With Bethlehem Out "Blooey" Goes the Gate
There is wailing and gnashing of teeth among the managers of the clubs comprising the American Soccer League and all because Bethlehem took the count in the opening round of the cup competition at the hands of Newark. Bethlehem followers suffered in pride, but rival opponents of the Steelmen are going to suffer in the pocketbook. When the Jerseymen hooked the Steel Workers for the count, the cup competition lost the best box office attraction in the circuit and well do the managers of other clubs know it. Particularly in the Metropolitan and New England district, where Bethlehem always packs in to the gate. The stroke of fate that eliminated the powerful Bethlehem machine has inspired chips of hard luck throughout the circuit. Every other American League club, with the exception of probably those eliminated in the first round, was pulling for the Steelmen to win. It meant more shekels at the gate if they did. But they didn't so that's that and it's now the National cup, in which is presented the opportunity to recoup what might have been made. While rival managers are dolling out the sob stuff, don't think for one minute that the Bethlehem defeat was invited and that the local club doesn't take a blast with the other. In cold figures survival in league competition meant anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 and that is money as soccer finances go.
The Squawk From Others
Bethlehem players and management are sitting tight, thinking a lot probably, but saying nothing. The Squawk emanates from other sources. Ernest J. Vieberg, a soccer scribe on a New York newspaper, views the situation in no mild terms. To him Bethlehem's elimination is nothing short of calamity. His outlook is typed as follows:
"Newark's 4 to 2 victory over Bethlehem Steel was not only the biggest soccer surprise of the weekend, but also revealed the fallacy of knockout competitions during the league race. Bethlehem, it should be remembered, leads the American Soccer League by a big margin, while Newark is in the cellar position.
"To the dyed-in-the-wool soccer fan it will not matter whether Bethlehem is thrown for a loss in every cup competition it enters. If the Steelmen win the league pennant they will be hailed as the real champions, as they will have earned the title after a series of forty-four games, wherein all teams had an equal chance. If Bethlehem Steel after that accomplishment desires to meet any team the United States Football Association might select for the championship of America, all well and good. Only American Soccer League leaders, however, should be entitled to enter such a play of series. Although playing a regular league schedule is the best way to determine the strength of a team, breaks have their share in deciding the ultimate winners. In our opinion, Boston is the best balanced team in the circuit, but the Steelmen look like sure winners, due to their getting the breaks both in games played and in their receiving six points when Springfield withdrew from the league. With possibly four exceptions the clubs now constituting the American Soccer League are so evenly matched that the breaks of a day may decide a contest."
In part one agrees with Mr. Vieberg's theory. Opinion is not in the least altered by Mr. Vieberg's version relative to the premier soccer honors to be garnered in this country, contending that the National cup is more significant than the league championship. Relative to a true test of merit, Mr. Vieberg overlooks early season building, experimenting with various players and changes in numerous positions, before a team strikes its stride. During this process many defeats are registered. Bethlehem wen through such an experience in this reorganization policy. There is no true test of merit against such clubs. With league chances lost, morale ebbs but soars high with cup chances and that is why the lowly rise to great heights in defeating the more formidable clubs. Again one takes exception to Mr. Vieberg's assertion, "If Bethlehem Steel, after winning the league championship, desires to meet any team the U. S. F. A. might select for the championship of America, all well and good. Only American Soccer League leaders, however, should be entitled to enter such a play-off series. " A rather selfish attitude, we would say. What license has the U. S. F. A to make a selection of a team to compete against the league champion for the American title? Are they able to make a choice that would be entirely satisfactory? In our opinion the process of elimination is the only procedure. It is adhered to in all sports. In regards to a selfish attitude, Mr. Vieberg's thoughts are certainly not to the best interest of soccer when he restricts such games exclusively to leaders in the American Soccer League. Quite true, these clubs are recognized as the strongest, but by such a procedure he would remove t he incentive in other districts and certainly retard the development of this rapidly growing and popular sport. He would have soccer confined to one back yard and let the rest of the country be regarded as trash. Nix, it is the U. S. F. A. cup competition that is keeping soccer alive on an extended scope and such a policy should be continued. As to the knockout elimination not being a true test of merit, but quite frequently decided on the so-called breaks, that is a pure an simple sportsmanship gamble, apt to go either way. A suggestion as to all theories advanced in that more efficient officials, officials with the courage of the convictions and not influenced by home environments; officials who are thoroughly versed in the game and who can control the situation at all times are needed. Also the greatest care be exacted in the assignment of these officials. Let the soccer laurels be continued as they are, recognized in significance, first, National cup competition; second, American Soccer League championship, and third the American Soccer League cup competition. That is our opinion.
Bye, Bye Gate Receipts
Comments from another New York newspaper writer, Sam MacLerie, a soccer expert, stress the financial shortage certain by the elimination of Bethlehem . He writes:
"The elimination of Bethlehem from the American Soccer League cup competition by Newark was the most staggering blow the Steelworkers have had to digest this season, and while there has been no excuse offered by the team management for the unexpected defeat, yet the loss to competition is a distinct omission that cannot be filed by its conquerors. Always one of the best drawing cards in the American Soccer League, the absence of the Bethlehem club, prospective champions of the league series, will be more than felt at the box office in the remaining ties. Newark deserves praise for its victory, and when such players as Tommy Strong, Harry McGowan and Tommy Duggan, former cast-offs, of the New York Giants and Brooklyn, can put on the uniform of the Newark Club and go out and stop such a formidable eleven as Bethlehem produced, we can only say -- what next?"
Players have been singled out in that game and their good and bad points extolled, but as yet we have not read one single line about the one individual in that game who not only was the outstanding player on the field that day, but who probably gave the greatest individual exhibition of soccer ever witnessed in this country. That individual was the veteran "Jock" Marshall, former internationalist and we might say a Brooklyn cast-off. He played all that his position demanded and a good bit more.