the forwards darted like flashes: the history of soccer in utah
April 25, 2010

Saints, Soliders, And Miners: 1890 – 1917

Here’s a quote from a newspaper article about a soccer game:

The team immediately took the ball into the visitor’s territory and gave their custodian a merry time. After about ten minutes play from an open scrimmage in front of the visitor’s goal Manlove put one through which completely beat Brown, their custodian. After this reverse the team seemed to pull themselves together and the other team’s stronghold was in danger several times, but King was equal to the occasion and saved his charge twice in splendid style. Here a brilliant combined run by the forwards carried the ball into the other teams’ front yard and a corner kick was awarded to the opponents. …The kick which was taken by Bramley rebounded off the goalkeeper but was immediately after sent between the uprights by Smethhurst. At the call of half time the score stood 2 goals to 0.

Except for the dated language, that could describe any game played today by Real Salt Lake, or the Lady Utes soccer team, or a match between two youth soccer teams in suburban Salt Lake. But it actually appeared in the Eureka Reporter, in the April 7, 1905, issue, describing a game between the Eureka miners and the Salt Lake Rangers. The Eureka AFC5 went on to win 5-0, and was on their way to winning their first state championship two years later. By the time that game was played, soccer was well-established in Utah. Soccer came to Utah, as it did to most other places in the US, with immigrants. In the east coast and Midwest, immigrants and thus soccer were tied to industry, such as textiles and manufacturing. Utah’s soccer experience was different in some minor but significant ways, for many of the immigrants came not for jobs but for their religion. The LDS church recruited heavily from England and northern Europe in its early years, and many early pioneers from the UK and Scandinavia brought soccer with them. The first known team in Salt Lake City was formed in 1882, and a later article in the Salt Lake Tribune showed a Salt Lake Soccer Club, 1892 photo of a Salt Lake soccer team dated 1892. But converts to the LDS church were not the only immigrants who played soccer; many mining towns in central Utah, Carbon County, and Park City, had teams composed of Welsh, Cornish, and Scottish miners who were natural soccer players. In the 1890s there was no organized league play, but that did not stop enthusiasts from finding each other and playing soccer. For instance, the US Army’s Sixteenth Infantry regiment, stationed at Fort Douglas, would issue a challenge in the local newspaper to any local teams. One such game, reported in the Salt Lake Tribune on December 12, 1893, was played on the Fort’s parade ground between All Hallows College and the infantrymen. Even though the college boys were “very young and light,” the game was “very close, resulting in favor of the soldiers one goal to nil. The article concluded “The best of good feeling prevailed and the teams propose to meet again in the near future.”

In 1894, the Ogden Junior Football Club challenged the Weber State Academy to a game on Tabernacle Square, although there is no record of how that contest turned out. The festivities surrounding the 50th Anniversary of the coming of the pioneers to the Salt Lake valley included a number of soccer games. In July 1897, one such match was played at Beck’s Hot Springs between a Salt Lake team and one from Diamondville, Wyoming, a coal mining town near Kemmerer; the winner played a team from Park City. The winner of all the games got gold medals from the Jubilee committee. The next year, the Salt Lake Y.M.C.A. played a game with the Salt Lake Rovers, the first named team to appear in the record. The Diamondville eleven came back in 1899 to play the Y.M.C.A. team.

Not all games were played in Salt Lake City, however. An article from the Salt Lake Herald, written in April 1900, describes a game played in Manti “some years ago”:

Among the outside Odd Fellows who have graced Salt Lake with their presence during the last two days are Drs W. J. and E. T. Hosford of Manti. These two brothers commonly go by the name of the Siamese twins among the fraternity owing to the fact that they both wear mutton-chop whiskers and speak with an English accent. When these two doctors first located at Manti, some years ago, they endeavored to awaken an interest in the rurals to the extent of forming a football club. So successful were they in their project that some five year ago it was Manti’s proud boast that it had a team that could lick creation. The enthusiasm spread to adjacent settlements for a time rivalry waxed strong in Sanpete, to spread even unto Springville. The Temple city proceeded to wipe the ground with all comers and develop affluence from the attendant gate money until one fine day they visited Salt Lake and played a game under Association rules. Manti went home again. In speaking of the lamentable affair at the Kenyon last night Dr Hosford said that from that day to this the interest in Association football had died a natural death with no immediate prospect of a speedy resurrection.

