Philadelphia Soccer History

Philly Soccer 100: Tacony lose American Cup final replay, West Philly wins Amateur Challenge Cup

Featured image: Tacony FC, 1912-13

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

American Cup final, take three

While a poor start meant a disappointing 1912-13 campaign in Philadelphia’s professional Pennsylvania League, Tacony had surprised most observers by defeating fellow Pennsylvania League club Hibernians in the semifinal of the American Football Association’s American Cup tournament. For the first time since its founding in 1885, Philadelphia would be the host of the tournament final, where Tacony would meet Paterson True Blues.

When the two teams met at Hibernians’ grounds at Second and Allegheny on a rainy April 12, 1913, the Philadelphia Inquirer later reported that pitch conditions were “better suited for water polo” than for a national title game of soccer. Pulling to a 2–0 lead in the first half, Tacony conceded a goal 25 minutes into the second half. Then, with three minutes left to play, a True Blues counterattack resulted in an equalizer to force a replay.

Meeting on the same grounds one week later, Tacony took the lead after a scoreless first half from a penalty kick. But once again, Tacony couldn’t hold their advantage and in the last minute of play, the True Blues once more found the equalizer to force another replay.

A record crowd was on hand for the final replay of the 1913 American Cup

A record crowd was on hand for the final replay of the 1913 American Cup. Tacony are in the darker shirts.

The second replay was scheduled for April 27—a rare Sunday game for a Philadelphia team—and its location was moved to Morris Park in Newark. A record crowd of 4,900 was on hand for the game, topping the previous record of 4,000 set at the same grounds for the 1911 final between Howard & Bullough and Philadelphia Hibernians. Some 300 Tacony supporters had made the trip by rail to see the game. The Inquirer match report on April 28 described fair conditions and noted the presence of many women in the crowd. “[T]he ground was as hard as a rock, and although the elements were threatening at times during the match, there as not a drop of rain to mar the pleasure of the spectators, there being an overflow of the fair sex, who, with their yellow and blue and red flags, the respective colors of the two teams, they helped to give a little color to the proceedings.”

Now the visitors, Tacony got off to a quick start. Winning the coin toss, Tacony elected to play the first half with the wind at their backs and scored from a corner kick seven minutes after the opening whistle. The Inquirer reported, “this looked rosy for the Philadelphians gaining such an early lead, but the players seemed to be content with this lead and failed to add to their account before the interval with a strong wind in their favor.”

The True Blues equalized just after the start of the second half when a free kick, “which seemed to take the Philadelphians by surprise, at the quickness it was executed,” was given just outside of the box. Six minutes later, the Patersons took the lead when a penalty kick was given for a hand ball.

Match play in the final game of the 1913 American Cup

Match play in the final game of the 1913 American Cup

While Tacony fought back furiously, the could not find the equalizer as the True Blues “played a regular cup tie game in the closing minutes when Tacony were bombarding their goal by booting the ball over the side lines and out of the field at every opportunity with a view of eating up time.” While the Inquirer’s match report focused a great deal on some questionable officiating and the “rough house tactics” of the True Blues, it concluded that, “Although the Blues only had the luck to win by a penalty, they, nevertheless on the run of play, were entitled to the spoils for they made the most of their opportunities.”

For Tacony, all that was missing from the result were “the usual funeral cards which are always on hand at an English cup final to console the vanquished.” Tacony would recover from the loss to fight its way to the 1914 American Cup final where they would face Bethlehem FC.

Click here for an overview of Philadelphia and the 1913 American Cup.

West Philly wins Amateur Challenge Cup
Linesman, team captains, and referee at the Allied Amateur Challenge Cup final

Linesman, team captains, and referee at the Allied Amateur Challenge Cup final

On Saturday, April 26, 1913, West Philadelphia, who had finished in second place in the Allied American first division, met Wilmington’s Irish Americans, champions of the Allied American second division, in the final of the Allied Amateur Cup tournament—also referred to as the Telegraph Cup—at Washington Park, located at 26th and Allegheny.

In front of what the 1913 Spalding Guide described as “a large crowd,” West Philadelphia scored first after 30 minutes of play. And while the Inquirer match report on April 27 described the Irish Americans as “always in the game,” before the end of the half, West Philadelphia was winning 4–0. The Wilmington side would get on the scoreboard in the second half thanks to a penalty kick but the game would end 5–1 for West Philadelphia.

West Philadelphia (lighter shirts) and Wilmington Irish Americans (darker shirts) at Allied Amateur Cup final

West Philadelphia (lighter shirts) and Wilmington Irish Americans (darker shirts) at Allied Amateur Challenge Cup final

Odds and ends

Hibernians played Philadelphia Electrics in an exhibition game on April 26 at their home grounds at Second and Allegheny. After a scoreless first half, Hibernians scored three unanswered goals to win the match.

Officials of the American League ordered that the postponed meeting between Philadelphia Electrics and Philadelphia Athletics be played as soon as possible, the Inquirer reporting on May 4 that “the result of this match will have a distinct bearing on whether the Electrics or Collingwood will receive the runner-up medals.” As things stood, Collingwood was in second place, ahead of the Electrics by one point.

A 4–3 win over Columbia on May 3 gave Harvard the Inter Collegiate Soccer championship. Undefeated Harvard had previously handed Haverford, who finished in second place, their only loss of the brief college season while also defeating University of Pennsylvania, who finished fourth out of six teams.


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