The Year 1921 in North American Soccer

Written by David Litterer


National Association Football League

Once again, Bethlehem Steel took the league title, although they failed to make much of an impression in the National Challenge Cup. Robins Dry Dock and New York FC continued their strong performances, surging ahead of Harrison Erie who feel to fifth, behind a resurgent Kearney Federal Ship. Robins would go on to win a "double", winning both the National Challenge Cup and the American Cup (see below). Unfortunately, one of the stronger teams, Paterson FC folded early in the season; their replacement, Bunker Hill failed after a mere three games. This was the beginning of the disintegration of the league.

Late in the season, the USSFA voted to reverse a National Association League decision to award the 1919-20 season championship to Erie A.A.F.C. Bethlehem PA won the season by one point, based on wins and draws, despite Erie having played one more game. The USSFA board reversed the National League's decision, returning the league championship to Bethlehem Steel based on the final standings.

This would be the last season played by the NAFBL. Several clubs along with other parties applied to the USSFA to form a new fully professional regional league, the American Soccer League. Former USSFA president Thomas Cahill led this effort, an attempt to establish the first Division 1 soccer league in the country. His effort was perhaps inspired by George Halas and company who would launch the first official season of their National Football League within a few weeks of the debut of the ASL. The ASL would include teams from Boston to Philadelphia, and the application was approved by the USSFA. Thus, a chapter was ended in US soccer, but a new "golden era" was about to begin.

                 Final NAFBL League Standings, 1920-1921

                                 1920/21

Before the season, Bayonne rejoined the league.

                         GP   W   L   T   Pts
Bethlehem Steel          12  11   0   1   23
New York F.C.            11   8   2   1   17
Brooklyn Robins Dry Dock 12   5   5   2   12
Kearny Federal Ship      10   3   4   3    9
Harrison Erie S. C.       9   3   4   2    8
Bayonne Babcock & Wilcox 12   2   9   1    5
Philadelphia Disston      9   1   6   2    4
Bunker Hill F.C.          3   0   3   0    0

Paterson F.C. withdrew early in the season and was replaced by Bunker Hill F.C.


St. Louis Soccer League

The league race was close and exciting, with all teams remaining in the hunt right to the end of the season. Attendance was up, despite higher prices, perhaps as a result of the nip and tuck standings race. Scullin and Ben Millers fought head to head until the final day of the season when Scullin settled the league title question for good by downing Ben Millers 2-0 on April 3, 1921. Several Ben Millers players were clearly past their prime. St. Louis Screw was hampered by an ineffective attacking line, and Innisfails were running hot and cold throughout the season, alternatively performing as masters or novices. Overall, an unusually tight race among all four teams kept fan interest high and made for an exciting year. Four exhibitions were played against the visiting Erie Football Club, with the St. Louis All-Stars winning 1, drawing 2, and losing one.

                 Final SLSL League Standings, 1920-1921

                       GP   W   L   T   GF  GA  Pts
Scullins Steel         17   9   5   3   38  31  26
Ben Millers            17   8   3   6   28  31  22
St. Louis Screw        22   6   7   9   23  23  21
Innisfails             22   6   9   7   21  25  19

Champion:  Scullin Steel

After the season, Innisfails withdrew.


Southern New England Soccer League

The SNESL saw Fore River (American Cup finalist) win the regular season, followed closely by the perennially powerful Fall River Rovers and J&P Coates. After this season, the league folded with J&P Coates jumping to join the new American Soccer League. Saynes Finishing Plant belied their poor league record to won the Southern New England Times Cup.

