On December 14, 1953 the league decided to change its format and become an inter-provincial league by admitting Montreal clubs Italia and Hakoah. The two teams were to be ordinary members and no extra expenses paid to them. They were each to play nine times against the western clubs and the eastern clubs would play two games in Montreal, one against each Montreal team.
Annual general meeting
At its annual meeting in January 1954 the league decided to drop its second division and instead create a reserve league for the Toronto area. This meant that clubs like Hagibor and Sparta lost its NSL status. It was also decided that the two bottom teams after the finish of the 1954 season would have to re-apply for membership for the 1955 season. At the same meeting Montreal Hakoah were accepted as full members having fulfilled all their obligations. Montreal Italia tried to get extra concessions and their application for membership was put on hold for ten days and in the end failed.
Clubs and players
East End Canadians
East End Canadians included Englishmen, Scotsmen, Irishmen, Welshmen, Italians, Dutchmen, Macedonians and Greeks on their team.
Stadium: Delorimier Stadium, Montreal
Manager: Shirley Goldner
Head Coach: Jimmy Ryrie
Montreal Hakoah was formed in 1948, they had lost the Dominion Cup Final to New Westminster Royals in 1953. Montreal Hakoah toured Bermuda before the season started. Montreal Hakoah strengthened its team with Bill Drake, who had signed for Ulster but had been moved by his firm from Toronto to Montreal. Otto Krachtovil had played for Montreal Italia the previous season. Walter Bahr, left half who had played on the U.S. team that beat England in the 1950 World Cup in Brazil, came from Philadelphia. Hakoah even made an offer for Wolverhampton’s England international Johnny Hancocks in April. The bid was however rejected by Wolves. They also offered a contract to Glasgow Rangers star Willie Thornton but who had alredy accepted to become coach of Dundee in the Scottish League.
Player coach: Jimmy Jackson
The ethnic German club Olympia had been promoted from the previous season’s second division. Olympia brought Jimmy Jackson over from English League club Notts County as player coach. Jackson arrived in May 1954 and returned to Notts County after the season. The club also signed inside right Olijnik, who was said to have played for a first division club in Germany.
St. Andrews probably made the best signing of all in Willie Carson. Carson had come to Canada from Scotland four years earlier. In Scotland he had played for the famous junior soccer club Pollok Juniors, in Canada he played for Sarnia Imperials and had played for Toledo all-stars against Liverpool and scored two goals the previous summer.
Ukrainian Sports Club Trident
Player coach: Alex Skocen
Alex Skocen was the player-coach of the team. Skocen retired after the season.
Sport Association Ukraina
Ukraina was strengthened by the addition of Toronto steelworker Ostap Steckiw. He had been a professional in France before coming to Canada.
Stadium: Broadview Park, Toronto
President: Walter Freer
Ulster United was strengthened by the arrival of Frederick George Cameron from Scotland. Freddy had played for Aberdeen’s first team but was actually born in Windsor, Ontario. His family had returned to Scotland when he was very young. At the age of 20 he returned to Canada early in 1954. Former Tottenham star Leslie Medley was their player-coach. Other key players were Jimmy McLaughlin; Jack Perrett, formerly of Nottingham Forest; Alf Davis, who had learned his soccer in Lancashire, England, and Jimmy Douglas, who had played for Clyde and Dumbarton in Scotland.
Review of the season
With 11 clubs in the league with six of them having reserve teams, the league opened play on May 8 at Broadview with White Eagles and Tridents.
Toronto Ukraina won the league championship.
Ulster United won the playoff championship.
More than 200.000 fans attended the NSL games in 1954. Of these 103.292 paid to see games at Fred Hamilton field, paying more than $52.000 for this.
Highlight of the season was the visit by Glasgow Rangers
As a closure to the season the NSL banquet and presentation of trophies was held at the King Edward Hotel on November 29. 300 guests came to see captain Ostap Steckiw of Toronto Ukraina recieve the Carling Cup and Johnny Syme of the East End Canadians recieve the most valuable player award.
Results and standings
Leading goal scorers Goals (as of September 14, 1954): 1. Bill Carson (St. Andrews) 15 Leo Dychowsky (Toronto Ukraina) 15 3. Tony Lazzeroni (Hakoah) 14
June 6, 1954 Alexandra Park, Winnipeg
Manitoba All-Stars 1
Toronto UKraina 4