1961 National Soccer League

President: Walter Freer
Vice-president: Aldo Cecchi, Montreal
Directors: Charlie Jamieson, Toronto and M. Michalofsky, Toronto
Secretary-manager: Frank Thirkettle

Preview of the season

The annual general meeting was held in Toronto on Saturday January 14, 1961. Walter Freer was re-elected as president of the league. Montreal Ukraina and Toronto Tridents were voted out of the league. As the two clubs had finished bottom of the league they had to re-apply for admission to the league and this was unsuccesful for both clubs. In a step to get away from being labelled an Italian club the Hamilton Italo-Canadians informed the league that they would change their name to the Hamilton Steelers. Toronto Sparta were also granted the right to a name change as an Italian group had purchased the club from Czech interests the previous season. The new name was to be Toronto Roma. The Hamilton club also suggested that the Toronto clubs should share the gate receipts for the matches in Toronto. This matter was tabled until the annual meeting was to be convened in Montreal on January 28.

The new Toronto Roma franchise were looking forward to an intense rivalry with Toronto Italia. However the Italia club resigned together with Hamilton Italo-Canadians and Montreal Cantalia, and all of these three clubs joined the new professional circuit the Eastern Canadian Professional Soccer League. They were joined in that league by the newly-formed Toronto City.

Montreal Concordia also played in the International Soccer League that was organised by Bill Cox. The club was coached by Skender Perolli. The club won the Canadian Challenge Trophy for the second time in their history when they defeated Vancouver Firefighters in the final.

Concordia’s roster for the Canadian Challenge final was goalkeeper Emilio Svich; fullbacks Hector Lopez and Gabrielle DeToni; half-backs Charlie Horvath, Hector Marinaro and captain Tommy Barrett; forwards Steve Stancik, Hector Dadderio, Joao Jorge, Olivio Lacerda, Tito Maule, Jose Sanchez, Humberto Gambaro and Arpad Kiraly.

Review of the season

The season opened on Sunday April 23 with Toronto Hungaria defeating Toronto Olympia 6-2 in front of 4,000 fans at Stanley Park. On Saturday April 29 Ulster United beat Montreal Concordia 3-2 in front of 1,687 fans in Toronto. Johnny Menzies, Bobby James and John McManus scored for Ulster. Charlie Horvath and Humberto Gambaro scored for Concordia. The following day 4,316 fans watched Toronto Ukraina and Montreal Concordia play to a 4-4 tie. George Crook and Ken Smith scored two goals each for Ukraina. Hector Dadderio, Joao Jorge, Tito Maule and Jorge Sanchez scored for Concordia.

On Monday May 8 Montreal Concordia beat Toronto Roma 2-0 in front of 5,500 fans at Stanley Park. Joao Jorge scored one goal for Concordia, the other goal was an own goal by a Toronto defender.

On Saturday night May 13 Montreal Concordia defeated Tornto Hungaria 3-0 in Toronto. Olivia Lacerda scored twice and Hector Dosantos once for Concordia.

On May 14 Toronto Roma defeated Toronto White Eagles 2-0 at Stanley Park in front of 6,250 fans. Hector Noreno and Brazilian forward Olinto Rubini scored for Roma. Polish White Eagles included new signings Ted Purdon, formerly of Sunderland, and Hector Pizorno, formerly of Argentinian club Newell’s Old Boys and twin brother of Roma’s Angelo Pizorno.

On Tuesday night May 30 Roma defeated Polish White Eagles 1-0 in Toronto. Argentinian forward Hector Cribioli scored the only goal of the game in the 86 minute.

Former Middlesbrough inside forward George Crook scored two goals to lead Toronto Ukraina to a 3-1 win over Ulster United on Sunday June 4. Leo Dowhaluk scored Ukrainia’s third goal and Andy Young scored for Ulster United on a penalty kick. 850 fans watched the game at Stanley Park.

Later in the season Ken Smith joined Toronto Italia in the ECPSL. Ken was known as a happy wanderer. After the ECPSL season he joined Halifax City in England.

On August 24 Montreal Concordia defeated Toronto Hungaria 2-0 in front of a crowd 1,000 in Toronto. Inside left Humberto Gambaro and outside right Arpad Kiraly scored Concordia’s goals.

Toronto Roma won the league championship on Tuesday September 26 when they beat Concordia 4-1 in the final league game of the season.

Concordia declined to take part in the play-offs as its foreign players were about to leave.

Toronto Ukraina captured its fourth National Soccer League title by beating Toronto Hungaria in the Labatts Cup finals. Ukraina won the best-of-three final in two straight games.

The NSL saw its gates reduced from 241,000 in 1960 to less than 100,000 in 1961.

After the season Toronto Roma joined the ECPSL. The Toronto White Eagles applied to join the ECPSL, the application was accepted on the condition that the White Eagles operated out of Buffalo. The Polish club officials reluctently accepted this.  

Results and standings

Toronto Roma203141
Mtl. Concordia175236
White Eagles119426
Tor. Ukraina813319
Tor. Hungaria815117
Ulster United21937

Leading goalscorers

1. Olivio Lacerda (Montreal Concordia)34
2. Olinto Rubini (Toronto Roma)20
3. George Crook (Toronto Ukraina)

Play-offs (Round-robin series)
October 5, 1961 Toronto
Toronto Hungaria 3 (Imre Dora, Julius Beraxa, John Gyonyi)
Toronto Roma 0

October 8, 1961 Toronto
Toronto White Eagles 2
Toronto Ukraina 3

October 9, 1961 Toronto
Toronto Hungaria 4 (Lajos Gorgenyi 4)
Olympia Harmonie 2 

Labatts Cup Finals

October ??, 1961 Toronto
Toronto Ukraina 1
Toronto Hungaria 0

October 22, 1961 Toronto
Attendance: 1,871
Toronto Ukraina 1 (Sylvester Chorneawsky)
Toronto Hungaria 0

Exhibition game

July 13, 1961 Stanley Park, Toronto
National Soccer League All-Stars 3 (Ted Purdon 2, Gordon Bradley)
Hapoel Petach-Tikva 1 (Beaz Kaufman)

National Soccer League All-Star roster: Goalkeeper Frank Schwart (Roma) and Vigh (Hungaria); fullbacks Donnelly (Roma), McAuley (Ulster United) and Steve Carty (Polish White Eagles); half-backs Gordon Bradley (Ukraina), Jimmy Cairney (Roma), Szarzynski (Polish White Eagles) and Welsh (Hungaria); forwards Attilio Gallassini (Roma), Willie Hubert (Roma), Olinto Rubini (Roma), Giacomo Stecker (Roma), Ted Purdon (Polish White Eagles), George Crook (Ukraina) and Ross (Olympia).