Scandinavians Unite

1952 – Around the World and Close to Home

Elizabeth II assumes England’s throne following the death of her father George VI. General Dwight Eisenhower wins the U.S. presidency in a landslide. General Motors begins offering air conditioning in its cars. The Today Show, television’s first magazine-format program, debuts on NBC. Around Washington, Henry Jackson of Everett defeats incumbent Harry Cain to win a U.S. Senate seat. The Frye Art Museum and Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) open in Seattle. Johnny and Eddie O’Brien lead Seattle University to a win over the Harlem Globetrotters.

Scandinavians Unite

Some clubs are renowned for trophy-gathering, others for longevity. For Washington’s Scandinavian teams of the 1900s it was both: A lot of silver over a multi-generational span.

Soccer’s first half-century of play throughout Puget Sound and Washington blended ethnicities from around the world. At first it was very British, but by the end of the Fifties the thick Scottish brogue, Irish dialect or English accent were receiving keen competition in the need for subtitles at Sunday afternoon games and kickabouts.

Perhaps the most polyglot club in Washington’s State League was the Vikings. The mix of mostly Swedes, Danes, Finns and Norwegians competed under that flag, plus a host of sponsors, from the Roaring twenties into the Me Decade of the Seventies. During that time, the mighty Vikings were victorious in over 25 cup competitions, including a record eight Northwest championships.

Washington became the destination for thousands of Scandinavian immigrants after the turn of the 20th century, partly because they felt familiar with the climate and topography. Their skills were also a match for the logging and fishing industries. Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood proved a rallying point for its immediacy to the mills and docks.

In addition to social clubs, the Viking Athletic Club was founded in the 1920s. While it organized various activities and sports for both youth and adults, its focus was soccer. In addition to the men’s state league representative, for a brief time a women’s team was sponsored, in 1929.

Sponsoring businesses and their associated teams would come and go in the senior amateur ranks. But the Vikings were an unrivaled connection to the Scandinavian community and competitive consistency. Apart from World War II, when many playing-age men were either enlisting or working to support the Allied war effort, they could be found near or at the top of the first division table.

Formed in 1924, this Nordic tribe truly came into its own beginning at the onset of the Fifties. Following some success in the second division, the Montag Vikings claimed a couple of state titles prior to World War II, when they disbanded. When they resurfaced in 1948 it was as Acme Tyee, a lumber and millwork business owned by Norwegian-born H.W. Hansen. Managed by Vic Olson, they won a state and Northwest champion by their second season.

Scandinavian-owned businesses, from restaurants to realtors to social clubs, would always step up to support the club and the league. Ballard’s Norselander Restaurant, Norway Center and the Nordic Lodge would host the season-ending awards banquet. Sailors from Scandinavian merchant ships would often be brought ashore to play at Lower Woodland. In 1951, AIK became only the second European club to stop in Seattle. Paying the freight for the Stockholm side was a consortium of businessmen featuring Swedish-born Einar Carlson, Axel Thornberg and Ivan Anderson, plus Norwegian immigrant Austin Gundersen.

Gundersen had already made a name for himself on the pitch. He was regularly rated among the top players, and in 1949 he was among the local all-stars to face England’s touring Newcastle. Erling Hansen, formerly with the Norway Air Force, was a candidate for the 1950 U.S. World Cup squad. Other Super Scans included Thor Ronning, Austin Strom, Tore Volan, Per Petersen, Reidar Olsen and Thor Aanes.

Before the Vikings’ flame flickered out, they became one of the first local clubs to venture into the National Challenge Cup fray. The Leif Erikson team reached the regional finals in 1970.

Northwest Champion
Clan Macleay Portland 2:1 E&E Meats
State Men's Champion
E&E Meats 3:0 New Italian Cafe
State Knockout Cup
E&E Meats 1:0 Norselander Vikings

1952: Scandinavians Unite

Swedes, Norwegians, Danes and Finns have greatly influenced the game's advancement in Washington, and the Vikings always seemed to be lifting trophies.

Buchan Takes Consolation Cup
April 13, 1952

Ron Tullis connects on the overtime game-winner to give Buchan Bakers the Hamilton Douglas Cup, 3-2 over the Norselander Vikings. The cup was contested by all state league teams apart from winners E&E Meats. Tullis met a pass from Lefty Lane in extra time. In regulation, Jim Everham and Joe Baltimore tally for the Bakers. Bruno Jandesek and an own goal account for the Vikings' scores.

