The Hakoah Dribblers
Since the sensational tour of the Hakoah dribblers, an organization of Jewish soccer players, last year and the proposed tour of the same representatives who will shortly arrive on these shores to play another extensive schedule, many patrons of the dribbling sport have learned what the Jewish organization represents. The tour could hardly be referred to as a commercial enterprise, for the aims of the Jewish players are not with any intent of personal gain, but to provide funds to carry on the work of this organization. That is shy the response in patronage has exceeded by thousands the biggest soccer crowds ever to attend a game in this country. The Hakoahs are a welfare organization whose work in art, literature, athletics and other educational branches is pronounced in Vienna. It is through tours such as are being made by the soccer players that funds are raised to carry on this work. That the purpose of the organization is worthy is shown by the caliber of the reception committee to receive the touri9sts, which lists James J. Walker, mayor of New York, and Mrs. Alfred E. Smith, wife of Governor Smith, of New York, chairman of the committee.
Inaugural to be Played in Bethlehem
Of great interest to soccer patrons throughout the valley and points further distant is the announcement made that if suitable grounds can be secured, the Hakoahs will play their inaugural game in Bethlehem. While Lehigh field, formerly t he Bethlehem Steel athletic field, affords many conveniences, it is not believed that the accommodations would be sufficient to cope with the attendance. It is likely that an effort will be made to secure Taylor Stadium, with a seating capacity more than sufficient. It is believed that the committee in charge of the tour, which is located in New York City, after inspecting the local grounds, the home of the Bethlehem Steel soccer team, have come to the conclusion that Taylor Stadium would be the logical place. The attitude of the university would have to be determined. The date for the opening game in this country would be either April 20 or 21. Last year when the Hakoahs toured America, Bethlehem in spite of its brilliant record and title of national champions, was denied the opportunity of meeting the visiting team.
Other Games on Lehigh Field
In gazing back over soccer activities in this city, it is found that Lehigh University has courteously granted the use of its athletic field for other games, none of which, however, produced the international aspect which will attend the Bethlehem-Hakoah meeting. The Hakoahs come to Bethlehem as champions of Vienna, while Bethlehem would oppose the Jewish booters as champions of America. Relative to games played on Lehigh Field, before and after the stadium was erected, it is also found that the best attendances were recorded in games played on the South Side of the river. Sports followers seem more familiar with the facilities in Taylor Stadium and are more readily inclined to journey to this athletic ground. If remembered correctly, the first game to be played on Lehigh University's athletic field was a semi-final in a National cup against Chicago. In 1916 or 1917 Bethlehem Steel played Homestead in a semi-final round in the National Cup and in spite of the fact that this game was played in a driving snow storm, close to 5000 fans turned out. Probably the biggest attendance at a Bethlehem soccer game was back in 1915, when more than 7000 fans saw Bethlehem play the Brooklyn Celtic and this game, too, was played on Lehigh Field. The last game to be played in the stadium was back in 1920 or 1921, when close to 3000 fans witnessed the game between Bethlehem and the touring Third Lanarks. Significant is the fact that all of the games mentioned were mid-week affairs. Also that not any presented the attractive aspect of an international conflict, such as Bethlehem-Hakoah match. After the inaugural in Bethlehem the Jewish booters will resume their schedule at the Polo Grounds, New York, on May 1.
Belehem's Action Criticized
Several writers have found occasion to criticize the action of the Bethlehem management in refusing to allow Edwards, the Steelmen's goalie, to play with a picked American Soccer League team against the Uruguayans in New York on Saturday. Forgetting, perhaps, that Bethlehem is simply following an accepted precedent in its refusal. If the league executives in their foresight do not schedule league games on the day prior to a cup affair as a precaution against injury, why should a management not possess the same foresight with the greatest soccer laurels in the country at stake? Bethlehem's action is exactly what the management of any other team still surviving in the National cup competition would have taken. It should be commended instead of criticized. It might be of interest to know that while the local management refused the services of any of the regulars, it courteously consented tin the use of any or all of the reserves available.