The First Cup: The inaugural National Challenge Cup gets under way (Nov. 1, 1913)

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  • November 2, 2012

Bethlehem FC 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.

Note: As you read this, you’ll notice a lot of players with just one name. This is not an oversight on our part, and these aren’t Brazilians, but rather, many of the sources of this information (newspapers, publications etc.) only use the last name of players in their stories.

November 1, 1913

The 1913/14 National Challenge Cup began got underway on Nov. 1, 1913 with three games scheduled, but only two of them would be played.

The New Bedford FC defeated Farr Alpaca of Holyoke, Mass. in the opening round by a score of 3-1. While New Bedford was a talented squad in their own right, it could be considered a bit of an upset considering that Farr Alpaca, a club sponsored by a textile mill in Holyoke, Mass., had only lost one match in the last three years entering that weekend’s action.

Burnett opened the scoring for Farr Alpaca with a goal from the penalty spot, but it was to be the only blemish on the record of New Bedford’s goalkeeper Howard.

Two minutes later Beeton evened the score with a penalty conversion of his own for New Bedford. Meller gave the home side a 2-1 lead just before halftime and then struck against in the second half to give the home side a 3-1 cushion.

The ball stayed in possession of New Bedford for much of the game, and the New Bedford back line of McManus, Burnett and Littlejohn did a good job at keeping the Alpacas off the scoresheet aside from their lone penalty kick.

Hall and Leitsen also stood out for the Holyoke club according to newspaper reports.

The start of the game was delayed while referee A. Milne and the New Bedford management settled a dispute over the pay Milne was to receive for officiating the contest.

New Bedford FC

Over in Eastern Pennsylvania, Bethlehem FC completely outclassed the visitors from Disston AA by a score of 7-0. The Sawmakers from Philadelphia were no match for Bethlehem FC (who became Bethlehem Steel FC the following season) in front of their home fans. Bethlehem lost the coin toss and had to start play facing a strong wind, which helped keep the game close for the first fifteen minutes. After receiving a pass from Lance, Fleming was able to beat both Disston backs to score a splendid goal, leaving Disston goalkeeper Errickson with no chance.

From this point, Bethlehem displayed a fine combination passing game, at times bewildering the Disston players. Lewis scored the second goal by taking the ball at midfield and making a solo run through the Disston defense.

With the start of the second half, Bethlehem found themselves with the wind at their back and continued to outclass Disston. The goals came in rapid succession, as Fleming scored his second, Lewis added two more, along with Lance and Stewart to make the final score 7-0. It should be noted that Disston goalkeeper Errickson did a good job to keep the score from reaching double digits with some sensational saves.

Kensington AFC received a free pass into the second round.

There was a third game on the schedule, but it would ultimately not be played as Tacony FC forfeited their opening round match against Kensington Association FC.

Tacony had an American Cup match against the Trenton Hibernians scheduled for the same day, and the club felt the AFA match was more important. The American Cup was an elite-level regional tournament that dates back to 1885. Tacony seemed to value the American Cup a little more because the year before they reached the championship game, losing to the Paterson True Blues, 5-4. Tacony would end up defeating Trenton 3-1 and would eventually reach the Cup Final for the second year in a row where they would fall to Bethlehem Steel.

This represented the struggle that many teams had with playing multiple cup competitions, something that has not gone out of style a full century later. The Philadelphia Inquirer commented on the situation on Nov. 3, 1913, writing “There is something radically wrong in the arrangements when a team is scheduled to play two important cup games in one afternoon.”

1913/14 National Challenge Cup – First Round
Farr Alpaca 1:3 New Bedford FC
Nov. 1, 1913 – New Bedford, Mass.

Scoring Summary
Farr Alpaca: Burnett (PK)
New Bedford: Beeton (PK)
New Bedford: Mellor
New Bedford: Mellor


New Bedford: Haworth, Bagley, Ralstrick, Preston, Murphy, Helden, Mellor, Klemm, Morgan, Beeton, McKenna

Farr Alpaca: McManus, Littlejohn, Burnett, McKinstrie, Turner, Gammie, Arnold, Lietzen, Chruikshanks, Hall, Dowdall

Referee – A. Milne | Linesmen – Southworth, Scott

Disston AA 0:7 Bethlehem FC
Nov. 1, 1913 – Bethlehem, Pa.

Scoring Summary

Bethlehem: Fleming (Lance)
Bethlehem: Lewis
Bethlehem: Fleming
Bethlehem: Lewis
Bethlehem: Lewis
Bethlehem: Lance
Bethlehem: Stewart


Bethlehem FC: Love, McKelvey, Garvey, Stewart, Morris, Lawler, Fleming, Donaghy, Lance, Lewis, Galbraith

Disston AA: Errickson, Quinn, Dutcher, Henry, Stalger, Gibeson, Whittaker, Eastwood, Sheritt, Shive, Parks

Referee – Charles Mayne | Linesmen – Callum, Shackelton


  • Chris Jordan says:

    I’m a little confused as I was under the impression that Tacony and Disston were the same team?

  • Josh Hakala says:

    We’re digging around for an answer to that. We believe Tacony and Disston may have merged at some point. But they were definitely two separate clubs in the 1913/14 tournament.

  • Club names certainly can get confusing when looking at American soccer history. In the case of Tacony and Disston, this is especially true because Tacony is the Philadelphia neighborhood in which the Disston Saw Works was located, making Tacony what could only be called company town.

    The Tacony team in the article above played in Philadelphia’s professional Pennsylvania League, joining that league in 1905. In 1910 they became the first Philadelphia team to win the American Cup tournament since the John A Manz team in 1897. Undefeated in all competitions that year (with only two draws) the 1910 Spalding Guide called them the team of the year.

    Things soon get confusing. By 1911, a Tacony AC was playing in the city’s Philadelphia and Suburban League and Disston Juniors were playing in the city’s amateur Allied League. In 1912, a Disston School team was playing in the Grammar School League.

    By 1913, while Tacony was still a Pennsylvania League and American Cup powerhouse, Disston was now playing in the second division of Philadelphia’s amateur Allied League along with Tacony AC while Disston Boys’ Club (also referred to in press reports as Disston Juniors) was playing in the Northeast Junior League.

    In 1913-14 season, Disston joined Bethlehem in the first division of the Allied League; a Disston Reserves team played in the league’s third division. Bethlehem would go on to win the league championship, finishing the season on a 12-game unbeaten streak.

    As the article above describes, that same season, Bethlehem and Tacony faced each other in the 1913-1914 American Cup final, first playing to a scoreless draw before Bethlehem won the replay 1-0 on May 3, 1914.

    Before the start of the 1914-1915 season, a new league was formed in Philadelphia called the American League, which replaced the Pennsylvania League as the home of the city’s top clubs. Bethlehem was a founding member as was Disston AA, which the Philadelphia Inquirer referred to as “formerly Tacony.” The new league included other former Pennsylvania league clubs such as Victors and Hibernian.

    As Disston AA, the team formerly known as Tacony enjoyed the support of the Disston Athletic Association, which was backed by the Disston Saw Works, an arrangement that may have been similar to what Bethlehem FC enjoyed with the Bethlehem Steel Company.

    Incidentally, Bethlehem FC became Bethlehem Steel FC in August of 1914 when Bethlehem Steel Company magnate Charles Schwab turned the team pro and the team joined Philadelphia’s American League.

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