Formed in 1947 by a group of former professional and amateur players, the Philadelphia Oldtimers Soccer Association has had a long and storied history in the Philadelphia area including its Hall of Fame (with over 400 inductees), its promotion of the game, its commitment to the community and its support of youth and high school soccer.
FORMING THE NATIONAL SOCCER HALL OF FAME
Not known to most in the world of soccer is the fact that the Philadelphia Oldtimers Soccer Association was actually the forerunner of the National Soccer Hall of Fame. In 1950 the “Oldtimers” formed the National Soccer Hall of Fame, inducting its first 15 members. In 1953 the administration of the National Soccer Hall of Fame was transferred to the United States Soccer Football Association (USSFA). The National Soccer Hall of Fame is now under the direction of USSoccer.
The “Oldtimers” first meeting took place in a home the Kensington section of Philadelphia. Many of these founders were direct products of the Lighthouse Boys/Mens Club, which had two locations in the Kensington section of Philadelphia. The Kensington name was taken from the section of Great Britian where the manufacturing of textiles flourished. Many people from England, Ireland and Scotland settled in Kensington and worked in the factories and mills. Other European nationalities also immigrated especially the huge German influx that settled in and around Philadelphia. They founded rock-solid organizations and clubs that thrive today, notably: United German Hungarians, Vereinigung Erzebirge and the Phoenix Sport Club. In addition to improving the quality of life for themselves and their families, the immigrants, in their leisure time, played their “national pastime.” They organized teams and leagues and developed interest in the world’s greatest game.
The Lighthouse Organization, with its many fields and indoor facility, afforded an excellent place for this sport to develop and grow. The P.O.S.A., the ethnic clubs, and the Lighthouse Boys Club, with its alumni, laid the cornerstone for the expansion of soccer into areas contiguous to Philadelphia. Job and family requirements dictated the move from city to suburbs. The alumni would form clubs, create intramural leagues, organize clinics and interest new neighbors and friends in the merits of this great sport.
For many years the P.O.S.A. would organize and sponsor high school all-star teams from the various leagues in the area, to play not only against each other, but also to compete against teams from other cities such as New York and Baltimore. The “Oldtimers” also made an impact by sponsoring many events and tournaments involving youth soccer clubs.
The “Oldtimers” had met faithfully from 1947 to 2008, to plan the year’s activities. The highlight of each year was always the annual banquet in the spring. At this banquet, awards were given for players, coaches, referees and clubs of the year along with special awards for service to the soccer community. But the high point of the evening was always the inductions into the Hall of Fame.
The organization would like to thank the hard-working and dedicated past presidents who provided the much needed leadership through the years. They were: Bill Hankins, Charles Dalton, Bob White, Chick Fallon, Bob Wimsey, Mel Cassidy, Ernie Knowles and Jimmy Kidd.
TRANSFORMATION FOR THE FUTURE
In 2008, the Philadelphia Oldtimers Soccer Association, in an effort to meet the changing soccer environment, became the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame. After sixty-two memorable years, the “Oldtimers” realized that the world of soccer was changing dramatically and that the organization needed a new approach. In order to facilitate this change, new officers were elected and a plan devised for the future of the organization. Bob Kozlowski as President and Gordon Dunlop, Jr. as Vice-president, were chosen to lead the way with this transition.
The new organization, the Southeastern Pennsylvania Soccer Hall of Fame, has stated that it is firmly committed to continuing the Oldtimers’ legacy and will perpetuate its venerable Hall of Fame. The very popular annual spring banquet, which has become a “who’s who in soccer” event, will also be continued and expanded.
This transition has enabled the organization to expand its reaches into the surrounding areas of Southeastern Pennsylvania, and initiate new programs to help build the soccer community. The sponsorship of signature events for youth and a pre-season, boys and girls high school tournament have been initiated. Partnerships are being developed with various soccer entities including leagues, clubs, schools, sponsors, organizations, and the Philadelphia Union Soccer Club. The Hall of Fame also is involved in and supports various projects that enhance the sport of soccer and make life better for people in our community.