Soccer Almanac

American soccer writing, history & data.

NAFL 1916-17 season and USFA transition

June 29, 2021 |  Categories:  NAFL  

During the summer offseason, the U.S.F.A. ruled that all soccer teams in New Jersey, including those in the NAFL, must be affiliated with the New Jersey State Football Association. There was general concern that the NAFL which had been directly affiliated with the U.S.F.A. since its absorption of the A.F.A. may try to fight the ruling.

At the beginning of the 1916-17 season, four NAFL clubs, West Hudson, Scottish-Americans, Jersey A.C. and Babcock & Wilcox, refused to affiliate directly with the N.J.S.F.A. and were suspended. U.S.F.A. secretary, Thomas Cahill had been on a summer tour of Scandinavia with the U.S. men's national team and upon his return issued a bulletin suspending the four clubs in late September. Having received no reply from U.S.F.A. president, John Fernley, the clubs were formally suspended. At the same time, Fernley had told the NAFL clubs they could continue to play until further action was taken by the U.S.F.A. at a meeting on October 22. The NAFL decided to continue their schedule on the strength of Fernley's communications to them. Fernley then sent a telegram to Cahill requesting a brief delay but Cahill had already taken the action of suspending the clubs.

The NAFL continued to play amidst this organizational chaos. At the U.S.F.A. meeting, the delegates overruled the action of the Emergency Committee which issued the bulletins of suspension against the four NAFL clubs and referred the affiliation of the NAFL with the N.J.S.F.A. to a committee. That committee formally decided that the NAFL and its member clubs must be affiliated with the state association and in December a report was made that the affiliation had been formalized.

The Alley Boys F.C. decided not to return to the league so the NAFL added three new clubs to get back to the desired eight members. All three clubs were newly organized concerns. The Dublin Field Club of Paterson was made up mostly of players from the Rangers and True Blues. Ironsides A.F.C. played at South Side Park in Newark.

The biggest addition was the New York F.C. The club was managed by long-time soccer pro, Maurice VanDeWeghe, and was made up of many prominent players from the Continental club of the New York State League. The Continentals had been called German F.C. until the middle of the 1914-15 season. New York F.C. would eventually become a founding member of the original American Soccer League, and VanDeWeghe would become a future owner of two ASL clubs.

The biggest shock of the season was the sudden implosion of the storied Brooklyn F.C. For the club's first game of the season against New York F.C. at Harlem Oval, several of Brooklyn's players did not show up. The team quickly called in a number of subs to fill the roster but New York put up a lead of 5-0 over the makeshift roster at the end of the first half. Two of the Brooklyn substitute players deserted in the second half and New York rolled to an 11-0 victory.

Brooklyn F.C. disbanded immediately after that match and two days later Splitdorf F.C. of Newark was accepted as their replacement. Splitdorf picked up Brooklyn's schedule and accepted the one loss in their standings. Splitdorf was suspended by the league later in the season.

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