St. Louis Soccer League

The St. Louis Soccer League was based in St. Louis, Missouri and existed from 1915 to 1938. At its founding, it was the only fully professional soccer league in the United States.[citation needed] The league was founded from two teams from the St. Louis Soccer Football League and two teams from the Federal Park Soccer League.[1]

St. Louis Soccer League
Founded1915
Folded1938
RegionSt. Louis, Missouri
Domestic cup(s)National Challenge Cup
Most championshipsBen Miller/Tabler F.C./St. Matthew's (7 titles)

HistoryEdit

Two professional soccer organizations, the St. Louis Soccer Football League and the Federal Park Soccer League battled for dominance in St. Louis during the 1913–14 and 1914–15 seasons. Negotiations to end the warring between the leagues went on throughout the 1914–15 season until a plan was finalized near the end of March 1915. The plan called for the top two teams of the St. Louis Soccer Football league, Innisfails and Columbus Club, to be admitted to the U.S.F.A. and those teams to join the top two teams in the Federal Park League, St. Leo's and Ben Millers, to form a new, stronger organization, the St. Louis Soccer League.[2][3] Winton E. Barker, president of the Federal Park League, was unanimously elected president of the league.[4]

In 1916, the newly established U.S. Football Association assembled a team of U.S. players for a Scandinavia. These games became the first in the history of the national team. Of the players on the U.S. roster, only Matt Diedrichsen from Innisfails was selected from outside the north east U.S.

The entry of the United States into World War I drained all four teams by drafting players into the military, with St. Leo’s affected the most.

In 1926, the SLSL briefly expanded to include Chicago Sparta, but the team did not complete the season, withdrawing on November 11, 1926. In 1935, the SLSL began a period of instability which led to its eventual dissolution four years later.

In 1939, the league expanded to include teams from Chicago and Cleveland. Teams from these two cities and St. Louis had competed against each other from time to time, but this year, the SLSL decided to formalize the competition, which was called the “Inter-city Soccer Loop”. The league, which had experienced considerable internal strife including lawsuits between teams over player tampering had finally collapsed.[1] The St. Louis Municipal League, which ran the lower St. Louis city divisions, became the only league. As such its top division became the de facto St. Louis first division until the creation of the St. Louis Major Soccer League in 1948.

National competitionEdit

Before the establishment of the National Challenge Cup in 1914, most teams participated in city, state or regional competitions. The only opportunity for teams from one region to test themselves against the best on a national level came from ad hoc cups and off-season tours.

In 1913, the St. Louis Soccer League came to national attention when St. Leo’s tied the Paterson True Blues, winners of the American Cup. At the time, the American Cup was the most recognized regional cup and was the de facto East Coast championship.[citation needed]

While the newly established United States Football Association established the National Challenge Cup in 1914, it was not until 1918 that the St. Louis teams entered the cup. They initially had difficulty getting past the Chicago and Cleveland teams, but in 1920 Ben Millers stunned the east coast teams by knocking off Fore River to become the first club outside of the northeast to win the cup. SLSL teams then went to the next four finals, taking only the 1922 title. SLSL team also went to the final in 1926, 1929 and every season from 1932 to 1939.

Past winnersEdit

St. Louis Soccer League winners
Season Winner Runner-up
1915–16 Ben Millers Innisfails
1916–17 Ben Millers Innisfails
1917–18 Ben Millers St. Leo's
1918–19 Scullin Steel Co. Innisfails
1919–20 Ben Millers Innisfails
1920–21 Scullin Steel Co. Ben Millers
1921–22 Scullin Steel Co. De Andreis
1922–23 Vesper-Buick Scullin Steel Co.
1923–24 Vesper-Buick Barrett-Hoover
1924–25 Ben Millers Vesper-Buick
1925–26 Ben Millers Vesper-Buick
1926–27 Ben Millers Wellston F.C.
1927–28 Tabler Cleaners Wellston F.C.
1928–29 Tabler F.C. Madison Kennel Club
1929–30 Tabler F.C. Hellrung & Grimm
1930–31 Coca-Cola Tabler F.C.
1931–32 Coca-Cola Ben Millers
1932–33 Stix, Baer & Fuller Anderson
1933–34 Stix, Baer & Fuller Ben Millers
1934–35 Central Brewers Marres
1935–36 Burke's Undertakers Hellrung & Grimm
1936–37 Burke's Undertakers Club Lotus
1937–38 St. Matthew's St. Patrick's[disambiguation needed]
1938–39

