Soccer Almanac

American soccer writing, history & data.

CFL 1920-21 season

Aug. 12, 2022 |  Categories:  CAFL  

During the offseason before the 1920-21 California Football League season, it was thought that four shipyard teams would break away from the California Football Association and play as professionals. Edgar Pomeroy and other soccer officials came out against the suggestion partially because the availability of grounds would provide a handicap for those teams that remained amateur. Pomeroy had information that the shipyard clubs held leases on the coming season for the 8th and Market Street grounds and the 12th and Mission Street grounds. Croll's Grounds in Alameda, the oldest soccer field in the Bay Area up to that point, was no longer available as an automobile parking station had been built on it that year.

The CFA held its annual meeting on August 30, 1920. Teams from across the Bay Area as well as Sacramento, Riverside and Grass Valley sent delegates. J. McGrewer was elected president. The organization also amended the transfer rule so that a player could only transfer once for cup matches. The reorganized Vampire Club, which had given up soccer following the 1916-17 season, was readmitted to membership.

The CFL held its annual meeting on September 4. All eight teams returned from the prior season plus the Vampires and Alameda Union Iron Works teams were admitted. The CFL season began on Sunday, September 26, but teams continued to face more trouble finding grounds as most fields used previously were not readily available for the 1920-21 season. A carnival company gained the lease during the beginning of the soccer season on the 8th and Market Street grounds. The Rangers and Alameda Union Iron Works teams shared new grounds at Washington Park in Alameda. Moore Shipyards discovered a usable lot at First and Adeline Streets in Oakland as their new ground which they shared with the Vampires. But that field was condemned by the CFA after only two weeks because it was in such bad shape.

The Olympic Club again engaged Ewing Field while the rest of the San Francisco teams shared the Ocean Shore grounds at 12th and Mission Streets. The 8th and Market Street grounds also again became available during October. Moore Shipyards eventually ended up at the old Fruitvale Recreation ark at Fruitvale Avenue and 10th Street in Oakland. The Vampires played most of their home matches at the various available San Francisco grounds. On November 4, the CFL and CFA signed an agreement with Dr. Charles H. Strub of the San Francisco Baseball Club to play a selection of league soccer matches at Recreation Park in San Francisco during the last half of the season.

The CFL league title was a battle between the Olympics and Thistles. On February 6, 1931, in the next to last match of the season, the Thistles beat the Olympics 1-0 before 3000 at Recreation Park. It was the only loss for the Olympics. That match, reported to be the largest attendance to watch soccer in San Francisco, locked down a second straight title for the Thistles who went unbeaten for the season.

The Thistles were upset by the Burns Club in the first round of the CFA cup. The Celtics were the surprise of the cup. The club had only one win and one draw over the 18-game league season but had beaten the Vampires and Celtics in the first two rounds of the CFA cup to make the final. But, on April 3, the Olympics won the CFA cup beating the Celtics 3-1 on the 8th and Market Street grounds.

The CFL held their annual meeting on August 13, 1921. A big question on the mind of those involved what the real scarcity of grounds. The owners of the San Francisco Baseball club had determined that soccer matched dug up the Recreation Park turf too much. Without that venue the field at 8th and Market Streets had become the only available field in the city. It was thought that the league may need to be reduced from ten to six clubs due to the scarcity of grounds.

Over 50 soccer officials were present at the CFL meeting. The shortage of available grounds was discussed. Recreation Park would not become available until December 18 and the 8th and Market Street grounds were uncertain due to the Free Market. Ewing Field was to be occupied by American football players and even the availability of the Ocean Shore grounds at 12 and Mission Streets was doubtful.

Given a unique set of conditions affecting soccer for the 1921-22 season, the CFL voted to disband the league. The delegates made the move in order to bring about a complete administrative cleaning, a reduction in the number of teams competing, and the organization of two separate leagues, one in Alameda County and one in San Francisco, both under the direction of the CFA. The question of the reconstruction of soccer for the coming season was left up to the CFA which was scheduled to meet the next Saturday.

The CFA met on August 19, 1921 with the reorganization of the Sunday league occupying most of the meeting. The CFA organized the San Francisco Soccer League to replace the old CFL. The new league included six San Francisco clubs: Barbarians; Burns Club; Vampires; Olympic Club; Thistles; and Union Iron Works. John Elliott was elected president of the new league while William Campbell was elected president of the CFA.

The University and Club Soccer League was also completely reorganized at the CFA meeting. Stanford University and University of California joined the league which would play on Saturdays. Five other teams also joined the league.

The CFA also agreed to organize a separate Sunday league for Alameda and Oakland clubs. In mid-September of 1921 the East Bay Soccer League was organized chiefly through the efforts of the CFA executive committee. Games were scheduled at Washington Park in Alameda and San Pablo Park in Berkeley.

©2022 by Daniel Creel. All rights reserved.