Dwindle in Significance
When a comparative summary is made of sports waged in Bethlehem, probably none carries with it the significance of the campaigning on the Bethlehem Steel Field and other soccer pitches on which the Bethlehem Steel F. C. have engaged this season. The triumphant glide of the Steelmen in the National Cup competition has brought international fame to Bethlehem. Bethlehem ahs truly developed some great athletes and men prominent in the sports world. Of these, we can refer to John E. Madden, king of horsemen and recognized as supreme in the breeding of the blue blooded equine; Allan Woodring, a native son of Bethlehem, whose sensational exploits with the spiked shoes on the cinder path brought Bethlehem the distinction of an Olympic champion; Johnny Gray, now of Philadelphia, but a son of Bethlehem, who also gained distinction in competing in Olympic long distance affairs, and there are other individuals and teams that could be mentioned, who probably have not been as prominent but have come close to reaching the apex of success. And what about Bethlehem Steel? Not only nationwide, but in all European and other countries where soccer is played and there are few if any where the sport is not popular, have the exploits of the Steel Workers been heralded. Are the Steel Workers paid the homage due them for what they have brought to Bethlehem? Not by any means, if the patronage at the local games is a criterion. If it were for a financial gain, the array of celebrities comprising the local club could readily be transferred to some other city and a substantial sum assured at the close of each season. Have the efforts of those fostering a major league sport in this city been appreciated? To hear some out-of-town chatter we would think so. "Yes, we have a crack soccer team, the best in the country." How often has this remark been made when away on a visit and it's a safe bet that the majority of those who swell with pride when they refer to the Bethlehems and their explants that the nearest they have been to witnessing a game has been through the sports columns of the newspapers. And that is no ideal dream. Efforts to diagnose just what the ailment is because of the lukewarm enthusiasm apparent in Bethlehem has been a problem, and one that he management and the dyed-in-the-wool soccer fans have been trying to solve for several years. Our conclusion is that the sportsman has not given soccer here a real chance. Many have witnessed one game and failing to get a kick out of that lone contest, have been unfair to themselves as well as to soccer in not giving it another trial. Probably they have been unfortunate in selecting the game that might have been a one-sided contest. They have had no opportunity to appreciate the more intricate are in ball control and combination play, features that certainly must appeal to the sports follower, or to realize the science in booting the ball with either foot, to be accurate in aim and to engineer a swerve which almost parallel with the goal mouth, finds its target. Those are but a few of the features which contribute to the popularity of soccer. Rally to the support so that a major league soccer team will always be an institution in Bethlehem. With the strides in popularity made in the last ten years, the time is not far distance when soccer is going to be a mighty big sport. Then the realization may be too late, for there may come a time when Bethlehem will no longer be identified in the realm of soccerdom. We don't say that time will come, but certainly it is threatened, with other cities bartering for the transfer of the Bethlehem club and the little encouragement it has received in the past in this city. Make the game self supporting is all that is asked. NO better opportunity of playing homage to the National Champions could be presented than the game to be played here on Saturday afternoon. The Steel Workers meet the New York Giants in the semi-final round in competition for a trophy of which a local citizen is a donor. IT is only natural under these circumstances that the Bethlehem players cherish the ambition to add this cup along with that of the Dewar trophy already won. The indomitable fight characteristic of the New York Giants assures that the Steel Workers will meet strong opposition. In our opinion, Bethlehem must count the goals in Bethlehem, for when away from home they will not only have to beat a team of eleven players, but will have to face the barrage of Giants cheering from a crowd of no less than six or seven thousand. Help Bethlehem win the home game by a big margin and make it a certainty that soccer fans in this vicinity will have an opportunity of seeing a cup final with either New Bedford of Providence, both heated rivals of the home club, as one of the principals. This plea for better support is not inspired by any motive other than the hope that Bethlehem will always be identified in the realms of big league soccer, and that deserving recognition will be accorded the team. Concluding, let us again recall that Bethlehem Steel has this season captured the greatest laurels possible in American soccer and, thrown in with this, has established a record of five national championships, which in this day of soccer will probably never be equaled.