Reviving Interest in Soccer
It was not so many years ago that hundreds of lovers of outdoor sports wended their way to the athletic field of the Bethlehem Steel Co., located in the North end of the city, to attend soccer games. The turnout was most gratifying to those who were responsible for the inception of soccer on a big league scale in this city. Suddenly, interest seemed to lag and the attendance fell off until in recent years hardly more than a corporal guard of loyals continued their patronage to the club. Just why such interest should take such a sudden turn for the words was beyond the comprehension of those who have fostered the sport in Bethlehem and efforts to ascertain the cause proved unavailable. The solution probably has to come about in a natural way and occurred within the past year when practically every one of the old standbys who were regarded as permanent fixtures with the team quit the ranks of the Blue and White team to play elsewhere. Instead of being grieved, the local management should be pleased for this wholesale exodus of players it is believed will be partly responsible in brining back the game in Bethlehem to a point of interest and rivalry experienced in the opening years of big league soccer. The contention of one of the officials, an opinion seemingly thoroughly founded was that Bethlehem so far outclassed the other clubs in previous years that the element of chance was lacking every time the home club went to the post and with the outcome of games a foregone conclusion there was little to interest the fans. The games became more or less exhibition affairs in which the home team displayed its wares against inferior teams. Not that inferior teams were selected but rather that the best in the country were not in a class with Bethlehem. The aspect today is entirely different as has already been noted this season and with every game carrying with it that element of doubt, it does seem as though the old interest will be revived and the sports followers who crave competition more or less equal, will again find their way to the athletic field. The attendance at the Harrison-Bethlehem game was not one in which the officials had cause to rave about and to be perfectly frank it is believed that the local management was forced to dig to make ends meet. However, the crowed, it is believed numbered slightly more than the usual aggregation of regulars but what they lacked in number they fully made up in enthusiasm. The acquisition of "Jimmy" Campbell and Sam Fletcher in the visitors' lineup gave the fans a chance to either "razz" or cheer players with whom they were familiar and not total strangers as has been the case in the past. The same opportunity will be presented when J & P Coats, of Pawtucket, R. I., and Fall River, the latter of Massachusetts, and several other of the strong clubs, appear here for games.
American League Means Business
The slipshod manner in which the National Soccer League, now defunct, conducted its business had much to do in betraying the confidence the followers of soccer had placed in the sport. It was nothing unusual in those days, and they are not so long ago, to have a team come to Bethlehem minus a complete lineup and to make possible a game secure the services of one or two of the home clan. Or to arrive very late and sometimes not at all. Probably for the welfare of soccer it is a good thing that the National League did go to smash for the damage inflicted in the ranks of the followers here would quite likely have been done elsewhere. To sit in the stands on a cold day a half hour or more after the scheduled time to start is by no means very enjoyable and likewise very uncomfortable. However, those days are past and with the birth of the American League the fans have a circuit that is conducted by officials who are relentless in exacting discipline and conduct the league on a business basis. That such is their purpose was emphatically illustrated on Saturday afternoon when the Harrison Club arrived late in Bethlehem and was a half hour behind time in taking the field. Without any ceremony or entertaining any excuses, the league immediately slapped a $25 fine on the visitors. A few more fines and it is a safe bet that clubs will make it their business in the future to be on time.