Bethlehem Steel F.C. (1907–1930)
Bethlehem Steel Football Club (1907–1930) was one of the most successful early American soccer clubs. Known as the Bethlehem Football Club from 1907 until 1915 when it became the Bethlehem Steel Football Club, the team was sponsored by the Bethlehem Steel corporation. Bethlehem Steel FC played their home games first at East End Field in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in the Lehigh Valley, then later on the grounds Bethlehem Steel built on Elizabeth Ave named Bethlehem Steel Athletic Field.
|Full name||Bethlehem Steel Football Club|
|Founded||1907 (as "Bethlehem F.C.")|
|Stadium||Bethlehem Steel Athletic Field |
The first soccer ball came to Bethlehem in 1904, according to a June 2, 1925, article in The Bethlehem Globe. The sport took hold of the town and local steel workers formed a recreational team. On November 17, 1907, the Bethlehem Football Club played its first official match, an 11–2 loss to West Hudson A.A., at the time one of the top professional teams in the country. In 1913 the steel company created Bethlehem Steel Athletic Field, the country's first soccer field with stadium-seating. In 1914 Charles Schwab, owner of the Steel Company, took the team professional, using his wealth to induce several top players to move to Bethlehem Steel and changing the team name to the Bethlehem Steel Football Club. Schwab would eventually begin importing players from Scotland and England. From 1911 to 1915, the club was a member of the amateur Allied American Foot Ball Association before moving to the American Soccer League of Philadelphia, another amateur league, for the 1915–1916 season. Bethlehem Steel was not associated with a league from 1916 to 1917, playing only exhibition or cup games. In 1917, it joined the professional National Association Foot Ball League. In 1921, several teams from the NAFBL and other regional leagues joined together to form the American Soccer League. Although one of the strongest teams of the time, the owners decided to disband the club, moving the players and management to Philadelphia where it competed as the Philadelphia Field Club. Legendary Scottish football player Alex Jackson, played for Bethlehem Steel. Although Philadelphia won the first ASL championship, the team was in financial trouble and lacked fan support. The ownership moved it back to Bethlehem the next year taking back their old name. In 1925, Bethlehem, and the rest of the ASL, boycotted the National Challenge Cup. While this created some animosity with the United States Football Association, no serious ramification resulted. However, in 1928, the ASL again boycotted the Challenge Cup. When Bethlehem Steel chose to ignore the boycott, the league expelled them. Under the leadership of the USFA, Bethlehem Steel and two other expelled teams joined with teams from the Southern New York State Soccer Association to create the Eastern Soccer League. These actions, part of the 1928–1929 "Soccer Wars", along with the Great Depression, financially devastated the ASL, ESL and Bethlehem Steel FC. While Bethlehem Steel FC rejoined the ASL in 1929, the damage was done and the team folded after the spring 1930 season.
In February 2013, the Philadelphia Union of Major League Soccer unveiled a third uniform that harks back to Bethlehem Steel F.C. The kit is primarily black with white trim and features a sublimated Union emblem and a Bethlehem Steel FC jock tag. The team also initially named their USL Championship affiliate Bethlehem Steel FC, but they re-branded to Philadelphia Union II in 2019.
|Year||Division||League||Reg. Season||Playoffs||Challenge Cup||American Cup|
|1911/12||N/A||AAFBA||N/A||Final||N/A||Did not enter|
|1912/13||N/A||AAFBA||1st||Champion (no playoff)||N/A||Did not enter|
|1913/14||N/A||AAFBA||1st||Champion (no playoff)||Third round||Champion|
|1914/15||N/A||ALAFC||1st||Champion (no playoff)||Champion||Semifinal|
|1918/19||N/A||NAFBL||1st||Champion (no playoff)||Champion||Champion|
|1919/20||N/A||NAFBL||1st||Champion (no playoff)||Quarterfinal||Final|
|1920/21||N/A||NAFBL||1st||Champion (no playoff)||Second round||Semifinal|
|1921/22||see Philadelphia Field Club|
|1922/23||1||ASL||2nd||No playoff||Third round||Second round|
|1924/25||1||ASL||2nd||No playoff||Did not enter||N/A|
|1926/27||1||ASL||1st||Champion (no playoff)||Semifinals||N/A|
|1927/28||1||ASL||2nd (1st half); 4th (2nd half)||Semifinals||First Round||N/A|
|1928/29||1||ASL||withdrew after 6 games||N/A||N/A||N/A|
|1928–29||N/A||ESL||1st||Champion (no playoff)||Quarterfinal||N/A|
|1929||N/A||ESL||1st||Champion (no playoff)||N/A||N/A|
|1930||1||ACL (ASL)||7th (Spring)||No playoff||Semifinals||N/A|
- League Champion
- Winner (9): 1913, 1914, 1915, 1919, 1920, 1921, 1927, 1929, Fall 1929
- Runner Up (5): 1916, 1918, 1923, 1924, 1925
- National Challenge Cup
- American Cup
- Lewis Cup
- Winner (1): 1928
- Allied Amateur Cup
- Winner (1): 1914
- Runner Up (1): 1912
- National Association Football League
- Winner (3): 1918–19, 1919–20, 1920–21
- Runner Up (1):1917–18
- American Soccer League
- Winner (1): 1926–27
- Runner Up (3):1922–23, 1923–24, 1924–25
- Harry Trend: 1909
- Carpenter: 1913
- Jimmy Lawson: 1914
- William Sheridan: -1924
- Jimmy Easton: 1924–
- William Sheridan: 1930
- "Bethlehem Steel Soccer Club Archive". Archived from the original on October 27, 2009. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- ""Schwab corners football stars" at The New York Times, August 2, 1914" (PDF). New York Times. August 2, 1914. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- ""Jersey Week: Union pay homage to Bethlehem Steel with retro 3rd shirt" at MLS official website, 26 February 2013". Mlssoccer.com. February 26, 2013. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- Lehigh Valley. ""Philadelphia Union honors Bethlehem Steel soccer club on new jerseys", LehighValley.com, 28 February 2013". Lehighvalleylive.com. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- Stephen Barron (July 7, 2012). ""The Philadelphia Union: Following the Ghosts of Bethlehem's Soccer Tradition" by Stephen Barrow, 7 July 2012". Bethlehem.patch.com. Archived from the original on April 11, 2013. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- Jonathan Tannenwald, Philly.com. ""Philadelphia Union unveil new third jersey, inspired by Bethlehem Steel", Philly.com, 26 February 2013". Philly.com. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- ""Philadelphia Union Adidas Third Jersey 2013" at TodosobreCamisetas website". Todosobrecamisetas.blogspot.com.ar. Retrieved June 7, 2013.
- Highest Season Scoring Records. rsssf.com
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bethlehem Steel F.C..|
- History of Bethlehem Steel F.C. by Dan Morrison.
- The Rise and Fall of the Bethlehem Steel Football Club by Julian Brown