American soccer writing, history & data.
In early July, 1920 a team of 12 St. Louis and six eastern players, including captain Harry Ratican, sailed from Montreal for a Scandinavian tour. The tour delayed the opening of the 1920-21 St. Louis Soccer League season. The players returned on September 30 and the league opened its schedule on Sunday, October 10 with doubleheaders at Cardinal Park. The St. Louis Cardinals baseball club had left the venue in the middle of the 1920 season to share Sportsman's Park with the St. Louis Browns. While Cardinal Park was due to be sold, the SLSL's contract with the venue meant it would be permitted to finish the season.
The teams and managers were the same as the prior season. The league passed a rule permitting teams to make up to four substitutions per game during the first three league matches as a way of testing new players in games. While the regular league continued its traditional time of 30-minute halves each game, teams would sometimes play 35--minute halves in order to get into condition for upcoming National Challenge Cup matches which played regulation 45-minute halves. The four SLSL clubs again received first round NCC byes and the initial inter-league NCC matches also counted in the league standings.
The Ben Millers could not capture the magic of the prior season and ended in second place behind Scullin Steel. In much more serious news, Pete Ratican, owner and manager of Ben Miller, underwent an operation on his brain in late February, 1921 to deal with a brain tumor. "Hap" Marre stepped in as acting manager during Ratican's convalescence.
After winning the SLSL, the Scullin Steel Co. team beat the Brown Shoe Co. team 6-1 at High School Field on April 10 before 1500 to take the city championship. Like the Ben Millers the previous season, Scullin Steel had made it all the way to the NCC Grand Final. The Scullins traveled east to face Robins Dry Dock of Brooklyn (Harry Ratican's team) for the match. On April 19 at Athletic Field in Fall River, Mass. the Robins defeated Scullin Steel 4-2 before the 5954 in attendance.
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