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On this day in 1957, the quest began...


sstackho

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(well, not exactly on this day - I just missed it...)

On June 22, 1957, Canada played its ever first World Cup Qualifier match in preparation of the 1958 World Cup in Sweden. Canada, Mexico and USA participated in the North American group, playing home and away, with the group winner to meet the winner of the Central American and Caribbean group.

A convincing 5-1 win over the USA in Toronto was the result! Unfortunately I couldn't find any information on the scorers.

Subsequent losses to Mexico of 3-0 in Mexico City and 0-2 in Toronto meant that Canada would not progress to the next round, but the campaign ended on a high note with a 2-3 victory over the US in St. Louis.

Although the 1958 qualification campaign did not go as hoped, that was the last major disappointment to be experienced in the world of Canadian soccer, and all has gone swimmingly well ever since. The End.

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Some quick facts:

The scorers were Brian Philley, Gogie Stewart, Norm McLeod, and Art Hughes with two. Keogh scored for the Americans. Canada's lineup was almost entirely from BC, in part because the NSL (the precursor of the CPSL/CSL) had been outlawed during an ongoing battle with the OSA. None of the Ontario-based players at the top level were eligible, though a few from lower or American leagues were called up. I think all but one or two of those who played on the the 1957 team have since been inducted into the Hall of Fame. The attendance was 7,567 in Toronto. The team then went on to Mexico City and 75,000. Must have been quite an experience for the Canadian amateurs.

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Good thread, sstackho. It would be nice to have more posted about Canadian soccer history. Maybe a "This Day In Canadian Soccer History" thread.

One correction: both matches against Mexico were played in Mexico City due to financial reasons.

Additional facts:

- Canada wore blue jerseys!

- The Canadian roster was selected from regional and provincial all-star teams that participated in a series of friendlies against Lokomotiv Moscow in 1956 and Tottenham Hotspur in 1957. It turned out that most of the players selected from these all-star teams were from BC, as Glenn said, and in fact the starting lineup for the first two World Cup games was the same BC all-star lineup that had handed Tottenham their only defeat on their Canadian tour. The American team was actually a club called Kutis SC from St. Louis that had lost only one game all year.

- Prior to this, Canada hadn't played since the New Zealand tour of 1927. Following this, Canada didn't play again until 1970 World Cup qualifying in 1968 (at least not against another country, as there were matches against British and Soviet clubs in 1960, which is a whole story in itself!). Canada entered the 1962 World Cup but had to withdraw due to financial and/or scheduling reasons, then did not enter the 1966 World Cup at all.

Some of this info comes from Colin Jose's book, but most of it (and there is a lot more, describing the preparation, travel and actual games) are from a booklet published in 1997 and researched and written by our very own Robert (yes, the guy who is generally dismissed around here as nothing but a CSA basher). Robert, if you're reading this, in the booklet you say that there would be more to come — are there any more?

Neither of these sources say anything about the NSL players being outlawed. Glenn, is there another source out there, or just something you know about? (I'm not questioning your claim, I'm just curious about resources on Canadian soccer history.)

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quote:Originally posted by DJT

Neither of these sources say anything about the NSL players being outlawed. Glenn, is there another source out there, or just something you know about? (I'm not questioning your claim, I'm just curious about resources on Canadian soccer history.)

I got this from a Toronto Telegram Article published June 21, 1957. I think the author was Matt Dodds. I don't have the article at hand, but I believe it was a running dispute between the NSL and the OFA (as I think it was still called). The details are fuzzy, but it may have involved the OFA scheduling matches that conflicted with NSL matches -- that was certainly a source of contention between the two in the 1930s. The article talked about the disunity in Canadian soccer hurting our chances of qualifying, as the only eastern players on the team were three former NSLers playing in Rochester (Ostap Steckiw, Walter Zakaluznyi, and Myron Bereza), as well as Alex Shaw, who I think played in the local Metro League with Thistles.

I suspect the NSL could have provided a fair bit of talent, but whether it could have made the difference against Mexico is debatable. It's a shame we didn't have a more organized national team program in those days. From the accounts of the games in Mexico, Ken Pears put on a brilliant display. I wonder how far some of these guys could have gone with more international exposure? Then again, they were all amateurs, so they had lives at home. They may not have wanted to become professional even if given the chance.

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