The Globe-Times Bethlehem
Wednesday May 12, 1926
W. L. Lewis, Well Known Devotee, Tells History of Soccer in This Country

In recognition of the team having won the National championship the past season, the Bethlehem Steel soccer team was entertained by the Bethlehem Rotary Club at the weekly luncheon meeting at the Hotel Bethlehem at noon today. W. Luther Lewis, assistant comptroller of the Bethlehem Steel Company, and head of the soccer team, was the speaker.

HE gave an illuminating review of what is known as soccer football, referring to its history in the United States since 1884, and, in closing, appealed for support and cooperation at the coming Saturday's local Lewis cup competition game.

Seated at the speakers' table were Chairman W. R. Okeson, Mr. Lewis, the speaker; President R. K. Laros, Past president A. Nelson Roberts, H. H. Schulze, Francis Dykes, H. J. Mack and Rev. Dr. James Robinson, a guest of the Rotary Club. The soccer team guests occupied a long table in the center of the room. The Rev. Dr. Paul de Schweinitz said grace.

Rotarian Royce Bush made an appeal to the Rotarians for a contribution at the close of the meeting to a fund for defraying the expense in entertaining the Community Chest workers last Wednesday.


Mr. Muir to Speak

Charles M. Stauffer, of the Program Committee, announced that next Wednesday Rotarian Bill Magee will supply the speaker, a Mr. Spillman, to give a classification talk, and the following week Rotarian James N. Muir will be the speaker.

Mr. Stauffer presented Robert P. Well as the baby member, with the classification of "Monuments-Distributing."

In presenting Mr. Lewis as the speaker of the day, Chairman Okeson drew attention to the fact that the celebration of the victory achieved by the Bethlehem Steel soccer team had a world-wide significance for the team had become the National soccer champions. Since 1913, the Bethlehem Steel team has won the National championship five time. Several years the team was not in the competition for National honors.

Address of Mr. Lewis

Mr. Lewis, in reviewing the history of American Soccer said:

"So far as I have been able to determine, the name by which the game is most commonly known in this country was assigned to it by the colleges of England, in order to differentiate between Rugby Football and Soccer Football. The correct or original name for the sport, however, is "Association Football." With the knowledge of our own college game, English Rugby and Soccer, all three responding to the name of football, it is quite evident hat a distinctive term is necessary for each type of football.

"Undoubtedly soccer has attained greater international prominence than any other sport. There is scarcely any nation in the world where the game is not played. It's act ivies spread throughout the five continents with interest almost equally divided. Whether it be in India, China, Japan, the Philippines or any part of the Far East; or throughout the whole stretch of the American Continent, from Canada on the north to Patagonia, the most southern country of South America; whether it be Morocco, Egypt, or the Transvaal of Africa; whether it be the Antipodes embracing New Zealand or Australia, or in the land of its origin, the British Isles or any of the many countries of Europe, the game is played everywhere, with the same degree of enthusiasm, the same sense of sportsmanship and the same set of rules, except that the game is played by a greater number of people, it may be said that it is rivaled in international activity only by the popular game of tennis.

"The origin of the game is lost in antiquity, for the history of football in some form can be traced for at least a period of 2,000 years. It was not until the year 1863 that England made any serious attempt to place the game upon a standardized basis. In that year the famous schools of England, Eton, Harrow, Rugby and others, prepared the first draft of what is known as the Laws of the game, from which time the real progress of the game began. Not until the year 1888, however, did the game receive its greatest impetus, for it was then that England instituted the Football League, comprising clubs from the various centers of that country. Scotland at that same time undertook the same measures, although both countries had been playing the game upon an amateur and inter-club basis as early as 1854. It was in the year 1872 that international competitions were inaugurated between England and Scotland; but as I have previous stated, its greatest impetus was received when the English League was instituted in the year 1888. Not until the year 1896 did international competition extend to embrace European countries, at which time the game in Europe was in its earliest infancy. It was in the year 1904, at Paris, that the International Federation of Association Football was instituted, which organization, embraces the act ivies of all national soccer associations throughout the world.

"The history of the game in the United States began to assert itself about the year 1884, when the game was indiscriminately played in a few of our Eastern cities. It was not until the year 1913, however, that real concentrated activity in the game was undertaken in this country. In this year was instituted the first attempt to what might be termed the nationalizing of the sport. The berth of the United States Football Association occurred in this year, and as a part of its activates was created what is now known as the National Challenge Cup competition. This Association is the parent organization of all soccer activities throughout the country, and functions somewhat upon the same basis as does our national government.

"The United States Football Association has been mainly instrumental in creating a nation wide interest in the sport, although its subsidiary organizations, particularly the American Soccer League, by reason of their sustained league competitions, serve to create more interest, at least in the territories in which they operate. Interest in the National Cup Competition has always been of a nationwide character, because it encourages all clubs in the country to participate. IT is for this reason that the winning of its championship honor is viewed with greater importance than is the winning of a League Championship. The Cup competition is conducted upon the tournament plan, by which the defeat team is eliminated from further participation. It is quite evident that the ultimate winner must be successful in every round of competition. In the competition just completed, and in which we were successful, 131 clubs participated, embracing all the territory from the Eastern Coast to the West as far as St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit. The game is played throughout the far west, and particularly in the states of California and Washington, but the matters of distance and expense have prevented participation by clubs from that territory. I have seen it stated that the number of soccer clubs in this country is approximately 2,000.