Economic and labor troubles kept the game from taking hold in the mining camps of Utah until a few years into the 20th century, but after that it took off among the tough Welsh and Cornish miners in little camps in Juab County and Park City, in the smelters and mills in Salt Lake, and in the coal camps in Carbon and Emery Counties. But the best team of the decade came from Eureka, in the Tintic Mining District of Juab County. The miners from Eureka—they never had an offical name that has survived, although they sported natty maroon jerseys emblazoned with a big “E”—became a powerhouse in the Eureka Championship Socker Football Team years before World War I and dominated the sport in Utah for a number of years. An article in the Salt Lake Herald in March 1905 described a typical game, played in Eureka between the Salt Lake team and the “home team”: “After some desultory exchanges between the opposing halfbacks, Salt Lake pressed hard upon the Eureka stronghold. King, Eureka’s goal keeper, saved two hot shots in brilliant style. The Eurekas …assumed the aggressive and for some time made it hot for Claybourne, the Salt Lake custodian.” The game was played in the midst of a rain storm, and by the second half the field had become “heavy,” or muddy, wearing out both teams. It ended in a tie, with no score on either side. Even so, the 300 fans enjoyed the game. This was typical of play between the local teams during this period. The railroads would often give half price fares between the venues, and later would field their own teams.

Competition between Eureka and Salt Lake went back and forth, but more and more the Eureka team came to govern the series, often with lopsided scores like an April 1905 game against a “picked team” from SL, which Eureka won by a score of 7 to 1. Games were also being played in Salt Lake City at the time, between teams from All Hallows College and the Salt Lake Rangers. Other soccer contests took place around the same time between teams sponsored by the Oregon Short Line, Bingham, the Highland Boy mine, Murray Smelter, and Park City. The Brigham Young College in Logan had a team, as did the soldiers from Fort Douglas. In May 1905, an “exceptionally strong” team from Provo, sponsored by the Jesse Knight Woolen Mill, played the Eureka miners. The headline in the Eureka Reporter after the game read “Provo bumped hard Tuesday”; the score was a humiliating 11 to 1.

But the main action was still between Eureka and Salt Lake AFC. By the end of 1905, Eureka stood at the top of the Utah State League, undefeated. Their opponent for the state championship was the Salt Lake AFC, also undefeated, although Eureka had scored more goals. In a game played on Cummings Field, at the University of Utah, on Christmas Day 1905, before a “small but appreciative crowd,” the two teams fought for the championship. The crowd was small not only because it was a holiday, but because the conditions were so bad. “The weather was anything but pleasant and the ground being covered with ice and snow made good playing an extremely difficult task.” Still, the undefeated miners controlled the game from the opening whistle and won the championship, 3 to 0.

Just as Eureka was poised to win the state championship, two British all-star teams, the Corinthians and the Pilgrims, were touring the US to “demonstrate to the American public the advantages of association football as a sport over the game played by the college teams [i.e., modern American football]. Sir Charles Kirkpatrick and the Pilgrims stopped in Ogden on their way across the country and the captain of the team said “I cannot see much merit in the football game as played by the American colleges. It is involved, unscientific, and puts a premium on brute strength. The game we play is skillful, scientific, and easy to understand.” Well! The reactions to this were soon to come, and one was published in the Salt Lake Herald in November 1905. Written by a New York sports writer, the first article was headlined “New York Sporting Writer Declares Socker Football will never be popular in this country.” The same writer later penned another article titled “Let American Football Alone.” Printed in the Herald a few days later, it took a chauvinistic tone, saying “American intercollegiate football is a purely American game. We don’t want to be English, don’t you know?” [SLH 11/19/05] This attitude among Americans was a portent of soccer’s troubles in the future.

