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Smith: Heidelberg, 'The Soccer Capital of the United States'

| Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016, 11:15 a.m.
Craig Drinkhall, president of the newly reorganized Heidelberg Soccer Club, is posting old photos like this one at to help preserve the club’s rich history.
Heidelberg Soccer Club
Craig Drinkhall, president of the newly reorganized Heidelberg Soccer Club, is posting old photos like this one at to help preserve the club’s rich history.

The Heidelberg Soccer Club has a long and storied history.

The club formed in 1916 when a group of Heidelberg boys organized a team. In 1927, Heidelberg was the first Western team to win the National Amateur Challenge Trophy by defeating the Eastern champions, the La Flamme Cobblers of New Bedford, Mass.

Later, the United States Football Association honored the Heidelberg team by selecting Berk Jones to be a member of the 1936 U.S. Olympic soccer team.

Newspaper articles dubbed the team “The Golden Tornados” and called Heidelberg “The Soccer Capital of the United States.”

Craig Drinkhall, long involved with local soccer at Heidelberg and in South Fayette, in 2006 learned that much of the club's history was being lost as players and coaches moved away or on to other interests. To keep the tradition alive, he scanned old photos and news articles and set up the website

The club also reorganized and revitalized with a new written constitution and set of bylaws. Drinkhall is the president of the group's board of directors.

In 1921, the Heidelberg Tornados were Keystone League Champions. They won again in 1934, 1936, 1937, 1946, 1955 and 1968-70. In 1955, they became the first Western Pennsylvania team to win the Keystone League, the National Open and the West Penn Conference titles all in the same year.

They are 10-time champions of the West Penn Cup. They won the 1927 Soccer Football League Championship trophy in the former Pittsburgh Press League. Many other titles have been won over the years, as well.

The club has an over-40 team competing in the Pittsburgh Masters Soccer League and an over-50 team competing in the Super Masters Soccer League of the PA West Adult Division.

The club's Annual Married v. Singles Game was played last month and was won by the Married team, 7-4.

The club is always conducting research and continuously adding to its database about the club's history, player information and championship details.

To contribute photos, uniforms, news articles, historical information and more, email the club at

Charlotte Smith is a freelance writer. Reach her at 724-693-9441 or

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