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All American Association Football League: 1902-1903 Preseason - New NAFL Teams

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Slow down, if you complete all of your teams on the same day, that’s not a good thing. Give all your energy to one team, not a twelfth of your energy to every team.

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The first team to be announced for the AAAFL’s second division, the National Association Football League, was the Milwaukee Brewmasters.  While they would share some of the same front-office operations with their sister squad, the American League Milwaukee Brewers baseball club, they would have their own upper management. 

 

Announced as President was John “Ikey” Karel.  The former University of Wisconsin football star, currently running for election as a member of the Wisconsin Legislature.  He most recently coached the Lawrence College American football team, he sees a great future for association football in Milwaukee.  Karel also serves as President of the NAFL.

Thomas Stora Andrews, a top sportswriter for the Milwaukee boxing scene, serves as Vice-President, as well as Secretary/Treasurer for the NAFL.  His compulsive record keeping skills will serve the league well.

 

Karel had tried to recruit fellow UW Amercan Football legend James F. Sugden to play for the team, however, the aging football and cricket star politely declined.  Karel was able to recruit another UW legend to captain and manage the team.  A former All-American at Wisconsin, Pat O'Dea was wooed away from the coaching position of the American football team at Notre Dame to take over the Brewmasters.  In this playing days, the "Kanagaroo Kicker" from Australia was immortalized for his long-distance kicking, most notably a 62-yard placekick and a 119-yard punt.  O'Dea was very confident his ability to adapt to a new game.  "With a round ball, I reckon I'm a danger to score from anywhere on the field, and I do mean anywhere.  Hopefully I can teach the lads how to put some distance on the ball as well."

 

For the inaugural season, the Brewmasters would play at the Lloyd Street Grounds, home of the Brewers.  However, one of the local breweries, Blatz Brewing, announced that they would be financing the construction of an association football stadium in the Menomonee River Valley.  The stadium, to be called the Blatz Platz (German for “Field”), is scheduled to be opened for the 1902-1903 season.

 

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The Brewmaster kits and logo were unveiled at the announcement.    The logo consists of a foamy beer mug with a “B” styled handle.  The team colors are blue, white, and beer amber.  The home kit has a lederhosen style.  The amber socks have white tops, mimicking a glass of beer.

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The second team to be announced for the AAAFL’s second division, the National Association Football League, was the Chicago Southsiders.  They will be operated by the same front-office as their sister squad, the American League Chicago White Stockings baseball club.  Club owner Charles Comiskey will be keeping close tabs on the association football operations.

 

Comiskey recruited Ben Govier, renowned player for the local Pullman club, to be captain and manager of the team.  Govier began playing for the Pullman club in 1891 at age 15.  He also played for Thistles, as well as Cycling Club in St. Louis.

 

The Southsiders take their name from the playing field, South Side Park, which is located on the south side of Chicago.

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The Southsiders’ logo is a stylized C with a southward-pointing compass arrow and the letter “C.”  The home and away are have inverted colors of blue and white, and they feature southward-pointing compass arrows on sleeves, shorts, and socks.

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The third team to be announced for the AAAFL’s second division, the National Association Football League, was the Detroit Longtails.  They will be operated by the same front-office as their sister squad, the American League Detroit Tigers baseball club.  Club owner James D. Burns announced that the Longtails would play at the newly-constructed Burns Park instead of the Tigers’ primary home, Bennett Park.  Burns explained, “Association football like beer with their football, and Detroit’s blue laws won’t allow us to sell beer to Sunday games at Bennett.  That’s why the Longtails will play at Burns Park.”  Frank McDonald was appointed Club President.

 

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The final team to be announced for the AAAFL’s second division, the National Association Football League, was the St. Louis Big Deals.  They are the only club not to be associated with an American League baseball organization.  Local St. Louis real estate magnate Gus F. Diehl impressed the representatives from the other NAFL cities that he had the financial wherewithal to operate a team, without the backing of a baseball organization.  Diehl negotiated a long term agreement to play at Athletic Park, with an option to purchase the facility at a later date.

 

Diehl appointed Thomas Cahill to be President of the team.  Cahill has been influential in St. Louis soccer circles, forming the power Shamrock club in the St. Louis Association Football League.

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The team nickname is a play on the owner’s name and his penchant for large-scale real estate ventures.  The logo is a blue ribbon with the team nickname.  The team’s red, white, and blue colors are featured on the home and away kits.  The striping on the sleeve and shorts mimics a blue ribbon. 

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The New York Fomorians began the 1901-1902 season with a bang, rattling off 6 six straight wins.  They finished off the fall portion of the season with 3 wins and draw.  Despite the blazing start, they couldn’t put much distance between them and the rest of the pack.  Pittsburgh dropped only 3 games in the fall, and so the Privateers trailed by only 3 points at the break.

 

Baltimore was 5 points back at the break, but they blasted out of the gate in the spring, winning 8 in a row.  Only a tie in Week 20 to Chicago kept them from having a perfect spring.  The Chimney Swifts claimed the top spot in Week 16 and never relinquished it.  Pittsburgh self-destructed in the second half of the season, claiming only a single victory over Boston.  The Privateers finished a whopping 14 points off the leader’s pace.  As a result, Coach Trevor Montgomery was fired.

 

New York collapsed down the stretch as well.  The Fomorians ended the season with four straight losses.  They ended the season without Coach Joseph Murray, who was sacked after Week 19’s loss to the Washington Insiders.

 

Philadelphia got on track in the second half of the season.  The Libbies vaulted all the way to second place by season’s end, albeit 8 points off the lead.  As the season closed, Coach Connie Mack was livid with the Philadelphia front office for not giving him the support that he wanted.  “I had lads hurt, and the bean counters wanted me to put them on the field.  They didn’t want to pay for treatment, they didn’t want to pay for replacements.  I can’t fault my boys, but this organization needs to commit to success, or else I’ll find some place that will do it.”

