Thieves, dodgy wedding gifts and mergers - 1913-14
At the end of the precious season, there had been no let up for Bill Seymour and Fred Haywood. They were in the Somerset side lined up against Middlesex FA, to become champions of the Southern countries for the first time. Playing at Pen Mill in front of an estimated 2500, people arrived at Pen Mill Station from trains from all over Somerset and beyond. Winning 4-1 with a brace from Johnny Hayward, the 'Cidermen' were treated like the heroes they were after the final whistle.
Champions or not, the Glovers fell into trouble with the Somerset FA, the hideous crime of having collections organised by the club to buy wedding gifts for Hayward and Harry Harbour and three reserve players , it was seen as a 'payment' and needed to stop in the future unless approved by the Somerset committee.
Ernest Davis, one of the original men who formed the modern day version of the club in 1895 had stepped down as treasurer and chairman of the committee the previous season. However with Mr Farr the well liked President stepping down after three years, Mr Davis was voted in as President, a more worthy a man would be hard to find.
Despite the best season in the club's history previously, gate money was down, the adverse weather being attributed to it, no mention of the entrance looking like a farm yard may have put a few off. A benelovant fund for the players was set up, with £37 deposited in it, thus ensuring players were paid in the event of losing work through a football injury.
With 66 goals from 75 appearances, Charlie Larcombe was probably only second to Johnny Hayward in the fan's favourite stakes, a polite man with a shy nature, he was loved by all. Charlie had decided to emigrate to Toronto, Canada where he was to take up a lucrative position with the Canadians customs office. He would be missed by all. America had lured Herb Seymour, although he was hoping to be back by Christmas. Johnson the left back also deciding his time at Pen Mill was hard to give but would play when free.
Of course, these players were going to be hard to replace, all three very influential players that brought glory to the club in the last two years and had established them as the best club in the county and one of the top amateur teams in the West of England.
Meanwhile at their club rooms in Vincent Street, Petters United were holding their AGM, announcing the club were £1 in profit, a measly amount, however this was after the cost of building the facilities at Brickyard Lane had been removed. To boost revenue a whist drive and dance was to be organised
In previous years the Glovers had been very gung-ho on how they attracted players, basically just opening it up to a free for all in a trial match. This time they had been more selective, inviting three players locally to come and try out. Nicholls, W. Stidson and E. Boobyer a young defender from East Coker. The match being played in front of a few hundred and the gate receipts being given to the Hospital fund. Only Boobyer and Stidson would be used and found themselves occasionally used for first team duties but mostly in the reserves
The season opened without the usual friendly and was straight into action, Dorchester away. The match kicked off thirty minutes late as the referee from Portland had failed to turn up. Yeovil with what can only be described as an experimental side were 6-0 up at half time. Dorchester couldn't get near the fast moving, fast passing and fast shooting Glovers. The only surprise in the match that no goals were added in the second half, however a 6-0 away win in the first match of the season bode well.
The side of the opening match being:
Gregory, Day, Peaty, Taylor, W.Seymour Maughan, Glanville, Bowen, Hayward, R. Larcombe, Curtis
Walter Swift had surprisingly not been included in goal and it seemed it left the club in the summer. Gregory his replacement had the previous season been in Petters United reserves team, as was Day now replacing Johnson in defence. Curtis had been a summer acquasition from Sherborne, who because of residence rules was not allowed to play in Somerset league games.
In their wisdom, the English Cup Committee had decided to extend the area for the cup draws, meaning teams pitted against each other for the first time. The Cornishmen of St Austell made the long journey to Yeovil in the first round. The current Cornwall Champions and with six County players amongst their ranks, St Austell were clear favourites. Sad news arrived on the morning of the match with Captain Bill Seymour's Father had passed away and the captain was out for the match. The Saints, entered the field and were remarked to be looking fresh and smart considering the long journey North, accompanied by a small number of their fans in the crowd of over 1000.
Despite the high quality of the opposition, it was Yeovil who scored first, Hayward in his traditional fashion running and shooting with immense power leaving the Saint's keeper diving after nothing. It stayed this way until half time. A shock was on the cards! The second half saw the Cornishnen on a non stop attack on the Yeovil goal, however it took am own goal by the inexperience day who in an attempt to clear sliced it into his own net. Despite the Glovers hardly getting out of their own half, they held on for a reply. A reply that would be four days later down in Cornwall. The committee coming in for heavy criticism after the match for the team they had chosen .
The reply was the first ever English (FA Cup) tie played in Cornwall. Hayward, the goal king of Somerset, could not make the trip on the Wednesday, a trip that took much planning in such a short time. The Saints starting a man short. Reportedly Yeovil played more attacking than than the match at Pen Mill, however a goal in each half put paid to their cup chances for another year. It was a long journey back to Somerset.
