Bye bye Casuals! - 1907-08

The Casuals were no more!

During the summer, even before the AGM it had been decided to enter the club into the English Cup under a new name Yeovil Football Club. One can surmise the name change being two-fold, to reaffirm the club as the the premier club in the town and also in the hope in a new name would raise better prospects.

One can argue that the decision and those taken at the 1907 AGM were some of the most important in the whole of the club's history. Apathy had well and truly set in, and as was to be seen by the treasurer's report, the club's financial situation was in dire straights. If allowed to continue it is very likely that the club would not continue, this depriving future generations to support and love the club. 

The Victoria Hall was the usual venue for the AGM, where a larger than expected gathering had taken their seats. Mr Maynard the President finally got his wishes and was allowed to resign and replaced by Doctor  Charles Marsh, who not at the meeting was voted in in his absence! 

The long standing club secretary William Bond had also decided to step down, his being the only paid position in the club at that time. He left with a parting shot, voicing how players of other clubs should think about the future of the town club first before their own.. A paid secretary was not going to be viable, the coffers wouldn't allow it. An honorary unpaid secretary was put in, Mr Ernest Sercombe, former player one of the most loved members in the club. The appointment proved to be a good one, Ernest would hold the position for over twenty years. 

Ernest Sercombe

The captain was also gone. Reg Luffman had come under critism for seeming to pick and choose which away matches he played in. Also it would seem to Luffman was unpopular with the players, they applauded when this was suggested. Bert Maughan was voted in as captain by his fellow team mates. Maughan's first job was to suggest the kit changed to plain green shirts with white collar and cuffs, it was accepted. 

From a healthy financial situation of £60 three years previous it now showed the financial cupboard to be bare. Only the clubs assets, grandstand, iron ropes and advertising hoarding on the corner of Lyde Road being of any collateral the club had. Decisions were made to cut traveling cost and enter into the Dorset League and Somerset league. With Cup matches along side. To help with some urgent cash injection, anyone paying a subscription of 10 sh 6d, would automatically become a vice-president. In comparison Petters United had just announced a tidy £9 balance in their bank. 

The meeting finished with more optimisism and enthusiasm than any meeting had since the birth of the Casuals in 1895. The question was would these new changes be enough to propel the club forward? 

One thing that hadn't changed though was the season opening friendly with Upton Park. Even so, a fair size crowd turned up to see the Glovers lose 3-4 in an exciting team. One notible inclusion in the Yeovil team being the Oxford Blue, ACL Clarke, although cricket was more his game. 

The Royal Garrison Artillery, set the season proper  rolling as they made the short journey up from Weymouth. The new opposition and optimism brought a good attendance out, witnessing an exciting opening match which ended 3-3, with Hayward on the scoresheet. The side for the opening match being :

Gray, H. Seymour, W. Seymour, Cooper, Maughan, Thring, Crouch, Lodge, Hallett, Hayward, Harbour 

Replacing long standing goalkeeper Herb Cook was Gray who had spent the previous season custodian for Yeovil Baptist FC. Crouch, a previous Casuals player had spent time at Petters Utd, now back with the Glovers. Harry Harbour, had previously played for Yeovil Harlequins before playing for Yeovil reserves, this season being promoted to the first team where he'd stay upto the 1st World War. He also loved to play the violin and piano at club social evenings. The club had lost their centre of defence partnership of Owens and Powell, the former signing for Torquay United and the latter moving to Wales. The Seymour brothers would be a more than adequate replacement. 

Harry Harbour

The Somerset League season started at Street, still considered one of the best sides in the county. Although losing 1-0 with a goal 20 minutes from time, Yeovil were convinced that a shot by Lodge had hit the bar and crossed the line, the referee Mr. Harris from Shepton Mallet waved away their appeals. 

Branksome Gas, conquerers of the Glovers in the English Cup the previous season were again the opponents for the 1st qualifying round. This time away. A fine crowd of over a 1000, many of them Yeovilians, saw an exciting match where the Glovers more than matched their own, alas not enough though a 1-0 defeat sent them sadly back home.  By now thinking that it seemed that even with a new name and new players, luck just wasn't on their side. 

They need not have worried, two hard fought victories against Bruton away, 2-0 and Shepton Mallet at home 2-1 meant that the team was full of confidence going into a home match against old rivals Wells City at Pen Mill. The Glovers had chosen the same starting line up from nearly the first game of the season, a much improved situation from previous seasons. Yeovil tore Wells apart with Hayward and Lodge both scoring a hat tricks, as the Glovers running out 7-2 winners. The Wells press hadn't lost their petulance from previous seasons and put the defeat down to mostly having a reserve side out and the seventh goal hitting the side netting. 

Hayward's reputation was starting to travel it seems, a week later in the Dorset League at home to Radipole, he was dealt with severely  immediately from the off by the Radipole defence. Much to the crowds annoyance. The tactics worked for the away side scoring three in the last ten minutes to win 6-2. It was something he would become accustomed to. 

