Host City: St. Louis, United States
Venue(s): Francis Field, Washington University, St. Louis
Date Started: November 16, 1904
Date Finished: November 23, 1904
Format: Round-robin tournament.
The 1904 football (soccer) tournament was contested by three teams, two from the United States and one from Canada. The Canadian team was from Galt, Ontario. The American teams were both from St. Louis and represented [Christian Brothers College] and [St. Rose Parish]. The events were held in November 1904 at the [Olympic Stadium of the Washington University campus].
The two St. Louis teams became involved in the Olympics because of one of the athletes competing in soccer, [Joe Lydon]. He was one of the outstanding amateur athletes in the St. Louis area and had competed in the [Olympic boxing matches] earlier in the summer. Local AAU officials encouraged Lydon to form a soccer league for amateur soccer players only, as most of the local clubs in St. Louis were actually semi-professional soccer teams. Lydon helped form a Parish League composed of three teams: Christian Brothers College, St. Rose Parish, and St. Anne's Parish. Shortly thereafter, a meeting was held at Christian Brothers College, chaired by Lydon, at which the Amateur Association Football League of St. Louis was established, which was really just an extension of the Parish League, although a fourth team, St. Alphonsus Parish, was added.
On 16 November the Christian Brothers College played the [Galt Football Club] of Canada and lost decisively, 7-0. Lydon played halfback for the CBC team. The Galt (Ontario) team was the Canadian national champions while at that time the CBC team had been in existence for approximately two weeks. Christian Brothers College at that time was both a college and a high school providing college preparatory courses, although eight of the CBC soccer players were college students.
The next day the Galt team defeated St. Rose 4-0 to win the Olympic soccer championship. On 18 November CBC and St. Rose played off for second and third place in the Olympic tournament, but neither team could score, despite three overtimes, and after 90 minutes the game was postponed because of darkness. The playoff match was rescheduled for 23 November and on that day CBC defeated St. Rose 2-0. Three days prior, however, CBC and St. Rose had actually played to a scoreless tie as part of the regular Parish League schedule. This scoreless tie was often listed as the first playoff for the Olympic championship, but the local newspapers in that era make it clear that it definitely was not part of the Olympic tournament.
Football (soccer) at the 1904 Olympics has a solid claim to having been an Olympic sport. Although it had an American and fairly local flavor, it did have international teams and even an international champion. There were also three (3) other Canadian teams entered - the University of Toronto, the Winnipeg Shamrocks, and the Toronto Scots - and the Berlin Rangers and Seaforth Hurons had considered entering. The Berlin Rangers could not afford the $500 the trip would cost. The University of Toronto lost and tied against Galt in the weeks before the Olympic tournament and they decided if they could not beat Galt in two tries in Canada, it was pointless to travel to St. Louis.
It is often written that the Galt players did not receive their medals until they were back in Canada. However, Canadian soccer historian Colin Jose discovered that the medals were actually given to the players in the St. Louis City Clerks' Office.