In 1950, the Philadelphia “Old-timers” Association founded the National Soccer Hall of Fame to honor the achievements of American soccer players.
Located in Frisco, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, the National Soccer Hall of Fame became a private, non-profit institution founded in 1979. It honors U.S. soccer achievements. Among American soccer fans, induction into the hall is considered the highest honor.
Lets review the original soccer player inductees who were the first award this honor in 1950.
Jock starred for the great Bethlehem Steel teams before 1920, and his career was winding down in the early years of the American Soccer League.
John Ferguson first crossed the Atlantic in 1912, having played for the Scottish clubs Arbroath, St. Johnstone, Dundee, and then the English club Leeds City, now Leeds United.
When he joined the great steel club, Jock missed only one cup tie game in eight seasons and played in five U.S. Open Cup finals and five American Cup Finals.
He made the trip to Sweden with Bethlehem Steel in 1919. When the American Soccer League opened in 1921-22, Ferguson played for the eventual champions Philadelphia and won a championship medal again the following season as a member of the J&P Coats team.
John Ferguson returned to Bethlehem Steel for 1923-24 and remained with the Steelmen until 1928, although only being used in a backup role.
Years Played: 1925
Gonsalves was registered in nearby Fall River, Massachusetts, where his parents lived. Known to everyone as “Billy” he began his career with the Pioneer, Charlton Mill, and Liberal clubs of Fall River.
Then in 1927, Adelino Gonsalves moved to the Boston area, where he led Cambridge’s semi-professional Lusitania Recreation club to the Boston and District championship.
This resulted in a professional contract with the Boston Wonder Workers of the American Soccer League and national acclaim as the finest American-born soccer player of his or any other day.
Gonsalves was a big man with tremendous shooting power, and he quickly made his presence felt in a Boston team full of experienced Scottish professionals.
After two seasons in the Hub, Adelino Gonsalves went home to Fall River, where he teamed with another local product, Bert Patenaude, in one of the greatest American club teams of all time. Gonsalves and Patenaude also played in the highly successful U.S. World Cup team of 1930 and led Fall River to the U.S. Open Cup championships of 1930 and 1931.
In 1932 Gonsalves moved on to play for New Bedford Whalers, then onto the St. Louis clubs Stix, Baer, Fuller, and Central Breweries, leading them to the national championship. In the process, he won six national championship medals in a row.
In 1934 Adelino Gonsalves played in his second World Cup. This time he was playing as a central midfielder.
In 1936 and 1937, as a member of the St. Louis Shamrocks, his team reached the final again, only this time he finished on the losing side.
He missed the final of 1938, but in the spring of 1939 found Billy in the final one more time, and again he was on the losing side as a member of the Chicago Manhattan Beer team that Brooklyn St. Mary Celtic beat.
During World War II, he played for Brooklyn Hispano winning two more Open Cup medals in 1943 and 1944, bringing his total count of winners medal count to a record eight.
Years Played: 1930-1934
Born in Scotland to English parents, Sheldon Govier played for famous Scottish junior teams such as Cambuslang, Rutherglen, Blantyre, and Uddington.
The family moved to the United States and Chicago’s south side in 1891 and began work at an early age in the Pullman shops. He played his first game for the famous Pullman A.C. team of Chicago against Detroit when he was only 15 years of age.
In 1895 Sheldon Govier moved to St. Louis and, for two years, played for the St. Louis Cycling Club. Then, returning to the Windy City, he captained the Chicago team in the league formed by Charles Cominsky and other baseball men.
When this league was disbanded, it was back to the Pullman club, which won the Jackson Cup and the Peel Pennant, before moving again to the Wanderers, Woodlawn’s, and Buxton Red Sox, before once again returning to the Pullman club.
Govier was a member of the Chicago All-Star team that defeated the touring Pilgrims from England in 1905. As a reward for 25 years of active service to the game in the U.S. and for his high character as a sportsman, he was presented with a statue of himself by Peter Peel for so long the top man in Chicago soccer. Govier also excelled in baseball, rugby, and cycling.