"It affords us a matter of much pride that in the 13 years of the Cup's competition Bethlehem has participated in 12 of them, and has borne any the fruits of victory on five occasions and upon another occasion was one of the finalists, so that it might be said that in 13 years of competition we have participated in six of its finals, a record that has not been equaled and undoubtedly will take many years of effort upon other clubs to even approach. With interest in the game growing more keen each year, with clubs striving to augment their playing strength by the very best of players, it readily becomes apparent that the winning of a championship in the future grows more difficult as the years roll by.

"Five years ago there was instituted what is now known as the American Soccer League, comprising at present 12 clubs, which are undoubtedly the best clubs in the east. Ever since Bethlehem has taken part in the sport, the city has always participated in the very best of competitions, and the same holds true that it was one of the founders of the present American Soccer League, and has remained one of its members ever since. Curiously, in the five years of this competition, Bethlehem has won the championship once and has finished second on all other occasions; but this, its fifth season, would seem to indicate that in League competition we will fall lower than at any time in the history of the game in Bethlehem, for it now appears that we cannot finish better than third place.

"Besides, in another of our major cup competitions, known as the American Football Association Cup, we have had that emblem grace our locker rooms on no less than six different occasions, a feat that is unequalled, and undoubtedly will remain a record for many years to come. This brief recital of our performances will perhaps serve to indicate to you with what degree of respect and admiration the club is held throughout the country.

"Everywhere Bethlehem enjoys the reputation of playing the game as it should be played, meaning that the club finds itself unnecessary to resort to violent methods, in order to acquire a victory. Wherever the team plays do we hear such favorable comments of spectators that they always see a correct exhibition when the steelworkers are upon the field. Never was a more glowing tribute paid to the history and performance of the club than was given in the Brooklyn Eagle upon the occasion of our securing this latest National Championship, when the performances of the club were described as follows:

"Bethlehem has held the respect and esteem of the soccer public for these many years, but never have they made so profound an impression as when they turned aside the threatening Western tide of conquest and, in behalf of the East, held tight to the Soccer supremacy of the Nation.

"In all these years of activities the Soccer Club, I modestly claim, has been a powerful influence for impressing the name of the city of Bethlehem upon the minds of all sports followers, not only for its great achievements, but greater still for its sportsmanship. In the last analysis no higher achievement can be recorded for any organization than that it was credited for having 'played the game' and in consequence had truly earned the reputation for a high state of sportsmanship. This has been the keynote of all our soccer activities, and we have been fortunately blessed with the type of player that has invariably practiced this principle.

"The only regret those of us in Bethlehem, who have the interest of the game at heart, have is that we are not able to boast of a degree of support that such an activity warrants. We have resorted to practically every known device of appealing to the citizens to lend us their aid in our activities, having no thought of profit, but simply the encouragement of citizens to help ups place the game upon a high standard and to place the name of Bethlehem still higher in the realms of sport. We have contributed our mite, and hope to continue doing so in the developing of the game in our grammar and grade schools, our high and preparatory schools, and our colleges and to those of us who have been watching the game's progress during the past 10 or 12 years, it is scarcely believable what tremendous strides have been achieved. At the same time it is recognized that the road ahead is long and winding. We have the hopes that when our present school boys have enjoyed the years of training and experience that is required in order to attain the degree of proficiency that the game properly played requires, much the same as our baseball players develop from the sandlots. IT is to be hoped that when the day arrives these boys of today will take their place in the ranks of our senior players and will play for their city with the same enthusiasm that they display for their schools. Sport activity has much to do with the progress of the city, the nation and the world. There is no greater factor that contributes to a better understanding and appreciation, particularly from an international viewpoint, than a common sport in which the nations of the world can participation upon the same plane and under the same rules, regardless of whether or not the language is common to the players.

"Undoubtedly the Bethlehemites who have the interest of the game at heart were greatly cheered at the wonderful tribute paid to the efforts of the team, in a recent editorial in the Allentown Morning Call which I take pleasure in quoting:

"By defeating the Ben Millers of St. Louis at soccer on Sunday the Bethlehem Steel Co. gained that much coveted honor, the American championship, an honor that brings greater international renown than the winning of an American baseball pennant can bring.

"The winning of a baseball championship interests Americans. But that is about all. In Europe, South America, Asia and Africa a baseball championship winner creates about as much interest as Americans take in the winner of a curling match in Scotland or a ski jump in Switzerland.

"The winner of a soccer championship immediately interest the devotees of this sport, who are scattered worldwide. Soccer is played internationally and so any news concerning it interests people who are most widely scattered over the globe.

"Bethlehem consequently becomes much advertised by a winning soccer team. The team aids in continuing it to be an internationally known city."

"In closing, I am very much inclined to appeal for your support and cooperation in the game that is to be played on our field on Saturday next. We are at present engaged in the League Cup Competition, known as the Lewis Cup, which is limited for competition to the members of the League. On Saturday we are playing the semi-final round against the New York Giants, a team renowned for its ability to rise to the occasion in cup competitions. In order to obtain their appearance here we were obliged to undertake a heavy guarantee; in fact, the heaviest guarantee we have undertaken for many years. We would more than appreciate the presence of this body at that game, and such of your friends as you could encourage to be present, for it is scarcely necessary to remind you that the hearty support in large numbers of the local followers contributes greatly to the efforts and success of the team. Never is this phase of cooperation more firmly impressed upon us than when we appear in the cities of our opponents where thousands of their cohorts cheer on their home team with encouragement that cannot but fail to produce results.


Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club