The Army, Navy and Glory Glory - 1908-09

To celebrate the 1907/08 seasons success a Dinner dance was organised in June at the Borough Restaurant for fifty. An evening not without its contraversial moments. Chairman of the committee, Mr Davis, whilst toasting 'The King' condemned a recent speech my Prime Minister Ramsey Mcdonald voicing that all present agreed with him.

Toast and speeches were made all around with the evening ending with songs, mostly sang by the players. Harry Harbour, who the previous season had become one of the teams star players, raised the roof with laughter whilst singing 'At the match last Saturday'. For anyone wishing to listen it's here 

The evening finished off with a presentation of a grand carriage clock to Reg Luffman to commentate his eight years with the club and his forthcoming wedding. The applause he received must have been hollow for those present who had complained about his time as captain. 

The AGM came round a month later, a much different one than the doom and gloom in the previous year. The club finances had shown a massive increase with now £34 in the bank. Extra income of 6 shillings being made from selling their old kit! The big hoarding situated on the corner of Pen Mill and Lyde Road was in urgent repair. Originally erected to stop people standing in the corner and watching matches for free. 

Dr. Marsh, after just one season had decided he wanted to step down as President , voicing that it was in the best interest of the club for one man not to have a monopoly over its running. A new President was voted in, Mr Arthur Newton, who owned and ran  a succesful Chemist shop opposite the Three Choughs Hotel. 

Arthur Newton President in 1908

With the season gone so well previously it was decided on playing the same leagues and cups with Bert Maughan, obviously forgiven for his misdemeanours previously, voted as captain again. Johnny Hayward turning down the offer of Vice-captainship. The evening ended on a sad note with news of the death of Rev. F. W Hotham, a player who was one of the first players for the club, evening before the Casuals were formed. Travelling from his parish in Chard for matches in Yeovil and beyond, he was still a Vice-president of the club - having paid his 10 shillings! 

A season wouldn't be a season without the opener being against Upton Park at Pen Mill. There seventh trip. Although the link seeming to be Reg Luffman who the previous season had toured with the London team and also presented him with a clock as a wedding present. 

After the previous season, a fine crowd of 700 witnessed the Glovers lose 3-2 on a hot September afternoon. Yeovil promoting Larcombe and Barnes from the reserves. Also Oxford University's ACL Clarke, who it transpired lived in Evershot, was again in the Yeovil ranks who was spending the following month with the club. 

A week later, the Navy side Channel Fleet arrived for a friendly, even though both teams would be competing in the same Dorset League that season. The highlight being the attendance of the Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Charles Beresford who was met by club dignitaries and shown to a seat reserved especially for him in the Grandstand. News of his attendance boosted the gate to over 1000. He witnessed Hayward on fire, scoring four in a 6-0  victory.

Lord Charles Beresford, Admiral of the fleet

With the pre-season over it was time for the real action to start. After beating the Sailors the week before now it was time for the soldiers of RGA Weymouth, a team that had proved hard to beat previously. An agressive and hard game took place, with spectators enraged by the decisions of the referee, Mr Pitts from Weymouth. After he could take no more Mr Pitts stopped the game to speak to one over enthusiastic spectator about his behaviour and language. As for the game, the Glovers were in fine form, matching the speed and aggression and fitness of the army boys. Eventually running out winners 3-1 with goals from Clarke, Lodge and of course Hayward.

The side for the opening game being:

Cook,H.Seymour, Kemp, Cooper, W.Seymour, Maughan, Clarke, Lodge, Haywood, Larcombe, Barnes

Herb Cook in goal returned to the side halfway through the last season. Kemp, Larcombe and Barnes all coming up from the succesful reserve team . William Barnes being the reserves captain previously. 

William Barnes 

A friendly match followed with Exeter City reserves, at St James Park, a match one would guess give Exeter another chance to look at Hayward again. Hayward, thankfully for the Glovers had an off day as they went down 5-0 in front of 2000.

The English cup had a habit of throwing awful draws for Yeovil, this season being par for the course. Away to Longfleet St Mary. Over 400 fans took the chance of cheap rail tickets for the match with a morning in Bournemouth. Missing Clarke, who couldn't get away from university, Yeovil picked a W. Steadley. Steadley, who performed well at Longfleet , was chosen from Yeovil Thursday FC, a team chosen from the shop workers of the town and playing on their half day off, hence Thursday. As in previous seasons, Longfleet proved too strong coming out winners, 4-2 at the aptly named Breakheart Road! 

Somerset league action started at The Athletic ground, against Wells City. A fine performance that ended 3-2, didn't show the gap in ability of the two teams. Young Barnes scoring his debut goal for the Glovers. A week later and Barnes was on target again, scoring two in an exciting match at Pen Mill against Street, Yeovil winning 3-1 against a team many older fans in the crowd considered their traditional rivals. The pick of the goals being a thirty yard screamer by Bill Seymour. 