The prison officers at Portland had amalgamated with the islands football team and now were called Portland Prison officers and Portland United Football Club! On a cold wet windy miserable November afternoon the Glovers weakened with three players indisposed fought out a 2-2 draw in Portland , the Green and Whites being two up, until two penalties in the last ten minutes locked up a point for the Prison boys. 

If people thought Hayward was doing well, scoring eight in his first eleven games, then they soon realised he was just warming up. Bruton came to Pen Mill full of confidence after a credible draw at Street the week before. The match was the annual match chosen where all the gate receipts were donated to the hospital appeal. Unfortunately, a small crowd arrived, most choosing to watch the hotly contested match against Yeovil reserves v Petters in the Somerset junior Cup. Alas, the non-attending missed Hayward tear the Bruton defence to bits, scoring four in a 6-0 victory. 

Some rather low level friendlies at Christmas for once saw the Glovers travel to St James Park Exeter with a weakened time and returned with surprisingly just a 1-0 defeat. Christmas day, saw the Glovers turn out against the Pick of the Yeovil league, another Hayward hat trick as they won 4-0.

Exeter City 1907-08

The real excitement over the December  period was that which attached itself to Petters United and Yeovil 'A' (reserves). Drawn together in the Somerset Junior Cup. In front of a large and excited crowd at a Pen Mill the match finished 3-3. 

Programme for Yeovil A v Petters United 

The excitement for reply grew throughout the week, it to take place at West Hendford. Petters United were quite nomadic at the time, and used various pitches throughout the town, even on occasion Pen Mill. A large crowd gathered to see which team would hold the town's interest going forward in the prestigious Junior Cup. Someone who didn't turn up though was the official match referee, without as rules stated a match could not take place and be counted. The crowd, having paid their admission became incensed. A hastily arranged friendly doing nothing to pacify the now baying mob. As they eventually ran into the field, stole the ball, kicking it into the road. All admission fees being donated to the hospital fund 

A week later, a ref did turn up as Petters steamrollered their way to an easy 7-1 victory. The Glovers protested immediately, regarding the registration of one of the Petters's players. It was later upheld by the Somerset FA and the match to be replayed again. Petters unable to find a free date, gave the tie to Yeovil. 

It transpired that Yeovil's previous trip to Portland in the 2-2 draw had not been as it seemed. With several players out, Captain Bert Maughan had taken it upon himself to travel with three unregistered players and play them under assumed names. A sharp eyed local football fan had noticed and now the club had been summoned to the Dorset FA. After pleading ignorance the club stated it was all down to Captain Maughan who had been suspended by the club for two matches. The Dorset FA fined the club the maximum fine of two guinees and deducted the club two points. 

1907 ended with a novelty football match between Yeovil and The Glovers of Yeovil. Attended by a few and cared for by nobody. For the record it ended 2-2, Johnny Hayward playing for the opposition. 

After the hectic finale to 1907, 1908 came round and after a week off the Glovers entered the first round of the Somerset Senior Cup. A home match against the soldiers of Taunton Depot, including Sergeant Carter, who had played one match for the Glovers the previous season. Hayward was in his normal form scoring four in a 5-3 win. 

After a 7-2 home win against Salisbury City reserves, Hayward scoring another hat trick and a 2-1 home win against Weymouth Whitehead it was time for the 2nd round of the Somerset Cup. Away to Clevedon. After a 1-1 draw, Hayward scoring, the match went to a reply at Pen Mill a week later. A dreadful day weather wise, saw an exciting match but even after extra time the teams could not be parted as it ended scoreless. The second replay was arranged a week later at Wells City's ground. Thirty Yeovil fans again braved awful conditions and drove to the match. Their bravery was rewarded with the Glovers playing their best football of the season, winning 5-0, Hayward again unplayable and scoring four more to add to his seasons tally. 

Wells City was visited again a week later for a Somerset League match, minus Hayward who's performances had quickly found him in the County team. Wells found themselves 2-0 at half time, however with the wind in their favour the Glovers shot on sight, scoring four in the second half. The Wells press in their usual way putting the defeat down to an unfair result and a draw would have been a fair one. Yeovil came down to earth seven days later at Weymouth, on a pitch that in some parts resembled a pond after non stop rain for two days, the Glovers decided it wasn't worth bothering with the Somerset Cup semi final a weekend later , they lost 8-3.

Frome arrived at Pen Mill for the Semi-final with 300 fans, transported to Yeovil by special train. The excitement was at fever pitch as they entered the ground with the Grandstand full to the rafters thirty minutes before kick off. The Yeovil town band keeping all and sundry entertained. Frome supporters complained later of ungentlemanly barracking from the Glovers fans. Frome entered the pitch from the hotel  first mightily cheered. Nothing in comparison to the reception the Yeovil players received when they entered a few moments later. 

