The Civil Service, thieve and inconsistency - 1927-28

 It was the end of era, the great Fred 'Johnny' Hayward would not be turning out again in a Green and White shirt. Now forty years old, he had ended his last season at the club flitting between the first team and reserves. His last competitive game came in the reserves against Lovells Athletic, he signed off his career in typical Hayward style , he scored seven in a 12-1 win. With that he packed his boots away after twenty years service and went back home to his wife Mabel and nine children and by the Monday was back at work in the Glove factory.

The application for election to Division 3 South had not gone to plan, the club picking up just one vote! Torquay, the Southern League Western champions being voted in along side Watford. Aberdare losing their league status.

Player Manager Jack Gregory, who had missed alot of the previous season through injury was now in the final year of his contract. A manager who had brought the Southern League Western title to Huish in his first season, had since produced two disappointing mediocre seasons. Seasons in which the only silverware on display was the Dorset League championship trophy.

The medicrocy had resulted in falling atrendance equalling another £300 working loss to add to the ever growing debt. Questions were being asked about the financial outlay for such a little return reserve team football was having. Crowds for reserve matches down in the lower hundreds for most matches. At the 1927  AGM,  Chairman Ted Wrinch stepped down through ill health and the reigns of the club was handed over to William Stanley Johnson. Johnson, the son of a Glover manufacturer and former mayor, became one of the major benefactors for sports and entertainment in the town. Johnson Hall and Johnson Park, a fifteen acre site, were both purchased by him and gifted to the people of the town. Paying out a colossal £40,000 alone for Johnson Park.

William Stanley Johnson 

Looking to ensure his last season in charge  was a successful one Gregory went on the hunt for players by placing an advertisement, as he did in the previous season in the Athletic publication. 

Within a week or so L. Clark was signed on from Gresley Rovers. Then 33 year old Liverpudlian Billy Cotton was signed on from Crewe Alexander, a journeyman footballer who'd played for a variety of clubs in the North. 

Billy Cotton signed in July 1927

Closer to home Bob Pullan and Frank Newman arrived from Exeter City. Both twenty-seven years old and both accustomed to Huish as both had played against Yeovil many times. 

Bob Pulham and Frank Newman. Both signed from Exeter in July 1927

Also coming in was Bill Grimster, who had been picked for the full army side, Williams from Kettering and Bill Grist who had previously been in the RAF. 

Huish, now boasting a covered Queen Street end, saw over 3000 for the first game of the season, against Barry. It wasn't the start they had hoped for, a goal fourteen minutes from time saw the Welshmen take the two points back to the principality. However, fine performances by Grist and Gregory gave the Huish faithful hope for the season. The line up for the first fixture being. 

S. Packer, Bill Day, Bob Pullan, Toogood, Gallon, Jack Gregory, Frank Newman, Williams, Billy Cotton, Tommy Lowes, Bill Grist. 

Packer the keeper had made only two appearances for the reserves the year before. Toogood, a native of Shaftesbury had previously been on Southamptons books, unfortunately he didn't live up to his name and made just a few more appearances. Just two days later it was the Glovers turn to head to Wales. Aberdare Athletic had been recently demoted from the Third Division South and were looking for a quick return. At 2-0 down before half time, a quick return was looking less likely for the Welshmen. Bill Grist and Tommy Lowes scoring. However one just before half time and another in the second half brought the final score to two each. 

A few days later the Western League season started with an away trip to County rivals, Taunton, this season going by Taunton Town not United. The match was hotly contested, as per usual between the sides. With the score at one each, the 'hotness' culminated in Tommy Howe, recalled to the full back position, knocking out Smith the Taunton winger. Mayhem ensued as a spectator ran on with fist up wanting to fight Howe. He was quickly wrestled to the ground and led away.  No time to rest as two days later Newport County reserves arrived at Huish. The Glovers were behind after a minute, and before long three down. The Glovers made a comeback of sorts with goals from Lowes and Billy Cottons first goal for the club, was not enough. 

Aberdare arrived at Huish just ten days after their previous meeting in what was to be one of the games of the season. Yeovil led three times only for Aberdare to equalise each time. Finally two more goals from Billy Cotton, completing a hat trick finally gave the Glovers two valuable points. 

It wasn't long before the FA Cup came around. The draw had not been kind, an away trip to Plymouth to play Green Waves. No doubt many remembered a previous trip to Green Waves in 1904, again in the FA Cup. An inhospitable ground with the cold wind blowing in from the Atlantic. Green Waves, originally formed by trawler men in the city derived their name from the green waves from the sea. The previous trip in 1904 had seen the then Yeovil Casuals humiliated 5-1. These days Yeovil were a professional outfit though, so confident in the win three amateurs turned out for the Glovers. One of them Lloyd the Bristol lad signed on at the start of the season scored twice with Williams finishing a very professional job, sending the 2000 disappointed Plymouthonians back to their homes. 

