The Pacific Coast Soccer League is a soccer league, currently featuring teams from British Columbia. In the past clubs from Washington and Oregon have competed.
PCSL is considered to be the premiere division (summer league) in the Canadian Soccer Pyramid. The winner of the Challenge Cup or league playoffs has a berth in the British Columbia Provincial Soccer Championship for the Provincial Cup. The Provincial Cup winner plays for The Challenge Trophy denoting the Canadian national amateur champion. The league has a short 2.5 month summer season. The PCSL comprises elite Canadian football players. Some players are ex-pros from Europe and North America, top NCAA players and others who are looking to become professional soccer players.
Several clubs are focused on player development similar to the USL PDL and NPSL in the United States.
The name Pacific Coast Association Football League appears to have been chosen as the railway age had yet to mature to the point where rail travel superseded the steamships traversing the Pacific Coast of the United States and Canada. The leagues for various sports of the highest level such as baseball in the summer; therefore, spanned along the Pacific Coast from California to British Columbia not inland.
The original Pacific Coast Association Football (Soccer) League was formed on July 25, 1908 in Victoria at the Drlard Hotel. Executives elected were Con Jones, president and Will Ellis, secretary-treasurer both from Vancouver and R. Heindmarch of Ladysmith as vice president. A constitution was adopted modelled after the English and Scottish league associations along with a 19-game schedule of matches from September 13, 1908 to January 23, 1909.
One recognizes the constitution’s contents from current leagues. Annual league subscriptions were set at $10 and five percent of gate receipts while player registration was 10 cents per player. The league champion was to be awarded a $100 silver trophy provided by Con Jones. Membership was limited to the larger clubs present at the meeting, including a team from each of Nanaimo, Victoria, and Ladysmith of the Vancouver Island Football League, Vancouver of the Mainland League and Seattle.
The idea promulgated was to have a series of games, following the league principle of each team playing the others home and away, in an international league between teams in the already existing leagues to add prestige to the sport and generate larger attendances. Individual exhibitions between various international sides such as that between Ladysmith of the Vancouver Island League and Seattle of the Puget Sound League in the “Sound City" at Woodland Park on February 25, 1907 drew one of the largest crowds of the Seattle season with over 2,000 spectators. The four home and four away PCSL games for the Pacific Northwest championship were to be played in addition to their regular league schedules.〔British Colonist July 26, 1908 p17 and 29 Available:http://www.britishcolonist.ca〕
There was controversy from the start from playing on Sundays (against some local laws) to the feeling the new PCSL was calculated to exclude other communities or clubs within each community from contesting the champion of the Pacific Northwest. An alternate idea was to formalize determining Island and Mainland champions, having them playoff for the British Columbia championship, and then against the Washington state champion to crown the champion of the Pacific Northwest. The promoters of the league wanted to follow the example of baseball and eventually expand the league from California to British Columbia. It was thought by others that four coincident leagues at the same time would dilute talent and enthusiasm for all competitions detrimentally affecting a city’s results in the Island, provincial, and international competitions. Victoria and some other communities had local community leagues, the existing regional league, and a provincial league competition in addition to the new international league. Some of the existing leagues had multiple divisions and field access was a concern.〔British Colonist November 5, 1908 p9 Available:http://www.britishcolonist.ca〕
There were conflicts when PCSL matches were re-scheduled, postponing or bumping the other competitions, so that a representative side from local teams could play the PCSL game. The amount of soccer being played is especially notable when one keeps in mind that the same athletes often competed in baseball, boxing, rugby, basketball, lacrosse, and other pursuits in addition to soccer. The PCSL also appears to have motivated the Victoria and District Football Association to begin paying referees. Payment for players and officials was controversial at this time as the amateur and professional question/schism was being debated in most athletic clubs.〔British Colonist November 5, 1908 p9 Available:http://www.britishcolonist.ca〕
The British Colonist calls some of these aggregations of local sides competing in the PCSL: Victoria United, Nanaimo United, and Vancouver United while smaller community teams are referred to by the community name. Locals would also recognize some names of grounds for various sports currently in use today such as Royal Athletic Park.〔British Colonist January 14, 1909 p9 Available:http://www.britishcolonist.ca〕 In the spring of 1909 an aggregation of the strongest California players from San Francisco did a tour playing each of the PCSL teams in a bid to get Oregonian and Californian participation in the PCSL. Funds from spectators do not appear to have covered the transportation costs of the travel required for the PCSL.〔British Colonist February 9, 1909 p9 Available:http://www.britishcolonist.ca〕
Victoria West played Seattle in the last PCSL match during February 1909 in a make-up game after Victoria failed to send a team January 10, 1909. Nanaimo won the 1909 PCSL championship. On March 7, 1909 the league had their annual general meeting in Seattle deciding to change the season to March 6, 1910 - June 4, 1910 and not accepting a proposal for professionalism. The moves appear to have been made to alleviate most of the conflicts over fields, players, and officials. Teams from Everett, Westminster, and Tacoma were added to the proposed schedule as well as hopes that a team from Portland, Oregon could be added to the schedule. Momentum for the league does not appear to have been maintained and the league folded.〔British Colonist March 6, 1909 p9 Available:http://www.britishcolonist.ca〕
A second Pacific Coast Football League was formed on June 15, 1925 with C.G. Callin as president and Tommy Chrisite as secretary. On June 26, 1926 an all-star team from the PCFL played an English F.A. touring team in Vancouver. But the league folded again 1927.
A third Pacific Coast Football League was formed on August 30, 1930 with Archie Sinclair as president and Vic Sortwell as secretary-treasurer. On September 19, 1930 the first annual meeting was held and James Corral was named president and Robert Davidson, secretary-treasurer. The original four teams were Vancouver St. Andrews, Vancouver St. Saviours, New Westminster Royals, and a fourth team from Nanaimo. The third version of the PCFL stumbled through the 1930s, before being re-formed in August 1939 with Tommy Nelson as president and Jock Hendry as secretary. This version of the league merged with the Mainland Senior Soccer League and the Intercity Junior League in 1973 to form the British Columbia Senior Soccer League, which later became the Vancouver Metro Soccer League.
The current PCSL was reconstituted thereafter as a separate entity in 1995. Since 1989, the highest ranking PCSL Canadian team plays for the J.F. Kennedy Cup against the Oregon Adult Soccer Association champion and the Washington State Adult Soccer Association champion.
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