TeamsEdit

When the St. Louis Soccer League was established, St. Louis boasted many of other leagues. In 1913, the St. Louis Municipal League consolidated many of these disparate leagues into a multi-division organization which sat below the SLSL.[2] Finally, St. Louis soccer teams depended on sponsorship. When sponsorship changed, the teams changed their names as well.

Original four teamsEdit

Raticans/Pants Store Co.[note 2] 1924–25
→ Pants Store Co. 1925–26
→ Raticans 1926–27
Tabler F.C.[note 3] 1927–28 through 1930–31
→ Anderson 1931–32 through 1933-34
→ Marres 1934–35 through 1935-36
→ Town Crier 1936–37
St. Matthew's 1937–38
→ De Andreis 1921–22
→ Barrett-Hoover[note 4] 1922–23 through 1923–24
Ben Millers[note 5] 1924–25 through 1935–36
  • Missouri Naval Reserves 1915–16 through 1917–18
Scullin Steel Co. 1918–19 through 1924–25
→ Wellston F.C. 1925–26 through 1928–29
Hellrung & Grimm[note 6] 1929–30 through 1930–31
Stix, Baer & Fuller 1931–32 through 1933–34
Central Brewers 1934–35
→ Democratic Country Club/St. Louis[note 7] 1935–36
→ St. Louis Screw Co. 1918–19 through 1921–22
Vesper-Buick 1922–23 through 1925–26
→ White Banner Malts 1926–27
→ Morgan Haulers 1927–28
Madison Kennel Club 1928–29 through 1929–30
→ Coca-Cola 1930–31 through 1932–33
→ Minit-Rub Stars 1933–34
Hellrung & Grimm[note 8] 1934–35 through 1935–36
→ Club Lotus 1936–37

Later teamsEdit

→ Burke's Undertakers 1936–37 through 1938–39
  • German Sport Club 1935–36[note 10]
  • Herrmann Undertakers 1935–36[note 11]
  • Schumacher Undertakers 1935–36[note 12]
  • Eddie Hart's/North Side Optimist Club[note 13] 1936–37
  • St. Patrick's 1937–38
→ Lindell Trust Co. 1938–39

NotesEdit

  1. ^ Different team than the 1924-36 Ben Millers team.
  2. ^ Began season as simply "Raticans" without a sponsor before taking on a sponsor and renamed as Pants Store Co.
  3. ^ aka Tabler Cleaners
  4. ^ aka Hoover Sweepers
  5. ^ Different team than the 1915-24 Ben Millers team.
  6. ^ Different team than the 1934-36 Hellrung & Grimm team.
  7. ^ Played two games as Democratic Club before losing backers. Renamed simply St. Louis while looking for new sponsors. After two games, finds new sponsors, drops out of league to become an independent club, and renamed Father Dempsey's Shamrocks.
  8. ^ Different team than the 1929-31 Hellrung & Grimm team.
  9. ^ Played five games as Spanish Sport club before gaining a sponsor and becoming Burkes.
  10. ^ Withdrew from league after three games.
  11. ^ Withdrew from league after three games.
  12. ^ Withdrew from league after three games.
  13. ^ Played six games without a sponsor as Eddie Hart's team before gaining a sponsor and becoming South Side.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Soccer Men Will Form Professional League at Next Meeting". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 1915-03-24. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  2. ^ "Soccer War Ends; Klosterman and Finnegan Resign". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 1915-03-21. Retrieved 2022-02-03.
  3. ^ "Soccer Men Will Form Four-Club Professional League at Next Meeting". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. 1915-03-24. Retrieved 2022-02-03.
  4. ^ "Winton Barker is Elected President of Soccer League". The St. Louis Star. 1915-04-21. Retrieved 2022-02-03.

External linksEdit