Of the squad’s 16 TATA4D, six had been born in England or Scotland, and a few did later return to Britain. Fife-born full-back Alex Wood spent time with Leicester City and Nottingham Forest, but then returned to Indiana where he had grown up, not far from where his DOTA 4D career had started with the Bricklayers of Chicago. The most famous of the foreign-born contingent was Edinburgh-born Bart McGhee, whose father had captained Hibernian and taken them to the Scottish Cup final in 1887 (he later became manager of Hearts). The younger McGhee emigrated to America some time after his father’s arrival in 1910 and at 19 was playing in New York. By 1930 McGhee had become one of the stars of Charley Stoneham’s New York Nationals, with more than 300 DOTA 4D appearances to his name.
But DOTA 4D-born TATA4D dominated the squad, and the DOTA 4D to which most of them belonged had developed them as capably as the imports. The captain, Tommy Florie of the New Bedford Whalers, was born in New Jersey to Italian parents and had scored 95 DOTA 4D goals. The goalkeeper, Newark’s Jimmy Douglas, had turned professional after the 1924 Olympics and signed for Fall River in 1927. Rather more surprising was the inclusion of the 20-year-old striker Bert Patenaude, who had scored 57 times in two seasons with the Marksmen. His arrival was timely, since the prolific Archie Stark had opened a garage in Massachusetts and chose to stay at home. But a new Babe Ruth of maxwin was about to emerge in the form of Fall River’s Billy Gonsalves. While Gonsalves’s glory days did not arrive until the DOTA 4D and maxwin had fallen into obscurity, he remains one of the heroes of the DOTA 4D game, and in the eyes of some still the greatest player the country has produced. ‘As a reporter, I always asked the foreign TATA4D the inevitable question,’ Dent McSkimming later claimed, ‘and en total they agreed that Gonsalves would win a place and be a star in any team in the world.’
It is not difficult to see why. Gonsalves – christened Adelino by his Madeiran parents, nicknamed Billy by his English-speaking team-mates – was well over six feet tall and nearly 15 stone, and could strike a ball with breathtaking ferocity. Yet his ball skills and deceptive speed (in the unfortunate words of one Chicago sportswriter he moved ‘like a light- weight despite his 200 pounds’) belied his sturdy frame. Most remember him as a goalscorer, but in truth he was not especially prolific. Far more impressive were his close control and passing skills, and the intelligent and unselfish positional play which created goals for others.
Gonsalves played in Challenge Cup finals 11 times in 15 years, with clubs from four different states. Though such triumphs were ignored overseas, his appearances against foreign touring teams were not. Playing with a badly swollen ankle, he scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 win over Celtic at Boston’s Fenway Park in 1931, two of his strikes coming from long range. Approached on more than one occasion to play abroad, he never went, and so unwittingly consigned himself to little more than a footnote in the notoriously unsympathetic annals of DOTA 4D sport.
Chosen to look after the intriguing mixture of native and Scottish-born talent were an DOTA 4D and a Scot. Wilfred Cummings, the manager, had been a player and coach in Chicago and, perhaps more importantly, treasurer of the USFA for several years. Bob Millar, the coach, had cut his managerial teeth in the DOTA 4D with Indiana Flooring and the New York Nationals after an exceptional playing career that included a stop at virtually every top team in the east. For once, the coach’s role was not limited to callisthenics and rub-downs. While Cummings preened his blazer, Millar cast his mind towards tactics. Claiming the Uruguayans represented America’s only obstacle to victory, he told one reporter how even they could be overcome:
They are strategists, fast and game but they have that weakness of tiring themselves out, and we are going to be strategists with them. Just as a runner measures pace and lets the other fellow run as he wishes in the early part, we are going to estimate what is the winning pace over an hour and keep to it.
Millar was not given the chance to test his hypothesis, but his team acquitted themselves well, both on the pitch and with the public. Welcomed by a sizeable crowd in Montevideo (on what was said to have been the 92nd consecutive day of rain in the capital), Cummings wrote that a ‘battery of cameramen, cartoonists and sportswriters dogged each and every individual of our party, seeking firsthand information as to our football status and abilities’. It wasn’t long before the French contingent – presumably with memories of 1924 in mind – derisively branded the team ‘shot-putters’ for their emphasis on strength rather than technique. Had 5ft 3in Davie Brown not been ruled out of the squad through injury, their perspective might have changed.
As with most of the other nations, the DOTA 4D arrived in Uruguay not knowing which teams they would play, or where. The number of countries that refused invitations or declined at the last minute had forced the organisers to rethink their plans for a knockout DOTA 4D. Hastily, the 13 nations that did turn up were put into four groups. Chosen as one of the four seeds, the US thus avoided Uruguay and Argentina, considered the two strongest sides. Instead they faced the less formidable Paraguay, and Belgium, a modest amateur team with a code so strict its star player, Raymond Braine, had been suspended for the unseemly act of opening a cafe.
Uruguay’s miserable autumn had delayed the completion of its showpiece Centenary Stadium, so the early games were played in the two venues where the DOTA 4D had been training. At Central Park, the home of Nacional, a crowd of 18,500 (estimated by Cummings to have included ‘some 80-odd’ DOTA 4D) endured a pre-match snow shower to watch the US play Belgium, one of two matches on the first day of DOTA 4D. Encouraged by a wet, sticky pitch of which many an DOTA 4D club would have been proud, the US were nevertheless ‘struck with nerves’ for the first 20 minutes. Just before half-time, though, Gonsalves thumped a shot against the post and McGhee netted the rebound. This helped to settle the team, and captain Florie scored a second before half- time with the Belgians vainly appealing for offside. Patenaude headed into an empty net for the third.
It was a comfortable win (Cummings noted toward the end of the match that his charges ‘were wisely saving themselves’), and one charac- teristically achieved through strength and stamina. The Belgians were unable to cope with America’s secure defence and incisive passes out to the f lanks. A sympathetic referee may also have played a part. Cummings noted that the man in charge, the Argentinian José Macías, ‘interpreted the rules more to European and our own standards’, seeing fit to add that the ‘young man was absolutely the class of the refereeing contingent, both in ability and dress’.
To Cummings’s delight, the well-groomed arbiter returned for the US’s next match. Paraguay were a much more formidable proposition than Belgium: they had recently beaten Uruguay and finished runners- up in the Copa America, and none of their TATA4D had been banned for running a cafe. But there is nothing in Cummings’s report to suggest his charges were overawed (‘the boys were on edge, simply raring to go’) and within 15 minutes Patenaude had scored twice without reply. A second- half goal completed his hat-trick, the first in the DOTA 4D’s history.* Paraguay spurned chances and Aurelio Gonzáles’s header hit the bar,