By Emily Beliveau, Digital Projects Assistant
For the next several weeks, soccer fans everywhere will be consumed with the geo-political sports drama of the World Cup. Going back to June 1911 in Huron County soccer history (19 years before the first World Cup), there was a local rivalry playing out between Seaforth and Brucefield.
Over the course of June and July 1911, Seaforth and Brucefield played a series of games to determine who would advance to the semi-finals at the intermediate district level. After the game on 9 June 1911, the Huron Expositor printed a recap of the match, dancing around the delicate issue of disputed refereeing and fair play.
9 JUNE 1911
Football.–An intermediate game was played in the village on Friday evening last between the Rovers and the Hurons of Seaforth, which resulted in a victory for Brucefield by a score of two to one. We are in receipt of a letter dealing with the game, from which we judge considerable hard feeling has arisen and also that, as far as Brucefield is concerned, the rulings of the referee were not satisfactory to the home team. If, As our correspondent contents, the referee was incapable and partial, it is a matter of regret, and as we have said on previous occasions, is a matter which should be taken up by the association, as incompetent or partial officials are often the cause of much dissatisfaction and considerable hard feelings, not only among the teams, but the spectators as well. However, we do not think any good can come of publishing strictures, which would only add to the ill feeling which now apparently exists. It is right and proper that each team should endeavor to win by all fair means, but this should and can be done without creating bad feelings between communities. For this reason we ask the forgiveness of our correspondent for not publishing the letter in question. Let us have good clean sport, but let us keep away from bickering and hard feelings. –Editor Expositor.
A week later in Seaforth, the Hurons “walloped the Brucefield Rovers”, winning 2-0. In this instance, the Huron Expositor deemed the refereeing to be fair:
The game throughout was fast and clean. Norman Fiebig, of Stratford, handled the whistle and did so very well. He continually kept the players in check and whenever dirty work was exhibited he gave the offenders a rest.
Seaforth’s luck changed, however. The last two games of the series were played on June 30 and July 7, and Seaforth lost both, despite entering with a two goal lead. A line of disappointed Huron fans watched on June 26 as Seaforth was beat 4-0.
After this defeat, it was improbable (but not impossible) that the Hurons would advance to the semi-finals given the number of goals they would need to make up, and indeed, the Rovers beat them once again on July 7, by a single goal (1-0). Here are the victors as they appeared in their team photo a year earlier (the 1911 lineup was similar–according to names mentioned in the Expositor recaps, the Wright brothers, Turner, Mustard, and Aitkenhead continued playing the following season).