On the eve of Philadelphia Union's Major League Soccer debut, the International Soccer Archives has acquired rare memorabilia from the city of Brotherly love. While many European soccer clubs can trace their beginnings back over a century, several American cities have played the sport just as long. Pennsylvania's Eastern mecca of Philadelphia is one such city.
With strong British roots dating to colonial days, Philadelphia was a playground for exiled Britons who imported the sports of horse racing, boxing and soccer to America. Organized soccer leagues formed as early as 1884. One of the nation's most prominant was the Allied American Football Association which spurred the likes of powerhouse club Bethlehem Steel F.C., and was directly affiliated with The Football Association in England.
The Bethlehem Company's footballers were National Champions on several occasions. They would be joined in later years by semi-pro and amateur clubs such as the Philadelphia Ukranians, and professionals like the Philadelphia Atoms, who won the title in their innaugural NASL season.
Cup and tournament play were organized and divisional tables were marked with championship medals and trophies. These recent additions to the I.S.A. collection include these medals and postcards of these early clubs.
The artifacts that were added to the I.S.A. collection include:
- 1917/18 (Philadelphia) Allied American Football League medal
- 1914/15 (Philadelphia) Allied American Football League medal
- 1910 Philadelphia Cup medal
- 1913/14 West Philadelphia F.C. postcard
- 1912c. Philadelphia soccer team photo