The Yeovil representation in the English Cup was not over though, Petters United had produced one of the shocks of the round by beating Weston-super-Mare 6-3 the week earlier. Petters had strengthened during the summer and as Yeovil seemingly weakened, it was in trepidation that the Glovers headed up to Brickyard Lane for the first round of the Somerset charity Cup to defend their trophy. Sid Webb scored early for Petters in front of over 1100, their first ever goal against Yeovil. Yeovil hit back with goals from Hayward and a thirty yarder from Glanville. Reg Larcombe scored to make it 3-1 with Petters scoring just at the end. Although the 3-2 win sent the Glovers's fans home happy, it was obvious to all Petters were catching them up on the field, a result against Petters three months later would change the club forever.
Trowbridge Road, Bradford-on-Avon was the next stop against the rubber factory team Spencer Moulton FC. An ambitious team who had dreams of turning their ground into the best in the West. Incessant rain poured from start to finish and a make shift Yeovil side came back to win 5-3 with four quick goals late in the second half.
A week later St Lukes College (Exeter) arrived and were praised by all with their play and sporting way they had played for such a young group of men. The Glovers running out 5-3 winners. Spencer Moulton, ambition and all, came to Pen Mill for their return fixture. Yeovil brass band kept the large crowd entertained as a hat went around the ground, money collected going to the Senghenydd colliery disaster in Wales which had killed over 400 miners. Four being the number of the day, four goals in each half and Hayward scoring four of them in an 8-0 win.
Stoke-sub-hamdon, visited Pen Mill in the semi-final of the Somerset Charity Cup, blue skies shone as the Glovers ran out 5-1 winners with the biggest cheer of the day being Stoke's goal. Minehead would be their opponents in the final.
"it was the tamist and most uninteresting game I've ever witnessed on the Pen Mill Ground" Blandford at home had not inspired the Yeovil fans as the quote capitulates. As a sign of the times and what was just around the corner, the town had aquasitioned a new Army recruiting sergeant by the name of Hawkes. Obviously, boasting of playing a bit of football, with that boast he found himself partnering the great Hayward up front. It can be granted that Sergeant Hawkes debut was not one for the memory books. A hat trick of easy missed chances in the first half alone. Johnny Hayward showing him the way with the only goal of the match. Sergeant Hawke was not asked back.
Eleven smart Navy lads arrived a week later, the team off the battle cruiser HMS Lion. Proving to be stronger opposition than they first realised the Glovers found themselves 2-0 down half time. Curtis and Tommy Taylor pulling them back 2-2 by the end.
|HMS Lion FC|
Three motor cars transported the Glovers to Victoria Road Winton for their Dorset league match with Bournemouth Wanderers. They got lost and didn't arrive until 2.45!. Alas although a fine performance where a draw would have been fair Yeovil travelled back losing 1-0.
Being the Dorset senior Cup holders, much excitement was aroused in the town when the Royal Welch (spelt correctly) Fusiliers came marching into town to play in the Dorset League . Rain hammered down all day however it didn't stop a sizeable crowd, patronising the Grandstand until it was packed. The Fuseliers, were on a different level to anything that had been seen, speed and control being their game. The team full of sergeants, privates and drummers easily beat the Glovers 3-1 without breaking into sweat.
|The Royal Welch Fusiliers FC|
Harry Bowen was a hard working and fast skilful striker with an eye for goal in the Yeovil attack, sometimes in the shadow of the great Johnny Hayward. When the Royal Garrison came though he was unstoppable, scoring all four a 4-1 victory. The Army boys and Yeovil players trading blows at one stage, much to the disgust of all, who saw the sport as gentlemanly in the local press. A week later at Weymouth heartbreak as despite controlling the match and being one-up, Weymouth came back to win 2-1 with the last kick of the match.
Boxing Day brought a surprise to those along the ropes and in the grandstand when Street visited. Captain Herb Seymour was back from his trip to America, the crowd giving a massive reception as the band played 'For he's a jolly good fellow'. Herb was reported to be surprised at his reception. Unfortunately one person who didn't have a good day was referee Mr Newport from Weymouth. Bill Seymour fired in a pole driver towards goal only for it to hit Mr Newport in the head leaving him flat out on the Pen Mill turf. Thankfully recovering to continue and officiate in a 3-1 win for Yeovil over their old rivals.
With Petters United never taking so much a point over Yeovil, when the Glovers went in at half time 3-1 up, it seemed business as usual against their town rivals. However, the second half saw the boys in amber and black pull of a great comeback with Webb and Gould scoring, the Ironmen on the crowd celebrating with great enthusiasm. It was a sign though, Petters were now not the little whipping boys from up the road. It would get much worse a couple of weeks later. William Sutton a Labourer in the town obviously enjoyed the match he was ordered to pay cost after being drunk. In his defence he stated " I met up with some old friends at the football match and had a drop too much". Something many would experience in the many years to follow!
