A soccer league was formed in the Prince Albert area of northern Saskatchewan as early as 1899. According to the Regina Leader Post the founding meeting of the Saskatchewan Football Association was held in Indian Head on April 13th, 1906. Representatives were said to have been present from most towns from Moose Jaw to the border with Manitoba. It was decided that a delegation be sent from this meeting to the Saskatchewan Provincial Legislature to obtain enough money to purchase a trophy for a provincial competition. The delegation was successful and the Saskatchewan Shield was purchased, a trophy that is still played for today. The first winners in 1906 were a team from Wapella who beat Grenfell in the final. It wasn’t until 1907 that a league was formed in Saskatoon with six teams. They were Nutana, Young Liberals, East Saskatoon, Sons of England, Shamrocks and West Saskatoon.
When the famous amateur team, The Corinthians came from England to tour Canada in 1911 they played in both Regina and Saskatoon. But it wasn’t long before the dark clouds of World War One appeared on the horizon and the Saskatchewan Football Association withdrew from the Dominion of Canada Football Association until the carnage of that terrible war was over.
When peace was declared Samuel Lyne, a leader of the Salvation Army, became President of the Saskatchewan Football Association in 1920 and held the position for four years. In 1921 a touring team from Scotland, made up of some of the greatest players of the day, graced the fields of Regina, Saskatoon and Prince Albert. A crowd of 2,500 looked on as the Scots beat the Regina all-stars 3-0.
Throughout the 1920s Regina Thistles and Post, Moose Jaw CPR and Prince Albert Penitentiary were among the winners of the Shield. Saskatchewan sent Leslie Ford from Regina Thistles and Fred Bowman from Saskatoon Radials to Australia with the national team in 1924. A team representing the Football Association of England played in Regina and Saskatoon in 1926, while the Scots did the same in 1927 and the Welsh in 1929, each time raising the profile of the game and giving the fans a taste of the soccer world on the other side of the Atlantic.
The Dirty Thirties hit Saskatchewan hard in many ways, not the least the soccer association. As the dust storms swirled across the prairies soccer struggled on with teams from Regina and Saskatoon winning the Shield every year but one. That one year saw Prince Albert City Reds beat Regina Capitals in the final. The Reds did reach the national final twice, in 1933 and 1934.
Starting in 1930 the man who held the provincial association together was Jimmie Ritchie. A member of the Saskatoon Fire Department, Ritchie was the secretary until November of 1952 when he died in office. He also served on the board of the national association. Just as it did in World War One the Saskatchewan Football Association shut down in World War Two, and did not resume again until 1947.