Sheldon Govier was an Alderman for the Ninth Ward in Chicago from 1918 to 1932 and was a Democratic Committeeman for the same ward from 1926 until his death.
He was elected Clerk of the Appellate Court of Cook County in 1932 and re-elected in 1938 and 1944. Just before his death, he was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.
Sheldon was added to the US Soccer Hall Of Fame in 1950.
Millard Tuttle Lang
An all-around athlete, Millard Tuttle Lang attended Baltimore Polytechnic High School, where he played soccer in the USA for three years and captained the squad to two championships in addition to playing lacrosse, basketball, football, and tennis and competing in track.
He entered Johns Hopkins University in 1930, where he played football and lacrosse. In 1932 he was a member of the U.S. Lacrosse team at the Olympics in Los Angeles when lacrosse was an exhibition sport.
In 1934 he graduated from Johns Hopkins with a bachelor of engineering degree and subsequently worked in Cleveland, Chicago, and Baltimore as a marketing representative for the Westinghouse Electric Company.
Millard Tuttle Lang began playing soccer as a 13-year-old in the Baltimore Police Athletic League and, following his graduation from Johns Hopkins, became a member of the Baltimore Canton team when it joined the American Soccer League for the 1934-35 season.
He remained with Canton in 1935-36, finishing among the leading goal scorers in both seasons. When his job took him to Cleveland in 1936, he played for Cleveland Graphite Bronze, and when he moved on to Chicago, he was a member of the Chicago Sparta squad that won the U.S. Open Cup.
However, he did not play in the final. Instead, he left Sparta for the 1939-40 season and joined Chicago American Eagles returning to Sparta for the following two seasons.
Back in Baltimore in 1942, Millard Tuttle Lang played for the Baltimore Americans and coached the club in the 1944-45 season.
On his retirement as a player, he became president of the Maryland and D.C. State Association and president, general manager, and part-owner of the Baltimore Rockets of the American Soccer League.
In addition to his induction into the National Soccer Hall of Fame in 1950, Lang was inducted into the U.S. Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1978.
Bob played for the Scottish First Division club St. Mirren before moving to the United States in 1911. In the U.S., he played for a string of clubs, including Tacony, Brooklyn Field Club, and Bethlehem Steel, where in 1915, he scored 54 goals in 33 games, Babcock and Wilcox of Bayonne, New Jersey, and Robins Dry Dock.
In 1925 Robert Millar played for the U.S. against Canada twice. His American Soccer League career took him to J&P Coats, New York Giants, Indiana Flooring, and New York Nationals, where he was coaching during the 1930 World Cup.
Robert Millar won U.S. Open Cup winners medals with Brooklyn Field Club in 1914, Bethlehem Steel in 1915 and 1919, and New York Nationals in 1928.
He also coached the Nationals and Newark. However, Millar’s most extraordinary claim to fame is as the victorious coach of the U.S. World Cup team of 1930, a group that took the world by surprise and reached the semi-final.
Years Played: 1925
Henry Leo Jay Ratican
Henry Leo Jay Ratican played for Christian Brothers College in St. Louis and then continued with St. Louis University. His abilities soon attracted the famous Ben Millers club, and he played for them from 1911 to 1915.
He then moved east to join Bethlehem Steel, where he won U.S. Open Cup medals in 1918 and 1919 and toured with the club to Scandinavia in 1919.
Henry Leo Jay Ratican won a third Open Cup medal playing for Robins Dry Dock in 1921 and was on the losing side with Todd Shipyards in 1922. Ratican also toured Sweden for the second time with the St. Louis team in 1920.
Coach of West Point Military Academy in the 1922-23 season. Coach of the St. Louis all-Stars in 1947 and became vice chairman of the Missouri Commission.
