Philadelphia Soccer History

Philly Soccer 100: Open Cup draw, Hibs lose grounds, local league results

Photo: Philadelphia Hibernian

Our ongoing series looking at Philadelphia soccer history happenings one hundred years ago continues.

National Challenge Cup-American organizers work to reconcile schedules, five area teams in tournament second round

On Nov. 1, 1913, Tacony FC was scheduled to play Trenton Caledonians in an American Cup match and Kensington FC in a National Challenge Cup match. Choosing the tournament they knew over one in its inaugural year, Tacony forfeited the National Challenge Cup match and went on to defeat Trenton, 3-1. Reflecting on the scheduling mess, the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote on Nov. 3, “There is something radically wrong in the arrangements when a team is scheduled to play two important cup games in one afternoon.”

On Nov. 10, 1913, the Inquirer reported that the United States of America Football Association — known today as the United States Soccer Federation and organizers of the National Challenge Cup, which is itself know today as the US Open Cup — had contacted the American Football Association, organizers of the American Cup tournament, to work together on preventing such scheduling conflicts in the future.

The report also noted that five area teams would be playing in the second round of the National Challenge Cup “on or before Dec. 7.” Wissinoming of the professional Pennsylvania League would host Peabody of the amateur Allied League, while Allied League sides West Philadelphia and Kensington would also meet. Bethlehem would travel across the state to face the Braddock team in Pittsburgh.

Hibs loses home grounds

On Nov. 9, the Inquirer reported the sad news that the Hibernian Association Football Club had received notice to vacate its grounds “on account of the grounds being sold for building purposes.” The Inquirer report continued, “The grounds at Second street and Allegheny avenue were practically made by the Hibernians some six years ago, the committee of the club going to considerable expense to have the grounds leveled and also in having the fence built around the grounds at which cost into four figures all told.” This at a time when $1000 was the equivalent of nearly $24,000 today.

Tacony v True Blues in 1913 American Cup final

A view of the Hibernia park grounds at 2nd and Allegheny, site of the first game of the epic 1913 American Cup final between Tacony and the Patterson True Blues.

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Hibernia Park to the Philadelphia soccer scene at the time, it being the site of scores of important local contests, as well as the location of the first American Cup final played in Philadelphia and also of inter-city friendlies including a match against St. Louis powerhouse Innisfails. Nevertheless, it was simply the victim of Philadelphia’s growth and expansion toward the Northeast.

Hibs wasn’t the only team directly affected by the news; fellow Pennsylvania League club Victor also used the grounds for their home games. The Inquirer reported it would be difficult to find new grounds in the midst of the season as the available grounds had already been leased. “Although nothing definite has been decided, there is a possible chance that the former grounds of the Hibernians and Victors, at Third Street and Lehigh avenue, will be leased again.” Those grounds, formerly known as the Fairhill Athletic Grounds, had first opened in 1902.

Local league results

In the Pennsylvania League, two games were played on Nov. 8. Tacony and Wissinoming played to a 1-1 draw at Tacony Ball Park, located at State Road and Unruh Street. The Inquirer reported on Nov. 9, “The division of points was a fair conclusion to the game, as the exchanges were very even and the teams appeared to be about on a par with each other. Owing to the slippery conditions of the turf, accurate football was out of the question, the players finding it very difficult to obtain a good footing.”

Hibernian continued their unbeaten run with their fifth win of the season, defeating Victor 2-1 in a game that the referee called ten minutes before time due to darkness. The Inquirer described that Victor “appeared to have a shade better in the hostilities, but their forwards were weak at the psychological moment.” The match report noted the fine play of both teams, singling out Victor goalkeeper Pearce for particular praise, before concluding, “There is no denying the fact that the contest was the best so far played this season. A few more of the kind would increase the popularity of the sport two-fold.” The report also noted that it was expected the game would be replayed “as is usual in all cases when a match is not finished through no fault of the contesting teams.”

Peabody FC, 1913-14

Peabody FC, 1913-14

Four Allied League first division games were played on Nov. 8. West Philadelphia scraped by Peabody with a 2-1 win at their home grounds at 44th Street and Parkside Avenue. The Inquirer match report said, “For some reason or other, the home team did not show the aggressiveness which usually characterizes its play, and Peabody was wide awake to take full advantage of its opponents’ mistakes.” Falls easily defeated Disston 4-0 at Dobson Field and Smith AA defeated Kensington 2-1 at Washington Park, located at 26th and Allegheny. But the biggest winner was Bethlehem, holders of the Allied League first division title. After a start of the season filled with tournament play, Bethlehem finally played its first league game, traveling to Wilmington to face the Irish Americans at Wawaset Park. Bethlehem pummeled the home team, who fielded only ten players, returning home with a 10-0 victory.

While no second division games were scheduled, four Allied League third division games were played, the winners outscoring the losers 16 goals to four. The biggest scorelines were the Disston Reserves 6-0 win over Puritan and Darby’s 5-2 win over Edgemoor.

Lopsided results were also the story in the American and United leagues. In the American League, Philadelphia Electrics cruised past Rangers with a 5-0 win while Frankford Boys’ Club topped Whitehall Rovers, 4-1. Boys’ Club and Cardington finished with a more respectable 1-1 result.

In the United League, five games were played, the winners outscoring the losers by the astounding ratio of 43 goals to two, with no losing club going down with a deficit of less than five goals. The biggest winner of the day was Boys’ Club Reserves, who demolished eight-men Roxborough 14-0.

Two Cricket Club League matches were played, with Merchantville, formerly Belmont, defeating Moorestown 5-0, and Merion Cricket Club besting the Philadelphia Cricket Club, 2-1.

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