By winning the National Challenge Cup, the Bethlehem Football Club established the first clear title to the American Soccer Championship that has ever been decided. Every first-class soccer team in the country, save those in St. Louis, was an original entrant in the National Cup Competition, but the Pullmans of Chicago, holders of the Peel Challenge Cup, defeated one of the two leading clubs in St. Louis and tied with the other. While these were not cup-tie games, they were sharply contested, the rivalry between St. Louis and Chicago being keen and long-standing, and the relative merits of the teams engaged was established as clearly as could have been the case under cup-tie conditions. The Pullmans were immediately thereafter eliminated from the National Cup Competition by the Homestead F.C. of Homestead, Pa., and Homestead F.C. two weeks later met the same fate from Bethlehem F.C. This sequence of events thus removed the last shadow of doubt upon the genuineness of the title battled for by Bethlehem and the Brooklyn Celtics, May 1, 1915, and won by Bethlehem.
That such a clear title to the championship was thus established was of the greatest pleasure to the officers of the United States Football Association and especially of the National Challenge Cup Competition Committee, who had a season of arduous work, and performed it well. It has long been the aim of soccer enthusiasts to have a competition in which national honors of unquestioned authenticity could be bestowed. There have been many local cup competitions in various sections of the country, notably the American Football Association Cup of Newark, N.J., which has always had a generous entry from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and parts of New York and New England, and the Peel Challenge Cup, contested for in Chicago, and while questions of superiority in the neighborhoods where these competitions were carried on could thus be decided, it was not until the United States Football Association was organized and the National Challenge Cup Competition established, that a way was provided to decide the real national championship.
The final was played on Taylor Field, the magnificent stadium of Lehigh University, at South Bethlehem, Pa. It was for the first time in the history of American soccer that the college element has been brought into a community interest with the clubs and leagues recruited from those who have passed the educational periods of life and entered upon the serious pursuit of a livelihood. And the merger of elements thus exemplified was emphasized in the character of the attendance, which included many of the most prominent men in the steel and allied interests, in the representatives of the Lehigh University and other colleges, bankers, business and professional men and men from every walk of industrial life, who foregathered together in that spirit of democracy which is only possible when sportsmanship is the one element of character appealed to.
The following account of the game from the Bethlehem Times was one of the most comprehensive of the many published and is therefore used in the GUIDE:
"In a game that carried with it the championship of the United States, Bethlehem on Saturday defeated the Brooklyn Celtics in the National challenge cup tie by a score of 3 goals to 1. The contest was staged in Taylor Stadium, at Lehigh University, before 7,500 people. Originally in the contest for this trophy were 82 teams, from all over the country. By the elimination contests 80 of these elevens were dropped.
"The Bethlehem Steel Company Band of 100 pieces enlivened the occasion. Bethlehem won because the local players outclassed the Celtics in all departments of the game. Two of Bethlehem's scores came in the first period, and only the rarest kind of luck prevented Bethlehem from making three more. The first tally was made by Ford, who handled a beautiful cross shot from Fleming. This spurred Bethlehem on and Fleming shortly after sent in what looked like a sure goal, but Mather stopped the ball, falling in doing so. Ford rushed in, but slipped and the ball rolled out of danger. Millar, Ford and Pepper also missed pretty tries.
"Just before half time Millar received a cross shot from Ford, but was blocked and fell. He scrambled up and dove hard, beating the goalkeeper. During this half goalkeeper Duncan was called upon just once to handle the ball, while two other tries went wide. All told, Bethlehem had 24 unsuccessful attempts to 8 by the Celtics during the whole game.
"Each team scored once during the second half, although Ford banked in a pretty cross-over from Millar and Fleming, but the goal was not allowed. Bethehem continued fiercely, two corners by Ford and one by Fleming going astray. Millar also missed a pretty try. Finally, on a corner drive, Fleming to Ford, the latter drove hard, a Brooklyn man handling the ball and giving Fleming a chance to score from penalty. He made good. The Celtics at this point played their best game of the day. Taking the ball down the field, McQueen had a chance, but the ball hit the uprights. Shortly after this McQueen had another chance and this time he made no mistake, for after receiving a pass from O'Halloran, who had already drawn Campbell towards him, he worked his way between both backs and beat Duncan with a low, hard drive which landed in the corner of the net.
"This goal gave the Celtics new life and from then on they attacked fiercely and it looked as though they were determined to score again, but the fine defensive work of Ferguson broke up the rally, and Fleming, getting the ball, worked it down the field and centered to Millar. McWilliams intercepted Millar's shot, the ball going over to Ford, who drove in a fast drive which gave Mather no chance. Referee Lamble refused to allow this point for Bethlehem, claiming Millar was off side. Bethlehem, however, continued to attack fiercely. The game ended shortly afterwards with the ball in Brooklyn's territory."
Celtics (1) -- Postitions -- Bethlehem (3).
Mather -- Goal -- Duncan
Nichols -- Right Full-back -- Fletcher
McWilliams -- Left Full-back -- Ferguson
Broadbent -- Right Half-back -- Campbell
Donegan -- Center Half-back -- Clarke
Neville -- Left Half-back -- Morrison
Campion -- Outside Right -- Ford
Lonie -- Inside Right -- Murray
O'Halloran -- Center Forward -- Millar
McQueen -- Inside Left -- Pepper
McGreevey -- Outside Left -- Fleming
Goals--Ford, Millar, Fleming (penalty), McQueen. Referee--Mr. George Lamble of Boston, Mass. Linesmen--Mr. James Walders of Philadelphia, Pa., Mr. Charles E. Creighton of New York City. Time of halves--45 minutes