The fake coach, Wales, and Pubs - 1920-21

Yeovil & Petters United taken 7th May 1920 before the match with Bristol City Reserves 

The Town Hall was packed to the rafters when the first AGM of Yeovil and Petters United took place in July 1920. The first season had been seen as a success, despite the logistic planning it took on a weekly basis. For the first time the club announced it passed income of over £1000, an incredible amount for a provincial amateur football club. After expenses a handsome £209 lay in the bank. For the first time a Supporters club was set up, to raise funds, something that they are still doing 100  years later. 

Ambition wasn't in short supply at the club, with the previous season seeing them half way in the Western League Two, it wasn't where the club wanted to be. Behind the scenes club officials were lobbying the bigger clubs in the Western League One to vote them in-they did! Trowbridge left scratching their heads how they had finished runners-up in the WL2 the previous season but it was the Glovers who would be playing in a higher level of football in 1920-21. One, of course could see it was Yeovil's high crowds and extra revenue that was to their advantage. The WL1 would mean longer travel, extra travelling expenses and also players being paid for work missed. After the election of the officials the main topic of conversation was the relocation from Pen Mill to Huish. 

Huish for years had been a simple field surrounded by orchards. Sometimes used for grazing and occasionally for cattle trading. The town was expanding though houses were being built on the sides with a Brewery on its western side. It was the Directors of the Brewery, J Bruttons and Sons that handed Yeovil the land for a period of 21 years. With a playing surface of 110 yards by 75. The Grandstand original built in 1899 and expanded on at least two occasions would be installed at Huish and extended again to accommodate 800 paying fans. Over time it would be one of the finest grounds out of league football and on occasion the most talked about ground in the country. In 1920 the capacity was estimated at between 6 to 8000. The old Pen Mill ground would still be in use, taken over by Yeovil Athletic a new team in the town. 

A fair number turned up on the 23rd August 1920 to see the first public paying match on the soon to be hallowed turf. A trial match, Colours v Whites. The new turf being praised for it's excellent condition. All the proceeds raised from the match being handed over to the Yeovil Hospital Building Fund. 

A sign of the clubs ambition was the signing of their first player coach Mr. Mortimer, previously a player with Fulham, Leicester Fosse (now City) and Swansea Town. Employed to install fitness and to coach the players. One could argue that he was the first player/manager of the club. However, after leaving Yeovil to take over at Torquay United it transpired that Mr. Mortimer was a fake who used the credentials of Francis Mortimer (Leicester, Fulham and Swansea) to obtain the job. The Mr Mortimer that fooled his way into Huish was from Bath and had previously been charged with embezzlement whilst running a social club. 

Yeovil made their debut in a professional league on the 28th August 1920, away to Bristol Rovers reserves, a fine 3-2 win. A match that was end to end and action packed with Yeovil playing on the break. A crowd of over 3000 saw a brace from Pilkington, and  a goal from Beale score for the Glovers. 

The opening side for the 1920-21 season being :

Gregory, F.Day, May, England, Abbott, Potter, Brown, Nutland, Beale, L. Pilkington, Garrett

Ben Potter, born in Manchester was a full back signed from Exeter City where he'd previously made two appearances. Although classed as a full back, Yeovil it would seem prefered to play him on the wing. He played 80 times for the Glovers scoring just once. 

Ben Potter signed in 1920

Whilst the 'Pro team' were taking on Rovers, the amateur outfit were christening Huish, a Dorset league match against Christchurch who hadn't had the best of journeys. Three miles out of Blandford their charabanc had broken down, meaning all the team walking back to Blandford to find alternative transport, they arrived over an hour late. Again, a Yeovil victory in front of a large crowd saw the 'Lilly Whites' as the press refered to them, romp home 5-0, William 'Bill' Day having no problem getting used to the new surroundings by scoring four! 

A week later Bristol Rovers Reserves gained revenge on the Glovers, in the return match at Huish they headed back home with a 2-0 victory. 

