The Dominion of Canada Football Association was founded in 1912 with Quebec, Ontario, Manitoba, Northern Ontario and Saskatchewan as members, while Alberta wired applying for membership. Given the impact that British Columbia has had on Canadian soccer through the years, it is hard to imagine that the governing body of soccer on the west coast did not join the national soccer association until 1920, eight years after it was founded.
However, a governing body of soccer in all of B.C. first came into existence on December 28th, 1904, and remained in power until sometime in 1909. In 1909 a professional soccer league was formed in B.C. bringing the soccer association into direct conflict with the very powerful B.C. Amateur Athletic Union that seems to have led to the collapse of the provincial association. A second B.C. Football Association was formed on August 15,1914. That association, still with strong ties to the BCAAU, chose not to join the DCFA, which by that time had joined FIFA. In turn the DCFA in joining FIFA agreed to support both amateur and professional soccer, upsetting The Amateur Athletic Union of Canada.
However, conflict arose in B.C. in the years just before 1920, which resulted in a rival group starting another B.C. provincial governing body which sought affiliation with the DCFA. It was a bitter and complicated battle, with one faction led by David Leith, and the other by Con Jones. Eventually the Con Jones group prevailed and BC joined the DCFA in 1920.
From its earliest days soccer in B.C. had strong ties to the neighboring states south of the border. This led to a team from California visiting B.C. as early as 1909. The Californians played six games in B.C. against Vancouver, Nanaimo, Vancouver, Ladysmith and Victoria. Later that same year a B.C. All-Star team visited California while a second Vancouver All-Star team visited California again in 1913.
Then in 1910 professional soccer was introduced in B.C. The first professional game ever played in Canada took place at Recreation Park in Vancouver on March 25 between the Rovers and the Callies.
In 1911 the first touring team from overseas played in B.C. when the famous English amateur team the Corinthians toured Canada and the U.S. They played in Vancouver on August 11 and beat the Vancouver All-Stars 5-1, before crossing the Georgia Strait to Nanaimo where they tied 2-2 with a powerful Nanaimo/Ladysmith combination. The Corinthians remained on the Island and beat Victoria 4-2 before returning to the Mainland to once again defeat Vancouver 4-1.
Due to the generally mild winters on the coast, the B.C. soccer season has usually been played from September through to the spring, thus being out of step with the rest of Canada where soccer can only be played during the summer months.
No overseas touring team played in B.C. again until 1921 when the powerful Scottish F.A. team played teams representing the Mainland, Upper Island, Victoria and B.C. It was the start of many games played between B.C. All-Star teams and touring teams in the inter-war years.
As a general rule touring teams played two games on the Island and two on the Mainland, with the second game on the Mainland occasionally being a game against a B.C. All-Star team. This was the case in 1927 when the B.C. All-Stars were beaten 6-0 by the touring Scottish F.A. team. On that day B.C. lined up with Andy Roots in goal, Bert Daggar and Vie Laven at full back, George Russell, Neil McFarlane and Jimmy Heaps in the half back line while Alex Cameron, Bob McDougall, Duff Davies, Dickie Stobbart and Adam Kerr were the forwards.
This format was tried again in 1931 when B.C. was beaten 4-1 by the English F.A. team. On that occasion B.C. was represented by Harold Singleton – Bill Constable, Tommy McKibbin – Murray West, Dickie Stobbart, and Alcock – George Stephen, Preston, Bill Findler, Dave Turner and Jack d’Easum. Then in 1935, when the Scots once again came calling, with some of the greatest names in the history of the game in the line up, they struggled to beat B.C. 1-0. That B.C. team was: Stan Stronge – Fred Easley, Don Cowan – Murray West, Don McPherson, Jimmy Gemmill – Billy McNeil, Trevor Harvey, Ray Watchorn, Jimmy Spencer and Johnny McKay. It was a similar story in 1939 when the Scots beat B.C. 3-1. The B.C. team on that day was Stan Stronge – Don Cowan, Tommy McKibbin – Murray West, Trevor Harvey, Jimmy Gemmill – Jack Johnson, Johnny McKay, Hap Smith, Jim Spencer, Norman Mcleod.
In 1924, Canada sent a team to tour Australia for three months in the Canadian summer and the Australian winter, among the B.C. players making the trip were goalkeeper Henry Mosher (UBC), George Anderson (Ladysmith), Dickie Stobbart (Nanaimo), Jack Armstrong (Vancouver St. Andrews) and Harry Chapman (Ladysmith), The party was led by James Adam from Victoria, while Don Morrison from Ladysmith was the trainer.
Three years later Canada returned to the South Pacific to tour New Zealand. Once again B.C. was well represented in the touring party that included Stan Tait and Ernie Edmonds of Nanaimo, Jack Monaghan of Vancouver Woodfibre, and Don Archibald of Vancouver North Shore. The party also included Dave Turner, then playing in Toronto for Ulster United, later to make a name for himself with Westminster Royals. James Adam once again led the party.
While the governing body of soccer in B.C. remained outside of the DCFA no club team from BC entered the competition for the national championship until 1921 when Ladysmith went all the way to the final before being beaten by Toronto Scottish in Toronto. In those early days the power in BC soccer seemed to rest with the teams on the Island, particularly teams from the mining towns of Nanaimo, Ladysmith and Cumberland. Nanaimo Wanderers won the national championship in 1923, but lost in the final in 1925. One year later Canadian Collieries from Cumberland were losing finalists but only after four games had been played. Nanaimo made its third appearance in the final in 1927 and won the trophy for the second time. So in seven years during the 1920s teams from Vancouver Island reached the final four times.
That all changed at the end of the 1927-1928 season when the great Westminster Royals team won the title. The Royals won again in the 1929-1930, 1930-1931 and 1935-1936 seasons followed by Johnston National Storage from Vancouver in 1936-1937, North Shore in 1937-1938 and Radials in 1938-1939, before the outbreak of war interrupted the 1939-1940 competition. Thus between 1921, when BC teams first entered the national championship and 1939, they were in the final in 13 years out of the 19 and winning on nine occasions.
On the provincial level an unofficial B.C. championship was played in 1896 and won by Victoria Wanderers, but the official B.C. championship did not begin until 1911 when B.C. Premier Eugene McBride presented a shield for competition; the first competition being won by Victoria West who beat Vancouver Athletic Club. The McBride Shield was replaced in 1922 by the Province Cup, presented by B.C. Lieutenant Governor Walter Cameron Nichol and the publisher of the Province newspaper. However before that in 1915 B.C. Premier William John Bowser presented the huge Mainland Cup for competition on the Lower Mainland.
At the end of the decade in 1939, B.C. once again sent an All-Star team to California. The occasion was the California World’s Fair. B.C. swept the three game series against the San Francisco All-Stars winning 8-2, 5-1 and 4-2.