The Bethlehem Soccer team retained the United States championship in Pawtucket, R. I., Saturday afternoon by defeating Fall River Rovers 1-0. The only point in the final round of the National Soccer Challenge Cup tie competition in which eighty-eight teams were entered was made by Fleming on a penalty kick in the last few minutes of the second half.
Ten thousand fans saw the old country cracks from the Bethlehem Steel Works take the Massachusetts men in tow.
There was no score made until about twelve minutes before the final whistle. Then Booth, of the Rovers, back-charged Center Forward Clarke on the Rover’s sixteen-yard line. Clarke was in the air to head a long shot from center half back Campbell when Booth charged him. Referee Whyte gave a penalty and Fleming shot the ball through on the penalty kick, Albin, Rovers’ goal tender, not even touching the speeding ball. Clarke was considerably shaken in this charge from the rear. He fell and for a moment it was feared he was injured. But he finished.
There were thousands of Rover followers on hand from neighboring Fall River. They took the eleventh hour defeat of their team in bad part, but it was the consensus of expert belief that Referee Whyte only did what he should have done.
It was a hard game for the Rovers to lose, this last chance for the national soccer championship. In t hat last half they frequently carried the ball down deep into Bethlehem’s territory, but always the sterling and polished work of Fletcher and Ferguson, the Penna. Fullbacks, would break up the Fall River offensive combination.
The play that helped decide the game came ten minutes from the end of the contest. Just as Clarke, the rangy center forward of the Bethlehem team jumped in the air to head a ball toward the Rover goal, Charlie Burns the Rovers’ left fullback ducked into Clarke and threw him head-long into he turf. Instantly referee Whyte’s whistle sounded for a penalty kick and the Rovers swarmed around Whyte like a lot of wild men, gesticulating and even threatening the referee. “Sinker” Sullivan, the fiery inside right of the Rovers, persisted in protesting so violently that the hundreds of Fall River rooters in the stands, distinguishable by the yellow cards in their hats took up the refrain and raised a fearful din of disapproval that continued throughout the remaining ten minutes of play. After cooler heads had prevailed the Rovers drew back and allowed Fleming, the blond outside left of the Bethlehems team to make the free kick. Albin pluckily attempted to save the shot but it whistled by him like a bullet into the net for the goal that won the game.
The Rovers in the last ten minutes fought like demons for the equalizing score but they were so angry and excited that they had no semblance of team work. Their rough, plunging style of play, however, worked the fans into a frenzy. A few seconds before the time limit the ball lanced off one Bethlehems player and struck another on the wrist and the Rover fans and players yelled, “Penalty! Penalty!”
Whyte, however, did not see the play and raised his whistle to his mouth to end the game. Even as he did he was struck in the back by a fan who had been in the lead in the wild rush at the referee. His failure to call what the Rovers thought was a penalty kick for their team seemed the last straw and in an instant Whyte disappeared in the seething mob. The Pawtucket police headed by Lieut. D. A. Ballou drew their clubs and rushed to the assistance of the players who were doing their best to protect the referee especially Booth who was beaten black and blue. Bottles began to fly and the tumult didn’t cease until one of the officers drew his revolver. This cowed the rest into submission and Whyte and the Bethlehem players got off the field into safety.
Bethlehems exhibited by far the better team work and had the advantage nearly all the game, the Rovers never being dangerous and it was only in the last few minutes of the game that they were able to force a corner, while on the other end of the field Bethlehems forward line was continually pressing the Rover defense, and time and again Butler, Clarke, Fleming and Pepper hit the cross bars and uprights. Great credit is given to Campbell, the plucky center half of the Bethlehem team for coming back into the game after being carried off unconscious with a two-inch gash in the head which required the services of two doctors who had to put six stitches to fix him up. The point which won the game for Bethlehem came about ten minutes before the end of the game when Clarke on a pass from Butler was going through with the ball when Burns dashed over and deliberately kicked the feet from under him. Referee was not far away and his whistle shrilled just as Clarke thudded against the turf, and as a result of the decision Fleming took the kick and scored with a shot that went by the Rover’s goalkeeper like a bullet. Several players on the Bethlehem team received nasty kicks and bruises, Campbell, Butler, Murray, Ferguson and MacDonald being injured.
The summary: --
Bethlehem Steel. – Position. – Fall River.
Duncan -- goal -- Albion
Fletcher – R. F. B. – C. Burns
Ferguson – L.F. B. -- Booth
Murray – R. H. B. -- Morgan
Campbell – C. H. B. -- Stone
Morrison – L. H. B. -- Bauchard
MacDonald – O. E. -- Burns
Pepper – I. E. -- Garnet
Clark – C. F. -- Swords
Butler – I. L. -- Dalton
Fleming – O. L. -- Sullivan
Score – Bethlehem 1, Fall River 0. Scored by Fleming from a penalty. Referee, David Whyte, New York. Linesmen – G. Mitchell, J. Booth, Attendance – 10,000. Time forty-five minute halves.