The English cup had morphed into the FA Cup, a competition that was at times in years to come, to make Yeovil famous around the World. In it's new identity 'United' had been given what many saw as an easy away trip to Frome Town in the extra-preliminary round. A 'large body of supporters' made the trip only to witness an awful display with a goal from Stan Abott being their only consolation in a 3-1 defeat. 

Barry Reserves became the first Welsh side to contest the Glovers in a competitive match, when they travelled to Huish. A hard game was anticipated with the Welsh men having defeated Bristol Rovers Reserves the week before. One thing not taking into account was the hero of all Yeovil fans, Johhny Hayward making his first appearance of the season. As captain, he ran the show, at one stage memorising six Barry players on a mazey dribble, he scored, of course in a 3-1 win for the 'United'. 

It must have felt like dejavu for the amateur side, as they travelled to Pen Mill in the Somerset Charity Cup against newly formed Yeovil Athletic. A match that was to result in animosity between the two clubs. Athletic had requested the match be played at Huish a week later when the town club didn't have a match,it was refused. With the Barry match in front of 2500 played at the same time, the match at Pen Mill was played in front of just a few people. Resulting in a loss of revenue. As the match was for charitable means, Athletic were asked to make up the deficit. Mr Hicks, on the Athletic committee, was a former Yeovil player, supporter and financial contributer, as a result he refused to have anything more to do with the town club and ordered them to remove a Yeovil and Petters advertising hoarding from his shop window! For the record the Glovers won 6-1.

A nautical theme was next up at Huish when HMS Valiant sent their ship's team to play in a friendly, a match that even though resulted in a 7-1 won for the Glovers, was described as exciting from start to finish. 

HMS Valiant FC circa 1920

Top of the league, Bristol City Reserves turned up at Huish also turning up was a referee with a faulty watch. In an exciting match, City found themselves 2-0 in the 39th minute. Surprisingly the referee, Mr Lamacroft, blew his whistle for half time a minute later. The bemused crowd, demonstrated forcefully, and after consulting the linesman, the ref played the extra five minutes. Hayward scored for Yeovil with ten minutes to go, to set up a Grandstand finish, cheered on by the Yeovil crowd. In th 87th minute, Mr Lamacroft blew for full time with Yeovil on the attack. This time he couldn't be persuaded to play the extra three minutes resulting in a 2-1 victory for the Bristol side. 

On the same day as the Bristol City match, just 200 wet and cold supporters at Minehead witnessed a feat that probably will never be repeated by another Yeovil player. In the Somerset Charity Cup, a strong Yeovil side swept Minehead away 7-0. All seven goals being scored by Bill Day. 

Whilst the professionals losing 4-0 against Douglas Motorbike factory team in, Bristol, the amateurs were entertaining the Irish inniskilling fusiliers FC. 1500 witnessed the Irish team equalising late in the game for a 2-2 draw. 

On the 27th November 1920, the Glovers played their first game on non-English soil, at Taff Vale Park, Pontypridd. The Dragons as Ponrtpridd were known, were roughly level with Yeovil in the league, however at Taff Vale, with its elegant grandstand the Welsh men were too strong for the Glovers running out 3-1, Hayward for Yeovil scoring with a wonderful piece of skill and finish. It was a long journey back by rail and ferry. 

The grandstand at Taff Vale

Pontypridd FC 1920-21

On the same day at Glastonbury, the  amateur team and their Somerset Charity cup hopes were destroyed  going down 4-0.

The reason for Bruttons kind offer of the Huish ground was probably highlighted in December when the two pubs closest to the ground The Crown and The heart of Oak, both owned by the brewery applied to the planning Committee for an extension of both premises as at present they were not big enough to accommodate  all the supporters wanting to use the establishments on match days. Meanwhile at another pub in the town, The Glovers Arms, legendary Johnny Hayward was presented with a cheque, money raised by a collection of supporters in thanks of his services to the club. In a speech by Fred Bond, seen as the Father of Yeovil football it was announced that since making his debut in 1907, Yeovil had scored 741 goals, 277 of which had been scored by Hayward himself. For the county, when Johnny had played they'd scored 54 goals, 27 of them attributed to Hayward. 

