Soccer Almanac

American soccer writing, history & data.

NAFL 1919-20 season

July 1, 2021 |  Categories:  NAFL  

Babcock & Wilcox dropped out of the league in the offseason but the league doubled to 10 teams with the addition of five clubs. Disston A.A. returned after a year's hiatus. Bolstered by former Scottish-American & Bethlehem Steel player, Archie Stark, Erie A.A. of Harrison joined and made an immediate impact. Other clubs that joined were Morse Dry Dock from Brooklyn, Federal Ship from Kearny, and New York's Interborough Rapid Transit F.C. who had taken the prior year off from playing soccer.

On October 5th, Disston hosted Merchant Ship at Tacony Ball Park. This was reported to be the first Sunday soccer game ever played in Philadelphia.

I.R.T. had returned to the soccer pitch after an absence of a year and it showed. The club lost its first five matches and withdrew from the NAFL in early January. Their games were removed from the league standings. The season ended up being a three-way race between Bethlehem, Erie, and Robins. Bethlehem Steel began the season two months late due to a month-long tour of Sweden and other Scandinavian countries. The Steelworkers ultimately notched another league title by one point over Erie.

Frustration among the top clubs began to get more intense as the lower-tier teams did not live up to the schedule. Numerous times during the season clubs such as Disston, Merchant, and Federal Ship would forfeit a home game at the very last moment due to an inability to field a full squad in order to play an exhibition match with an "all-star" roster against their NAFL opponents. Often these exhibition scores are included in final standings rather than the official 1-0 forfeit score. This scheduling issue plus inclement weather conditions early in the season caused numerous postponements and forfeits which upset the competitive nature of the schedule.

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