American soccer writing, history & data.
The offseason prior to the 1922-23 St. Louis Soccer League again brought team name changes. While the teams and managers again stayed the same, two clubs changed their names in late September. After only one season as the De Andreis team, Willie Foley was compelled to change the team's name due to the supreme body of the Knights of Columbus having voted to prohibit the use of council names in professional athletics. After discussions with league vice president, J. G. Barrett, Foley made arrangements to renamed De Andreis as Barrett-Hoovers (although the team was registered as "Hoover Sweepers" for that year's National Challenge Cup).
Harry McCarthy's team, known as St. Louis Screw for a number of seasons, found a new sponsor. F. W. A. Vesper and the Vesper-Buick Auto Company supported the team which was renamed as the Vesper-Buicks.
The league again played at High School Field but decided to play 35-minute halves in all league contests. Professional soccer leagues in St. Louis had traditional played 30-minute halves but 45-minute halves in NCC matches were a hardship, especially early on in the season. The league also implemented a two-referee system for the first time in St. Louis soccer history. The league's decision led to the resignations of long-time referees, Phil Kavanaugh and Paul McSweeney. Billy Bascom and Cornelius "Red" Roche were hired to replace them.
Pete Ratican, continued as owner and manager of Ben Miller, but Harry "Hap" Marre continued as acting manager due to his continued illness. In mid-November, a month into the season, Pete Ratican died from a brain tumor at 34 years of age. He had undergone two operations in less than two years. The SLSL franchise held by him was transferred to his widow, Ursula Ratican. Walter Devoy was named as manager and Ben Miller continued as sponsor for the team that beared his name.
Earlier that fall, Pete's brother, Harry, has been hired as soccer coach for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and as player-manager for Fall River F.C. of the American Soccer League. On September 24, 1922, Harry scored in an exhibition match at the first game of the new Mark's Stadium in Tiverton, R.I. But Harry also badly injured his left leg which left him unable to play in subsequent matches. In mid-December, Harry gained his release from Fall River F.C. and finished out the season as West Point's coach.
Harry arrived back in St. Louis the first week of January, 1922 and signed a contract with Ben Miller. On January 7, Ratican returned to St. Louis soccer after six years away. He scored two goals for Ben Miller helping the team beat Scullin Steel 2-1 before 2000 at High School Field.
The new sponsorship helped Vesper-Buick jump from worst to first and the team won their first league title since St. Leo's won the 1914-15 Federal Park Soccer League during the last year of the St. Louis "soccer wars".
For the first time since joining the National Challenge Cup, the four SLSL teams did not receive first round byes. Scullin Steel knocked out Vesper-Buick in a third round replay match. The Scullins then beat Bricklayers F.C. from Chicago 3-1 before 6667 at High School Field which saw the match go into extra periods.
In the Grand Final, Scullin Steel traveled to Harrison, N.H. to face Paterson F.C. of the American Soccer League. On April 1, 1923 at Harrison Oval, 16,000 saw a back-and-forth match go to extra periods before ending in a 2-2 draw. The next day the Scullins formally forfeited the NCC title at a meeting of the National Cup emergency committee of the U.S.F.A. Paterson F.C. owner and manager, Adolph Buslik refused to have the replay held at St. Louis the next Sunday and Willie Foley felt that the Scullins could not put a full team on an eastern field that soon.
©2022 by Daniel Creel. All rights reserved.