American Football Association




In 1884, the American Football Association was organized at a meeting held in the Clark Thread Company’s hose house in Ogden Street, NJ. For many years theirheadquarters were based at Continental Hotel, Newark NJ. It was decided to hold an annual competition and to offer a silver cup to be known as the American FootballAssociation Challenge Cup, the winner of the final round each year is to be presented with the cup by the Association and the name of the winning club to be suitably inscribed on the trophy.

Thirteen (13) clubs entered the competition in 1884, as follows: ONT’S, Almas, Tiffany Rovers, Thistles, Domestics and Riversides, all of Newark; Kearny Rangers of Kearny,NJ.; New York Football Club, New York Thistles, Paterson Football Club, Ansonia FC, of Ansonia, Conn.; Fall River Rovers and East End Football Club of Fall River, Mass.

The American Football Association was the governing body for many organizations. Growing in size, this association comprised of 15 clubs in 1889 and in 1890 this Association comprised of 18 clubs from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The ONT’s after winning the Cup decided to tour Canada and played their top teams. This was such a success that The American Football Association organised their first International Matches between the Canadian Football Team and a select team made up of players from teams within the American Football Association. The first match was played in Galt in 1885 with a win to the Canadians. The second match was played in Newark on Thanksgiving Day in 1886, this time the USA took the honours. On May 19, 1887, the American Football Association sent a team to Canada to play in matches there. In 1891 The American Football Association and the New England Football League planned to send a team to England to play teams there.

In 1899 the AFA abandoned its annual competition due to a combination of strikes from the Fall River district throwing thousands of men idle in the “Down East” forcing clubs there to withdraw from the competition and in the New York and New Jersey districts, professionalism crept into the game, with prominent clubs showing their predatory efforts by securing crack players. As a result there was no competition between 1899 and 1906.



In 1906 Hal Holden formed a meeting to discuss the advisability of reorganising the American Football Association. The meeting was attended by all the managers of clubs in this section and the reorganization of the Association was immediately effective.

The Clubs which joined this reorganization included True Blues (Paterson), Paterson Rangers, Celtics of Paterson, West Hudsons (Kearny), Kearney Stars, Riversides and Caledonians of Kearny, Bronx Rangers, Burns Club of New York, O.N.T. and Scottish Americans of Newark. By 1909 season, the Caledonians of Trenton, Clark AA, Newark FC, Jersey AC (Jersey City) and the Elites of Trenton also joined the Association.

This reformation of The American Football Association not only became the governing body for the following organizations: The Foot Ball Association of Pennsylvania, New England Association Foot Ball League, Boston Association Foot Ball League, Connecticut State League, National League, Michigan State League, Inter-City Amateur Soccer League of New Jersey, and the Sons of St George League, Newark NJ, but the AFA created a fellowship with the Foot Ball Association, Limited of England and regards itself as the supreme governing body in the United States. It essays to perform the functions of a National Body but at best its sphere or influence is limited to its immediate territory, outside of which even its existence is unknown. The AFA may not be the best conducted soccer foot ball organization in the world, but for territory covered, genuine interest, and gate drawing power, it has every other association foot ball competition in this country beaten by a mile.

Around 1911 was when disagreements emerged as to the future of Foot Ball in the USA. It was said that the American Organization must of necessity be absolutely autonomous and owe no other allegiance to England than a community of effort and interest in the promotion of the game and in its protection from anything savouring of scandal. Disciplinary Orders issued by either of the two national governments must be absolutely and unquestioningly upheld by the other, even if to the one farther away such action may appear on the surface to be unjust to an individual or a club. Playing rules should likewise be identical.

In 1912 talks had commenced between the newly established American Amateur Foot Ball Association and FIFA, however, England, it appears, was using an application of the AFA and had also submitted it to FIFA for approval. Instead of working together to get the government of the sport on a fair basis in this country, an argument ensued against the aspirations of the AAFA and FIFA would not accept either application unless one association was formed.

In view of the fact that the International Federation refused to give the AFA, the greatly sought  recognition as the ruling body here, in spite of Englands uwavering support, led to all factions facilitating talks toward an amalgamation and seek a unified front to gain international recognition as a country independent of any body.

The AFA was one of the founding Associations of the United States of America Foot Ball Association in 1913 allowing peace between the associations.



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