Daynes CupAfter their defeat by Eureka, the Salt Lake AFC regrouped, reorganized, and came back the next year ready to play. By this time, the teams had something to play for, the Daynes Cup, inspired by the trophies awarded in the English F.A.’s tournaments. It was donated by J. Fred Daynes, founder of Daynes Jewelry, a prominent Salt Lake City businessman. According to his grandson, who still lives in Salt Lake City, Mr. Daynes was a very civic minded man and wanted to do something for the city in which he lived, so he designed and created this trophy and donated it to the Utah soccer league. Described as “an elaborate piece of silver, worked with masterly skill,” the cup remained the goal for Utah teams for decades, even after the introduction of other trophies in later years. Eureka played the Salt Lake AFC for very first Daynes Cup championship (which, until 1939, was the same as playing for the Utah State Championship) in a game held in May 1905, but this time the miners went down to defeat, as Salt Lake won the cup, defeating not only Eureka (by a score of 4 to 3), but Park City and Ogden, as well as teams from Sunnyside and Castle Gate in Carbon County6.

For the rest of the decade, the two teams traded the Daynes Cup back and forth, with Eureka winning it again in 1907. At the conclusion of the 1907 contest, held in Provo at the “B.Y. University grounds, …Uncle Jesse Knight in a fitting speech presented the cup to the Eureka team.” It was the last time Eureka was to enjoy such honors, for the Salt Lake AFC came back to win the cup for the next three years straight, and Eureka was never again a serious contender for the Daynes Cup. One reason for the winning streak might have been because the Salt Lake team had begun recruiting experts from the UK, such as Alex “Sandy” McWhirter, a Scot, who joined the team in 1907. “It is claimed for him that he wears medals as an exponent of the socker game,” wrote the Salt Lake Herald. The article went on to note that “Salt Lake socker [sic] players are jubilant over securing an expert of the game to play with the Salt Lake team this season.” A later article described him as a “rattling good socker player [who] will be seen in the lineup of the Salt Lake team.” Other teams trying to win the championship were Park City, a consistent loser, and Ogden, who would not win a championship until after World War I.

March 1907 saw the introduction of the first of Utah’s soccer writers, William Service, described as a “well-known soccer authority” in a 1913 article. Service played professionally in Scotland for the Clyde team. After he came to Utah, where he worked as a bookkeeper for a planing mill in Salt Lake City, he continued his interest in soccer. Beside his detailed and thorough descriptions of matches in the Salt Lake Herald, Service was also the head of the Utah Association Football Union and worked hard on getting soccer accepted into Utah high schools. Others soon followed, such as D.A. Lindsay and John Campbell, both of whom wrote who wrote in the Eureka Reporter. Lindsay was obviously partisan; in an article written in the Eureka Reporter in April 1908, he described a player from Eureka who had switched to the Salt Lake team as “traitorous.” Campbell also served as the manager of the Eureka team in the years leading up to World War I. Besides being sports reporters, all three men acted as boosters for soccer, never missing an opportunity to tout the benefits and thrills of the sport in their many articles.

Salt Lake Association Football in Action
Others were playing soccer besides those vying for the top state honors. A Tooele Transcript article written in March 1906 noted “Boys to play soccer says the headline[,] it has been the fathers of the boys up to now.” And an article in the Ogden Standard Examiner in 1908 described an informal game between teams from Ogden and Salt Lake on the Tabernacle Square in Ogden that was attended by over 500 people. Even though the game ended in a 1-1 tie, it was enjoyed by all. Provo’s “newly organized team” traveled to Eureka in 1908 for a friendly [i.e., exhibition or non-league] match, and despite “plucky” play, were beaten handily by the much more experienced miners, with the final score being 7-2. Another friendly was played between the Eureka team and one from Silver City, another mining town in Juab County. Even though the Eureka team was “hardly in good form,” they were able to down the Silver City eleven 5-0.

