By Fred S. Nonnemacher
Twenty thousand rabid soccer fans saw the Bethlehem Steel soccer team eliminated by Fall River in the Eastern final of the United States Football Association challenge cup, played in Dexter Park, the Cypress Hills section of Long Island, Brooklyn, Sunday afternoon. In eliminating the Steel Workers from this blue ribbon classic by the score of 2 goals to none, the New England clan, comprising many former Bethlehem players, earned the right to represent the East in the National final which, in all probability will e played in St. Louis in two weeks.
The defeat of the Bethlehems came as a severe shock to soccer critics throughout the country who had selected the Steel Workers as the favorite, and without a doubt was the most sensational upset of the present soccer season. Dougie Campbell, a former Bethlehemite, scored one of the two goals and contributed materially with a pass to the scoring of the other, which was counted by Reid.
Fall River came to Brooklyn with a delegation of close to three thousand rooters, accompanied by a brass band of thirty-five pieces. Bethlehem's contingent of fans augmented by soccer enthusiasts from the Lehigh Valley hardly numbered five hundred.
Overhead the weather was ideal but the field conditions could hardly be described as ideal for such an important cup play match. The one end of the pitch was nothing less than a quagmire of mud while to the other end of the field there was a perceptive slope with the playing pitch rough and ridgy.
Captain Brittan of the Fall River clan called the toss and elected to play with his defense perched high on the incline and Bethlehem defense forced to combat the offensive of the New Englanders ankle-deep in mud. While Fall River experienced conditions similar it was the exerted efforts in the first half that spelled the fate for the Bethlehem team. And it was in the closing minutes of the opening period that Fall River crashed its goals into the Bethlehem net.
But one incident occurred to mar the play and that may have been designed to wreck the Bethlehem offense of any chance whatever of staging a rally and overcoming the lead in the final period. Within two minutes after the restart Maxwell gained possession of the ball in midfield and was dribbling steadily toward the Fall River goal when Lorimer tackled him so viciously that both players went spilling on the turf. Argument ensued with Referee McCabe in the midst and the instant the referee turned his back Lorimer deliberately crashed the ball into Maxwell's face. While it would have been better had Maxwell restrained himself, there was provocation and on the spur of the moment, the brilliant inside front liner responded with a punch to the face. Referee McCabe ordered Maxwell off the field and then sent Lorimer to the club house.
Two minutes after the start Kerr was tested when he saved a driving shot from W. Jackson. An instant later on a cross from Goldie, W. Jackson shot by. For the greater part of the first twenty minutes Bethlehem pressed but from then on the play swerved to Fall River, charge after charge coming down the hill which the Bethlehem defense, ankle deep in mud, made a valiant effort to check. Time and again the ball was crossed to McKenna who more than once advanced close to the goal, once with no one to beat but the goalie but in his maneuvering for better position the veteran Jock Ferguson crashed in and frustrated his effort. McKenna had numerous chances but his efforts were futile.
Close to thirty minutes of play had been consumed before Highfield was forced to handle and he made a brilliant save off Brittan but was unable to hold the ball. On the rebound Brittan was again dangerous but Ferguson, in clearing, conceded a corner. Realizing that their best chances to score were in this period and with the minutes fast waning, Fall River rallied desperately. Their efforts were rewarded after thirty six minutes of play. Campbell came down the right wing with J. Ferguson keeping pace until close to the goal line. In turning in Campbell tricked the veteran Ferguson, who prior to that had saved no less than three shots that seemed inevitable goals. Highfield came out to clear but Campbell beat him with the ball and with a lightning move centered the ball to Reid, the latter sending it into the net. The Fall River delegation went wild with joy and their stirring cheers ringing across the field inspired the players to continue in their desperate efforts.
It was but a few minutes later when Fall River again scored. This tally was more or less the result of a reserved decision by Referee McCabe which gave Fall River a corner kick. On the first impulse McCabe, it is understood, called off-side against Brittan and had the decision stood Bethlehem could have kicked out of danger. However, the corner kick gave Fall River another opportunity and they made the most of it. McKenna centered the ball but in clearing it went back and again McKenna sent it across to Campbell who was separated from the scrimmage a good distance from the net. However, the former Bethlehemite shot for goal and the ball landed in the corner of the net. That was the extent of the scoring and a minute or two later the half ended.
When play was resumed it was readily apparent that Fall River was content with the two goals and concentrated the massed efforts of the team on defensive play. In spite of the loss of Maxwell and the combined defensive work of the Fall River clan, it is safely said that no less than forty minutes of this half Bethlehem was pressing hard. Not once was Highfield called upon to handle the ball while on only three or four occasions did Fall River breakaway and carry the ball beyond midfield.
Bethlehem had opportunities galore but simply could not convert these chances into goals. On one decision on which Kerr in kicking out took more than the required number of steps, Bethlehem was given a free kick but two yards from the goal but this effort went for naught. Again it seemed that Bethlehem must score when a foul was called by Referee McCabe less than a foot outside the penalty area. Had it been a foot the other way it is almost certain that a penalty kick would have materialized a counter. These were but a few of the opportunities, the others presented by the forward movements of the Bethlehem clan.
Probably the best chance to score was fluked by Turner after Goldie sent the ball across on a corner kick. The sphere went sailing directly to Turner but a few yards away from the Fall River goal. Kerr slipped and was out of the play and an open net presented itself to the Bethlehem wingman. However, instead of touching it into the meshes, he booted it over the bar. Another time Goldie headed over the bar and so the play progressed with Bethlehem pressing. However, it was not a Bethlehem day and try as they would the Steel Workers could not jam the ball past Kerr. The superiority of Bethlehem in the closing half is well evident by the fact that no less than nine corner kicks were collected to three for the visitors.
Walter Jackson was practically helpless, being enmeshed in a cordon of players whenever the ball was in his possession. A. Jackson tricked, outran and outgenerated the Fall River defense and carried the ball into Fall River territory quite often. He, too, was carefully covered and as the time wore on his dashing play seemed to show effects of exhaustion.
Fall River, too, had its luminaries in Tate and McPherson, these two backs playing excellent football. While frequently the play swept around their side of the wing, they were on the Bethlehem forwards with a dash and either hurried their shots or tackled effectively. The lineup:
Fall River -- Bethlehem
Kerr -- G -- Highfield
Tate -- RFB -- D. Ferguson
Kemp -- LFB -- J. Ferguson
McPherson -- RHB -- McGregor
Raeside -- CHB -- Carnihan
Lorimer -- LHB -- Robertson
Campbell -- OR -- Turner
Reid -- IR -- A. Jackson
Brittan -- CF - -W. Jackson
Morley -- IL -- Maxwell
McKenna -- OL -- Goldie
Goals -- Reid, Campbell.
Referee -- Edward McCabe, Philadelphia. Linesmen - Andrew Laurie, Newark, and Thomas Cunningham, Brooklyn. Time of halves, 45 minutes.