Henry Leo Jay Ratican was added to the National Soccer Hall Of Fame in 1950.
Charles H. Spalding
Charles H. Spalding was a star of the All-American team, which made the first overseas trip by a U.S. national team when it toured Scandinavia in 1916 and scored one of the three U.S. goals in the international against Sweden.
He played in five of the six games on tour, including the international against Norway. A versatile athlete at Northeast Manual Training School in the Kensington district of Philadelphia, he played soccer for the famous Lighthouse Boys Club and independent semi-pro baseball.
Charles H. Spalding played his club soccer in Philadelphia with the Kensington, Victor, and Disston clubs and in the American Soccer League with Harrison in the 1921-22 season, and then with Fleischer Yarn in 1924-25.
On the 1916 tour of Scandinavia, he also played baseball for the American team against the baseball team of Vasteras, picking up two base hits. Later at 29, Charles H. Spalding became an outfielder with the Philadelphia National League baseball franchise and, in 1927, appeared in 115 games.
In 1928 he moved to the American League to play for the Washington Senators, but an injury restricted his appearances to 16 games.
Charles H. Spalding subsequently moved to the International Baseball League and played for Rochester and Buffalo. In 1934, Jimmy Wilson, his lifelong friend from the Kensington district, then the Philadelphia manager, named him first base coach, a position he held for three seasons.
He was out of baseball until 1941 when Wilson again appointed him as a first base coach, this time with the Chicago Cubs.
Years Played: 1916
Archibald MacPherson Stark
The most prolific goal scorer in American soccer history, Archie came to the United States as a young man. Archibald MacPherson Stark began his senior soccer career with the Kearny Scots-Americans before switching to the Babcock and Wilcox team in nearby Bayonne.
World War One interrupted his playing days, and he spent time in the U.S. Army. With the war’s end, he resumed his career with the Erie Athletic Association team in New Jersey before crossing the Hudson River in 1921 to play for the New York Football Club in the professional American Soccer League, where he was used mainly at inside right.
But Stark’s career took off, and he gained national prominence when Bethlehem Steel signed him as a center forward at the start of the 1924-25 season.
In his first season with the famous Steel club, Archibald MacPherson Stark scored 67 goals in 44 league games and added three more in the ASL cup competition.
Between 1921 and 1932, he scored over 300 goals in American and Eastern professional soccer leagues and ASL cup games, plus 29 more in U.S. Open Cup games.
With Bethlehem Steel, he won the American Soccer League championship in 1927, the Eastern Soccer League championship in 1929, and the U.S. Open Cup in 1926.
Archibald MacPherson Stark also played for the United States against Canada twice in 1925, scoring four times in the 6-1 American win at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Selected to the U.S. World Cup team in 1930, he turned down the offer citing business reasons but later went on tour to Europe as a guest player with Fall River.
When the first American Soccer League collapsed following the combined effects of an internal dispute with the United States Football Association and the Great Depression, Archibald MacPherson Stark signed to play in the second ASL for Kearny Irish-Americans.
Archie Stark, the most significant American goal scorer of all time, ranks 43rd on the all-time list of the world’s top first-division goal scorers with his 300 goals.
Years Played: 1925
After playing as a right full-back as a professional with St. Johnstone of the Scottish League in 1896 and 1897, Peter Wilson emigrated to the United States the following year.
He settled in New Jersey, the country’s strongest soccer center, and played for some years with the Scottish Americans.
Peter Wilson then joined the Paterson Rangers and later the great Pawtucket team. Finally, moving to Pennsylvania, he played with the Hibernians of Philadelphia. Peter Wilson was an active player for 25 years.
Peter was added to the National Soccer Hall Of Fame in 1950.
Rhett is an Australian-born, globe trotter who is a UEFA ‘A’ Licence Soccer Coach. With his family, he has traveled and coached soccer in more than 30 countries, while attending World Cups, European Championships, and some of the biggest local derbies in the world!