Soccer Almanac

American soccer writing, history & data.

CFL 1918-19 season

Aug. 11, 2022 |  Categories:  CAFL  

Due to the number of soccer players in the military, during the offseason before the 1918-19 California Football League season, it was thought that several of the CFL clubs would not field teams and their places would be taken by teams from the various shipbuilding companies in the Bay Area. During the season, over 50 members of the Barbarians were fighting in France and 90% of the Olympic players were in the Army and Navy. The latter team would be made up of players from 17 to 35 years old.

At the CFL annual meeting held on September 7, 1918, two new clubs were admitted to membership: Moore Shipyards of Oakland; and the Alameda Works of Union Iron Works. The Argonauts did not return for the season. The Alameda Rangers were dropped from the league and a team from Camp Fremont applied for membership but the league thought it wasn't advisable to attempt more than an eight-team league. It was also voted that the home and visiting clubs would divide receipts 70% and 30% after each game. This change was made to protect weaker clubs. Previously, the home team had taken all the gate receipts.

Due to the continued scarcity in grounds, the league would use three fields. The Moore and Alameda teams would share the 40th Street and San Pablo Avenue grounds in Emeryville. The San Francisco teams would share Ewing Field and the 8th & Market Street grounds.

The CFL season was scheduled to begin on Sunday, October 6. At the end of September, the Burns Club was renamed the Burns-Rangers as the club had amalgamated with the Rangers Club of Alameda. Just two days before the start of the season, the Thistles voluntarily withdrew from the CFL. The team was promised by league officials that Capt. H. Wilfred Maloney of Camp Fremont would put a team in the league to replaced the Thistles on the schedule. The match between the Thistles and Celtics was canceled but the rest of the league games were held that Sunday.

Later that week, the quarantine of Camp Fremont due to the influenza pandemic caused issues with putting a team of soldiers in the CFL and that plan was abandoned. Except for the canceled match between Moore Shipyards and the Thistles, the league played its scheduled games on Sunday, October 13.

On Wednesday, October 16, just two weeks into the season, the CFL held a special meeting called to reduce the league to six teams. The Alameda Union Iron Works team was dropped from the league by a vote of 5-2. A secret ballot was taken with the other two votes choosing to drop the Celtics. The league decided to start a completely new schedule starting Sunday, October 20 with the previously played games thrown out.

After a month, the CFL voted to postpone league matches on November 17 and November 24 to play benefit games for the United War Work fund. League matches on December 15 were all postponed due to the influenza outbreak and rescheduled for Christmas Day (the league had originally scheduled a two-week break between December 15 and 29).

The various postponements and CFA cup commitments caused a delayed end to the season. The Union Iron Works team ended their CFL season on March 2 sitting top of the table with 23 points. At that point the Moores had 20 points and Olympics had 19 points but both had two more games scheduled to play. On Sunday, March 9, Moore Shipyards beat Olympic Club 2-0 knocking the latter out of the league race. The Moores were scheduled to play their final league match against the Burns-Rangers the following Sunday but the match was postponed due to the Burns-Rangers' CFA cup replay against Union Iron Works scheduled that day. The league match between Burns-Rangers and Moores was eventually played on Sunday, April 6. Moore Shipyards blanked Burns-Rangers 3-0 giving Moores the CFL title by one point over Union Iron Works.

The CFA cup saw two unlikely teams in the final. The Barbarians had a mediocre league season but upset Moore Shipyards in the first round and the Olympic Club in the semifinals. That put them against the Alameda Union Iron Works team in the final. The Alameda team had stayed together after being dropped by the CFL and decided to play in the CFA cup. Along the way to the final the Alameda UIW team beat the Jubilee Rovers of Sacramento in the first round and crushed Burns-Rangers 6-0 in the semifinals.

The CFA cup final became a marathon. The teams drew 4-4 on April 27, 1919 at the 8th and Market Street grounds. On Sunday, May 9, at the same venue, the teams ended regulation tied 1-1. They played 45 minutes of extra time but neither team could score. The second CFA cup final replay happened the following Sunday on the same field. This would be the final match as the Alameda Union Iron Works team beat the Barbarians 3-1 to become the first non-CFL club to win the CFA cup.

©2022 by Daniel Creel. All rights reserved.