Soccer has some very deep roots in Central Alberta

The first organized soccer match in Red Deer took place in May 1897

Springtime brings not only warmer weather, but also the start of the season for many outdoor sports.

Traditionally, one of the most popular of the warm weather sports was soccer (originally better known as football). This may have been due to the large numbers of immigrants from the British Isles and Europe.

The sport has some very deep roots in Central Alberta.

The first organized soccer match in Red Deer took place in May 1897, when the community had less than 200 residents.

The inaugural game took place between a team captained by the local Presbyterian student minister Rev. J. Donnell and a team of Methodists from the Red Deer Indian Industrial School.

The first out-of-town match took place at the official celebrations of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in Innisfail on June 22nd, 1897. Red Deer lost to the hometown team by a score of 2 to 1.

In the early 1900s, as large numbers of new settlers flooded into the region, soccer really took off as a popular team sport. The annual soccer matches between various Central Alberta teams at the Red Deer Dominion Day celebrations on July 1st were particularly popular.

An indication of the passion of many local players for the sport was demonstrated by a Scottish settler who lived east of Red Deer.

He used to walk several kilometres into town at least one evening a week to play soccer and, “Get a bit of exercise.”

The local competitions attracted some impressive trophies.

In 1908, Dr. Harold Snell, a local jeweler and optician, provided the Red Deer and District Football (soccer) League with a large silver shield.

It cost $100, at a time when a $1 per day was considered a pretty good wage.

In 1909, Edward Michener, Red Deer’s MLA, provided the impressive Michener Trophy, as the award for the Red Deer city league champions. That same year, the Red Deer News provided a cup for the local high school champions.

The year 1909 was also the year that former Alberta premier, A.C. Rutherford, provided the trophy for the provincial high school and collegiate champions.

Red Deer earned a prestigious place in the Alberta soccer scene by winning the Rutherford Cup in 1910 and 1911.

In 1910, the Citizens’ Cup was awarded to the winners of the regional soccer competition at Red Deer’s Dominion Day sports event.

This very large trophy soon became one of the leading provincial championship awards. It was frequently won by teams from Calgary and Edmonton.

The outbreak of the First World War in the summer of 1914 created a hiatus in soccer competition as most of the young men went overseas to fight in the War.

However, the sport revived in the early 1920s with high school, city and regional leagues being formed.

The Snell Shield continued to be the leading championship trophy in Central Alberta, while the Red Deer Citizens’ Cup continued to be one of the most prestigious championship trophies in the province.

By the mid-1920s, the real provincial powerhouse teams were those made up largely of Welshmen from the Ponoka Mental Hospital and the community of Wood River near Ponoka.

With the onset of the Great Depression of the 1930s, organized soccer on a regional and provincial level began to disappear.

The last competition for the Citizens’ Cup took place in 1930 when Wood River won it. The last winner of the Snell Shield was also the Wood River team in 1934.

In the 1950s, soccer again took off in Red Deer and area as the community experienced a tremendous boom and accompanying surge in population.

Fortunately the Citizens’ Cup was rediscovered in June 1960 in a closet in the Osborne (Ming) building in the 4900 block of Gaetz Avenue.

Not long afterwards, the Snell Shield was discovered in the basement of a house in the Mountview area.

Both the Snell Shield and the Citizens’ Cup now reside in the Red Deer Museum. The Michener Trophy is displayed in one of Red Deer’s Fire Halls.

Just Posted

Mustard Seed hosting ‘Seeds of Hope Gala’ this weekend

Mustard Seed is also taking over People’s Place operations in December

WATCH: New nature trail unveiled at Red Deer College for upcoming Canada Winter Games

New walkway the result of partnership between NOVA Chemicals, RDC and Canada Winter Games committee

WATCH: The province’s flu shot campaign is underway

Influenza immunizations are available across Red Deer free of charge

Red Deer RCMP investigate failed ATM theft attempt

A truck was driven through the doors of the Eastview IGA in hopes of stealing an ATM

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

19-year-old man faces charges after windows were smashed at three different businesses

Naked man jumping into Toronto shark tank a ‘premeditated’ stunt: official

The man swam in a tank at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Theft of $140,000 in machinery investigated in County of Wetaskiwin

Wetaskiwin RCMP investigate theft of pipe fusion equipment

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

NHL players say Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t impact them

NHL players say the legalization of marijuana in Canada won’t change how they go about their business.

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

Internal government documents show that more than one million jobs could be lost to automated vehicles, with ripple effects far beyond the likeliest professions.

Koreas agree to break ground on inter-Korean railroad

The rival Koreas are holding high-level talks Monday to discuss further engagement amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

Most Read