Lloyd went one better two weeks later scoring a hatrick against Lovells Athletic in Newport, Tommy Lowes also scoring twice. The only problem being those five goals were not enough as Lovells won an extraordinary match 6-5.

It was back to Plymouth for the next round of the FA Cup in fact the same pitch at Beacon Down. This time to play Plymouth Civil Service, considered a weaker team than Green Waves. With a full team out including young goal machine Harry Scott making his first match of the season, an easy passage into the next round was anticipated. In short, it was a disaster! Despite Scott scoring an equaliser after going behind after three minutes, the quick Civil Service wingers tore the defence apart. By the end it was 3-1 and Yeovil returned to South Somerset to face the music. 

The season was shapeing into the two previous seasons, inconsistency in performances and sub standard team selections. After defeating Bristol City Reserves 1-0 in the Western League at Huish, thus giving The Robins their first defeat in the league of the season, Yeovil travelled with confidence to Ebbw Vale. It must have been a case of Deja-Vu when they arrived in pouring rain. Ebbw Vale was the scene the year previously where the weather was so bad with rain, snow and freezing sleet that three players went down with hypothermia. Confidence or not, the Glovers again capiluted in the pouring rain. The Welsh press putting the score as 5-1 and the Somerset press as 4-1. Either way, it meant thr Glovers found themselves at the bottom of the Southern League. A week later, despite Scott putting Yeovil one-up at Eastville against Bristol Rovers Reserves, it was scant consultation as Rovers romped home, 5-1. More concerning was Rovers playing four local amateurs in their side on trial. Swindon Town reserves arrived a week later and the inconsistent form was highlighted when the Glovers playing fast football recorded a 3-1 victory. Unusually playing Charlie Parker in goal, a player who usually turned out as full back for the reserves. 

Despite being bottom of the Southern League, surprisingly they remained unbeaten in the Western League after seven matches. December started with an away match in the Western League at The Rec, Weymouth. Harry Scott again showing his talents with a fine brace in a 3-1 win. A win that sparked some fine results. 

Whilst the professionals were carving out a 2-2 at Mid-Rhondda, the reserves were entertaining the 1st Glos Regiment at Huish. A result that probably goes down as the biggest victory at Huish. The reserves winning 14-2! The match gave Yeovil a chance to trial Frank Davis a forward from Preston North End amazingly he didn't score. The Mid-Rhondda draw was followed up with some respected results, first beating Exeter City reserves at home 3-1, a match that saw Yeovil introduce a new competition at Huish  named `Mystery Man'. Whereby a famous figure in the town went to a match in disguise, clues were given in the programme and the crowd were invited to find the mystery man and claim their prize. On Christmas Eve, a strong Plymouth Argyle Reserve side turned up and in front of 3000 an action packed match saw a 3-3 draw. 

An habitual criminal, and Yeovil supporter Thomas Melhuish headed to Taunton to watch Yeovil play the Somerset derby match. Whilst there Thomas decided to continue his 'career' and stole two raincoats from a shop in the town. He was caught at Taunton train station , worse for drink wearing both of them! In his defence he said he'd bought the coats at the match. Thomas wouldn't see a ball kicked for the next two months as he was sent to prison. On the pitch Taunton supporters spent the whole morning clearing snow of the pitch on a bitterly cold day with wind swirling snow around the ground. Yeovil returning back down the railway line with a point on a 1-1 draw. 

Financially, Weymouth were deep in the mire. With crowds at a maximum of 800, survival in the Southern League was looking bleak and their board had told the fans unless gates increased they would have to withdraw from the Southern and Western leagues. A sign of how desperate they were was all the players being put on open transfer. With this backdrop they arrived for a Western League clash at  Huish for the last game of 1927. Again a miserable day, this time with rain meant the pitch was a quagmire. It didn't stop Weymouth from twice taken the lead before Yeovil slowly took over and lead 4-2 at half time. Harry Scott scoring with a spectacular overhead kick being the highlight of the half. Weymouth reduced the deficit before again Yeovil took over, scoring twice more to win 6-3. Weymouth one suspects were more interested in the gate receipts than the score. The result also meaning Yeovil remained unbeaten in the Western League. 

If Glovers fans thought the season was turning, they were in for a shock. The first game of 1928 saw Yeovil arrived late at Ashton Gate, Bristol against City reserves. One player turning up even later meaning the Glovers starting with ten men. By the time the player ran on the field Yeovil were backs to the wall and two down. When the third went in Jack Gregory complained in no uncertain terms it was offside. The referee didn't take too kindly to it and sent Gregory from the field. After that it was a case of how many? The answer being six nil and City also missing a penalty. It became worse two weeks later when the Glovers visited Home Park, Plymouth to take on Argyle Reserves. Playing a rudimentary version of the offside trap and failing miserably, Yeovil were four down at half time. Second half goals from Radford and Pullen wee scant consultation as they returned back home with a 8-2 hammering. Their first defeat in the Western League. 

