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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.)
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:
Interborough Rapid Transit Strollers
Columbia Oval FC
New York Celtics
Hudson United FC
St. George Field Club
Cameron FC, all of Manhattan
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
Watessing FC of East Orange
Jersey Blues of Jersey City
Babcock & Wilcox of Bayonne
West Hudson Juniors
Alley Boys FC of Harrison
West Philadelphia FC
Kensington Association FC of Philadelphia
Bethlehem FC of Bethlehem
Wissinoming Association FC
Tacony FC of Tacony
Braddock FC of Braddock
New Bedford FC of New Bedford, Mass.
Farr Alpaca FC of Holyoke, Mass.
Presbyterian FC of Bridgeport, Conn.
Packard FC of Detroit
Campbell Rovers FC
Hyde Park Blues, all of Chicago.
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)
Byes: Pullman FC, Clam McDuffs, Hyde Park Blues and Campbell Rovers FC
Kensington AFC at Tacony FC
Disston FC at Bethlehem FC
Byes: West Philadelphia FC, Braddock FC, Wissinoming AFC
Byes: Roses FC, Packard FC
Western New York District
Niagara Falls Rangers at Buffalo Corinthians FC
Bye: McNaughton Rangers (Rochester)