The match itself was played at a fast pace with both sides attacking in equal measures. However it wasnt until midway through the second half when Yeovil broke the deadlock through Gard, a goal met with incredible noise and excitement. It was the Frome fans who were going crazy a few minutes later, when they were awarded a penalty at the Camborne End. Herb Cook, now back in goal for the Glovers, saved it low to his right, sending the Yeovil fans into delirium. It was short lived, with five minutes remaining a second penalty was awarded to the away side. The crowd silenced as Frome's Centre forward, Date tried again. He shot wide! Again sending the Yeovil fans into rapturous applause. With the last kick of the match a Yeovil breakaway saw Luffman casually roll the ball into the box for Lodge to side foot it home at the Hotel End. They'd done it, Yeovil after a long absence were in the County final. 

April 1908 was going to be the most hectic in the club's history, with matches to make up in both Somerset and Dorset leagues, a Somerset Cup final to play and to cap it off an already agreed end of season friendly. It would mean the Glovers would plays eight games in twenty eight days  

Frome would be the first of these eight matches, arriving for an early Thursday evening kick off minus the 300 supporters this time, they were dispatched 6-0 thanks to another four goals from Hayward. The return journey home for Frome couldn't have gone any worse. Four miles outside of Yeovil the motor bus they'd hired ended up in a ditch, after waiting two hours for horses to pull them out they set on there way. At Bruton the bus skidded again, again into a ditch this time deeper, no horses could be found to pull them out, some players decided to sleep in the bus, whilst most decided to walk the 12 miles home to Frome arriving at 6.00am. 

Two days later Whiteheads of Weymouth were visited with a weakened side made mostly up of reserve players, the Glovers returning heavily beaten 7-0. The match also saw the debut of Jack Taylor, a player who would later make many appearance and captain then team to glories. It was around this time serious questions were starting to be asked about the finances of both Whiteheads and Weymouth FC. Something that had major consequences for both of them a little later. 

Shepton Mallet were sent packing 6-0 at Pen Mill, Hayward again scoring a couple, a match that saw Yeovil gave a debut to Henry 'Harry' Spinner, who tragically four years later would lose his life in the Titanic disaster. 

Henry 'Harry' Spinner 

On Good Friday, Frome were again the opponents at Badgers Hill. With both teams still in with a good chance of Somerset Senior league glory, a special train was organised with 350 Yeovil fans making the journey. Frome decided to concentrate on stopping Johhny Hayward, putting three players on him. It worked, Frome winning a hotly contested match 1-0. Yeovil at least arrived home safely. 

Easter Monday came and the big one, the Somerset Senior Cup final had seen the Glovers pitted against Paulton Rovers, a match to be played at Wells City. Trains from North and South Somerset raised the crowd to over 2000, as the teams fought out a 2-2 draw, Hayward scoring both for the Glovers but alas missing a penalty along the way. Herb Seymour the right half for Yeovil earning special praise from the press for his performance. 

Just a day later, eight of the players lined up at Pen Mill against Street. Under normal circumstances, the players would have been rested, however the importance of the match was if the Glovers won they would have been joint champions of the Somerset league with Frome and play them two days later in a playoff to be crowned Somerset champions. Despite goals from Lodge and Hayward, Street pegged the Glovers back to a 2-2 draw, thus ending league glory. Kindly Petters United loaned Hann to the Glovers for the match. 

The weary legged players entered the Somerset Senior Cup replay after five days welcome rest. The reply at Frome on a wet and cold Saturday was again attended by a large crowd from both sides. The match for an neutral must have been a classic for a Yeovil fan it must have been heart stopping. After twice being ahead, Yeovil entered half time 2-1 up. Although the talk of the crowd was of an incident just before half time. A ball to Hayward found the marksman with an empty goal in front of him just having to tap it in to make it 3-1, inexplicably his team mate Hallett with a rush of blood ran up and kicked it wide drawing gasps from the crowd. Paulton came out strong for the second half, soon to be 3-2 in front. Hayward again pulled it back with a thunderous shot. Alas Paulton the stronger side, scored two late goals to take the cup back to North Somerset and the glory. 

One final friendly match with Exeter City reserves  at Pen Mill finished the season off a good crowd turning up to see the match, Exeter including the famous ex-WBA and Manchester United defender Jack Banks in their ranks. With Hayward in fine form, the Glovers ran out winners 5-0, Hayward's performance not going unnoticed by the Exeter contingent. 

Jack Banks

Although the season had finished on a low, the contrast compared to the lethargy of previous seasons could not have been more contrast. Silverware did end up at Pen Mill with Reserves winning the Yeovil District league, with Stoke-sub-hamdem a point behind. The all conquering Petters United of a season before finished 4th. Hayward still just twenty years old, in his first season had amassed 41 goals from just 28 appearances and established himself as the top striker in the county. He was just starting! 

Yeovil A (reserves) 1908

Happy days! 



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