Indications that the state department of health will modify the influenza ban inasmuch as it pertains to public gatherings by Saturday, gives a part assurance that the Bethlehem Steel soccer players will be seen in action in this city. The game scheduled is the first National cup competition for the Steel Workers for the season and the announcement that a modification in the "flu" ban is possible is one of the happiest tidings of the season.
While football has suffered a great deal worse than soccer, the lovers of the kicking game were in most cases fortunate in launching the season with games. One week before the influenza became epidemic most all the teams in the National League staged a contest, Bethlehem meeting and defeating the Paterson F. C. in the opening game. However, since then all scheduled contests fall under the ban and the players are anxiously awaiting to get into action.
Manager Sheridan has allowed no let up in the work of his players and practices are conducted with the same regularity as when facing a big contest. However, if the squads do not soon get underway it is feared that they will become stale from practice and will not be in condition to do their best when games are resumed.
"We are going through for the same honors we attained last season" is the expression used by Manager Sheridan and Capt. Campbell in reviewing the soccer season. "We realize the competition is strong and that practically every team in the National League, National and American Cup competitions is set on upsetting the Steel Workers. Winning the laurels in soccer circles has set up our crowd as the keenest rivals but we are confident that the players who represent the local plant of the Bethlehem Steel Co., will come through under the wire in the lead."
The game at Camp Crane in Allentown on Sunday gave the players just the work out that was needed. In practice they have been playing before an empty stand and at times their work lagged. However, on Sunday it was different. While the contest was virtually a practice game, all of the players were inspired in their efforts by the cheers of the enthused soldiers. The game made a great hit with the khaki clads and from reports emanating from the camp it is said plans are already being formulated for the organization of a soccer team. Lieut. Col. Snyder, the commander, is said to favor athletics and since he gave his authority to organize a football squad, it is more than likely that the parties comprising the recreation committee will get busy and arrange for soccer.
Relative to the announcement made about a week ago that efforts would be made to have the Bethlehem champions oppose the Belgians in the big sport carnival to be staged in New York, no further word has been received. The Steel Workers would welcome a match with the Belgians and since they finished the season with all the soccer honors last year, contend that in selecting the local crowd the committee in charge of the big sport drive, would be selecting the best drawing card. It is understood that the Belgian team would include the pick of the best players in Europe and that a hard contest would be the result of the meeting. Like everyone else the Steel Workers are ready at all times to aid in war charities benefits as well as providing recreation or other comforts to the soldiers whenever possible. This was evident when several nights ago a truck company passing through Bethlehem with orders to camp for the night in the outskirts of the city were escorted to the gymnasium at the athletic field. At the Yo Eddie headquarters it was learned that the soldiers were ordered to remain here over night and immediately they arrived at the conclusion that an appropriate place would be the athletic field. Vice President H. E. Lewis readily granted them the privilege of the athletic field as well as the gymnasium. That the soldiers appreciated the courteous treatment was best indicated when they discov4ered the shower baths with hot water and one of the boys remarked "Gee! Hot water and a shower, the first in three weeks, me for it." These little acts of kindness together with the great work the Yo Eddies are performing in supplying them with tobacco and refreshments will never be forgotten and for years after the way the City of Bethlehem will be referred to in the most glowing terms. Most, if not all of the soccer players are members of the club.
Soccer football will likely get going in full swing next Saturday. There are two National Challenge Cup games down for decision in Philadelphia which will bring together Disstons vs. Merchant Team B, Hog Island vs. Merchant Team B, both games being scheduled on the grounds of the first named. New York Ship will also play in the first round, tackling Bethlehem, the present champions, at Bethlehem. League games will also intermingle, so there should be enough action to suit the most ardent soccer fan.
Soccer lost another of its most ardent supporters last week in the death of Harry Kendall, who played for Falls two years ago in the first division of the Allied League. He also played for West Philadelphia when t hat team was the strongest amateur eleven in these parts.
Dick Spalding has signed for New York Ship, of Camden, N. J., and will assist that team in the first round of the National Cup tourney at Bethlehem, when the New Yorkers tackle Bethlehem.
Merchant Ship Team B will have to take the field minus James Maxwell, one of the best inside lefts in the city, in their next few games. "Bill" injured his arm last week working on one of the ships, and is unable to use it.
James Kerr, the former Thistle center halfback, and also a well-known referee, has been offered the job managing Hog Island team in the Shipyard Soccer League.
While Tommy Fisher, captain of the New York Ship, is not predicting anything "rash" he says that Bethlehem might strike a surprise when they hook up with his team in the first round match of the cup tourney.
The many friends of Charles Turner will be sorry to be informed that he died from the influenza. Charles was assistant trainer of the Merchant Ship Team B, of the Delaware Athletic Association Soccer League and was also connected with the Wanderers when that team was a power in soccer last season.
With the material that the management of Sun Ship has to select from the Chester team should be able to hold its own with the majority of the teams this season in the Delaware River Athletic Association Soccer League.