(The following article by Gary Blockus of the Morning Call is a short history of the Allentown Sports Club. The article mischaracterizes the club as Allentown Soccer Club)
For Joe Dueh Sr., soccer is more than a way of life. It's also a family affair.
Dueh, who came to this country from Hungary in 1950, and to the Lehigh Valley in 1951, is the 58-year-old coach of the highly successful Allentown Soccer Club(ASC).
Dueh began the club back in 1951 along with a friend, when soccer was still in its infancy in the Allentown area. The only games ASC could get back then were in the extremely competitive Philadelphia area, where the team played for almost 20 years.
Times have changed, and with that, so too has soccer in the Lehigh Valley. The Lehigh Valley is a hotbed for soccer at present, and the ASC is one of the best, if not the best, club team in the area.
The Allentown Soccer Club recently completed its Lehigh Valley Soccer League season by garnering the First Division Championship for the seventh straight year, its eighth overall. The ASC has become a veritable dynasty, a "Carrington's in cleats," in the Lehigh Valley Soccer League, which has been around for just 11 years.
More so than just being another dynasty, ASC is very much a family affair. Joe, Sr. has been coaching the team for almost 20 years, and his son, Joe, Jr. is the oldest active player (33) and assistant coach.
Maria Dueh, Joe Sr.'s wife, virtually runs the team.
"She is president of the club," said Joe Sr., with his modest Hungarian accent. "She is the one who actually gets the money together. She cooks meals at the club and organizes dances, which is how we support ourselves."
The ASC operates out of the Lehigh Valley Saegerbund, but is not really associated with the organization. "We are a club from within a club," the elder Dueh said in explaining the situation.
Still, three Dueh's on one team doesn't quite complete the family picture. There are 18 members on the team, and each is considered a member of the ASC family, something the elder Dueh thinks makes the team unique
"We are like a family. If one guy has a party, the whole team is invited. What it comes down to is that I have to go to a lot of parties. We socialize together, which is what makes it great.
"As a family, we do everything together, and that is why we are successful. We know each other so well. With the other teams, every Sunday they have maybe two or three new guys in there. When we get a guy on our team, we make sure we keep him."
The ASC operates as a family throughout the entire year. Just over a month ago, Jeff Remley from Fleetwood, one of the team's players, was killed in an automobile accident.
The sad part of the season is we lost one of our boys," Joe Sr. said, a touch of fondness caused him to hesitate a moment. "The championship trophy we won this year, we are giving to his mother and father. He was a heckuva nice kid."
So are the rest of the players on the team roster, which reads like a Who's Who of Soccer in the Lehigh Valley.
The youngest players on the team are Bruce Morris (Moravian) and Kevin Babyak (Temple), former stars at Emmaus and Salisbury high schools, respectively.
The rest of the team comprises Rob Boty, Tom Conroy (East Stroudsburg University), Kevin Costello (Stoners), Julian Eddy, Rich Finifrock (Clemson), Don Fowler (Lock Haven), his brother, Phil (also Lock Haven), Tim McDaniels (Lehigh), Duncan McDonald (Hartwick College), Tom Morgan (Penn State), Jose Perna (Lehigh), Dan Taber (Lock Haven) and goalie Rene Bedoya.
Don Fowler led the team in scoring with 11 goals while McDaniels had 10 and Taber nine.
"My one beef about the league," Joe Sr. said, "is that sometimes I wonder, what with us winning the championship year in and year out, that it's kind of like, 'What, the same team again!' I know one thing. If I was another team, I'd want to knock us off. I'd shoot for it. If I was in their shoes, I would work my darndest against the team that wins the championship.
"We like good competition, and we get that from Lusitano and Nacional."
ASC also gets good competition in the tournaments it enters. The team has traveled to Europe twice and has hosted European teams in the Lehigh Valley as well. ASC also plays for the National Amateur Cup and the National Open Cup, capturing the state championship three years ago in the Open Cup.
The team splits up for the summer season as the members play on other teams "just to stay in shape." Teamwork will begin again quite soon as ASC is scheduled to compete in the Charlotte (N.C.) Queen City Tournament Aug. 21-23. The tournament is supposed to include the top 20 amateur soccer clubs in the United States.
Of course, to get to that lofty level of soccer competition, it took a great deal more than ordinary teamwork. Everything had to become a family affair.