The Cummings Report

Posted on January 28, 2013 12:19 am

At the conclusion of the United States team’s trip to the 1930 World Cup in Uruguay, the manager of the team, Wilfred Cummings, wrote a report to the USFA on the trip. The report is much longer than I have room for here, more than 4,000 words, but here are some highlights from it:

“We docked [in Montevideo] at about 1:30 p.m. on the 18th day [of the trip] in a heavy downpour, it being the 92nd consecutive day of rain in the Uruguayan capital….It being winter below the equator the cold and penetrating dampness gave us much concern. However, with plenty of blankets and most of our clothes still on, we enjoyed a good night’s sleep, for we were all doggedly tired….it was acknowledged that we have the best conditioned outfit to participate in the World’s Series…”

“The day [of the first game] was sultry and dreary, the field being a bed of wet, sticky clay with pools of water too numerous to count. It was nevertheless to our liking [American Soccer League players were used to wet conditions]….The first twenty minutes were like hours of anguish, it taking that length of time for the boys’ nervousness to wear off. Our halfbacks were mis-hitting and our forwards were away off, but our backs and goalie were unbeatable….Midway through the second half, a beautiful run by [James] Brown on the right side and an unselfish lob over the goalie’s head to [Bert] Patenaude in the center chalked up [goal] number three and marked one of the most brilliant plays in the entire tournament…”

“The cheers that broke on our entrance [to the stadium for the semifinal against Argentina] seemed to indicate that all Uruguay as well as our ‘little American colony’ were with us….Judging from the published reports and photos in the morning newspapers calling attention to the guns and knives which the police frisked from [fans] at the docks, the poor referee had lots to think about. In fact everybody, including the players, were frisked before entering the stadium gates…”

“The game started with a bang, and while play appeared most even, it could be noticed that our long wing-passes were falling short and the usually long kicks of our backs, that generally crossed the half-way mark, were dropping in our own half of the field. The immense size of the playing pitch [it was 100 yards wide by 138 long] treating us badly. Nevertheless, our halfbacks and backs coped with the situation, as did the inside forwards. The game had not gone but four minutes when our goalkeeper Jimmy Douglas had his knee badly twisted and after nineteen minutes of play Ralph Tracy had his right leg broken [it was not really broken, but Tracy didn't return for the second half]. But Douglas stuck to his guns and big Bill Gonsalves moved back from inside right to center-half while Tracy switched to outside right…”

“We went out for the second half with only ten men (no substitutes being permitted), to do or die in the attempt against tremendous odds, but the vigorous Argentinians got [their second goal] on some nice inside forward play, with the one-legged Douglas stuck in his tracks…”

“With Tracy off the field, we took a sporting chance, moving [Andy] Auld from left half to inside right forward and left back George Moorhouse to outside left. James Gallager and Gonsalves were getting a terrific pelting but wouldn’t budge one inch. Meanwhile, right back Alex Wood had to stick close to Douglas, who could hardly hobble. Left winger Bart McGhee alternated between the halfback and fullback positions as advantage indicated. It was no use…”

“We duly complimented the captain of Argentina [which won, 6-1] and gave our cheers as they left the field. I honestly believe that the Argentinians were a little better team than we were….However, I believe that the unbiased footballer would have given us a good chance to win if we could have kept our eleven players in the game and uninjured.”

Personally, I can’t imagine them winning, even without the injuries. Argentina was just too good. But that’s all speculation anyway.

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