St. Louis critics in commenting on the visit of the Bethlehem Steel soccer team to that city during the Christmas holidays, ridicule the ability of the champions and also make an effort to belittle their conduct on the field. It is readily admitted that the guarantee was sufficient to make the trip profitable, but after the champions went to the extent of calling off several games to make the trip possible and invade the enemy territory, the best treatment that should have been offered should have been extended. According to the local players the comments on the game appearing in the St. Louis sporting columns are unjust and denials are entered in several instances where players are quoted, in which they admitted the superiority of the All-Stars.
Charges of misconduct and unnecessary roughness on the field are also included in the comments, but to local followers this is hard to believe, especially those who have followed the campaigning of the champions the past two seasons. The style of play adopted by the Steel Workers eliminates all element of rough play and during the extensive playing of the team throughout the east, it has never even been intimated that Bethlehem resorted to rough or ungentlemanly methods to capture the honors.
An abstract of the article appearing in the St. Louis Star and which appears to be the most impartial, follows:
"Harry Ratican, the St. Louis boy has not only demonstrated that he is the star player of the famous Bethlehem Steel eleven, but has also proven that he is the best sportsman of the party of football players that visited her for the three-game series with teams of the St. Louis soccer league. After the Bethlehem team had been defeated Ratican cam out flat-footed and stated that the defeat of the Bethlehem team was due to the fact that he and his teammates had been outplayed by eleven good players, fairly and squarely."
"The other Bethlehem players and sideline artists were not inclined to praise the work of the All-Stars. They immediately uncovered a flock of alibis. Manager William Sheridan of the easterners, found fault with the refereeing. He also was inclined to believe that the Bethlehem team would not have been beaten if American -- or, maybe, English -- flags had been placed at the four corners of the playing field and if the side lines had been more carefully marked.
"A number of players, however, endeavored to blame Phil Kavanaugh, the referee, although impartial view of his work was that his officiating in the three-game series could not be criticized. "It makes me tired to hear our fellows beefing about losing the game," said Ratican. "We were beaten fairly and squarely, so why not come out and admit it?" added the Ty Cobb of the soccer world.
"The three games here proved that the eastern brand of soccer is rougher than the game that is played in St. Louis. Following the visit of the Bethlehem team here two years ago, the easterners returned home with a lot of wild-eyed tales about the rough play of the St. Louisans. Some rabid Bethlehemites so spread broadcast the report that the players had been intimidated by the fans, who leveled shotguns and revolvers at the Steel Workers during the progress of the games.
"However, the recent trip of the easterners proved that they are not novices at the rough style of play. Figures show that thirty fouls were called on the Bethlehemites. And that does not include the many misplays that were overlooked because of the trickiness of the easterners. On the other hand, Referee Kavanaugh called only nineteen fouls on the St. Louis players."
All the other clippings contend that the St. Louis teams were far the superior to the champions and in one a quite lengthy interview credited to Manager Sheridan is printed in which the latter is alleged to have remarked that "the trip really opened our eyes." Manager Sheridan this morning denied that he had made such a remark and that since he was misquoted doubted that Ratican had made the statement credited to him, which is above mentioned.
"This attitude toward the Bethlehem team is all uncalled for and by no means deserving," said Manager Sheridan, when the clippings were spread out before him this morning. "Their actions are anything but what I would call real sportsmanship and their effort to cast reflection on the local t am might count for something in St. Louis, but in Bethlehem and in fact all of the eastern towns where the champions have played, I am certain it will make no impression. Gentlemanly conduct and clean playing has been one of the main assets of the Bethlehem team and I will say further that our success on the playing field has been practically through that conduct. As for alibis, I am sure that the Bethlehem players without any exceptions are too good sportsmen for anything like that and if beaten are the first ones to congratulate the successful team. Why this ill feeling is engendered against the Bethlehem team I do not know."
It was intimated that probably the reference made to the St. Louis organization as an outlaw league, together with insinuating criticisms on Patsy Brannigan, who it is alleged, deserted Morse Dry Dock shipbuilders' eleven and returned to St. Louis, where he played before his release was received, was partly the cause.
A return trip is suggested to take place in spring, but it is hardly possible that the Bethlehem team would care to consider making another trip after the manner in which the St. Louis scribes commented on the previous visit.