After their last win in 1909, Eureka was no longer a contender for the state title, even though they fielded teams up until World War I. There was still plenty of soccer being played, however, and miners and mill workers were still in the game. At the same time, soccer was enjoying a resurgence in Utah’s colleges and schools. The 1910 UTONIAN, the yearbook of the University of Utah, contained a brief notice about Association Football: “The fall of 1910 was productive of some little interest in soccer. Coach Bennion invited fifteen men, practically new at the game, to try their skill for the “U” against the Scotch and English stars who made up the Garfield [smelter, on the west side of the Salt Lake valley] and Salt Lake clubs. The superior strength and speed of the Utah boys matched the skill of their opponents and a two to two tie with Garfield and a three to four loss to Salt Lake resulted.”

In March of that same year, an article appeared in the Salt Lake Herald advocating the adoption of soccer so that Utah college would have a fall sport. It was written by H. W. Ansell, secretary of the Soccer Boosters club. Apparently the LDS church had banned American football from its campuses, and Ansell was trying to get them to adopt soccer as a substitute. Exhibition games were also played on the Granite High School campus between teams of Salt Lake players, to try to interest young men in taking up soccer. Another advocate for soccer in schools was John Morgan, of Garfield, who, it was noted, “for six years had played on one of the fast teams of Liverpool, England,” and “during that time he never received an injury more than minor bruises.” Leagues between Salt Lake City grade schools were organized and a series played in the fall of 1910, but despite the efforts of Ansell and Morgan, American football was already too entrenched in the college sports system. Soccer at that level remained a playground activity, not a letter sport, for more than half a century. There was talk of establishing a University of Utah team in 1913; an article in the Daily Utah Chronicle mentioned playing against local teams “and the B.Y.U. eleven.” As part of a Thanksgiving celebration in 1916, the freshmen class soccer team challenged one of the local teams—“presumably a squad from Ogden,” the article noted–although there is no record of which team they played or what the outcome was.

Play for the Daynes cup did not slow, however. Fort Douglas, Provo, and Park City all put teams together, and played throughout the spring of 1910. In the championship game, played between Park City and Salt Lake, the “Park boys were outplayed and were defeated by a score of 5-3.” In a lament familiar to every sports fan, the Park Record noted that “It was defeat for Park City all round—and no logical reason can be given for it either.” In the winter of 1910, four Salt Lake City teams got together and formed the Salt Lake Soccer Football Association, which was to be a strictly city league. It consisted of the Salt Lake team, the Fort Douglas team, the Garfield United team, and a new one, sponsored by the Building Trades union. Park City and Ogden were purposely excluded, “so as not to conflict with Daynes Cup state play.” These four teams were soon joined by a team from the Oregon Short Line railroad.

Utah Fuel Soccer Team, Carbon County, early 1900sSoccer was being played elsewhere in Utah, too. In June 1911 Carbon County teams from Price, Castle Gate, and Sunnyside played a series of games that were watched by large crowds.

In the first game, between Castle Gate and Sunnyside, “Sunnyside took advantage of an opening and quickly …secured a goal,” followed by another soon afterwards. “It looked blue for Castle Gate, the swift Sunnyside forwards darted like flashes, [but] the bull dog tenacity of Castle Gate soon told, and if one may state, their hardier physical condition was wearing better under the strain.” Castle Gate won by a score of 3-2. The referee, Dick Parman, was from Hiawatha. The next 1month a team from Scofield played the Rio Grande Railroad team, surprise winners of that year’s Daynes Cup, the game ending in a tie. Winter Quarters also fielded a team that summer, which played the other local teams as well as visiting teams from Salt Lake.Winter Quarters (Carbon County) Soccer Team, 1911

