One of the prized trophies in the Hall of Fame's collection in Vaughan is the Toronto Daily Star International Trophy. It seems to have been presented to the Toronto and District Football Association in 1913 by the Toronto Daily Star for international competition between the various national groups playing in the city at that time.
To have players who hailed particularly from England, Scotland and Ireland form teams from the local clubs to play one another seemed to be the pattern in many cities at that time, not only in Canada but also in the United States, no doubt given their isolation from the European scene. However, most significantly, and no doubt much the surprise of many people, in Toronto, a team made up of Canadian born players, representing Canada also completed.
The rules of this competition as published in the 1922 Handbook of the Toronto and District Football Association include the following in Item two. “The teams for the respective countries shall be selected by a Committee, representing each country, appointed at the Annual General Meeting of the Association in each year. All selected teams shall be submitted to the Directors for approval. The Directors shall also decide all questions or disputes in connection with such teams or of the qualifications of any player thereof.”
Item three contains the following. “The competition shall be conducted on the league principle, and shall be controlled by the Directors of this Association, who shall take all gate receipts and pay all expenses.”
The first game for the International Trophy was played between Scotland and Ireland at the Rosedale Grounds on September 27, 1913, and won by Scotland 2-0. The second game in the series was played on the same ground one week later between teams representing England and Canada and ended in a 3-3 tie.
The competition continued through the years of World War One, however, by the time that war had ended interest had waned, and competition ended in season 1921. It was however, revived for 1924, but only for a year, but restarted in 1927, by which time it had been shortened from a league competition to a cup contest. It continued from 1927 to 1931 when it ended.
However the significant thing as far as Canadian soccer is concerned is, not that it was played, but that a team of Canadian players competed. This during a time when, in these days, it is thought that Canadians had turned their backs on soccer “the foreign sport.” In addition the Canadian team did extremely well against British players often with considerable experience in professional soccer in the British Isles. Another notable fact is that, international caps were awarded to the players that competed.
Canada won the International Trophy in at least 1927, 1928 and 1929 and in 1927 beat England 7-1. Games were played at Ulster Stadium, Conboy Park, Toronto Scottish Field, Varsity Stadium, Dunlop Field, Rosedale, Eaton’s Field, Broadview Field, Ossington Park and Gunns Stadium.
A regular in the Canadian team was goalkeeper Bobby Kirk, who played his club soccer for Earlscourt-Kenwoods in the 1920s, but in the 30s starred for Toronto Ulster United. Other familiar names in the Canadian line up were W. Stupard (Mimico Beach), T. Tigert (Dunlops), F. Heintzman (Mimico Beach), Ernie Fidler (Davenport Albion), Archie Robinson (Overseas-Hearts), Rutherford (Overseas), while most notably the squad in its early years contained Dr. William Clarke Givens, born in Toronto, October 14, 1889, who after serving in the Canadian Expeditionary Force in World War One went on to organize the team in the late 1920s.
However, one mystery remains with regard to the Toronto Star International Trophy. None of plaques on the plinth reflect the names of the international teams that won it, and while the cup was first played for in 1913, the first plaque is for 1908. A check of the names on the base show that most of the names reflect the winners of the First Division of the Toronto and District League.
Published in Inside Soccer on-line edition in December 2013
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