The friendly rule at the time was if you travelled for a friendly you were duty bound to return the favour by travelling to your opponents. Of course, the friendlies only being a chance to raise revenue for the clubs. Yeovil, after their fixture pile up couldn't return the favour the previous season, so now travelled to Sarum to play Salisbury City reserves. The reputation of the Glovers was growing though and Salisbury chose to play nine of their professional players, more used to playing against the likes of Portsmouth and Southampton in the Southern league. The Glovers came back with a credible 2-2 draw with young Charlie Larcombe scoring his first goal for the club. 

The Somerset league champions Frome ran up the station road towards the hotel. They were thirty minutes late. Within 15 minutes of alighting on Platform 1 they were on the pitch kicking off towards the Camborne Road End. The Glovers aided by goals from Haywood and Lodge, Lodge's goal being scored just before the end in semi darkness. Frome also missing a penalty, their third penalty miss at Pen Mill in two seasons. The only consolation for the Frome boys being they would be  not be walking part of the way home as in the previous season. 

Weynouth away was next up, favourites to be the Dorset league champions, although having a reputation of arrogance and many silently questioning where their money was coming from to attract their quality of players. Later in the year, all would be revealed which would see Weymouth FC kicked out of the league. On this occasion,with Weymouth sporting a new Terracotta strip for the first time on a wet windy day, the Grandstand had been taken over by 'visitors from Somerset'. Hayward again was on fire scoring two in typical Hayward hot shot fashion. The Glovers running out 3-1 winners. 

Weymouth FC circa 1909

The Prison officers from Portland must have been relieved after arriving with only ten men at Pen Mill when they discovered that Johnny Hayward along with Bill Seymour were on county duty against Devon. The ten men put up a great fight in an exciting match before a solitary goal from Harry Harbour put them out of their misery. A huge crowd turned out a week later to see the return of Hayward and Seymour from County duty agaonst the sailors of the Channel Fleet, all witnessing Hayward add two more to his name in a 3-2 scoreline. His first being described as an incredible exhibition of skill, control and then power. 

After a trip to Bridport that saw a near full strength Yeovil side win 8-2, Larcombe and Hayward helping themselves to a hatrick each, it was time to head to Portland to again play The Channel Fleet. Losing 2-1 after half time, the Glovers fought back to win 3-2 sending the small knot of Yeovil fans delirious with excitement. 

Exeter reserves returned to Pen Mill w week before Christmas to play their return friendly. A large crowd gathered and watched six Exeter professional first teamers turn out  against their heroes. A collection on the ground being made for Mr. Brown, Secretary of the Cricket club who was seriously ill, £3.5sh being raised. An exciting game saw Yeovil hold on to a 2-2 draw with an OG and a fantastic shot by Harbour scoring for the Glovers. 

Christmas morning  came with a 2-0 victory over the Yeovil & District league. However, the one match people were desperate to see was the Boxing Day battle with the 2nd Coldstream Guards from London. Posters had been displayed over the town advertising the match and a crowd of over 1000 had descended on Pen Mill to see the famous Army football side on tour. They waited a long time, no Guards turned up and slowly one by one the crowd moaning about their admission fee and Boxing Day wasted drifted away. At 4.15pm suddenly three taxis came speeding along Sherborne Road, with the Army team inside. After explaining that the previous day they had played in Wales and missed the connection at Bristol they'd hired taxis from Bristol to drive them all the way to Yeovil. A match obviously impossible now, the Guards apologetically promise to stay in the town and play the Casuals on the Monday, which they did. The gates were thrown open to spectators and saw the Glovers win 5-2. The fiasco meaning the President having to apologise in the local press. 

Fiasco or no, still the crowds poured into Pen Mill, this time for the first game of 1909, against old rivals Weymouth FC. With Yeovil laying on top and Weymouth second, the match was seen as an indication of where the Dorset League championship would be heading. The day didn't start well for Weymouth. Firstly two of their best players, Mabb and Wood missed the train to Yeovil by a minute. In a state of panic they commendeared a car which broke down just past Dorchester. Eventually arriving at Pen Mill Station on the later train just as the second half was starting. They ran on the pitch from the Hotel End, just as Johnny Hayward was completing his hat trick to put Yeovil 5-0 up. When they did get on the field their presence made no difference. Eventually Hayward netting five in a 9-1 win. It wasn't the end of Weymouth's bad day. A few days later it was discovered they had played a 'ringer' an investigation was ordered by the Dorset FA which set in motion a chain of events that later in the year would shock the local football World. 

The pitch of Welton Rovers was not to the liking of the Yeovil contingent that arrived in Midsomer Norton, a slope from goal to goal with a dip in the middle. With the recent success, the committee were becoming high and mighty. Carriages were reserved for the club on the train with waitors serving their pre-matcb meal. This being the Somerset Challenge Cup a supporters train was also booked with some 350 taking advantage of cheap rail tickets. Charlie Larcombe, by now a county player in his first season scoring the only goal of the match. The side travelled back home on the same train with dinner being served away from the rif-raf! 

