#TBT: Coats Put Out of the Cup (2/15/1925)


Welcome to this week’s edition of “Throwback Thursdays,” where we take a trip back in time to spotlight some of the clubs that made their mark on the New England soccer landscape over the past century.

This week, we venture back to a Lewis Cup tie between J & P Coats and the Fall River Marksmen on Feb. 15, 1925 at Marks Stadium in North Tiverton, R.I. The Fall River Evening Herald previewed the match in this fashion: “Everything Points to One of the Hardest Struggles on Record When Champs Clash With Threadmen.”



Kerr Features by Blocking Penalty Kick by Perry — Fans Stick to Seats Despite Continued Downpour of Rain.

February 16, 1925

NORTH TIVERTON, R.I. – Dougie Campbell scored early and the Fall River Marksmen never looked back in a soggy 3 to 0 victory against J & P Coats in the third round of the American Soccer League Cup tournament on Sunday.

Campbell scribbled his name on the scoresheet about 14 minutes into the match when he sent through a Harry McGowan cross. The indefatigable Harold Brittan tallied for the hosts next, with McGowan once again setting up the score two minutes after the interval. McGowan turned a poorly cleared ball into paydirt not long after Brittan’s strike.

A crowd of 7,000 fans braved a 30-minute downpour to witness their club fight one of the most brilliant battles of the season.

With the victory, the Marksmen will play New Bedford either Mar. 8 or 15 at Kinsley Park in Providence, R.I. Although the rules dictate that the match must take place at a neutral ground, it is possible that some arrangement could be made to play the game at Marks Stadium.

Scores Hard Earned

The final scoreline may have indicated that the match was a breeze for the hosts, but the scores weren’t easy to acquire.

Campbell’s strike arrived when he booted a cross from McGowan, who had received the ball after Brittan realized he had been surrounded by Threadman players. Campbell’s shot – a corker – was low and contained the necessary velocity to beat keeper Tommy Schofield between the sticks.

The opening strike came after about 14 minutes of hard play between the southern New England rivals.

Rain Hampered the Play

The rain fell consistently from the opening whistle until the final toot, and there was little doubt that it affected both clubs’ play.

Fall River’s game against the Steelmen the week before – which they drew 2-2 - provided a valuable lesson. That lesson: fight, and keep fighting.  On Sunday, they fought to the finish, and even though the Coats did manage a few chances of their own, the hosts showed they were up for the challenge.

Hard to Pick a Star

Given the talent level of the defending champs, it was a tough task to select who excelled in particular on Sunday afternoon.

Keeper Findley Kerr stopped a penalty kick delivered by Bob Perry. But Perry’s misadventure from the spot was preceded by an obvious measure of gamesmanship. Prior to his try, Marksmen right halfback Bill McPherson picked up the ball, and placed it on a clump of mud, a trick that served the hosts well when Perry’s shot was snared by Kerr.

The stunt brought a cheer from the stands, but not to be overshadowed was the quick thinking of Kerr the keeper in this particular situation.

Lorimer Features

Alec Lorimer, taking over for Bill Fryer at left halfback, played a sensational game. Though the job still belongs to Fryer, Lorimer proved to be a reliable reserve man. He succeeded at saving the local goal often by using his speed to pounce on opponents’ opportunities, and breaking up the attack just in the nick of time.

Marksmen Too Strong

The match didn’t contain much by way of rough play, but that didn’t mean players were able to avoid knocks entirely. Due to a handful of bad scrimmages, Lorimer, Johnny Harvey, Ned Tate, Alex Kemp and Bill McPherson were left in a fog after being struck by the heavy ball, but all all recovered. Kemp took a sharp kick to his ankle, and for awhile, it appeared he would have to exit the fray. However, he remained, and the little gamester went on to play a grand match.

Rain Inconvenient

The rain arrived well before the opening whistle, but that didn’t deter the masses from coming out to support their club. The fans in the grandstand were most fortunate, but the remainder held their posts for the duration. At times, the rain held up, only to give way to one heavy downpour after another. With the match decided by the waning minutes, the game finished prior to its scheduled time, much to the appreciation of the drenched supporters and players.

