Apathy, rivals and tragedy (again) 1906-07

 The summer of 1906 had been a scorcher, record temperatures had hit the country and had seen local children happily swimming in the River Yeo to cool down. It must have been a hot and stuffy Victoria Hall for the Casuals AGM in July.

The President Mr Maynard had had enough and did not even bother to attend. In his apology letter he voiced his wish to step down and felt it was time for someone new to take the club forward. His request was ignored and in his absence he was voted in as President for another year!

Dr Charles Marsh chaired the AGM, where he reminded those gathered that he was the first captain of a Yeovil association FC team in 1875, some thirty years before. 

Dr Charles Marsh

If the standard of the football was going down hill fast, so were the finances with barely £13 being left in the bank. In an act self comfort, the treasurer announced 

"Gentleman the club is not run for the balance in the bank but for the benefit of the town" 

Reg Luffman was chosen as the club captain, as Maynard was leaving for Bristol to take up a new work position. Luffman was the  son of one of the leading Glove manufacturers in the town, now 26 years old and in his prime, regarded as the Glovers star player and one of the best in the county. 

The AGM ended on a high note as the club presented goalkeeper Herb Cook an inscribed clock to celebrate his wedding a few weeks earlier. 

The now repetitive pre-season match with Upton Park saw the traditional mixture of reserves and first team win 5-1 in front of a handful! A hastily arranged friendly a week later, after Devizes had pulled out, saw the Royal Warwickshire Regiment turn up in tropical weather conditions, on a bone dry pitch and beat the Casuals 4-2.

Bradford-on-Avon, containing four Brown bothers, were the first official opponents of the season. A totally new look Casuals team took the field and fought out a hard 1-1 draw after being 1-0 up. The match was seen as a disappointing result at home, but as the season progressed it would turn out to be a very good result for the team. The side for the opening match being:

Cook, Owen, Powell, Cooper, Coates, Luffman, Hoare, Thring, Peaty, Lodge, Hamblen. 

Again, players coming up from the reserve side into the first team. However whereas in previous seasons the Glovers had the pick of the best local talent, new clubs starting up, notebaly Petters United had started eating into that talent. The  substandard quality of the new recruits to the first team would  show, very quickly. 

A week later a trip to Chippenham United, saw the rather lacklustre and amatuer state of the club. Coates missed the train over a mix up over times and Brooks who travelled for no other reason then to be the club's linesman had to kit up and play. It was farcical as the Casuals went down 4-0, with the new defence at ' sixes and sevens' 

Branksome Gasworks were the visitors to Pen Mill in the English cup. A team seen as one of the best amatuer sides in Hampshire. In fact years later they reached the FA Amatuer Cup final losing to a Ilford in front of 28,000 at Upton Park. However with home advantage and a large partizan crowd, a win looked on the cards to those at Pen Mill. 

The Yeovil eleven included a Sergeant Carter a player stationed in Taunton and played for the county side. , who strangely captained the team even though Luffman, the new club captain, was on the field. His one and only performance, was not enough to save the Glovers as a first half goal for the Bournemouth team was enough to see them through. 

Some relieve came a week later when the Casuals obtained their first League win of the season over Chippenham Town, a sole Peaty goal being enough. It would be the only league win for some time! 

Trowbridge away and Melksham at home followed, both resulting defeats. At Trowbridge, Herb Cook in goal inexplicably punched ball into his own net from a cross with just minutes to go. The Melksham match, saw the Glovers throw away a half time lead to lose 2-1.

A trip to Wyke Regis saw a meaningless 4-1 friendly win, away to  Weymouth Whitehead, the torpedo factory works team, two more away league defeats followed. At Wootton Bassett, a physical battle saw the referee Mr Preater from Trowbridge stop the play to give both teams a stern lecture on their behaviour. A late goal giving Bassett a 2-1 victory. A week later, the Glovers travelled to Frome, a team without a win all season. Minus Luffman who was indisposed, the Glovers again returned home on the back of another 2-1 defeat. Thus leaving the Glovers embarrassingly rock bottom of the league. 

Another meaningless friendly a week later at home against Taunton Casuals, saw the Glovers enjoy a 2-0 win on front of a very sparse crowd, put off by the stormy weather and the uninspiring opposition. 

Next up were Devizes who came running down the track a week later, returning back with a 2-1 win which was described as a 'lucky one'. Again Yeovil without star striker Luffman who was on County duty away to Devon. Although, Frome at home proved to be an early Christmas present for the Pen Mill faithful, who were dwindling slowly. The match showed again the state of the Casuals at the time. Only ten players turned up for the home match with Frome, resulting in a player having to be found from the spectators, and listed in the match report as A. N. Other. He obviously brought the team much needed luck as the Casuals ran out 3-1 winners. Although still bottom of the league. 

Christmas Day arrived in 1906 with unusual warm weather, to raise funds for the new Yeovil District League, a match was arranged at Pen Mill against the leagues XI. A match significant for two reasons. Firstly, it highlighted the weakness of the Casuals side, with a full team out they could only carve out a 2-2 draw, secondly the districts side second goal scored by Fred 'Johnny' Hayward, his first goal at Pen Mill, it would be far from his last. The following day Salisbury City reserves, Salisbury City being a Western League club, a higher league, turned up in front of a fair crowd, Yeovil with Vassall making an appearance earning a 2-2 draw after being 2-0 up. 