E&E Meats Clinches Second Half, Overall Title
January 27, 1952

Completing the second half with a 4-2 win over United Restaurants, E&E Meats finishes the state league second half with a perfect 6-0-0 mark. That also gives the Meat Men, winners of the first half, the overall championship. Joe Romedo, Tom Turner, John Phelps and Glen Norberg score at Lower Woodland. Down 3-2, UR misses a potential tying goal penalty kick with 15 minutes left. Buchan (4-2-1) takes second place.

Oregon Champs Defeat E&E Meats
March 30, 1952

Portland's Clan Macleay became the first Oregon representative to win a Northwest championship, defeating Seattle's E&E Meats, 2-1, at Columbia Park. Macleay pushed across first-half goals through Ron McSkimming and Jim Clenes. Norman Frost replied for E&E early in the second period for the Washington winners.

Norselander Wins State League First Half
December 21, 1952

Snapping a two-match winless string, Norselander Vikings beat Wickman's Pies, 3-0, to clinch the state first division first-half championship. Bob Simonsen shakes off a sore ankle to score one and set-up another goal. Leif Schutz's men finish two points in front of Green Lake Bowl. Mighty Thor Aanes of Tacoma SC is the runaway scoring champ with 22 goals – 10 more than Gene Mjelde of Wickman's.

UW International Students Form Team
November 9, 1952

Visiting International Students Association, known commonly as VISA, plays its first state league game, falling to Norselander Vikings, 5-2. The University of Washington international students formed the team, with 24 turning out initially. VISA goes 1-5-0 during the season's first half after losing Finnish standout Aoke Forsman to the Vikings in midseason.

E&E Meats Win State Cup
March 16, 1952

Joe Romedo scores goals two minutes apart to break open a scoreless deadlock and league champion E&E Meats adds the Puget Sound Power and Light Trophy – its fourth – to its annual collection, 3-0, over New Italian Cafe at White Center Stadium. The Butchers earn the state title and right to meet Oregon's champion for Northwest bragging rights. Italian Cafe starts strong but has nothing to show for it. Romedo scores in the 70th and 72nd minutes, then Ivor Merryfield puts home a John Phelps corner in the 80th.

Washington Cup Goes to E&E
February 24, 1952

Glen Norberg's sendoff match for E&E Meats is glorious as he scores the winner in the George Washington Cup final at White Center, 1-0, over Norseland Vikings. Norberg, playing his final game before reporting for duty with the U.S. Army the following week, gets the winner on the half-hour on a cross from Herbie Wells.

Scandinavian Sailors Meet at Lower Woodland
September 8, 1952

A worldwide series amongst Scandinavian merchant marines comes ashore to Seattle's Lower Woodland Park as sailors from Norway's MS Castleville defeats Sweden's SS Vangaratta, 2-1. It's Castleville's seventh win without a defeat (also one draw). Tournament headquarters in New York arrange matches when ships from Sweden, Norway, Finland or Denmark are docked in nearby ports around the globe.

Lipton Cup Goes to St. Mary's
December 7, 1952

In the third and deciding game of the Sir Thomas Lipton Cup series, Seattle's St. Mary's defeats St. Anne's, 3-1, to retain the title at Catholic Memorial Field. St. Anne's was the Parochial School League grade school winner.

Black Diamond Legend Honored
June 12, 1952

Former Black Diamond standout Bobby Harlin is given a tribute at Rainier Golf Club. Harlin, who had both legs amputated several years earlier, is presented with an electric cart. Harlin, who came to America from England in 1906 at the age of 24, was elected to Seattle City Council in 1929 and later served nine months as mayor, in 1931. Harlin was also state director of labor and industry under Governor Langlie.

Vikings Repeat as Five-a-Side Winners
April 6, 1952

Norselander Vikings get two goals from Erling Hansen to repeat as victors in the ninth annual Five-a-Side tournament at White Center. The Vikings beat E&E Meats, 2-0, to split $125 in government bonds.

State Leaders Hear Coast League Pitch
February 15, 1952

Washington State Football Association president John Colman and secretary Vic Weston attend meetings in Vancouver discussing a proposed Pacific Coast League of select sides from Seattle, Portland, Vancouver, Victoria, San Francisco and Los Angeles.

Vikings Score Six for Cup Win
March 11, 1952

After going down a goal early, Norselander Vikings respond in force to win the Puget Sound Power and Light Cup, 6-3, over Scotty’s Fish & Chips at Catholic Memorial. Larry Petersen's hat trick and Hans Dahlberg's brace bring the Vikings back. Hans Klein also scores. Andy Phillips scores twice and Doug Massey once for Scotty's.

Remember how we had the very best here, Newcastle United in 1948 and AIK from Sweden last summer? Both games had splendid promotion, plenty of newspaper attention – and a terrific shortage of customers.
Alex Shults, Seattle Times reporter, on the viability of Seattle playing in a proposed Pacific Coast League
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