Players Desert Outlaw Ranks
That soccer players value their standing with the United States Football Association became glaringly evident yesterday afternoon when the New York National ranks were depleted by the resignation of a flock of first string stars shortly before the team was ready to line up against Brooklyn. The danger of losing their status and remaining in the good graces of the National Commission caused the first pronounced break in the soccer war insofar as players are concerned. The "Nats" were practically wrecked and so badly crippled that the scheduled game with Boston was called off. Whether other players will follow remains to be seen.
No Hand in Controversy
The new league had no hand whatever in the action taken by the "Nat" players and three or four of the Brooklyn Wanderers who also quit the ranks. The clubs in the new circuit went ahead and organized and have since forgotten that an American Soccer League ever was in existence. However, the wholesale desertions on the "Nats" will most assuredly be charged against alleged conniving and conspiring on the part of the new league. That many of the former "Nat" players and in fact any others who desert the ranks of the league outlawed by the U. S. F. A. will affiliate with the new Eastern League teams is practically a certainty. If they do t hey will be welcomed for in the light in which the new clubs view the controversy they will contend that they are proceeding within their rights and with the sanction of the parent body.
In tendering the resignation, the veteran Bob Millar, once a Bethlehemite and one of the best soccer generals in the business, calls attention to the fact that the New York Nationals violated the terms of his contract. The text of his telegram to Manager Viberg follows: "I hereby advise you that I must refuse to continue as playing manager of the New York Nationals Football Club. I hereby tender my resignation, because to engage further in unsanctioned soccer football will materially endanger my status in organized soccer and will thereby affect my future livelihood as a professional soccer player. You have not lived up to the terms of my contract, which all for me to play and manager under the rules and regulations of the United States Football Association, and by forcing me to engage in outlaw soccer, you are breaking my means of gaining a leaving I am compelled to seek a position in organized football." Other players who telegraphed their resignations were Pete Renzulli, James Warden, James Slaven, James Leonard, James Gallagher, Herbert Carlson, Michael Connaboy and James Martyn.
Player Action Foreseen
From all appearances the New York Nationals were instrumental in developing the controversy to the present state of affairs. If remembered correctly, the Nationals after winning the championship last season publicly announced that the team had engaged in its last National Cup tie and that if the league continued in this competition, hinted at withdrawing. National influence backed by Nat Agar in Brooklyn, and Sam Marks, in Fall River, it is believed, was responsible for the rule adopted by the American Soccer League prohibiting member clubs from entering the competition and the rule which has caused all the trouble.
Nat Agar Speaks
Commenting on the action of the withdrawing players, Nat Agar, enterprising owner of the Brooklyn Wanderers, is quoted with the following: "What that have done, in withholding notice of their action until the last minute, is despicable alike from the viewpoint of the New York National Football Club and the public which came to witness a first class league match and paid its money for that privilege. I have worked unceasingly for 20 years to help in placing soccer where it is today. What these suspended clubs and the withdrawing players can hope to gain is beyond my conception. It has been shown pretty clearly that this vicinity can support three major clubs. Where the metropolitan teams in the new league expect to get their following is beyond me. With the exception of a few players from continental Europe, my team is standing by me. The players have received good treatment and evidently appreciate it." Agar is probably correct in his theory that New York and vicinity can support only three clubs. However, with the "Nats" canceling their game for the weekend, that cuts down the field to two clubs. Then again there's a good chance that in addition to the following of the new clubs the ranks may be increased by some of the patronage of Brooklyn and the "Nats."
Soccer fans locally are inclined to believe that the withdrawing of the "Nat" players is but the beginning of what will eventually completely wreck some of the remaining American Soccer League clubs. They will also be inclined to file objection to Agar's assertion of what he has done for soccer in the last 20 years, contending, probably that his reactionary attitude is much responsible for the present state of affairs. Opinion locally is that Agar's interest in soccer has been for what he has been able to make out of it and not for the progress and development of the game. Advices from New York this morning intimate that the majority of the players who quit the "Nats" have joined the Giants and several may be seen in action against Bethlehem here this afternoon.
The Right Step
As a means of inspiring a greater harmony between players and management, the new soccer league has approved a Players' Protective Association, the first steps of which to organize were taken. In all league meetings the players will be privileged to have a representative present and vice versa when the Players' Protective Association meets. This action is a fine indication of the progressiveness of the new circuit.