By David Wangerin
David Wangerin's funny and thorough booklet tells the tale of yank soccer's lengthy fight from the short promise of the 1920's, in the course of the euphoric highs and lavish follies of the North American football League, to modern day hard-won attractiveness.
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Additional resources for Soccer in a Football World: The Story of America's Forgotten Game (Sporting)
Attributing such apathy solely to the team’s ethnicity may be too simplistic, but there is little doubt soccer would have been seen by many as un-American – particularly in a town with a college football team. The mood was entirely different in Fall River, whose Rovers consisted largely of American-born players and were busy staking their own claims to national superiority. Indeed, the next three Challenge Cup finals were contested by Bethlehem and Fall River, fuelling the greatest of the game’s early inter-regional rivalries.
The USFA appropriated a trophy which had been donated for an earlier competition by Sir Thomas Dewar, the Scottish whisky distiller and sporting enthusiast, and hailed the Field Club as national champions. It had grossed more than $1,000 from the competition, aided by an insistence that clubs charge a minimum admission of 25 cents. But not even the sight of a baseball park brimming with soccer fans was enough to convince everyone in the host city that the game’s time had come. ’ The next season, the number of cup entries swelled to 82, including virtually all the clubs in the National League.
Further west, a Greater Los Angeles League had been formed by 1902, with San Francisco and Denver instigating their own equivalents. It was all very fragmented, of course, especially in an era when travelling 100 miles was more unusual than travelling 1,000 today. A first attempt at unifying the game was made in 1884 when a group of British expatriates, led by the Clark brothers of New Jersey, formed the American Football Association, the first supposedly ‘national’ governing body outside the British Isles.