Yeovil & Petters United are born

One can only use guess work of just when the idea of the Petters United and Yeovil Football Club merging came about. Ernest Petter, later to become Sir Ernest in 1925 had invited the players, committee and more importantly the President of Yeovil, Ernest Davis, to a smoking concert to celebrate both clubs on the 10th January 1914. If his idea was to voice out the idea of a merger with Ernest Davis. He could not have picked a better day, the Petters 7-0 hiding of their Rivals earlier in the day must have sent shock waves through the Pen Mill club.

It would seem talks were taken place between the two sides and an agreement had been reached where they swapped players to boost each sides chances. When Petters United's Webb brothers turned out for the Glovers away to title chasing Branksome Gas, it resulted in a shock 5-0. In the report of the match 'Well-wisher'  a mysterious Yeovil fan, probably a journalist, who commented on matches, scribed :

'at the present moment two senior teams [in the town] are almost wasting their energies on various County leagues. There is sufficient talent available in Yeovil to form a team capible of winning the Western League and to also run a team in the county league.

 I know there are difficulties in both teams thinking of its individuality but such difficulties are not insurmountable. 

I make no apology in throwing out the suggestion "

It is not beyond the realms of possibility that 'Well-Wisher' knew of negotiations taking place, and the club(s) used the fact his comments were read by all football fans in the town and enticed him to use his column as a sounding board of how the footballing public of the town would feel of a merger. His comment was the talk of the pubs and cafes in the town. 

A week later, the correspondent and fan who covered the Petters Matches, replied to the suggestion, it seemed that most in the town were in favour of a merger. 

A week later, Well-wisher replied in full to the suggestion and wished the two clubs to discuss the suggestion as soon as possible, although the chances are they were already doing so. A nameless Vice president at the Pen Mill club also wrote in the Western Chronicle that he would fully support a merger. Seven days later and talks had 'officially started between the two teams to merge. Again the subject being the talk of the town. So much so that one fan put the merger to prose:


Let's' rouse ourselves
Before we're 'Grey' 
And see more 'Pets' 
In both our sets

With 'Johnny' and 'Jacko' 
Other teams would play solo
Then 'Days' will be numbered
By a 'Webb' they'd never sumbered

Divided we fall
'Locked' together we stand
With talent that really is grand
With one common purpose and in one common plan

Such a formation of skill 
Will make others ill
Their half backs and full backs
Will know then some drawbacks

True friendship and sport 
We all should support
And not get penned in 
But try to be bold
Like St Michael's of old
Amen (I meant to rhyme something with old) 
But there I am sold 

From five weeks after the initial suggestion was proposed, the sub-committees of both clubs had met and hammered out the agenda for the new club:

* The initial working capital of the new club would be jointly injected by both teams, each paying 50 per cent. 

* Two secretaries would run the day to day running, one from each club. 

* The committee running the new club would be supplied by men in equal numbers by each club. 

* The club would run four teams, two Senior and two Junior 

* The proposal of the club would run for a period of not less than three years. 

* The club will be named Yeovil & Petters United Football Club. 

With these proposals the two clubs organised meetings with their members both at the same time on Monday 11th May 1914. At the meetings both clubs would vote on either accepting or rejecting the proposals. 

The Yeovil FC meeting 

There wasn't a spare seat to be had when the Yeovil club met in the Victoria Hall which was for all tense and purposes the AGM, however for most there was just one topic in the table. Although £87 now lay in the bank with gate receipts rising., was very welcome. 

The President Mr Davis set out the proposals for the new club, stating that not all the committee and players had voted in favour for the proposal, however the majority had. One player who hadn't was star player Johnny Hayward who expressed that although he had voted against the merger he would play and do his best for the town and the club in whatever form it took. Players mainly expressing the trouble in senior players obtaining time off to play in the far flung places of the South in the Western league. 

At the show of hands a big cheer rang up when the majority voted to amalgamate. The enthusiasm that was echoing around the room was short lived. Someone had ran in to inform all and sundry that Petters had voted against the amalgamation. It was off! 

