Eastern League of Professional Football

The Eastern League of Professional Football was a football league formed in 1926 by independent clubs from Pennsylvania and New Jersey (separate from the "Eastern Pennsylvania Football League" which played in the late 1930s and early 1940s before World War II, along with the Middle Atlantic's Dixie League). The Eastern League was a regional minor league that never intended to challenge either the National Football League or even Red Grange's new American Football League's, dominance over the sport.[1]

Eastern League of Professional Football
FounderJames H. Gildea
DirectorHerman Meyer
No. of teams10
CountryUnited States
All-Lancaster Red Roses
Most titlesAll-Lancaster Red Roses

In the league's first season the championship was awarded to All-Lancaster Red Roses over the Bethlehem Bears in a controversial move.


In January 1926, James H. Gildea, the owner/manager of the Coaldale Big Green football club, began pushing his idea for a football league in eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Gildea's intention was to organize a circuit of teams that were well established and successful but unable to compete financially with the teams of the National Football League. As the core of the new circuit, Gildea sought out the membership of the old Anthracite League clubs. He also courted several other well established Pennsylvania and New Jersey clubs.[2]

1926 season

By the time the 1926 football season opened, ten teams were on board with the newly christened Eastern League of Professional Football. The league's first season had plenty of ups and downs, including financial difficulties that led one club to drop out of the circuit, and a controversy surrounding the championship. The game on the field, however, was very competitive. Five teams had league records of .500 or better. However, the Eastern League's still remained organized until the next season.[2]

1926 Championship controversy

The Bethlehem Bears and the All-Lancaster Red Roses were the top two teams in the league. On November 28, 1926 both teams meet for a game that would most likely determine the league champion. The Bears won the 3-0 due to a last minute field goal by Gyp Downey.

The Bears ended the season with 6-2-2 record against league opponents and a post-season victory over All-Lancaster. Bethlehem felt that these actions were enough to legitimize their claim to an Eastern League championship. However, there was some question regarding Bethlehem's claim to the championship. These questions may have been related to the introduction of several "ringers" into the Bears line-up for the team's final four games against Eastern League opponents. Local newspapers soon reported that the league awarded the title to the 5-2-3 All-Lancaster Red Roses. Presumably on the basis of that team's October victory over the second-place Gilberton Catamounts. After the season, Bethlehem offered the Pottsville Maroons of the National Football League $4,000 to play them at home. The Bears then lost to Pottsville in a lopsided defeat.[2]

1926 League standings[3]
Team Wins Losses Ties  % PF PA Notes
Bethlehem Bears622.7507245
Gilberton Cadamounts522.7145122
All-Lancaster Red Roses523.7144949Awarded league championship
Mount Carmel Wolverines531.6259143
Coaldale Big Green443.5006343
Atlantic City Roses242.3332265
Shenandoah Red Jackets251.2865541
Mount Airy Athletic Club131.2501367
Newark Blues160.142758
Clifton Heights Black & Orange111.500310Withdrew from league 13 October 1926

* This table is shows both league and non-league unofficial standings.

The All-Lancaster Red Roses were named the 1926 Eastern League of Professional Football Champions.

1927 season

1927 League standings[4]
Team Wins Losses Ties  % PF PA
All-Lancaster Roses5001.000968
Atlantic City Roses510.8337913
Coaldale Big Green330.5004061
Newark Blues131.2503274
Bethlehem Bears131.2501350
Shenandoah Red Jackets050.000677
Wilkes-Barre Panthers110.500181

Forfeited the game against Atlantic City (0-1) for a chance to play against Staten Island Stapletons and never returned.


  1. "ExplorePAHistory.com - Image".
  2. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-05-11. Retrieved 2009-01-09.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. "1926 Eastern Football League (EFL)".
  4. "1927 Eastern Football League (EFL)".
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