Jack Gregory decided reinforcements were needed. Thomas Rowlands the captain of Mid-Rhondda, was a non nonsense centre-half. A man mountain not afraid of the dark practices of the game and a decent player to boot. He was enticed away from Wales and signed on for the Glovers. Later after retirement becoming a successful businessman in the town. 

Inconsistency, a trait of the team for the last two seasons showed up again. After the City and Argyle debacles, the Glovers went on a four match winning streak. Starting with a visit from Salisbury City in the Western League, a team who last came to Yeovil back in the old Pen Mill days. Again a deluge of rain turned the pitch into something resembling a cow field. Yeovil adapting better winning 4-1. Torquay United Reserves were up next in the Southern League, again a 4-1 victory in the Huish mud. The third game in a row at Huish saw Mid-Rhondda arrive for a Southern League match, Yeovil sent the Welshman back to the Valleys with a 6-1 defeat, two goals apeice for Scott, Radford and Wilson. Yet another home match a week later against Lovells Athletic saw them arrive a player down, after one of them had missed the train. Resulting in Davis the ageing Lovells manager pulling on the kit and doing his best up front. A solitary Harry Scott goal, his ninth in four games being enough to secure the points. It couldn't last, the fifth home game in a row saw Plymouth Argyle Reserves arrive. Yeovil choosing to give a debut to a trialist named Butler, just leafy the RAF, ex of Swansea Town. "Butler played with a coolness, matched by his resourceful play and soundness"  The Glovers lost 2-0, Butler was never seen again at Huish. Although Joe Smith originally from Whitely Bay was signed from Merthyr Town to bolster the defence. 

At Weymouth in the Southern League in March, the team came in for criticism for a totally lack lustre display in a tedious match played by both sides. Packer in the Glovers's goal making a complete hash of of collecting the ball, slipped and allowed Weymouth to score a tap-in. The only goal in a match to forget. In the 1920's Yeovil v Weymouth, although seen to be a rival didn't hold the same 'derby' status as it was to have years later and still continues today. The real derby was with Taunton Town, who jostled with Yeovil for the best team in Somerset title. A week after the Weymouth match, Taunton came to Huish, after a short time they found themselves down to ten men, through an injury. Just like at Weymouth, Yeovil couldn't find a breakthrough, Taunton did and scored late in the second half to take the honours and bragging rights. Defeat after defeat followed, all with the front line finding it hard to show any motivation. 

April arrived, the last month of the season, and typically a fixture pile up would see the Glovers playing a match on average every three days throughout the month. In typical Yeovil unpredictable fashion they never lost one of them! 

After Radford had won the game with Bath in the Southern League with a solitary goal in front of 4000 at Lambroke. The next day, a 1-1 draw at Huish against Weymouth, here the Glovers scored in the first few minutes but couldn't capitilise. Two days later a Southern League double, 2-1 was completed over Bath in front of 2000 at Huish. Incredibly Yeovil played their fourth game in five days, a gruelling trip to Wales against Newport County reserves. They returned with a credible 1-1 draw on a windy day in the principality. A four day break was needed and welcome before the visit of Bristol Rovers reserves to Huish. Rovers high flying were still in with a chance of the Southern League Western title. After five minutes Rovers scored and it seemed it was going to be a long Saturday afternoon. Slowly Yeovil took control and completely outplayed the Pirates, recording an excellent 5-1 victory. Decent results continued. Torquay United reserves arrived at Huish to face Yeovil now in full flow. Harry Scott was still only nineteen years old, playing against his old side he reminded them what they missed out on, scoring four in a 7-1 win. Scott ended the season with 46 goals from 37 appearances for the season. He also notched up 19 for the reserves from just 8 matches. Some player! 

On the 5th May the final game of the season took place and a chance for Yeovil to regain the title 'Pride of Somerset' as they played Taunton Town at home in the Western League. In typical local derby fashion feelings were running running high as an ill tempered game took place with the Taunton press putting the bad tackles and bad nature down to Yeovil's robust play. They may have had a point, with Mr Wilts the referee stopping the game in the second half and calling three Yeovil players to him to warn them of their conduct. The robustness worked, young Radford scoring twice in a 3-0 victory. The season ended, despite the fine run at the end saw Yeovil finished below halfway in the Southern League and third in the Western League. 

The Taunton match also saw John 'Jack' Gregory's last match in charge. In his five seasons at the helm he'd taken Yeovil to it's greatest height as Southern League Western champions, which he achieved in his first season. Unfortunately it was a hard act to follow, and in the leagues, the bread and butter of the club saw little success after. However, he oversaw the Glovers first ever victory over league opposition and introduced professionalism to the club. Players he bought in would not be forgotten for years to come, many making Yeovil their home after retiring from the game. Players such as Bert Grist who for many years was the groundsman at Huish. 

With the parting of ways with Jack Gregory the main topic of the cafes and pubs of Yeovil being "who's coming in to replace him?" they didn't have to look far for the answer. 

Happy days. 


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