SASH uncovers footage of first overseas tour by a US club, Bethlehem Steel FC’s 1919 Scandinavian Tour


September 24, 2020

SASH Uncovers Footage of First Overseas Tour by a professional US club, Bethlehem Steel FC’s 1919 Scandinavian Tour

The Society for American Soccer History is pleased to announce it has uncovered the earliest known film footage of a US club soccer team playing overseas. The two clips are also believed to be the earliest known footage of a professional US soccer team in match play.

The footage, from Bethlehem Steel FC’s Scandinavian tour in 1919, consists of two clips.

The first clip, 108 seconds long, is from the first game of the tour, a 2-2 draw with Allmänna Idrottsklubben (AIK) at Stockholm Olympic Stadium on August 10, 1919. The line-up of players beginning at 25 secs is from left to right: Thomas “Whitey” Fleming, Fred Pepper, Archie Stark, Harry Ratican, James “Jimmy” Wilson, William Duncan, John “Jock” Ferguson, Thomas Murray, James Campbell, George McKelvey, William Forest.

The second clip, 84 seconds long, shows Bethlehem in its third match of the tour, a 2-1 win over a select Swedish Provinces team at Stockholm Olympic Stadium on August 17, 1919.

Bethlehem Steel played 14 matches — 13 in Sweden and one in Denmark — during the tour between August 10 and September 24, 1919, winning seven, drawing five, and losing two.

The footage was found in the collection of the Swedish Film Institute in Stockholm and is from the Svenska Biografteaterns Veckorevy (Swedish Cinema Theater Weekly Review) newsreel series.

The Society was able to acquire the footage thanks to the generosity of those who contributed to a recent gofundme campaign. Thank you to everyone who contributed.

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