The next year Eureka tried to revive their soccer team. A February 1912 article noted “For a number of years Eureka had a soccer team that could beat anything in the state without the least difficulty but last year the sport was dead here.” No explanation is given as to why the Eureka team had disbanded, but the article went on to note that “…some of the old timers are busy and … they will have a team which will make the fastest of them go home.” It finished by urging the community to “lend their support and do everything to encourage the players.” The next month, meetings were held to reorganize the team, a president and other board members elected, and a captain, Harry Heywood, was selected. At the meeting, “communications were read from the Utah State League” and Joseph Aspden, one of the “old timer” players, was selected to travel to Salt Lake to represent the Eureka team. Aspden was “instructed to line up in favor of the Utah association becoming a member of the National football organization…” It was noted that “There is absolutely no reason why the Daynes cup should not come here year after year. Eureka’s team was the pioneer in playing the truly scientific game in the western states and the rest of the country took due notice of the fact. The available material is good, there are several young lads who have been taught the game here and they are to be encouraged, so let the whole town pull together for the success of the sport.”

Practices were held and the team was ready, but a new problem presented itself: transportation. The railroads were no longer willing to offer discount fares for teams and fans, and the Eureka team found themselves with no one to play. Provo and Salt Lake teams refused to travel so far and also refused to play on Sundays, the only day the miners had off. Even when they could find an opponent, the Eureka team was a shadow of its former glory. They were not able to compete for the Daynes Cup for the reasons stated above, and even when they did play, they were defeated by teams such as that from the Knight woolen mills in Provo. And to add insult to injury, townspeople in Eureka persisted in stealing the goal posts on the playing field. The team kept trying all through 1913, but was finally reduced to playing the “old war horses” of the former team. At least the younger team could beat them, and “considerable money changed hands on the game.” In 1916, Mammoth, a nearby mining town, fielded a team, and the Eureka players finally had a team to play against. The more experienced Eureka team defeated the Mammoth one—which did not have proper uniforms or equipment—by a score of 8-2 in a September game.

Schubach Cup1916 also saw the advent of a new trophy, the Schubach Cup, which was awarded for play in the fall season. The Daynes Cup was for spring play, so the new cup gave inspiration to teams all over the state for the other half of the season. In September 1916, a schedule of games was arranged between Ogden, Salt Lake, Eureka, the Caledonians and Arthur, which was basically the same team as Garfield. At last the team from Eureka was able to revive its fortunes, sweeping the series and winning the inaugural Schubach tournament in November of that year. For this feat, they were awarded watch charms made of silver in the form of a soccer ball, engraved with the name of the player and the name of the donor. They also got to keep the cup in Eureka until the next season’s play7.

By now, however, Europe was embroiled in war, and within six months of the awarding of the Schubach Cup, America was as well. A number of local soccer players joined the military, including Ed Simpson of the Mammoth team, who was not a naturalized citizen of the US. Others from the Eureka team were Jimmy Denver and former captain Fred Herring, who joined the Air Service. At the last recorded game before play stopped because of the war, Eureka was defeated by the Arthur team by a score of 3-0, because of the loss of three or four players “who have joined the colors.” After that, soccer disappeared from Utah until well after the war.

5-AFC: Association Football Club. Soccer was then known as Association Football, to distinguish it from American-style football.
6-The original Daynes Cup, sadly, was at a local jeweler to have more names added in the 1980s when the store was robbed and the cup was stolen. The base of the cup is at the offices of the Utah Soccer Association, but the cup itself has never been recovered. Of the four other soccer cups mentioned in this history, only two are still in existence: the Strand Cup is in the Alf Engen collection at the Alf Engen Ski Museum in Park City, Utah, and the Van Dongen trophy is in the possession of Willard Hansen. The other two, the Schubach Cup and the Salt Lake Telegram trophy, have since disappeared.
7-As an interesting aside, there was apparently a very intense and not-very-friendly business competition between Daynes Jewelers and Schubach Jewelry, which was perhaps the reason that Schubach decided to create a cup and sponsor a tournament.
continued on pages : 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

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