the 1-0 lead into the half. But right after the resumption of play, Tacony leveled the scoreline. After missing a chance to take the lead when the penalty kick they were awarded went wide of the mark, Tacony scored the game winner in the 71st minute to advance to the Cup final. There they would meet Paterson True Blues, who had defeated Fall River 3-0 in the other semifinal match.

View of Tacony v Hibs semifinal

View of the Tacony vs. Hibernians American Cup semifinal from the March 16, 1913 edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Hibernian may have been the favorites but, as the Inquirer reported on March 16, “cup games have the habit of upsetting the dopesters,” adding in another report, “The playing of Tacony was a revelation to even their most ardent admirers.”  The Inquirer match report concluded, “There was not the least doubt which was the better eleven…Tacony played the cleverer combination and it is a question if a finer exhibition of soccer has been seen on any grounds this season, which is all the more creditable to both teams, especially when taking into account that so much was at stake.”

In attendance at the game were “President Brown and Secretary Andy Beveridge” of the AFA. The Inquirer reported on March 16, “According to the opinion of President Brown, the final round may be played in this city next month.”

(For more on Philadelphia in the 1913 American Cup, see our earlier article, Tacony v True Blues in 1913 American Cup final.)

Allied Amateur Cup

In the city’s Allied Amateur Cup tournament, West Philadelphia easily defeated Kensington 3–0 to advance to the semifinal of the tournament. The Inquirer reported on March 16 that “the West Phillies were undoubtedly the superior team” while Kensington “failed most miserably in the attack.”

On March 8, Wilmington Irish-Americans and Darby YMA had played to a 2–2 draw. On March 15, they met in a replay of their third round tie and Irish-Americans emerged as the victors with a commanding 5–0 win. The Inquirer reported on March 16, “The ground was in a very heavy condition and undoubtedly this brought about the downfall of Darby, who could not last the pace put up by the home team, who seemed to be in their element against their lighter opponents.”

League play

Only two United League games were played on March 15. North Philadelphia moved back to the top of the standings with a 4–0 win over Erie AC “on a muddy field at Front and Allegheny.” Erie, in last place, let up three second half goals. Whitehall Rovers moved into third place with a 3–1 win at Leeds Ball Park in Feltonville over fifth place P.H.L. The Inquirer reported, “The ground was a quagmire of mud and as the game progressed it got worse.”

In the American League, Philadelphia Athletics moved into fifth place with a 2–1 win over last place Burns Rangers, who with the result now had a 1–11–1 record.

Benefit match and odds and ends

Allied American 3rd Division Picked XI 1912-13

Another in the series of benefit matches for injured players took place on March 15, 1913 when Allied League third division champions Putnam FC played a picked team made up of players selected from the rest of the clubs in the league. The match, which was for the benefit of C. Leibsch, who had suffered a broken leg in the match between Fairhill and St. Nathaniel on Jan. 11, took place at Third and Lehigh. The Inquirer described, ” The match was splendidly contested and resulted in a draw, each side scoring three goals.”

In other news, it was announced that James Walder had been appointed to referee the match between Hibernians and Innisfails of St. Louis that was scheduled to take place on March 22. The Inquirer reported that the North End Football Club of Kensington had organized “a first class semi-professional traveling team for the coming season.” The Philadelphia Challenge Cup committee announced that it had dismissed the protest by Victors following their loss to Tacony that had been filed on the grounds that the referee was incompetent and that a policeman was on the field when Tacony was taking a decisive penalty kick.




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  2. Philly Soccer 100: All-Philadelphia American Cup semi, benefit match draw & more pig

  3. Irene Reilly Hubbard says:

    Looking for any information on my grandfather William Flynn and his brother, Steven. They both played soccer in Philadelphia in the 1920’s and 30’s. they were from West Philly and may have played for a mill.

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