In the Dorset League the amateur arm of the club was performing well, however after a shock 3-2 defeat against Dorchester, their first of the season, Weymouth rolled in to town for their first taste of the Huish turf. Still unbeaten, they confidently ran into the Huish pitch in front of 1500, by half time they were 3-1 down, goals from Reg Nutland, Sparks, a young lad from Crewkerne and the old Petters United stalwart Charlie Webb, putting the Terras to the sword. It stayed that way to the end. 

After a Christmas friendly match against Western league rivals Abertillery, a trip to Ashton Gate, Bristol was the final action of 1920 where on the 30th December, a strong City reserves sent the Glovers packing 3-0. 

The 'amateurs' kicked off 1921 at Huish against the old foes of Street, another team seen as equal to the Glovers, however like Frome, Yeovil were growing whereas they were stagnating, reflecting in a match won 5-0 which could have easily been double that. 

After the war, military men returned and found life periless and hard, mirrored in a fan writing a letter to the local press. 

To the Editor.

Sir-May I make a suggestion to the committee of Yeovil and Petters' Football Club?

It is this: That they allow genuine unemployed men to have free admission to the football matched on production of their out of work card on the gate 

For a man who is willing to work it  is horrible to be unable to do so, and to miss his favourite amusement on a Saturday. It is adding to his troubles.

It is doubtful if the Club would lose anything financially and it would be helping those who are suffering through the stagnation of trade.

When the writer served on the committee we admitted ladies free, so there is a precedent. 

Yours faithfully


A cheque for £75 was handed over to the club from the newly formed supporters club, (still leaving them with £41 in the bank). It was an incredible amount of money they had raised in just six months. At the presentation, attended by Johnny Hayward, it was announced the fledging club now had over 500 members and were aiming for 1000 by the end of the season. Already for the following season planning permission had been put in to extend the stand further. 

On the field, Pill Athletic, a village side from near Bath arrived for a Somerset Senior cup tie, a foregone conclusion for most people. The amateurs were lacklustre and embarrassed as the villagers won 2-0, it wouldn't be the only a Giant Killing act Huish would ever see. On the same day, the professionals were at Dean Court, Boscombe, saying hello to an old friend Garrett who they'd transfered to Boscombe mid-season. An exciting game in front of a large crowd saw Yeovil fight back from 3-1  down to 3-3 with two late goals from Johnny Hayward. 

Praise was bestowed on the club by the football loving shop workers when the committee decided to play a Western League match at Huish, enabling those who never had the chance to watch their team on. Saturday, the opportunity. A plumb match with Cardiff City Reserves was on offer. The workers were not dissapointed in what was one of the best matches of the year, two goals from Johnny Hayward saw the Bluebirds sent home on a 2-1 defeat. Two days later it was the Glovers turn to head to Cardiff to take on the Cardiff Corinthians, another 2-1 victory saw the club win their first ever match out of England. Incidentally, Cardiff Cornthians have the enviable distinction to be the first British club to play FC Barcelona in 1910 and a club still in existence today. 

Losing 1-0 to Minehead with ten minutes to go, it seemed the amateurs were about to lose their unbeaten record in the Somerset league, an own goal brought the clubs level with Reg Nutland scoring the winner just before the close. A result that meant just one point from their last two games would see them play in the Somerset play-off final to be champions of the county. 

