Philadelphia Soccer History

Philly Soccer 100: League play resumes, BFC player suspended

Photo: Detail from Philadelphia Inquirer sports page, Feb. 8, 1914

Our series on Philadelphia soccer happenings one hundred years ago continues

After weeks of bad winter weather had caused the wholesale postponement of much league play, and further schedule disruption resulting from area teams participating in American Cup and National Challenge Cup play, some normalcy returned to the league schedule for the Saturday matchday of Feb. 7, 1914. Not that winter weather wasn’t a factor in the day’s games. While temperatures were mild, nearly an inch of rain fell between Friday and Saturday and high winds blew across local soccer fields.

Philadelphia Challenge Cup
Philadelphia Hibernians, 1913-14

Philadelphia Hibernians, 1913-14

In Philadelphia Challenge Cup play, Hibernian of the the professional Pennsylvania League hosted Kensington AA of the the amateur Allied American league at Potter Athletic Field. The Philadelphia Inquirer reported on Feb. 8, 1914 that the field “was in poor condition for soccer, owing to the fact that the rain had softened the part of the field on which the baseball diamond is situated.” Hibernian outside right Burrows opened the scoring eight minutes after the kickoff but Kensington inside right Couper equalized before the end of the half when, “following a scrimmage” in front of the Hibernian goal, he “emerged from the group of players and flashed the ball into the net.” In the second half, Hibernian’s superior quality began to show and at the final final whistle the professionals were the 3-1 winners.

The other Philadelphia Challenge Cup tie of the day featured two Allied American league first division sides, with Falls hosting Reading at 29th and Cambria. Three minutes before the end of the first half, Falls scored the solitary goal of the game when a sequence of “splendid combination” was finished by outside right A. Brown.  The Inquirer reported on Feb. 8 that the result “about indicates the run of play.”

League play

In Pennsylvania League play, Tacony bested Victor by the score of 5 goals to 2 at Tacony Ball Park. Tacony inside right Kemp scored two of the goals. The Inquirer reported on Feb. 8, “The high wind which prevailed yesterday was a source of great annoyance.”

West Philadelphia FC 1913-14

West Philadelphia FC 1913-14

Bethlehem FC had played its last Allied American first division game on Jan. 17, 1914, defeating 10-men Disston AA 8-0. In between that game and its meeting with Peabody on Feb. 7, Bethlehem had been eliminated from the inaugural National Challenge Cup tournament by Brooklyn Field Club on Jan. 25, and had finally eliminated West Hudson from the third round of the American Cup on Jan. 31 after four tries. On the road to face Peabody at Washington Park at 26th and Allegheny on Feb. 7, Bethlehem returned home the 4-0 winners with future National Soccer Hall of Famer Tommy Fleming scoring two of the Steelworkers’ goals. In the other Allied First Division game of the day, West Philadelphia massacred Disston AA 9-1 at 44th and Parkside. West Philadelphia inside right Kendall scored four goals, center forward Robinson scored three, and outside left Anderson scored two. Disston outside left Eastwood scored the lone goal for his side.

Allied American second division leaders Putnam recovered from their shock 6-4 loss to Linwood Hibernians at Chester Park on Jan. 31 with a 4-2 win over Manchester Unity at Front and Allegheny.

In third division play, Centenary easily defeated Edgemoor at 22nd and Huntington, 5-0. The two other Allied American league third division games of the day proved to be much closer. Both sides played with only ten men when Derby edged out St. Nathanial 2-1 at D and Clearfield streets. At 4400 North 5th Street, Puritan defeated Providence 3-2.

Philadelphia Electrics 1913-14

Philadelphia Electrics 1913-14

Three American League games were played on Feb. 7. League leaders Philadelphia Electric defeated Whitehall Rovers 2-0 at Bridge Street and Torresdale Avenue. Despite playing with only ten men, Kensington Boys Club easily defeated Frankford Boys Club 4-1 in the neighborhood derby at Front and Erie. Cardington topped Victor Athletics 2-0.

As always, the United League was the place for abundant goals with 39 goals being scored in the six games played on Feb. 7. Remarkably, four of the six games proved to be tightly contested affairs. The Kensington Boys Club Reserves defeated Logan 3-2 in what the Inquirer described as a game that was “even throughout.” North Philadelphia YMA edged out Vincome 4-3 at 53rd and Spruce, while American Pulley Company got by Christ Church, 2-1. In what the Inquirer described on Feb. 8  as “A very fine game,” PHL defeated West End 4-3 with center forward H. Derbyshire scoring two goals for PHL, his brother the left halfback T. Derbyshire scored one. The other two games were familiar United League blowouts. Arriving with only eight players to face Montgomery County’s La Mott team, ERA AA managed to score 2 goals but gave up 10. It was a similar story when Roxborough arrived with only eight players to face Cardington Reserves for a game that finished as a 7-0 victory for the home team.

Other news

The day after they defeated Kensington AA, Hibernian traveled to Harrison, New Jersey to play West Hudson in an exhibition game. The short turnaround showed, and Hibs were the 3-1 losers, the Inquirer describing on Feb. 9 that the home team won “rather easily.”

West Hudson FC

West Hudson FC

When Bethlehem had defeated the West Hudsons the week before in their third round American Cup replay, Bethlehem right back McKelvie had been sent off for deliberately kicking West Hudson inside left Montieth in what the Inquirer described on Feb. 1, 1914 as “a delicate place.” On Feb. 8, the Inquirer reported that the American Football Association, organizers of the American Cup, had suspended McKelvie for the remainder of the tournament for his “dastardly act.”

The AFA also dismissed several American Cup-related protests as “frivolous.” Among them was Victor’s protest against Jersey AC for taking too much time to return to the field for the start of the second half of their third round replay on Jan. 25, which was lost by the Pennsylvania League side 4-3 after leading 3-0 at the half. The AFA also dismissed the request from West Hudson that the game they lost to Bethlehem Steel — to which the New Jersey club had arrived late and shorthanded — should be replayed. Finally, the AFA issued its decision regarding Brooklyn FC’s protest over the third round American Cup game they had lost to Tacony on Jan. 17. In that game, Brooklyn argued that the referee had failed to call a time out when spectators had encroached on the field of play at Tacony Ball Park when Brooklyn inside right Miller, who had played for Tacony the previous season, had punched a spectator. Brooklyn’s protest was dismissed and Miller was “severely censured” for his actions.


  1. One of the reasons I like these historical articles is that they prove that, once upon a time, the Inquirer actually covered soccer.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Ha! – I get a kick out of that too. And not only did the Inquirer have regular coverage, they actively promoted the game! Imagine that.

  2. I very much enjoy these old articles. As a player for a local club now I am curious if you think this site will ever cover local soccer this way? I know you have results from some a leagues but I would love to be able to follow all the leagues and cups with a bit of details. Besides making it easier for other players to follow games in their leagues it could also provide info to get some people out to support these teams. I know it would take time and bodies but just a thought.

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