The high and mightiness was soon knocked out of the Glovers in the next two matches, first away to Radipole, where a dull and boring game in front of just a few saw a 1-0 defeat. Although Yeovil still remaining top. A week later a trip to Badgers Hill, Frome saw the team embarrassed in a 4-0 defeat. The 50 or so Glovers fans present being at a loss of how the side had performed so bad. 

The cup rivalry of the year before was commenced again with Clevedon FC, they arrived at Pen Mill determined to gain revenge for the Senior Cup defeat of a year earlier. This time in the semi-final of the Somerset Challenge Cup. Over 1500 lined the ropes and patronaged the grandstand, gate receipts being £15. A nervous match saw both defences on top. The main talking point coming in the last minute. Haywood with a low shot at the Hotel End had all the crowd screaming goal, Hancock the Clevedon custodian managed to get across and scoop the ball clear. The Yeovil players convinced the ball had crossed the line began to celebrate, the linesman signalled the ball had crossed the line also. Mr Willy from Chard was having none of it and waved play on! A reply would be necessary. 

A week later a tired Yeovil traveled to Clevedon for the replay. tired through having to play Whiteheads less than 48 hours earlier in an evening match against Whiteheads, in front of a 1300 they won, 3-1. 

The wind and rain poured as the Glovers took the pitch amongst ' hurricane level cheering from the Yeovil fans in the grandstand".  Tired or not, the Glovers ran rings around their opponents and arrived at half time one up after a typical Hayward goal. It stayed that way right until the last few minutes, when a pass to a Clevedon forward, clearly in an offside position allowed the player to round keeper Cook and slot it home. The appeals by all and sundry were turned away. Extra-time was too much for the tired and bone weary boys in Green and White, Clevedon adding the winner. 

The sadness turned to joy though, when news reached them that Weymouth had only drawn at Royal Garrison meaning Yeovil had won the Dorset League Southern section. They would play at the end of the season against the Northern section winners to be crowned Dorset league champions. 

The season was still alive in the Somerset league, 20 Yeovil fans travelled to Street a week later to see the Glovers play out a 0-0 draw in front of 500, the result meaning Yeovil lay on second place, 2 points behind Frome but Glovers having played a match more. 

The traditional Easter match friendlies opened with Old Newportonians, despite the name, the team had no Welsh connection but were formed from former pupils and students from Newport Boys Boarding School in London. An exciting match saw a 1-1 draw, again in front of over 1000 with Hayward again on the scoresheet. Two days later it was the turn of the 2nd Grenadier Guards team to entertain the crowd. The Guards playing in the Southern League and considered to be one of best military teams in the country. Alas, not good enough for the Glovers as goals from Hayward and Lodge saw a comfortable 2-0 victory. 

2nd Grenadier Guards FC circa 1908

The players had a well earned two week rest before what was at that time the biggest match in the club's history. The Play off final between the Southern and Northern Dorset champions. Their opponent, Branksome Gas, one of the best Amatuer teams in the South. 

Over 700 fans travelled to the final at Dorchester, some decked out in Green and White top hats and umbrellas. Branksome, with just having a handful of fans in attendance, in their yellow and black shirts, considered the favourites, on the day were no match for the Glovers, the first goal from Lodge was met with incredible cheers and enthusiasm. None more so, than outside the Western Chronicle offices in the town where hundreds had gathered to get telegraph information of the match. The half time score of 1-0 being met again with great cheers. 

The second half again saw Yeovil dominate, goals from Larcombe and Hayward finished the match as a competition with 15 minutes to go ,as the Yeovil fans made their way to the Pavillion to obtain a good spot for the award ceremony. At the final whistle the enthusiasm, cheers and screams of joy welcomed the Glovers immediately to the Pavillion to accept the handsome trophy from Mr Huxtable, the town clerk of Weymouth, who commented that it would take a fine team to beat the Yeovil side. Captain Bert Maughan on collecting the trophy calling for three cheers for the Branksome team. The pocket of Branksome supporters returning with 'Three cheers to the winners - Yeovil' 

Yeovil FC 1908-09

After taking tea in Dorchester, and probably a few beers, the team and fans headed back to Pen Mill Station and pulled by carraige all the way to the Borough, where 1000's lined the route and then congregated in the Borough. Maughan again asking for three cheers this time to "my boys" 

The season ended on a warm  Wednesday April evening in the last Somerset senior league match at home against Wells City. A win would confirm Runners-up spot. Which they did, taking apart a weakened Wells City team 8-1. 

With the Reserves again being Yeovil and District league champions, it had been one of the most succesful in the club's history. The club's silverware being on show with photos of the team in Mr Whitcombe's photography shop in Middle Street, attracting much interest. 

Yeovil A (reserves) 1908-09

Happy days! 



Popular Posts