Thursday, November 17, 2011

17 November 1904 - Canada Takes The Gold. Kind Of.

On 17 November 1904, Canada won the Olympic gold medal in football. Except there wasn't really a gold medal. And it wasn't really Canada.

The 1904 Olympiad in Saint Louis, Missouri--held to coincide with the St. Louis World's Fair--was the second one to include football, but even then, it wasn't officially a medal sport. And the competing teams weren't there as national teams, but were instead amateur club sides. Only three teams participated--Christian Brothers College and St. Rose Parish, both from local St. Louis amateur leagues, and Galt FC, from the Western Football Association of Ontario. They played a round-robin, with the winner of the tournament being the team with the best record.

Galt were an experienced side, having been founded in either 1881 or 1882 (the records aren't precise). They were also three-time winners of the Ontario Cup from 1901 to 1903. Their quality was too great for the American sides; in the first match, on 16 November, Galt rolled over Christian Brothers, 7-0, with a hat-trick from Alexander Hall, a brace from Gordon McDonald, and a goal each from Frederick Steep and Thomas Taylor. St. Rose fared slightly better, losing 4-0 in the second match on 17 November (Taylor scored twice, while the other two scores came from Albert Hendersen and William Twaits).

That was enough to declare Galt the champions, even though Christian Brothers and St. Rose had yet to play against each other (which they did three times, after two scoreless draws). The St. Louis World's Fair Department of Physical Culture awarded gold medals--but not official Olympic gold medals--to the Galt players.

The International Olympic Committee later upgraded the 1904 tournament to official status and retroactively awarded the gold medal to Canada.

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