The Army boys of the 121st Reg (Trowbridge) came down to recommence league matches at the end of December. A match with Yeovil fighting for points saw Luffman miss a penalty, two Glovers goals disallowed much to the irate crowd. The Soldiers adopted the one back game, where one defender would play behind the midfield and follow the most forward striker and not the ball, always making sure he was in front of the last striker so any forward pass would be offside. It was boring and deemed to be in gentlemanly tactics. The match ending 0-0.

The New year came, with the club hoping to put an awful 1906 well and truly behind them. A trip to Chippenham Town being their first chance. They turned up with ten men! In an incredible episode of stubbornness, Yeovil's striker Peaty refused to travel over a grievance he had against Mr Wallis, the referee from Wootton Bassett. The Glovers returning with a satisfactory 2-2 draw with Casuals keeper, Herb Cook scoring a penalty. 

Defeats returned though, a sub-standard team knocked out of the Somerset Cup at Welton and seven days later against Taunton Casuals 1-0 in front of a 'few and apathetic spectators" at Jarvis Field, a venue which a few months later would see the famous All Blacks rugby team take on Somerset. 

Swindon HS Works, arrived on a cold frosty Saturday, allighting at Pen Mill will just nine players. The pitch described as being rock hard from the frost, saw the Swindon Boys attempt the one-back defence to no avail, as the Glovers picked up a 5-1. Seven days later it was the Casuals turn to travel to Swindon. Again Swindon HS having nine players. On a "beastly state of a pitch"  at the grandly named Duke of Edinburgh ground, even a full strength Casuals side couldn't finish of the nine of Swindon and drew 1-1. Another trip to Wiltshire the following week later to play the Soldiers of the 121st again resulting in a 2-1 defeat. The only significance being the last minute consultation goal from Ernest 'Bert' Maughan. A player who would have a long and controversial career at the club. 

Bert Maughan 

Melksham away was next up, a bottom of the table clash. For once the Casuals arrived with a full strength side. It worked! The Casuals playing their best football of the season saw then return to South Somerset with a fine 4-0 victory. The match being marred on two accounts. Firstly early in the game, Seymour went to tackle Melksham's inside right, Wiltshire, missing the ball completely his boot landed on Wiltshire's thigh, "severely cutting it open to the bone". The incident set the wrath of the spectators when referee Mr Smith refused to send Seymour from the field, seeing it as an accident. Mr Smith later gave two of the Yeovil goals which looked to be offside. At the final whistle he was attacked by the Melksham fans and later having to have a police escort to the station. Melksham being heavily fined later and banning some fans from their ground for a season. 

Tragedy overtook the club in early March, Harry Patten, one of the Casuals most regarded players since the 1900-01 season and just two seasons before being  vice-captain, had passed away from tuberculosis, aged just twenty-seven years old. Harry, a Glover by trade, left a widow and a small child. His coffin being led into the church with his Casual team mates as pall bearers.

 After a friendly visit to the wonderfully named Portland Prison Officers United Football Club, to play in a 1-0 victory it was back to league action with a trip to top of the league Bradford-on-Avon. A match attended heavily by  Trowbridge Town fans, hoping for a Casuals win which would assist them in the title chasing bid. They were left disappointed as the Glovers, again weakened by abscences capitulated 5-0.

Easter arrived with a couple of friendly matches, firstly against Bowes Park, an amatuer team from London,who boasted they'd not been beaten in tour matches for 27 years! A boring 2-2 evolved. The next day Riverside FC from Cardiff arrived, a team who later would become as we know today Cardiff City. On a wet slippery pitch Yeovil entertained the crowd to a 4-0 victory. 

Riverside FC (Cardiff) 1906/07

The season was slowly winding to an end, for some it couldn't come quick enough. Warminster away again showing the character of the club, as two players missed the train and only nine started. Yeovil playing the hated one back game, held on until the two late arrivals arrived by a later train arriving just before half time. It was all in vain, the Glovers finally going down 2-1.

After another defeat at Devizes, this time by the only goal, The Glovers prepared for the last  league game of the season with Warminster at Pen Mill,and the introduction of a local player who would break scoring records that will never remotely be beaten. His name Fred 'Johnny' Hayward. The defeat, 2-1 by Warminster was incidental, the Casuals laying in the bottom three and Warminster just a few places above them. The highlight, came in the second half when Hayward scored his first ever goal for the Glovers, with a ' first rate shot and followed it up with a thunderous shot that clipped the bar' 

Fred 'Johnny' Hayward 

The season ended in a friendly against Dorset League champions Weymouth Whiteheads in torrential rain, the two nil defeat ending with the players so covered in mud it was impossible to tell which team were which. 

It had been a disastrous season, the worst in the Casuals short history. More concern was the rise of Petters United who had walked the Yeovil District league without losing a match all season, a 19-0 victory over Barwick on the way, although Barwick only having eight men. Their crowds were on the rise also, fans drawn by the fine football on show, compared to the dull offering at Pen Mill.  

Things would have to change for the Casuals to have any real future! 

Happy days! 


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