East Penn: A Commonwealth of Soccer

The King, Charles II called it “Penn’s Woods,” Pennsylvania in 1681 when he granted the expanse of land in North America to William Penn. Soon after, Penn began attracting people of every trade and persuasion to a new colony. In this colony, no man would live without freedom under the law. Penn stated, “You shall be governed by laws of your own making…”

On that principle, not only the state of Pennsylvania but also the United States would be founded. It would be a commonwealth founded on the agreement of the people for the common good.

Penn’s colony centered on Philadelphia, a city he placed between the two rivers, Delaware and Schuylkill to stand as the capital of the colony’s government but also the economic, industrial, social, and cultural center. In more ways than one, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as a whole grew out of that grid system that Penn drew for the city. Expansion pushed in all directions creating a thriving and rich community in the Eastern corner of the colony.

Penn’s city, named for the Greek words for “friendship” and “brother,” years after he died would be called the “Cradle of Liberty,” and the “Birthplace of America.” The very freedom and liberty we live under and the protections offered us in the First Amendment have roots in his “Holy Experiment,” the seeds of which were planted in the city.

Soccer in Eastern Pennsylvania too has its roots planted in the city. Like Pennsylvania, soccer grew from Philadelphia. The wealth of soccer knowledge and gameplay grew out of cities all across the United States. Eastern Pennsylvania is no exception. The founder and first president of the United States Soccer Federation, Dr. G. Randolph Manning stated before the founding of the Federation that “different foot ball [sic] metropoles,” were where the strength of soccer lay. We know from the founding of US Soccer that Philadelphia was one of those “metropoles.” From the city soccer spread to Montgomery, Bucks, Chester, Lancaster, Berks and Lehigh counties and from there across the eastern half of the state.

Hundreds of thousands of players, referees, administrators, and fans have played, managed, coached, or watched soccer on fields in Philadelphia, Reading, Lancaster, West Chester, Bethlehem, and Allentown and all over the Lehigh and Delaware Valleys. These places are hotbeds of the sport today and many are the elite of the organized amateur game.

The Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association is a Commonwealth of Soccer. Its leagues, clubs, players, and administrators are united by the common interest in soccer. They are organized for the general good and for 100 years have been developing and promoting the traditions of the sport.


(NOTE: This piece was written as the foreword to the History of the Eastern Pennsylvania Soccer Association and printed in the Centennial Celebration Souvenir Book)


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