The first widely-roving confidence man to invade the soccer realm in some years has been operating in the Eastern States since early November and early efforts of the U. S. F. A. and police officials to apprehend him have been futile. He is evidently an old-country soccer player of considerable experience "gone wrong." He shows a wide and intimate knowledge of soccer history and present-day teams and leaders in the British Isles, and plays the game sufficiently well himself to qualify for several clubs in Atlantic Coast States.
As James Burton, of Cheltenham, England, he bobbed up in Baltimore and signed a professional form, on Nov. 4 for Baltimore S. C. After telling a hard luck story and getting an advance on salary and clothing at the club's expense, he disappeared from Baltimore, but on Nov. 15, under the name of Jack Smelts signed for Philadelphia S. C. He was taken into the home of the club manager and a few days later made a get-away with funds and clothing.
The smooth tongued Englishman next showed up in New York where he won the interest of Nat Agar, head of the Brooklyn Wanderers, and similarly victimized Agar and the Brooklyn Club. He is charged with having stolen various articles from Agar's home, in which he had taken up a temporary abode. He signed Nov. 21 to play for Brooklyn, under the name of George Henry Burton, of Thornhill, Rotherham, England, and listed his chit of last affiliation as Brighton Rotherham. On Nov. 27, as J. H. Burton, he signed with Falco F. C. of Holyoke, Mass., and said he hailed from Sheffield, England, and played for Calgary Hillhurst, Canada.
By this time, however, U. S. F. A. officials were on his trail and his stay in Holyoke was abbreviated and he got away only with a small advance in cash. He is believed to have headed for Canada. Managers in the Dominion and throughout the United States have been warned against his operations.
Soccer football attendance throughout the country has made marked improvement in the first half of the 1922-23 season. League and cup competition games have drawn better than in any previous year in every district reporting to the U. S. F. A. headquarters, and American Soccer League clubs have been prospering so that none of them was interested in the annual offer of the St. Louis League for exhibition games in the Mound City around the Yuletide holidays. New York, Paterson and Bethlehem were invited, two teams being desired, one to play Dec. 24 and 24, and the other three games at the New Year weekend. Abbot Vorsted, of Forge Village, Mass., may fill the Christmas dates at St. Louis, from present indications.
Harry Jay Ratican, former St. Louis, Bethlehem, Robbins Dry Dock and Todd Shipyards' star, who is coach at West Point Military Academy, has procured his release from Fall River F. C., and New York Soccer Club is reported to be seeking his services. But Ratican is still at West Point and may remain there awaiting the spring soccer season at the Academy.
Fleisher Yarn F. C., of Philadelphia, which has beaten New York and Bethlehem this season, is an applicant for an American Soccer League franchise, according to reports, and Buddy Miller's Baltimore club may be taken into the first major soccer circuit next season, according to the current outlook.