Photo: Peabody FC, 1913-14
Our series looking at Philly soccer happenings 100 years ago continues.
The first Saturday matchday for Philadelphia soccer in 1914 came only two days after New Year’s Day, which fell on a Thursday that year. Some 24 league and exhibition games were scheduled among Philadelphia’s leagues. Additionally, Bethlehem FC was on the road to face the West Hudsons in a replay of their American Cup third round tie after drawing 1-1 in front of 2,000 spectators in Bethlehem Dec. 28, 1913. Four of the eight teams remaining in tournament played in Philadelphia leagues. Philadelphia Hibernian was scheduled to host the reigning Cup holders the True Blues the following Saturday with Tacony against Brooklyn FC the weekend after that. The third round replay between Victor and Jersey City, who had drawn 1-1 on Dec. 28 at Front and Erie in their third round cup tie, was scheduled to take place the following Sunday in Jersey City.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature had other ideas as rain and gale force winds moved through the region. In all, nearly an inch of rain fell on Jan. 3, 1914. While most matches were canceled outright, a few were attempted before being abandoned before the final whistle. Only one league game was finished in Philadelphia that day, and it featured shortened halves.
In Allied first division play, Peabody hosted Smith AA at Washington Park at 26th and Allegheny. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Jan. 4 that both teams “made a brave effort to play off their game,” Smith AA doing so shorthanded after showing up with only nine men. After a scoreless 40 minute first half, Peabody “gradually wore their opponents down in the second half” and soon were leading 2-0. Smith managed to get a goal back before the game was called ten minutes before full time on account of the increasingly poor conditions.
One United League game was played to completion, with Logan hosting Era AA at York Road and Wyoming Avenue. “Despite conditions of the most miserable description,” ten men Logan scored three goals in the first half, which had been shortened to 35 minutes, against nine men Era. The home team added one more goal in the second half to claim the 4-0 victory. The Inquirer wrote on Jan. 5, “It would be a good idea for Manager Dando of Logan to form a water polo team, especially when taking into consideration the game they played last Saturday in the mud and rain against Era.”
Conditions were no better when Bethlehem traveled to face the West Hudsons in Harrison, New Jersey at the Harrison Oval. The Inquirer reported on Jan. 4, “Few expected there would be such a thing as a soccer game at Harrison or anywhere else” that day. Attempts had been made to contact Bethlehem the morning of the game to tell them to stay home but the Steel Workers’ train had already departed.
By the time the referee arrived at the field, “the storm seemed to be growing worse.” The Inquirer reported, “to the surprise of every body,” the referee deemed the pitch playable. “[S]o there was nothing nothing left for the teams to do but strip and wallow in the sea of mud.”
And so, in “a storm of sleet, wind, and rain,” and on “a field heavy with mud and water,” play commenced in front of some 500 hardy spectators. Bethlehem inside left Donaghy opened the scoring six minutes after the opening whistle but the West Hudsons equalized before the end of the first half. The Inquirer reported, “Only when the teams became obliterated late in the second half and the players were almost exhausted by their efforts to battle with the elements did the referee call the two captains together and decide to end the hostilities.” The Inquirer said of the game itself, “It was a typical cup tie battle, full of exciting moments and many thrills, also spills in the mud, and the players were a sight when they trotted off the field.”
Weather permitting, the two teams would meet again in Harrison on Sunday, Jan. 11.