In January of 1967 three fathers of Needham Dick Fischer, Hart Swaffield and Chuck Winans got together and created the Needham Junior Soccer Association.  At that time they informed Alden Eberly, Chairman of the Park and Recreation Committee about the formation of the new soccer association and its plans to open an inaugural season in the upcoming fall. They requested from the chairman two fields 40 yards by 70 yards located at Claxton Field and Walker Gordon Field.  Goals would be 7 feet high and 20 feet wide.  Two balls would be given to each team, the Park and Recreation was asked to assist in the purchase of those balls at $10 per ball.

The plan also included Needham teams playing against teams from the Wellesley Junior Soccer Association during their season.

Needham Times ~ Sports Editorial

According to Winston’s collegiate dictionary, dedication means “devoting oneself to the service of living being.” – Here in Needham we have at least four dedicated men. They are Dick Fischer, Charles Winans, Hartwell Swaffield and Peter Damon.  They are the four men who thought up and started the junior soccer league for the boys in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th grades, which is having such a popular season at the present time.   They are all business men who must work at their tasks every day but on every Saturday they give up hours of their time to oversee the games that are played in their league.  Not to quote an old Bromide, but in this day and age, when leisure time is treasured, these men gladly give a portion of it to the youth of the community.   At present there are four teams operating in Needham but the plan is to have eight teams next year, with the seventh grade added to the roster.  Many fathers help the league to operate but there is a wish that still more parents will contribute to the cause.   A trip to Claxton Field on Saturday morning will show the tremendous interest that the community has in juvenile soccer.

In December of 1967 the fathers contacted Chairman Eberly expressing their appreciation and thanks for all his efforts, the first season of the Needham Junior Soccer Association was a success!

The plan for the fall of 1968 was to expand more teams.  A junior division for 4th and 5th graders and a senior division for 6th and 7th graders were set-up. There were no more games between Wellesley however an All-Star game was planned at the end of the season and held on a Saturday night under the lights at Claxton Field.

In the spring of 1969 three transplanted Scotsman, Bill Middleton, Sandy Stewart and Stan Willox coaching in the Needham Junior Soccer Association, formerly established the NJSA as the Needham Soccer Club.  At which point the club became a founding father of a new Intra-town league called the Boston Area Youth Soccer league or BAYS.  Other local towns and clubs founding the league were Wellesley, Belmont, Dedham, Foxboro, Boston, Cambridge, Winchester and Weston to name a few. A 10 game regular season plus playoffs were played on Saturdays during the spring from the beginning of April to the end of June.  The Needham Soccer Club started off with two age group teams in BAYS, a BU14 and a BU16.

In 1973 Vernon (Vern) White and Bill Neilsen decided to field a U-14 Needham Girls Soccer Team despite no formal Needham girls soccer program. They hatched the idea after watching their sons play NSC games and their daughters pleaded for parity.

Vernon and daughter Karen drafted the letter and hand-delivered it to the Park & Rec  Department. They did not ask for anything other than the right to allow girls to enjoy the same soccer privileges as the boys.
The 1st season was a success as town interest progressively grew throughout the season – with this interest other player parents joined the efforts to become the stewards of the early beginnings of the Needham Girls Soccer Club, and push for rapid expansion to other age group teams. These individuals included Joe McDermott  (who would later become an institution for girls soccer teams and the referee program), Carter Simmons (responsible for marketing the early days including Claxton under-the-lights), Adam Caputo (administration and coaching), Mike Devaney and Louie Tarabelli – ubiquitous presence at every girls soccer event along with Vernon and Bill. (Vernon became the first President of the newly created Needham Girls Soccer, before it became officially folded into the Needham Soccer Club).

Some early highlights:

  • Stan Willox of Needham became the 2nd President of BAYS.
  • Needham Thistles BU14 Coached by Bill Middleton won 4 consecutive Dente-Copland Shield BAYS Championships, 1970 – 1974.  In 1972 a Needham BU12 team was established.
  • In 1972 Needham High School Varsity Coach Don Brock initiated the origins of the Needham Memorial Day Tournament with 4 teams coming down from Beaconsfield, Canada (outside Montreal) and playing teams from Needham, Wellesley, Winchester.  Games were played on Cricket Field and Memorial Park.
  • In 1973 the Needham Thistles went undefeated and unscored on.  In the Fall of 1974 the Needham Girls Soccer petitioned the Park & Rec for the right to host a Needham/Wellesley Girls All-Star game under the lights at Claxton  field — the  event was wildly successful and filled beyond capacity, affirming the current success of the program and indicative of the programs growth for years to come.
  • In 1977 the Needham Memorial Day Tournament which started in 1972 transformed itself to become the tournament it still is today with over 1000 teams and a college showcase.
  • In 1978 the first group of NSC girls to graduated from Needham High – the majority of these girls either played varsity soccer or were instrumental in converting existing college club teams to become varsity-recognized.

Today the Needham Soccer Club boasts over 1600 girls and boys players ages U7 – U19.  Continuing with it’s early beginnings the Needham Soccer Club’s Champions League now with 50 boys and girls teams creates a league for players to develop within the town.  BAYS has grown to 55 towns and the Needham Soccer Club has over 24 teams which compete in ages U9- U18. Our U8 Junior Academy program is the latest addition to our player development path and provides an excellent foundation for our youngest players.

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