As venues for a final goes Holyrood Mill in Chard was an unusual choice, however it was here that Minehead and current cup holders Yeovil, contested the Somerset Charity cup final. GWR had laid on a 'special' that transported 100s up the track to Chard. Minehead arriving by motor. West Somerseters in the crowd were beside themselves when Minehead, against the run of play, had managed to earn them a 2-0 half time lead. However two penalties early in the second half, both to Yeovil, both despatched by Haywood, now it was time for the Green and White fans to go crazy. It was all Yeovil, shot after shot just missing or hitting the uprights. With 15 minutes left on the clock Minehead broke away and Radford, the Seasiders centre forward with a fine shot gave Minehead the lead and eventually the cup. Chard railway station was packed by the time the presentations were made in front of a small group of people.
Brickyard Lane, Petters's pretty little ground was a quagmire, two days of heavy rain had left the pitch in an awful condition. However, rain or not, it wasn't going to stop over 2000 lining the ropes and packing the small grandstand to see Yeovil prove their domination of their town rivals. At 2-0 to Petters at half time it was the Petters fans, small in number, proudly seeing their small team becoming the Number one club in the town. Whatever Yeovil tried it didn't work, everytime Petters attacked they scored. Johnny Hayward having a complete off day, and when he did get clear he was Rugby tackled by the chasing Petters defence. At the end, the shock and embarrassment for the Glovers was immense. Petters United 7 (Seven) - 0 Yeovil. The ramifications of the result changed the course of Yeovil football club forever.
That evening the players officials shared a joint social evening together at the Town Hall. Organised by the Petters President, Ernest Petter. It was celebration. Of both clubs. Ernest Petter speaking voiced that although living London he had kept a close eye on Glovers since the beginning of the season. The players, committee members but most importantly the two Presidents mixed and chatted. One can only guess with the hindsight of time their topic of conversation.
|Sir Ernest Petter. President of Petters United|
The slump continued with Minehead 0-0, a defeat at old enemy Street 3-1 with for all tense and purposes a reserve XI. Longfleet St Mary away, when only ten players turned out in another 2-0 defeat. By mid-February the chances of silverware was all but gone. Weymouth were still going strong, nearly 300 of their fans turned up at Pen Mill to see them continue their bid for Dorset League glory. It seemed Yeovil were just going through the motions as a club and in the field, only ten could be raised to play Weymouth and that included four reserves. However they put up a good game before going down 2-0.
The Verne Citadel in Portland was a dreadfil place to visit and even worse to play football in. Welch fusiliers were visited, for once a near full side turned out. It wasn't the day for football. As the reporter wrote
'.... The wind was blowing great guns bringing with it a heavy cold mist that envoloped the arena for the whole of the game, it being impossible to see from one end to the other'
Yeovil, recorded their first victory of 1914, beating the Army side in front of a few 6-1, Hayward scoring three. In pity, the ref blew for time early, no one complained.
Dorchester were on the end of another six Yeovil goals a week later, although at half time the Dorset side were winning 1-0, Hayward scoring his second hatrick in successive weeks.
After three wins out of four the Glovers travelled by charabanc to top of the league Minehead - they were late. The Seasiders needing a victory to near enough ensure they would be winners of the Somerset League (A) . A good crowd lined the ropes at Minehead's recreation ground. A hotly fought but sporting game saw Minehead with a 1-0 victory, with many present declaring the Glovers the better side.
It was around this time it became noteable that both Petters and Yeovil would lend players to each other. At Branksome Gas, who needed a win to keep their championship hopes alive going into the last game, Yeovil included in their side the Webb brothers, both prominent in the Petters first team. The result being that Branksome were swept away 5-0 ending their championship bid.
A few weeks later, at Brickyard Lane against Melksham, Petters decided to include in their side, Yeovil's Herb Seymour, Day and more interestingly Johhnny Hayward, in what was described as a 'test that past inspection'. Obviously referring to testing to see what type of team any new club would have. The 14-0 scoreline being prove that it worked, Hayward and Seymour scoring eight between them.
Webb, may have regretted his decision to play for the Glovers against Branksome Gas in the penultimate match of the season, in front of over 2000, Webb in going for a header fell and with the opponent falling on top of him, breaking his shoulder bone cleanly. The Glovers finally winning an exciting but painful match 2-1.
'A dastardly act' - was how the press described the occurrence at the Recreation ground Weymouth, when the Glovers visited to play Royal Garrison Weymouth. A thief had broken into their changing room and stole money from the pockets of the players, 30 shillings in total. Herb Seymour with £2 and a solid gold watch in his pocket was lucky his was not touched. The incident left a sour taste in the mouth after a fine 2-1 victory to end the season.
So, another season was over. The success of previous seasons however had not being replicated. Petters although finishing one place behind the Glovers in the Somerset League, were now seen as equals. How would it pan out though, and more importantly for what was about to follow in the next four years, did it really matter?
Some of those players would never grace the field at Pen Mill again replacing it with the field of battle. Some would never return.