Thursday, April 5, 2012

5 April 1931 - Johnny Nelson's Last Battle

On 5 April 1931, a knee injury ended the playing career of forward Johnny Nelson, one of the top all-time scorers of the original American Soccer League. He was 26.

The Scottish-born Nelson started his professional career with Yonkers Thistles, but moved to Brooklyn Wanderers (pictured) in 1923. In five years there, he made 126 appearances, scoring 101 goals. In 1928, he moved to Fall River, scoring 10 goals in 14 appearances for the Marksmen, then moved again later that year to J&P Coats, where he finished out the 1928-29 season, adding another seven goals in 12 appearances.

For the start of the 1929-30 season, he joined the New York Nationals, where he would finish his career (though they changed their name to the New York Giants in 1930). He finished as the league's top scorer for the Spring 1930 season and, in all, knocked home a staggering 105 goals for New York in 98 appearances and helped them win the title for the Spring 1931 season.

Unfortunately, he did not make it to the end of that season, as he suffered a career-ending knee injury that April. Though he was only 26, his career tally of 223 goals in 250 games ranks him second on the ASL's all-time scoring list, behind Bethlehem Steel's Archie Stark (253 goals in 293 appearances over ten seasons).

Afterward, Nelson worked as a carpet designer. He passed away in Yonkers in 1984 at the age of 79.

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