American soccer writing, history & data.
During the offseason before the 1934-35 St. Louis Soccer League season, rumors began to circulate that the stockholders of the Soccer and Exhibition Co. of St. Louis which operated the league were considering quitting soccer. The stockholders reported those rumors were without foundation but the league looked to make changes in hopes of reversing the continued lack of interest in the professional game.
Phil Riley was elected president and re-elected treasurer while Don Anderson, the former president, was elected vice president. Otto Schultz was elected secretary. Johnny Marre took over the Anderson team which was renamed the Marres. He announce Tom Palmer as manager to replace Joe Hand.
During the summer, the Stix, Baer & Fuller company pulled sponsorship from the team co-owned by Jack Dwyer and Jimmy Burke. As part of their sponsorship, the Stix company had given jobs to eight players. Bill Watson and Scotty Nilsen subsequently left the team since they were no longer employed by Stix and signed with the Wieboldt Wonderbolts of Chicago. Dwyer and Burke eventually signed a sponsorship deal with the Central Brewing Company of East St. Louis to back the club.
Phil Kavanaugh's team, previously the Minit-Rub Stars, searched for sponsorship during the offseason. Initially Kavanaugh announced that his team would be known as St. Malachy's after the local parish. But, when that idea went astray, he made a sponsorship agreement with Joseph Hellrung, vice president of the Hellrung & Grimm Company, to rename the team Hellrung & Grimm.
Phil Riley proposed three major changes in the league. First, to play two weekly night games in addition to the usual doubleheader on Sunday afternoon at Sportsman's Park. Second, to lower admission prices from 50 cents to 40 cents for men and 25 cents for women and children. And, third, the league would institute player trades that would give more equal balance to the league.
The season began Sunday, October 14, 1934. A somewhat disappointing 1500 saw the initial doubleheader at Sportsman's Park. Two days later, Riley announced that the league would begin playing two night games each week on Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Normandy High School field. In addition, one game would be played on Sunday afternoons at Sportsman's Park as a preliminary to the St. Louis Gunners' gridiron football games.
On Thursday, October 18, 200 fans saw the first night professional soccer game in St. Louis when Central Brewers beat Hellrung & Grimm 2-0 at Normandy High School field. That Sunday a crowd of 10,502 saw the Marres beat Ben Miller 2-1 at Sportsman's Park as a preliminary before the St. Louis Gunners played their gridiron football game against the Chicago Gophers.
Two more night matches were played that following Tuesday and Thursday but poor weather and difficulty getting to the Normandy High School field kept crowds away. That Sunday, October 28, 8424 saw Hellrung & Grimm upset Central Brewers 3-1 at Sportsman's Park as a preliminary before the Gunners' game against the Wisconsin Black Hawks. The next day the league announced they were abandoning the weekday night games.
That week manager Tate Brady of the Central Brewers re-signed Billy Gonsalves who had postponed joining the team after it lost its sponsorship with the Stix company. Two weeks later, the club also signed former Fall River great, Bert Patenaude, who had been playing in the American Soccer League, Metropolitan Division with the German-Americans of Philadelphia. The duo again solidified the club as a soccer powerhouse as the club went on to cruise to its third straight league title.
On January 20, 1935, Central Brewers won its First Round National Challenge Cup match 9-1 over Ben Miller. Patenaude scored four goals and Gonsalves scored a brace. After beating Slavia of Cleveland 1-0 off a Gonsalves goal in the Second Round, the Brewers blanked Vienna A.C. of Milwaukee 5-0 before 2000 at Sportsman's Park on March 3 in the Western Semifinal. Gonsalves scored three more goals and Patenaude scored another.
Central Brewers began an epic Western Final series against Wieboldt's Wonderbolts of Chicago on March 24. At Sportsman's Park, 3725 saw the Brewers edge the Wonderbolts 2-1. The next Sunday, 3000 at De Paul Stadium in Chicago, saw the teams battle to a 1-1 draw through regulation and two 15-minute extra periods. And again, on the following Sunday, the clubs drew 3-3 through regulation and two 15-minute extra periods at St. Louis University's Walsh Memorial Stadium before 4000.
The Wonderbolts extended the series winning game four 3-2 before 2500 at Sparta Stadium on Sunday, April 14. The fifth game of the series was played before 4500 at Walsh Memorial Stadium the following Sunday. Central Brewers finally ended things beating Wieboldt's Wonderbolts 1-0 off a goal by Bert Patenaude.
The three-game Grand Final saw a rematch from the prior year with the Pawtucket Rangers of the American Soccer League, New England Division hoping to avenge their loss. Central Brewers got off to a fast start beating Pawtucket 5-2 before 4500 at Walsh Memorial Stadium on April 28. Billy Gonsalves and Patenaude each scored a brace.
The next Sunday second match saw Pawtucket Rangers fight back to get a 1-1 draw at home at Coats Field before 4000. The final match took place on May 12 at a neutral venue. Both teams traveled to City Stadium in Newark where the 3000 in attendance saw Pawtucket defeat Central Brewers 3-1. But, it wasn't enough for the Rangers as the Brewers won the NCC title 7-6 on aggregate goals. The St. Louis team had become the first squad to win the National Challenge Cup three times in a row.
©2022 by Daniel Creel. All rights reserved.