Soccer Almanac

American soccer writing, history & data.

Inaugural CAFL 1903 season

July 24, 2022 |  Categories:  CAFL  

The game of association football was adopted in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1890s. The Pacific Coast Association Football League organized in 1892 with five clubs but disbanded in 1893-94. The game of soccer was played on and off by a few independent clubs until around 1900 then went somewhat dormant.

This changed when Edgar Pomeroy organized the American-British Rifles team of San Francisco in October of 1902. Pomeroy came to the U.S. in 1888 and was an early organizer of the sport in the Bay Area. The Rilfes team included a number of members from the old Oakland A.F.C. which began in the summer of 1891 until the lull of the sport. Along with the Rilfes, George S. McCallum of Alameda reorganized the Vampire A.F.C. in late 1902. The Vampires were originally organized in 1896 and 1897 and also played off and on until 1900.

On Sunday, November 2, 1902, at the 12th and Madison Street grounds in Oakland, the A-B Rifles and the Vampires played the first soccer game of the 1902-03 season. That month, Edgar Pomeroy began organizing a new Pacific Coast Association Football League and was able to bring together most, if not all, of the soccer clubs in California playing at that time. The teams signed up to join the league were the Rifles, Vampires, the Seamen's Institute, and the Independent club all of San Francisco; plus the Keswick club from Shasta County. The Independents were originally a team of men employed by the Independent Gas and Power Company organized by William E. Owens and George Sully. Teams from the Sons of St. George, Albion Lodge, No. 206, of Oakland, the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, and the U.S. Army at the Presidio were also organizing in an attempt to join the league. During November a number of these teams played a handful of games under the auspices of the PCAFL but not in any formal competition.

On Wednesday, December 3 in the quarters of the A-B Rifles in Hoover Hall at 1327 Market Street, delegates from the Vampire, A-B Rifles, Independent, Seamen's Institute and San Francisco soccer clubs met and formally formed the California Association Football League. Officers were elected with Taliesin Evans selected president. Each club was to pay $2 as a membership fee in the league. The San Francisco A.F.C. was a newly organized team. The league met a week later to approve a schedule and a constitution and by-laws was soon adopted. The Seamen's Institute decided to not join the league as its chaplain refused to allow the team to play on Sundays. The Albion Lodge A.F.C., organized in late November, joined in their place.

After playing friendlies during December, the CAFL schedule launched on Sunday, January 4, 1903. The schedule called for a round-robin competition of eight games with matches played at the Alameda cricket grounds on Webster Street and the 12th and Madison Street grounds in Oakland. The Vampires looked to have a lock on the league title after winning their first five matches. But the club stumbled in their last three allowing the A-B Rifles to take the first league championship by one point.

Toward the end of the season, the San Francisco club became short of players and disbanded during the offseason. The American-British Rifles also disbanded prior to the 1903-04 season. The best players from those teams joined other teams in the CAFL.

©2022 by Daniel Creel. All rights reserved.