1914 National Challenge Cup

Posted by | January 10, 2003

The United States finally got its first true national championship tournament with the inauguration of the National Challenge Cup. Unlike the AAFA Cup Tie Competition (amateurs only) and the American Cup (only the northeast region), this was a true nationwide competition open to both amateurs and professionals. It marked the capstone of the new soccer structure established by the USFA, and would provide the building blocks for the re-establishment of the National Team.

The Dewar Challenge Trophy, which had been donated in 1913 for the AAFA Cup Tie Competition was transferred to the National Challenge Cup committee. Invitations were sent out to 287 clubs of which 40 agreed to participate. Given the rapid flurry of events, most of the participants were from Northeast, as well as Pittsburgh and Chicago. Overall, the competition was a great success, with enthusiastic crowds and spirited play. The early rounds of the competition were regionalized, with many favored teams advancing and a few surprise early departures. The third round reduced the field to eight teams, and included a showdown in Chicago between Pullman F. C. and Hyde Park Blues, with Pullman prevailing 4-2. Back in the New York District, Babcock & Wilcox was eliminated by Brooklyn Celtic 5-0. The defending holders of the Dewar Trophy, Yonkers F. C. defeated New York Celtic 3-1.

In the fourth round, Yonkers took to the field against Brooklyn Field Club, succumbing to the Brooklynites 4-1, and leaving the Cup up for grabs. Meanwhile, Brooklyn Celtic dispatched Columbia Oval F. C. 2-0. Up in New England, New Bedford F. C. eliminated Peabody F. C. 4-1, and Niagara Falls Rangers upset the powerful Pullman F. C. side 2-1. Brooklyn Field Club then defeated New Bedford F. C. 2-1 in the semifinal. The Celtics made quick work of the Rangers, leaving these two intramural rivals to duke it out for the Cup, although not in their home city.

The championship match was played on May 16, 1914 at Coates Field in Pawtucket, RI. Although only a couple hundred Brooklyn fans made the trip to see the match between Brooklyn Celtic and Brooklyn Field Club, over 10,000 locals turned out for the spectacle. Brooklyn Field Club was at full strength for the match, but the Celtics were missing King, one of their top forwards. This severely weakened their scoring line, as a high score would be expected otherwise. Field Club won the coin toss, and within three minutes had found the net. Their scoring line advanced down poised to strike, forcing Goalkeeper Mather to make two quick saves. On the second, he threw the ball toward midfield, where it was picked up by F. C. Captain Adamson, who fired a hard drive for the score.

Twenty five minutes later, referee Charles Creighton caught the F. C.’s Clarke as he pulled down Celtics’ O’Halloran in the penalty area. Campton took the resulting penalty kick and evened the score. This inflamed the Field Club’s scoring line and they launched furious drives without respite. But the Celtics’ defensive line, headed by Mather, Hugh Kelly and Dave Robertson rose to the task, frustrating their moves, and particularly breaking up the work of Millar and Adamson, raising the risk of more penalty calls.

Field Club had the offensive upper hand in the second half, controlling the game at will, but the Celtics’ defensive wall was just as resolute, and it was not until the final three minutes of the game that Millar was able to break the tie. Millar had made two beautiful back kicks, both of which were deflected. On his third opportunity, Miller passed to Ford whose kick found the net, giving the first National Challenge Cup to the Brooklyn Field Club in a 2-1 victory over the Brooklyn Celtics.

-Dave Litterer, American Soccer History Archives

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