The Petters meeting 

In their small social club at the Nautalis works in Reckleford, it was a small gathering committee members and some  season ticket holders. The atmosphere was not so jovial. The supporters questioned the motive, and if Ernest Petter, their President was behind the amalgamation, the secretary informed them merger or no, Mr Petter would still continue his support for the club. As the supporters of Petters had in theory more to lose, their ground for example, it shouldn't have been no surprise when at the show of hands, the proposal of an amalgamation was rejected unanimously

The Petters Committee had resigned on mass through lack of confidence in them. However despite them voicing that no matter the decision they would continue supporting the club, the rejection, it would seem, was not what the Petters family wished for.

A few days later, Guy Petter, Ernest's brother called a meeting of the whole Nautical Works, tea ladies, the cleaners and everyone. The crux of the meeting was wether they elect a new committee or dissolve the club. One of the workers spoke out. Expressing that the original meeting was sparsely attended and not everyone had a vote. He proposed the vote to not amalgamate be rescinded it was seconded, the vote unanimously voted to throw the original vote in the bin. They were then asked as a mass group to vote again. So, tea ladies, workers, people who had no interest in football, and Yeovil supporters who worked at the Nautical works all voted again. 

For the amalgamation - 96
Against - 9

It passed, so, one can only look back and understand that a lowly worker who proposed they voted again, changed the whole course of Yeovil Town Football club, as we know it today. 

Mr Parkın, Petters United's Secretary then travelled to the Westland works part of the Petters group. Again all workers were asked to vote on the amalgamation. 

For the amalgamation - 97
Against - 2
Majority - 95

A letter was sent immediately to Pen Mill to tell them the merger was back on. 

The next evening the annual Yeovil FC dinner and dance took place in the Borough Restaurant, the usual back slapping and irrelevant toast. There was only one topic of conversation. Bert Maughan the old club captain expressing that although he was for the amalgamation before, the way that Petters has undemocratically over turned a decision meant he could no longer support it. 

The following Friday, the commitee of Yeovil and it's season ticket holders were back at the Victoria Hall. "the vote tonight gentleman will decide the future of football in Yeovil" expressed Ernest Davis the current club President. The vote was not on an amalgamation, that had been decided two weeks before. It was a vote on acceptance of Petters second vote. Debate, argument and cross-argument went on and on. Until finally :

For - 33
Against - 20
Majority 13

The merger was happening! 

On Wednesday 10th June 1914, the first official meeting of Yeovil & Petters United FC was undertaken at the Borough Restaurant. Ernest Davis presiding explained that the fledging club had applied to join the Western league - which at a later date they were accepted. As well as the Dorset and Somerset Senior leagues - At a later date Dorset refused the club entry. Also was the matter of the English cups, the draw had been made before amalgamation with both clubs entered. Yeovil away at Paulton Rovers and Petters away to the winners of Frome and Clevedon, the Committee chose to accept the Petters match as the easier of the two. The grandstand at Brickyard Lane was to be moved to Pen Mill and placed behind the Pen Mill Hotel. The junior clubs would play at West Hendford, the site of Yeovil's original pitch. 

A month later they were back at the Borough Restaurant for the first AGM of Yeovil & Petters United. A meeting to iron out the day to day running. Norman Buchanan, a Scotsman and the current Mayor of Yeovil was voted in as President of the club. A freemason who sadly died just over a year later, the result of falling down his stairs after returning from a New Year's Eve party! 

Norman Buchanan - First President of Yeovil & Petters United 

A novel idea was that ladies who bought their season tickets were to be reserved a seat in the grandstand and ladies were to be encouraged to matches with the promise to mind their language on the field. 

However the biggest surprise was the change of colors. An amalgamation of the two team colours would mean the new club would play in white shirts with the town cress on it, and black shorts. A letter was sent to the Town Hall to get permission to use the badge. 

Alas football became the last thing on the minds of folk in Yeovil, with the declaration of War on the 28th July 1914. The new club pessemistically arranged a Possible v Probables match at Pen Mill with all proceeds going to the Prince of Wales relief fund, set up to assist the families of soldiers and sailors going off to war. £3.14 shillings being raised. For the record books, the possibles won 5-0. The match report showing underneath the problem that lay ahead as the Shaftesbury league had cancelled all matches until the war was over. 

By the first week of September the new club announced they were postponing all their matches until after the war, with 30 percent of their players now having joined up, they urged all to follow them. The next time they would meet up, players and supporters many familiar faces on and off the pitch would not be there. 

Happy days! 



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