The First Cup: How the 1913/14 National Challenge Cup began

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  • October 23, 2012

The Dewar Challenge Trophy given to the winner of the National Challenge Cup. introduces “The First Cup” series, which revisits the first running of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup (then known as the National Challenge Cup) that took place from the fall of 1913 to the spring of 1914. Click here for the full series.

October 11, 1913

The sport of soccer, then largely known as ‘football’, even in the United States, was still in its infant stages in 1913. The sport had been played on the continent for a few decades, but mostly on a regional level. There were regional tournaments, like the American Cup, which dated back to 1885, but there was no competition to determine a true national champion.

Earlier that year, the United States Football Association was launched, and one of their goals was to create a national team for the sport representing the U.S. What better way to develop a talent pool of players than to recruit from teams, both professional and amateur, from all over the country who will compete in a single-elimination tournament.

On September 12, USFA Secretary Thomas W. Cahill sent invitations to 287 clubs across the country, but in the end, only 40 of those teams accepted. The tournament would be represented by clubs from New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Michigan and Illinois.

And with that, the National Challenge Cup was born.

Every competition needs a trophy and the trophy came from Sir Thomas Dewar, a British whiskey distiller. He donated the Dewar Challenge Trophy to the American Amateur Football Association to be used for their “AAFA Cup Tie Competition” which took place in the spring of 1913. The 1913 edition of AAFA’s cup competition was the second running of the tournament, but it would be the last, as the three-foot tall trophy, which weighs in at 100 pounds, was then adopted for the National Challenge Cup and remains the trophy for the competition to this day.

(Note: The original trophy rarely travels from its current home at the US Soccer Federation’s headquarters in Chicago, and much like the NHL’s Stanley Cup, the winner each year has an engraved plate attached to the base of the trophy.)

Dr. G. Randolph Manning was president of the United States Football Association when the National Challenge Cup was created in 1913.

On October 11, 1913, the USFA  unveiled the 40 teams that would take part in the inaugural National Challenge Cup at  a meeting held at the Grand Central Hotel in New York City, presided over by Dr. G. Randolph Manning, president of the USFA.

Here is the list of teams that entered the 1913/14 National Challenge Cup:

New York

German FC
Interborough Rapid Transit Strollers
Columbia Oval FC
New York Celtics
Hudson United FC
St. George Field Club
Rangers FC
Cameron FC, all of Manhattan
Brooklyn AFC
Fulton AC
Clan McKenzie FC
Brooklyn Celtics, all of Brooklyn
Hollywood Inn FC
Yonkers FC of Yonkers*
Niagara Falls Rangers FC
Buffalo Corinthians FC of Buffalo
McNaughton Rangers FC of Rochester

* Current holders of the Dewar Challenge Trophy, having won the AAFA Cup Tie Competition earlier in the year

New Jersey

Watessing FC of East Orange
Cowboy Club
Jersey Blues of Jersey City
Babcock & Wilcox of Bayonne
West Hudson Juniors
Alley Boys FC of Harrison


Peabody FC
West Philadelphia FC
Kensington Association FC of Philadelphia
Bethlehem FC of Bethlehem
Wissinoming Association FC
Disston FC
Tacony FC of Tacony
Braddock FC of Braddock

New England

New Bedford FC of New Bedford, Mass.
Farr Alpaca FC of Holyoke, Mass.
Presbyterian FC of Bridgeport, Conn.


Roses FC
Packard FC of Detroit


Clan MacDuffs
Campbell Rovers FC
Pullman FC
Hyde Park Blues, all of Chicago.

October 12, 1913

USFA secretary Thomas W. Cahill announced the draw for the inaugural National Challenge Cup on October 12, 1913.

The pairings for the first-round of the inaugural National Challenge Cup were announced by the USFA the following day in Newark, New Jersey with representatives from all over the country in attendance.

The teams were separated by geography and all of the first round matches were scheduled to be played on the first Saturday or Sunday of November.

USFA secretary Thomas W. Cahill announced the parings as follows:

New York City District

Brooklyn AFC at Interborough Rapid Transit Strollers
Cameron FC at German FC

Byes: Yonkers FC, Brooklyn Celtics, Clan McKenzie FC, Columbia Oval FC, New York Celtics, Hudson United, St. George FC, Rangers FC, Hollywood Inn FC, and Fulton AC

New England District

Farr Alpaca FC (Holyoke, Mass.) at New Bedford FC (New Bedford, Mass.)

Bye: Presbyterian FC (Bridgeport, Conn.)

New Jersey District

Babcock & Wilcox (Bayonne) at Cowboy Club (Jersey City)
Jersey Blues (Jersey City) at Alley Boys FC (Harrison)

Byes: Watessing FC (East Orange), West Hudson Juniors (Harrison)

Chicago District

Byes: Pullman FC, Clam McDuffs, Hyde Park Blues and Campbell Rovers FC

Pennsylvania District

Kensington AFC at Tacony FC
Disston FC at Bethlehem FC

Byes: West Philadelphia FC, Braddock FC, Wissinoming AFC

Detroit District

Byes: Roses FC, Packard FC

Western New York District

Niagara Falls Rangers at Buffalo Corinthians FC

Bye: McNaughton Rangers (Rochester)


  • Ian says:

    Great history lesson! Next time a smug Eurosnob says, “Call it football!,” we can remind him or her that the United States Football Association predates every professional league in the US except MLB.

  • Josh Hakala says:

    The origins of the word “soccer” is an interesting and unfortunate one. But then again, so is the history of the sport in general.

  • Skott says:

    I read that soccer is an abbreviation/nickname for the word association. So soccer football = association football.

    Soccer, rugby, American grid iron, Australian rules, and the other odd branches of the game (Gaelic, etc.) are all technically forms of football. Arguing about whether to call it soccer or football is like saying chocolate ice cream has to either be called chocolate OR ice cream. Soccer is a form of football, so either term is correct.

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