A Glowing Tribute
Just what the disbanding of the famous Bethlehem soccer team means to soccer may perhaps not be fully appreciated locally and, therefore, it is not amiss to let the fans in on sentiment that prevails throughout the country and more particularly in the East where Bethlehem did most of its campaigning. This sentiment, truthfully expounded, comes from a correspondent and ardent admirer of the team located in New York City. It is a glowing tribute to the effort of those who made soccer possible and sponsored it in Bethlehem. Here it is:
"The disbandonment of the famous Bethlehem soccer club, which will be an established fact at the end of this month is the most staggering blow to soccer football -- a knockout -- which can very easily rock the sport to is very foundation.
"For 20 years the Bethlehem club set a standard of play which has never and will be never equaled by any other team in this country. For 20 years the slogan to "always play the game" has been fulfilled to the letter and the passing of the great team is an irreplaceable calamity to the game -- a real tragedy.
"There was indication two years ago that the team would withdraw from the sport but when the soccer war broke out the United States Football Association pleaded with the management to remain, and loyal to their promise, they continued until the differences were adjusted. The heart of those who made soccer possible will receive a terrible wrench when the team disbands at the end of the month but one thing will remain for all time -- deep rooted memories of the mighty doings on the soccer field which, in some measure will compensate for the untiring efforts to elevate the game to its present pedestal.
"Bethlehem has done so much for soccer that to enumerate all the great deeds would utilize columns to expound its great history. It was Bethlehem that imported the first players from Europe that did a power of good to stir up increased interest in the game and to show spectators how soccer can and should be played. The name of Bethlehem was like magic to each and every one of the box office patrons all over the United States and those who turned out to see them play were always treated to science and extreme cleverness. It was Bethlehem which developed some of the greatest stars in the game, foremost of whom were Alec Jackson, many times "capped" for Scotland, and at present outside right of the Huddersford Town team of the First Division of the English league. Then there is "Whitey" McDonald who with his brilliant display of soccer forced recognition as one of the best halfbacks in the business and is now a regular halfback for the Glasgow Rangers, one of the greatest ambitions to be realized by a young player.
"Wherever soccer is played the name of Bethlehem is known for their doings having reached the four quarters of the globe. Their tour to Sweden and Denmark in 1919 brought great fame to the famous Steelmen and during the tour nearly 200,000 persons turned out to see them play. Fourteen games comprised that schedule, of which seven were won, five drawn and only two defeats suffered. But the aftermath of this invasion lifted the sport to boom ever since in Northern Europe.
"Bethlehem's severance from the game was officially received at a special meeting of the Atlantic Coast Soccer League in Providence last Monday with genuine regret. Pres. Andrew W. Brown paid a glowing tribute to what the famous club had done for the game and declared that the passing out of the royal blue of Bethlehem is the most momentous occurrence in the history of soccer football in the United States and questioned if those who have been most closely associated with the management of the club are best able to appreciate what that passing means and will continue to mean.
"Mr. Brown told the delegates that in all his 35 years' active connection with the game in this country, he has never seen -- shall never see, such consistency of performance on the field or behavior on or off the field as has been given by the Bethlehem players since the club started in competition 20 years ago.
"The fine sporting spirit of the sponsors which has stood out during the years and years of untiring energy will be continued right up to April when the minutest obligations to all the players will be carried out and not the smallest attempt to commercialize will be made. For all of the men who wore the "B" upon their jerseys will be free agents and permitted to go forth into the market to sign up with any club they prefer.
"It was always a great team which will soon be known no more -- so long, Bethlehem."