American soccer writing, history & data.
Internal problems during prior season continued to build during the 1912-13 St. Louis Soccer Football League season. Prior to the start of the season, the four managers could not agree on a venue for the coming season. Willie Foley of the Innisfails and Billy Klosterman of St. Leo's voted to stay at Athletic Park but "King" Finnegan of Columbus Club and Ed Houlihan of the Irish-Americans voted to move to Sportsman's Park, home of the St. Louis Browns of baseball's American League. Both sides threatened to split into separate competitions. But, at the next league meeting a decision was made to stay at Athletic Park and the league continued with the same teams. Ed Houlihan announced that the Irish-Americans would be renamed the Dempseys after their new backer, Father Timothy Dempsey. But, just before the season started, Fr. Dempsey withdrew his sponsorship and Houlihan's club was renamed the Business Men's A.C. after quickly closing a deal with that organization for backing.
During the traditional holiday break, the SLSL hosted two top clubs from the east: West Hudson from Harrison, N.J. and Howard & Bullough from Pawtucket, R.I. On Christmas Day, West Hudson beat Innisfails 4-1 before 5,000 at Sportsman's Park. On December 28, Business Men's A.C. pulled an upset by drawing West Hudson 1-1 before 500 at the same stadium. The next day, St. Leo's proved their bona fides as one of the top teams in the country, defeating the Harrison side 4-2 before 5,000 at Sportsman's Park.
On New Year's Day, Innisfails handled Howard & Bullough 4-1 at the American League park. Three days later Columbus Club followed that up with a 4-3 win against the Pawtucket team before 500 in attendance. And, in the final holiday match, on January 5, St. Leo's put another feather in their cap beating Howard & Bullough 5-1 at Sportsman's Park.
While a competitive success, the SLSL's matches caused problems in the St. Louis soccer world. The league has signed a contract with Athletic Park owner, Tim Cavanaugh, to play all its games there during the season. The league then contracted with Sportsman's Park, rather than Athletic Park, for the holiday matches which upset Cavanaugh. He demanded to be paid the normal rate for the six holiday matches even though they were being play at Sportsman's Park. The SLSL had decided to pay Cavanaugh the $35 per game but Cavanaugh told the league they could not use Athletic Park anymore because they played the holiday games at the American League park. The matter was settled but the bad feelings continued.
Due to wet conditions canceling matches on January 12, the first league games after the holiday break were played on Sunday, January 19. That afternoon Innisfails were leading St. Leo's 3-2 in the second half before 2707 at Athletic Park. A fight broke out which referee Paul McSweeney attempted to quell. St. Leo's manager, Billy Klosterman, confronted McSweeney and, after the discussion, McSweeney threw his whistle over the Athletic Park fence and quit.
Two days later, Klosterman formally resigned as a member of the SLSL. The St. Leo's players also announced their intention of withdrawing. League officials refused to accept McSweeney's official resignation and claimed that Klosterman quit the league in order to arrange an eastern trip for St. Leo's. Out of the eight clubs that applied, Compton Hill A.C., managed by Joe Hastey a former Business Men's A.C. player, was admitted to the league and the league also selected Billy Bascom to succeed McSweeney, who refused to return, as official referee. The league officials decided to start the season fresh by playing a series of nine games in the spring with all the former games being erased from league records.
After six weeks of games, the league's lease with Athletic Park ran out and the SLSL ended the season early with Innisfails named the champions. The next Sunday Innisfails blanked the O'Brien Live Wires, champions of the newly-formed St. Louis Association Soccer League, 6-0 to win the city championship.
©2021 by Daniel Creel. All rights reserved.