                     Final SNESL League Standings, 1920-21

                           GP   W   L   T   PTS
Fore River [Quincy]        16  11   2   3   25
Fall River Rovers          15   7   3   5   19
J&P Coats (Pawtucket)      13   7   3   3   17
Sayles Finishing Plant     14   4   9   1    9
[St. Michael's              7   1   4   2    4
  disbanded; record taken over by: 
Sharp Mfg. Co.             10   2   5   3    7
Crompton                   10   0   9   1    1


Amateur Leagues & Cups

Southern New York State Association Cup: Tebo Yacht Basin defeated Robins dry Dock 1-0.
New York State League: Tebo Yacht Basin (10-1-1-21).
Rochester & District League: Rochester C.M. (12-2-1-53-16-25)
New Jersey State Challenge Cup: Federal Ship A. C. defeated Malta A. C., 4-1.
Philadelphia Allied Amateur Cup: Ascension FC.
Allied American Football Association: Hibernians (11-0-3-40-14-25) (1st Division - Merion Cup); Disston Saw (17-0-4-60-17-28) (2nd Division - Oliver Brothers Cup)

West Philadelphia League: Victoria C. CV. (15-1-0-48-12-30) (Farrell Cup)
Philadelphia Industrial League: SB & BW Fleischer (12-0-2-26)
Philadelphia Cricket Club Soccer League: Germantown (10-0-1-28-9-24)
Bethlehem PA & District League: North End FC Wilbur Cup: North End
Western Pennsylvania Football Association (Spalding Cup): Sturgeon defeated Dunlevy 2-0.
Pittsburgh Press Soccer League: Dunlevy (10-1-0-43-6-20)).
Western Pennsylvania Miners' League: Cecil defeated Sturgeon 4-0 in playoff final.
Southern New England Association: Times Cup: Sayles Finishing Plant (Saylesville) defeated Fairlawn Rovers 1-0 in overtime.
. Guy Norman Cup: Fairlawn Rovers Juniors defeated Crompton Juniors 4-2.
Pawtucket Valley Soccer League: Centreville (6-0-3-22-12-16)
Rhode Island League: Greystone "B" (6-1-3-23-13-15) (Won playoff tiebreaker against W. E. Polish.)
Independent Soccer League: Colonials (15-1-3-25-9-23)
New Bedford Industrial League (founded 1920): Division A: Whitman (14-2-0-55-11-28); Division B: Gosnold (17-0-1-27-6-35). Playoff: Gosnold defeated Whitmans 3-1. Hospital Charity Cup: St. Andrews F.C.
Massachusetts State Cup (N. Mass): Fore River defeated Abbott Worsted.
Boston Soccer League: Gray & Davis.
Connecticut State Football Association: State Cup: Columbia Graphophone defeated Manchester 2-0 after a draw. Spring Cup: Columbia Graphophone defeated Ansonia 3-0.
Connecticut State League: Ansonia (11-2-1-23)
Connecticut Amateur League: Connecticut Lace Works (9-0-3-21) (won Spalding Trophy)
Ohio State Football Association Cup: White Motors of Cleveland defeated Firestones 3-0.
Cleveland District League: White Motors (12-1-4-28)
Illinois States Association: Peel Cup: Pullman AFC defeated Bricklayers 2-1.
Chicago & District Soccer League: Bricklayers SFC (7-1-2-32-7-16) (also won Williamson Cup)
Michigan State Cup Detroit FC defeated Caledonia 3-2.
Detroit & District League: Pontiac (8-2-0-40-12-16)
St. Louis Olympian Soccer League: Brown Shoe Company (9-2-8-26-28-15)
St. Louis Municipal Athletic Association: Keen Kutters defeated Prendergast Club in four overtimes (actual score unknown).
Minnesota State Association: St. Paul A. C.; Shaw Challenge Cup (inaugurated 1889): Viking AC
Utah State Soccer Union: Schubach Trophy: Caledonian Club; Daynes Challenge Cup: Odgen Club (also won Smalley Cup)
California Football Association Cup: Olympic Club of San Francisco defeated Celtic Club 4-2.
California Football League (San Francisco): Olympic Club
Southern California Soccer Association (Spalding Cup): Overseas Soccer Club of Los Angeles.
American Football in Germany League: 3rd Battalion, 8th Infantry (7-1-0-22-1-14) (also won Cup); Final Series : Headquarters Troops (7-0-2-18)


The US National Team

The U. S. National team was inactive this year.