 

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The inaugural season for the second division National Association Football League featured 2 home games and 2 away games for each team in each half of the season.  The Milwaukee Brewmasters easily ran away with the title.

 

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In the American Cup, the top 12 seedings were established based on the AAAFL’s final standings.  The four NAFL squads were seeded in the 13th-16th spots.  The American Football Association set an entry fee of $200 which discouraged any amateur clubs from entering.  The tournament started with the top-seeded Chimney Swifts dismantling the lowest-seeded St. Louis Big Deals.  There were a number of upsets in the first round.  Cleveland topped the Privateers in Pittsburgh.  More surprisingly, the other three NAFL squads all scored upset victories.  New York continued its losiing ways as the Fomorians fell to Milwaukee Brewmasters.  The Detroit Longtails squeeked by the Insider in Washington.  The biggest upset story was in Philadelphia, where the NAFL’s Chicago Southsiders outplayed the Libbies, 2-0.  Coach Connie Mack was apopletic after the game.  “I never blamed the boys before for a loss, but today they played with no heart, no pride.  This entire organization is worthless.”  Mack stomped off and refused to answer any questions from reporters.

 

The quarterfinal round featured a Chicago Derby with the West Side Kickers traveling to the South Side Park to take on the Southsiders.  The NAFL’s squad’s luck ran out as the West Side Kicks emerged victorious.   In St. Louis, the Detroit Longtails fell at New Sportsman’s Park to the Mounds.  The Brewmasters, however, pulled off another upset by edging the Shipwrights 3-2 in Boston.  Baltimore had no trouble with Cleveland, trouncing the Longlegs 5-1.

 

The semifinals featured offensive fireworks in the Chimney Swifts – Brewmasters match.  The neophyte Brewmasters took an early 2-0, thanks to some great through balls served by Pat O’Dea to his forward Enoch Churm.    Baltimore finally woke up to slot 3 goals before halftime to take a 3-2 lead.  The Chimney Swifts lost their momentum after the halftime break, as the Brewmasters converted two free kicks into goals.  O’Dea struck from 35 and 40 yards out on shots that keeper/coach A.W. Stewart never had to chance to save.  While Milwaukee tried to retreat into a defensive shell, they couldn’t withstand the continued Chimney Swifts forays at goal.  In the dying minutes, an errant cross from Swift winger Alxander Marks slid through the hands of Brewmaster keeper Oskar Feil for the final goal of the match. 

 

The American Cup final was held at Union Park in Baltimore.  The Chimney Swifts learned their lesson from the semi-final scare and began attacking with full steam.  The West Side Kicks’ goal was under assault from the first until the 90th minute.  Chicago defended valiantly but eventually a 75th minute through ball to James Holder allowed the Chimney Swift inside left to score.  The West Side Kicks were disorganized after the ensuing kickoff, as they tried to assume a more offensive posture.  Baltimore Inside Right Alexander Wallace found a hole in the Chicago defense in the penalty area during a throw-in.  Right halfback Fred Davies threw him the ball, Wallace turned and found the far post open.  In the waning moments, Chicago scored a consolation goal after the Chimney Swifts’ left fullback slipped trying to track down a through ball.  Chicago’s Chris Fry, Golden Ball and Boot winner, took advantage of the opportunity and beat Stewart on a one-on-one.  With the final whistle, Baltimore thus completed the double – taking both the AAAFL title and American Cup.

 

At the AAAFL Annual Meeting, President Irvin announced that the NAFL section would be expanding for the 1902-1903 season.  “A number of the American League baseball clubs have seen the success and will be fielding association football teams.  I can’t definitively say all of them will at this time, but rest assured most of them will.”

 

American Football Association President Turner also spoke at the banquet regarding the NAFL section.  “We were encouraged by the success of the NAFL teams in the American Cup against the AAAFL squads.  If we can have a successful season with a full slate of teams, and we can see continued competitiveness in the American Cup, I think we’ll be in a position to start having a relegation/promotion process.”

 

Also at the Annual Meeting, awards were given to the Top 11.

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I would be interested to see how the two Chicago teams fare in the years ahead. Do you think one of the teams will end up moving decades from now?

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13 hours ago, neo_prankster said:

I would be interested to see how the two Chicago teams fare in the years ahead. Do you think one of the teams will end up moving decades from now?

I'm planning on establishing relegation and promotion in a few seasons, so they will likely face off more often.  I'm not thinking that teams will move.  Soccer clubs around the world tend not to do that.  There will be renaming and perhaps clubs combining in the future.

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On 8/3/2018 at 10:01 PM, neo_prankster said:

I would be interested to see how the two Chicago teams fare in the years ahead. Do you think one of the teams will end up moving decades from now?

I'm planning on establishing relegation and promotion in a few seasons, so they will likely face off more often.  I'm not thinking that teams will move.  Soccer clubs around the world tend not to do that.  There will be renaming and perhaps clubs combining in the future.

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There was a temporary crisis in Milwaukee, as the Milwaukee Brewers baseball club decided to move to Baltimore.  President Karel and the local leadership in the Brew City was able to negotiate with Blatz Brewery, who had built an association football stadium for the Brewmasters, to take over ownership of the club.

 

The new Baltimore franchise decided to form their own association football, despite the presence of the AAAFL's Chimney Swifts.   As to the team's obscure name, Owner Sydney Frank explained, "We were going to go with 'The Banners', since the 'Star Spangled Banner' was composed here.  However, we heard rumors that there was going to be a tennis club of that name.  So we went with 'Banneret' instead, who was a knight who commanded his own troops in battle, under his own banner.  The Bannerets will play in Oriole Park.

 

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