History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

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History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by drrabbit » Thu Jan 29, 2009 9:38 pm

In 1930, the Universal Soccer Team played in Portsmouth. It was either amateur or semi-professional team but I have not tracked that down for sure yet. They played other city teams like Cincinnati and Dayton. The first soccer game played in what is now Spartan stadium was in 1930 (its first year of existence) when it was still called Universal Stadium--probably where the new team got its name. The game was against Dayton and Portsmouth lost 4-0.

Their keeper's last name was Price. Any relation to the Prices at Minford?

The Spartans in 1930 was the only professional football in the NFL that was located in Ohio. They played in the new stadium with its big pressbox with usually 30-50 reporters present. They even had a telephone and a telegraph in the pressbox. They also had lights (about $6000 to install) and played the first NFL night game there.

The Spartans still played their old rival Ironton even though they were non-NFL. In fact they played them twice that season and wanted to play a third time but the NFL comissioner nixed the idea as too strenuous for the players. That season, they beat the Chicago Bears and the Newark team but fell to the Cardinals.

As trivia, the first area high school football teams to play a night game under the lights was not Portsmouth but New Boston and Oak Hill. Wheelersburg too played a football game in that stadium that year in a double header that included Central Catholic, New Boston and Sciotoville. But it was a Saturday morning double header and did not involve lights.

The first High School soccer game played in the stadium was in 1994 between Portsmouth and Wheelersburg. They made T-shirts in honor of the occassion.

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by ssusoccer » Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:25 am

I remember officiating that year in the stadium. It may have been that game.

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by Keegan » Fri Jan 30, 2009 12:02 pm

Once again Doc, you're knowledge is overwhelming.

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by Sports_Tracker » Fri Jan 30, 2009 7:13 pm

That is why we LOVE YOU drrabbit!!! :-D

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by drrabbit » Fri Jan 30, 2009 8:07 pm

Actually I am working on a different research project right at the moment but can't help but pick up the occasional trivia on these other things. I will have to post the full roster though it is mostly just last names. They did win at least one game that season, 13-0 but I forget their opponent.

I just found it interesting that soccer has such a history in Portsmouth and that they were able to play in the big stadium right away. It took their high school team years to get to play on that hollowed ground. So many people swore soccer would never be played there. But in 1930, there was not the preconceptions against soccer. Football itself was just getting established. In 1918, there were articles in the Portsmouth Times speculating about whether football would ever be as popular as baseball in the USA. In the 1930's football had a young but enthusiastic following. By 1937, Portsmouth HS had over 300 boys sign up for the spring football practice. Of course Portsmouth High School had over 2000 students at the time and had their students go to school in shifts (nights and weekends.)

Soccer and 'sock ball' were growing sports. Volleyball was a new sport being in introduced. But baseball was a sport played every where by everyone. Local leagues played from early spring and did not end until late fall.

I still have not figured out what 'sock ball' really was but it sure was popular in Scioto County in the 1930's with several leagues among the businesses and churches.

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by drrabbit » Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:09 pm

In the 1820's Wheelersburg established their first school--a one-room school across from where Deemer's now sits. In 1848, Wheelersburg built their first school building, the 'Red Brick School House' down near where the board of education offices are. It served for more than 50 years and held the first high school classes.

Wheelersburg graduated their first high school class in 1885. That year's alumni included George Rightmire who would not only come back to serve as superintendent of Wheelersburg schools but would then go onto be president of The Ohio State University. The Wheelersburg National Honor Society is named for Mr. Rightmire.

EO McCowen was employed in 1906 by the Wheelersburg school system as superintendent. In 1908, Wheelersburg was certified as a class 1 high school (4-year high school). And the 'Grade School' building was built which also housed the high school classes for about 10 years until the High School/Normal school was built where the football stadium now stands.

"Grade School"

In 1914 the state government passed a law establishing rural county school boards and EO McCowen was chosen as the first county Superintendent. He set up the county school board and they planned out the county rural school system that year.

At that time, there were only two Class 1 high schools in rural Scioto County (Portsmouth has never been part of the County system). Wheelersburg and Valley were already established but McCowen wanted a school near enough so that everyone student would be able to attend. Bloom and Vernon were combined and easily accepted the consolidation. Green was set on their way though the local Green school board had regular difficulties with the populace of the township during construction. Sciotoville was improved. Rarden, Otway and McDermott each had their levies put on the ballot. West Portsmouth had their schools combined. Minford was to be a combination of three districts that proved the most difficult to establish as it took multiple levies before they passed and then the opposition took the board to court to try and over turn the vote. The suit failed and sometime around 1925 a high school finally happened for Minford. Sciotoville schools would be taken over by Portsmouth in 1921 in an attempt to incorporate an unwilling New Boston. Another long story...

EO McCowen

In 1914, the new law also established a Normal school for each county. A Normal school was a local school to train teachers, preferably high school graduates themselves though occasionally juniors and seniors would be accepted. These teachers would teach the lower grades, especially in the outlying one-room school houses that still existed. McCowen started teaching the Normal school himself and when the new high school was built, it was formally approved by the state and held in the Wheelersburg high school. Dedicated teachers were hired to run the program.