Pitch Muddy

Rainy conditions set the stage for a muddy surface, which slowed the game considerable. Still, it wasn’t as bad as it was a week prior when the Steelman came to town. Sawdust and shavings had been spread at one end of the field, and it worked somewhat.

Fall River defended the north goal, while the Coats patrolled the south end. Campbell’s opener was the result of a tough struggle against the defenders of the Pawtucket aggregation. McPherson lobbed the ball across the goalmouth, and McGowan steered it back inside the area. Brittan and Croft converged upon the scene before Allan readied himself to clear it out of harm’s way. That was before Campbell seized upon the weak effort, and unleashed a shot worthy of the loud cheers that emanated from the stands.


Fans Thrilled

Though the final score may indicate otherwise, it was Coats who pressed the issue in the first 10 minutes. Alas, they could not sustain it as the game moved along. Despite the soggy conditions, the Marksmen played a speedy brand of football, and it was plain to see that they would score before long. Coats held their defensive lines admirably, and willingly conceded corner kicks in a desperate measure to stem the flow of the Fall River attack.

Kerr Cleared Nicely

Once in awhile, the guests were able to get down to the north goal and threaten. Harvey gave the hosts fits in their defending third by putting his paintbrush on some lovely crosses. Pete Sweeney and Charlie McGrain also kept Kerr on his toes, but the keeper was able to scoop up everything that came his way. Perry also found opportunities, but his aim was not accurate enough on this afternoon.

Though the game remained 1 to 0 going into the interval, the evidence suggested that the Marksmen would find more in the second stanza. And they did.

Second  Half

Two minutes after the break, the hosts widened the gap when Brittan made good on a pass received from McGowan. The Marksmen outside left forward eluded a skirmish in the lead up to the goal, and whipped a cross to the opposite post, where Brittan nodded it into the net.

Coats found a measure of hope not long after. In a rough scrimmage inside the area, Scotty Kemp brought John McCullough down and Referee Lambie was left with little choice but to award the penalty 17 minutes in the second half. But Kerr draped himself in glory when he reached over to deny Perry’s shot, and the crowd cheered itself hoarse.

Another Score

Fall River tacked on another goal minutes after Perry’s moment of indignation. Brittan, in search of a second strike, tried to weave through the Coats defense, and found himself surrounded. He saw a small window, and proceeded to duck through when he found McGowan, who netted the third goal of the day.

With haggard conditions and a forceful Fall River side at their front door, the Threadmen had to resort to a defensive-minded approach for much of the second half. It was all in vain, as the Marksmen simply played with too much pep.

New Seats Appreciated

The new seats along the enclosed area of the stadium were a big help in handling the crowd. Two rows of seats were added along the full length of the field on both sides. Had the seats been in place the week before against Bethlehem, the crowd surely would’ve enjoyed that match much better than they did.

The summary

Fall   River  J & P Coats
Kerr, g Schofield, g
Tate, rfb Stevenson, rfb
Kemp, lfb Allan, lfb
McPherson, rfb Adam, rfb
Raesider, chb Perry, chb
Lorimer, lhb McAvoy, lhb
Campbell, orf Harvey, orf
Croft, lrf Drummond, lrf
Brittan, cf McCullough, cf
Morley, lif Sweeney, lif
McGowan, olf McGrain, olf

Score – Fall River 3, Coats 0. Goals scored by – Campbell, Brittan, McGowan. Referee – Lambie. Linesmen – Rose of New Bedford, J. Robinson of Boston. Time – 45-minute halves.

(Editor’s note: All information drawn from Feb. 16, 1925 report from the Fall River Evening Herald.)


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About Brian O'Connell

Brian O'Connell serves as editor and staff writer at New England Soccer Today. He's also the Revolution beat writer for ESPNBoston.com, and is Officer at Large for the North American Soccer Reporters. He regularly contributes to The Associated Press, and has been featured on MLSSoccer.com & RevsNet.com. Follow him on Twitter: @BrianOConnell21 or contact him via e-mail at BOConnell21@aol.com