It was all go for the Glovers in February,  first a visit to Torquay to play a mixed Torquay and Babbacombe side, also one guesses for the fake Mr Mortimer to introduce himself to Torquay. Goals from Ben Potter and a hat trick from Johnny Hayward sealed a 4-1 win. The month ending with travelling to Swansea to play their reserves on a Thursday afternoon travelling back and then home to to Exeter on the Saturday. The Welsh trip being a happy return home with a 1-1 draw against then top of the league, Swansea Town reserves. 

Wales became a second home for the Yeovil lads in March 1920. The first four games of the month all in the principality. First against Mid-Rhondda, a non-descript 0-0 draw. Ninian Park, Cardiff was the next visit a week later where they fought hard but succumbed 1-0. One can probably guess that the team stayed locally as two days later Barry Reserves were visited. Johhny Hayward on fire by scoring all four in a 4-2 win. Five days later they were once again headed back to Wales, this time at Abertillery, on a day of continuous rain and a cut up pitch, Yeovil went down 3-0 against 'the Grasshoppers' who were still going for league glory. 

The best amateur team in the country, London Caledonian FC arrived for a friendly at Huish accompanied by fine ladies and gentleman. Over 2000 packed to see the Caledonian, famous for representating the Country at recent Olympics. On the day the professionals of Yeovil were too good against the amateurs winning 4-1.

London Caledonians 

March ended with another Welsh team this time at home. Cardiff Corries, bottom of the league. Easter Monday, the day of the match, saw a massive crowd at Huish who witnessed a disappointing display with Percy Nutland scoring in a a 1-1 draw. 

The season drew into April, and opened with a match against Swindon Town reserves at Huish on a warm and sunny day. With both sides mid table and nothing really to play for, it was a surprise to see a fast end to end match. With a brace from Hayward, Yeovil won 2-1 to move above the Wiltshermen. 

The amateurs confirmed their Somerset League (Southern) championship with a fine 5-0 win at Huish, to be champion of all of Somerset they would go into a play off final with Peasedown at Frome. The fine nature of the club was shown when a collection was made at the Bath City match for the Blind Soldiers, a reminder that War was still in the memory, £7 being raised. Bath City v Yeovil matches were being labelled 'The Somerset Derby'. Goals from Hayward, Rice and Reg Nutland, saw this 'derby' won by the Glovers 3-1.

The reformation of Chard Town FC, saw 2000 line the ropes at their small ground, against The Glovers, all to raise funds for the fledgling club. Johnny Hayward scoring both goals in a 2-0 win that saw the players invited to a smoking concert with the Mayor after. 

Pontypridd arrived at Huish for the final home league match of the season, over 3000 turned up. Before hand a local reporter had voiced in his column that Yeovil fans were not being sporting enough to the opposition or referees, choosing to not clap good opposition play, barrack the referee for any decision against the Glovers, one can guess his words fell in death ears. Hayward continued his amazing goalscoring exploits scoring twice in a 4-0. Many spectators stayed after to watch Yeovil Schoolboys take on Taunton, another collection was made, this time for the Taunton schoolboys expenses. 

A sign of how things were changing was the play-off final for the Somerset League at Frome. In years gone by, trains would be hired, and any way possible was used to get to the final to support the Glovers. At the final at Frome little interest was shown, with Peasedown bringing 500 fans which out numbered the Yeovil support. A late goal, five minutes from time, saw the Miners win 1-0. 

Another trip to Wales, closed the Western League a trip to Ton Pentre, Hayward and Nutland scoring in a 2-2 draw. It was their eighth trip to Wales during the season. 

Ton Pentre FC circa 1920

Seventh position in their first season in professional football was far better then most expected. To celebrate Bristol City Reserves were invited for an end of season friendly. Hayward, as per usual scored a hat trick, bringing his tally to 43 goals in just 35 appearances. 

On and off the pitch, with the formation of the supporters club, it was all working in cohesion, in their new stadium, which was being updated constantly, things could only get better. 

Talking of Huish, if you were wondering what they did with the pitch during the summer? an advertisement that appeared in the local press, may answer that 

Happy days 


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