High School and normal School used starting in 1918 and continuing for about 20 years before the high school where the ACE Hardware now sits was built. This building was then used as a middle school for about another 20 years.

In addition to starting the county schools in 1914, McCowen got together with his buddy from South Webster (the doctor's name eludes me at this moment) and started the Scioto County League for basketball. That league existed until the 1979 season when it was finally discontinued. The league was for both boys and girls basketball. The girls' part of the league existed until approximately WWII when many other things (like a lot of football teams) were dropped due to a lack of resources and participation and coaches.

McCowen continued to act as Superintendent until 1943. He was elected to the State Legislature that year. His son, Edward "Rex" McCowen succeeded him as Superintendent and, except for a period in the navy during WWII, he served until the 1960's I believe. In 1943, EO was one of only two of the original 88 county superintendents that was still serving.

School built in the late 1930's that stood where ACE Hardware is now.

The younger Edward 'Rex' McCowen is the lower picture.

The sad part is none of this is what I am looking up either. I am searching just three months (Sept-Nov) of each year from 1930-1939 and have put in 25 hours and am not half done. LOL. I stop and read too many other articles. :shock:

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by drrabbit » Fri Jan 30, 2009 9:34 pm

One of my favorite characters from this era was William 'Cork' Bihl who graduated in 1925. He once stole a cow from the field behind the high school (the one on the hill where the football stadium is now) and took it up the narrow stairways to the third floor--and left it there. Apparently, it is not hard to lead a cow up stairs but difficult or even near impossible to get them to walk down the stairs.

Cork was also the one who took his father's car and drove down the steps in front of the high school on a dare. Part of those steps are still there below the football stadium. Not an activity I would recommend, especially in the old Fords of those days with their inflated tires.

Of course Cork was a relative. <sigh> His brother Ray Bihl married the widow of Don McCowen. EO's younger son taught at Wheelersburg High School until 1949 when he died of leukemia that spring leaving behind a wife and new-born twin daughters. He was a very popular Science teacher who ran the radio club.

Rex McCowen and Art Preston were basketball teammates of Cork Bihl. Art later came back to teach and coach at Wheelersburg during the 1940's and 50's. He was coach of Wheelersburg's first district championship basketball team in the 1940's. Andy Stegman and Cole Miller's grandfather Earl (Pug) Miller was on that 1945/46 basketball team as well as Gene Bennett of Reds' fame.

Another of my relatives from that era was Philomena Thieken (my grandfather's sister) who married her classmate Eddie Hock after they both graduated in 1919. Eddie had a nice career in professional baseball playing for both the Cincinnati Reds (briefly) and the St. Louis Cardinals. He spent a good bit of time in the Texas League where he played shortstop and third baseman and eventually some outfield before moving on to a manager role. He had one of only a few record UNASSISTED triple plays in professional baseball while playing in the Texas league. He was such a fan favorite that they took up a collection and gave him a car one year. He died the same week as President Kennedy.

Aunt Minnie and Uncle Eddie are the great-grandparents of current Wheelersburg senior, Aaron Hopper. Fred Hock is their son and Karen Hock Hopper is their granddaughter. You could hear Fred at almost every Wheelersburg baseball game the past couple of years on the sidelines yelling instructions to the team. Hopefully he will feel well enough to do so again this year. Luckily the boys never listen to him though. LOL.

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by CharlieHustle » Wed Feb 04, 2009 8:40 pm

Kinda off the burg topic...but who do you think was the best soccer player to come from Portsmouth?

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by drrabbit » Wed Feb 04, 2009 9:41 pm

Jon Chandler was a good player on a bad team.

Jacob Bodner was probably a good one. Portsmouth's best team was 1991. He was first team all district as a junior and again as a senior. I don't particularly remember him.

Zack Corriell was pretty good but I remember a bit of attitude on his part. I think he got two reds his senior year.

Some names to consider from part of their history (I need to add everything after 1998 yet):

All District honors:


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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by a_c_m » Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:33 pm

Great reading! Thanks!

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by PHS_Jacob » Mon May 18, 2009 4:38 pm

I just came across this message board and I saw the first post said the first soccer game played in spartan stadium was in 1994. We actually were able to play a game on the football field my senior year - 1992. I can't remember right now who we played, but next time I am home I can see if I still have the newspaper clipping and will share the details.

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by WitnessProtection » Wed May 20, 2009 10:32 am

Great stuff, drrabbit!!
Thanks for the knowledge.
I really hope PHS brings back soccer.

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by 4thgoal » Mon Nov 20, 2017 2:14 pm

I came across this really old thread, but I have heard that Portsmouth has had some recent talk about bringing soccer back at the high school level. Regardless, some interesting history.

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Re: History of Soccer in Portsmouth and Spartan Stadium.

Post by Mad-Dogg » Mon Jul 09, 2018 11:25 am

great job as always rabbit

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