The Kearny Scots are back and ready for the Eastern Premier Soccer League
Soccer Town, USA, is adding a new chapter to its rich history.
Founded in 1931, the Kearny Scots Athletic Club is returning to semi-professional levels after more than 50 years in amateur leagues, having joined the Eastern Premier Soccer League in the upcoming season.
The team organizers hope to replicate the success of the former Scottish team, which won five consecutive championships in the American Soccer League between 1937 and 1941.
“We’re going to take an approach similar to the Scots from decades ago, developing players who can achieve bigger and better things, and partnering with organizations in football and professional clubs around the world,” said Marin Frasheri-Gjoca, the technical officer Director. “The goal is to become a trampoline for local players to keep going and playing at a professional level.”
The Eastern Premier Soccer League consists of 25 teams from Virginia to Massachusetts, divided into three divisions. The non-profit league enables teams to be promoted or relegated, with the future of each club being decided on the basis of its sporting merit.
Kearny Scots players are not paid, but the team is run as a for-profit organization and plans to open a team shop and concession booth at home games. The Scots have also partnered with sponsors to cover field rentals, uniforms, equipment and fees.
“The players play because it is a good opportunity for them to advance their careers and get known,” said Fraheri-Gjoca. “Over time, our goal is to pay the players as we grow as a football club.”
This version of the Kearny Scots may be new to semi-professional football, but their goal of getting back to that level has kept the Scottish club in mind for years.
âWe’re all born into the game and fans of the sport, and when we got in touch with Marin, who had a serious plan for how we could take the Scots back to the next level, we were all just waiting for that day to come is coming, âsaid Andrew Pollock, president of the Scots Club and chairman of the team’s football operations.
The club’s history can be dated back to the 1870s when Scottish immigrants were invited by Scottish millionaires to work in the factories – most notably Clark Thread Co. – in the West Hudson area. Thousands left their homes and started a Scottish community in Kearny, bringing their style of football with them.
Since then, football has been the only constant – no matter how much everything changes – over the years. The city spawned former US national team stars Tony Meola, John Harkes and Tab Ramos, who put football back on the map in the US in the early 1990s when the American sports public believed that the sport would never take hold here .
“Generations of Scottish families have played football and the immigrant grandchildren and children still lead youth leagues and football in Kearny,” said Pollock. âFor today’s Scots Club, they may not all have Scottish backgrounds, but their stories are the same as ours. The Scottish history of football in America has closed, families immigrate to the community and continue to play the game they love, and we look forward to seeing our new Scots play. “
While the new Kearny Scots may differ from the original, the team is keen to celebrate its history, which could arguably include the three consecutive American Football Association championships won by the Clark Thread Co. teams in 1885-87.
âThe Scottish Club connects through tradition and history. It is important to us to put this in the foreground in the EPSL as well and to try to push this through at the next level, âsaid Dave Reichers, communications director of the team. “The tradition of the club and the connection with the city of Kearny is the basis why we wanted to bring the semi-professional Scots Club back.”
The team is preparing for the 2021-22 season and trains every week from Tuesday to Friday. Most of the roster was filled in along with the hiring of an analytics department, goalkeeping coach, coaching staff and head coach William Mera-Orozco.
The roster is mostly made up of former college players, high school stars who haven’t moved on to college, and seasoned players looking for a second chance. Most of the players come from North Jersey and New York; The Scots, however, have a player of local roots, Lautaro Sosa, a native of Kearny who played football at Kearny High School.
The Scots are expected to play their home games at Kearny High School but are currently awaiting final approval from the city. There are no fees for the fans, officials said.
âWe’re not charging ticket prices for our first season because we want to try to build a fan base and get as many people as possible from the community to come to the games. We are planning to set up a donation container in which fans can donate to the team if they wish, âsaid Fraheri-Gjoca.
With the support of the city and members of the Scottish Club, the team hopes to play a meaningful role in the community.
“Everyone supported us very much, many members of the club cheered us on and wished us good luck for the season,” said Frasheri-Gjoca. “Our goal is to provide an energetic and fun time that engages the community so they can have fun playing our games and use their support to help our club.”
While the team may not have to experience their first corner kick, the Scots Club has a bigger prize in mind.
âOur short-term goals are to be competitive in the first year and to step up gear and be more successful in the second year,â said Fraheri-Gjoca. “However, we have a long-term strategy where my goal is to try in 5-10 years to get into a lower professional league in the National Independent Soccer Association or the top division of the United Soccer League.”
“Both leagues are only two or three notches below the MLS and we believe that one day we can get there.”