National Challenge Cup

Robins Dry Dock of Brooklyn won the Cup by defeating Scullin Steel of St. Louis 4-3 on April 19, 1921, at Fall River, MA, before 6,000 fans. This was their first trip to the Cup final, and a nice antidote to their disappointing 3rd place finish in the NAFBL. The match pitted a technically superior Robins squad against a youthful, gutsy and determined Scullins. Robins boasted a stellar front line headed by hall of famer Harry Ratican, They came head to head with a stubborn defense led by Tate Brady and midfielder Tommy O'Hanlon. But in the end, technical expertise won out, and Steel fell to a stellar kicking aggregation launched by the Dry Docks.

This came on the heels of Robins Dry Dock's 3-0 defeat of Tebo Yacht Basin FC 3-0 in the Eastern semi-final, and 3-0 victory over Fore River Rovers 3-0 in the Eastern 5th round (Tebo defeated Fairlawn Rovers FC 3-1 in that round). Scullins defeated Caledonian FC 2-1 in the Western semi-final. This came after an unusual three-game 5th round match-up. Scullins drew with the Chicago Bricklayers 1-1 in the first match, and defeated Bricklayers 2-1 in the tie-breaker. Chicago protested and a replay was ordered, which Scullins won 2-0. Caledonian had defeated Goodrich FC 2-1 in the other 5th round match up.


American Cup

Robins Dry Dock won the American Cup by defeating Fore River FC 5-2. This came after a tough three-game semifinal in which they tied Erie A. A. twice (1-1, 4-4) before finally dispatching them 4-1 in the second replay.


International Tours

All-Scots of Scotland (Sponsored by Third Lanark FC): August 10, 1921 - September 24, 1921. Results: 5 wins, 0 draws, 1 loss.

Roster: Bennett (Albion Rovers), Brown (Motherwell), Brownlie (3rd Lanark), Bulloch (Patrick Thistle), Gordon (Dunfermline), Low (Dunfermline), Maxwell (Dunfermline), McAndrew (3rd Lanark), McBain (Ayr United), McCormick (3rd Lanark), McMenemy (Partick Thistle), Orr (3rd Lanark), Rankin (Motherwell), Scott (Dumbarton), Thompson (Aberdeen), Wilson (Dunfermline)

7/10/21:  Third Lanark 4, Celtics of New Jersey 2 (at Jersey City)
7/13/21:  Third Lanark 8, Bethlehem Steel 1 (at Lehigh Univ.)
7/16/21:  Third Lanark 3, Philadelphia Field Club 1 (at Philadelphia)
7/17/21:  Third Lanark 2, New York Field Club 1 (at New York City)
7/18/21:  Third Lanark 6, general Electric 3 (at Lynn, MA)
7/21/21:  Third Lanark 2, Fall River F.C. 2 (at Fall River)
Third Lanark also played 19 games in Canada before arriving in the United States.


The College Game

Intercollegiate Association Football League champion: Princeton

Penn Intercollegiate Association Football League Champion: Swarthmore

College All Americans:
G - Cooper, Princeton
RF - Patton, Pennsylvania
LF - Futes, Cornell
RH - Muench, Haverford
CH - Smart, Princeton
LH - Thompson, Cornell
OR - Righter, Cornell
IR - Woodbridge, Princeton
CF - Eli, Cornell
IL - Thomas, Princeton
OL - Jewett, Princeton


Women's Soccer in Connecticut

Connecticut has been pioneer in women's soccer, having certified the first female referee in the country (Helen Clark). By 1921 there were six female referees, who officiated the majority of the games played by the Bridgeport Public Schools soccer league. In addition, two teams, the Swedish Ladies and the High School Girls, both of Bridgeport, become affiliated with the Connecticut State Soccer Association. They met for their annual game, playing to a 1-1 draw. Meanwhile, a women's team in Hartford was applying for affiliation with the CSA.


Last update: March 4, 2005

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