Aussie women, Firemen and a six foot ball - 1926-27
THE Huish pitch didn't have a restful summer in 1926, as a way to optimise revenue it was hired out to anyone or anything. Amongst the attractions were the Yeovil annual dog show, another fun fair and the Australian Ladies Pipe band who gave two performances. Performance that included dancing, singing and staff throwing!
Meanwhile, the club chairman now Mr Edward 'Ted' Winch reported its annual loss. However things were worse further down the road at Weymouth. The Terras were in such dire straights financially, trying to survive on crowds as low as 700-800, they had approached Portland United to suggest a merger between the two clubs. Portland who had just redeveloped their Grove Avenue ground replied with a thanks but no thanks.
Edward Winch became the chairman the previous season, taking over from Ernest Farr. Edward was the first chairman to take over from the Petters wing of the club. On the board of directors at the Petters works, he was also a keen cricketer, whist drive player, and on any committee going from the Boxing club to the Rotary club. Seen as genorous and jovial gentleman.
|Edward 'Ted' Winch, Chairman of Yeovil and Petters United FC in 1926.|
As far as the football, the Glovers had entered the same leagues as before even though the Southern League was contributing to the debt considerably. Later in the season the club would look for a way to combat it, with more ambitious plans.
On the team front, the usual case of players in, players out, this at time when players were just on rolling contracts year on year. Billy Haywood who had been the major signing the previous season had left for Portsmouth, by November he was at Barrow and a few months after that had signed for Weymouth. Silvester, another major signing the year before had gone to Poole after struggling to get regular first team football at Huish. Taunton United had tempted Andrew Wilson to the county town. Tom Lowes would be the signature signing for the 1926-27 season. Lowes, although now 36 and coming to the end of his career had started out at Newcastle United before the Great War, a war that took away the best years of his career. Lowes also had managerial ambitions which would be seen later.
Just before the season started the club directors sent player manager Jack Gregory to the Midlands to hunt for another striker. Gregory returned with ex-Stoke, Watford and Coventry centre forward Billy Poole, who in the annual Greens v Whites practice match, obtained an injury and wasn't seen again until October.
|William "Billy" Poole|
Swindon Town reserves at Huish kicked the season off, a season where the Glovers and it's supporters hoped and prayed it would be a better fare then the previous season. After five minutes those hoped were dashed when keeper Jack Vallis was taken off with a shoulder injury reducing the team to ten men and Stan Abbott pulling on the keeper's jersey. Yeovil pressed, however found Bourne in the Swindon goal in fine form. Slowly the eleven men took over using the man advantage, a 3-0 defeat not the start required. The opening team for the 1926-27 season being
Vallis, John, Day, May, Abbott, Gallon Pidgeon, Scott, Hayward, Lowes, Grist
John at full back came from Pembroke Docks, the Swindon match would be his one and only appearance in the Glovers's shirt, his performance described as 'shakey'.
The Western League started with a fine 4-1 against Poole the following Wednesday afternoon. A match where Tommy Lowes got on the score sheet for the first time. Three days later and a week after the Swindon defeat it was Swindon Town Reserves again this time at the County Ground. Vallis not recovering from his shoulder injury. Young Rogers, a keeper Yeovil had discovered whilst playing an end of season friendly against Beaminster a couple of years before, was thrust into the limelight. Equipping himself well, yet not able to stop the Swindon boys from claiming a double of the Glovers inside seven days with a 2-0 victory.
Johnny Hayward, now nearly forty years old had been pushed out wide by Jack Gregory, his dribbling skills still had not deserted him nor had his goal prowess when Exeter City reserves turned up at Huish for the third Southern league match of the season, 'our Johnny' duly scored a hat trick in a 5-1 win. The Glovers also giving a debut to 25 year old Frank Parker an outside right from Axminster Town.
Twenty years previously an FA Cup draw against Street would have been looked at with trepidation. Since then the two clubs had grown worlds apart. With the Glovers now a professional club, The Cobblers after a few unsuccessful seasons in the Western League had found themselves back in the Somerset Senior league. The gulf between the two sides was on the pitch also. Street with its youthful amateurs, Yeovil with its experienced professionals. Another Hayward hattrick, amongst them his 500th goal for the club, and five from Tommy Lowes helped the Glovers to a 10-1 win.The Yeovil management sending the Street aids back with a patronising 'the pluckiest team to be seen at Huish'. A week later on the same pitch, Yeovil were the ones being humbled as Barry, playing quick and exillerating football took the Glovers apart 4-1.
When the amateur wing of the club started play at Minehead for a Western League Div 2 fixture all was going well until a fire alarm in the area sent the Minehead Captain Mr Wood into a panic, he was also the lieutenant of the Minehead Fire brigade. He ran from the pitch to the scene of the fire, only to find it was at a row of cottages a mile away, thankfully it was a false arm. Mr Wood ran back and was straight in the field again.
Ernest Hyman made a surprise appearance as centre-forward in October, along side him Hayward and Lowes. An extraordinary match took place. Yeovil found themselves 3-0 up in quick time, one scored by Hyman before a penalty for Bath pulled one back. Radford then scored a 40 years screamer for Yeovil. By half time it was 5-3, with the promise of plenty more to come. Then the heavens opened and torrential driving rain turned the old brown leather ball into a 'balloon like leaden weight'. Eventually a Edwards scored to end the match at 6-3.
A new full back was needed though, the club used the novel idea of placing adverts in the Midlands and North of England. The wording was straight to the point :
Yeovil and Petters want a full back with experience of league football. Good wages paid to the right man on application. Apply to John Gregory, Huish Yeovil, Somerset.
A few weeks later Thomas Howe, a full back who had played over 50 times for Stoke in the second division and third division North signed for the club.
Up next in the FA Cup was another home tie, this time against the Cornishmen of St Austell. A side that thirteen years before had dumped the Glovers out of the cup after a reply and considered one of the best teams in Cornwall. At long last the club saw the striker Billy Poole, injured since the practice match. Also making his debut was the 'advert responding' Howe. Poole was electric, uncomplicated and workmanlike, he scored a brace on his debut as the Cornishmen fell apart, further goals from Scott, Lowes and Hayward giving the Glovers a fine 5-0 victory. Eighteen goals in three FA Cup matches thus far in the season.
A week later against Bristol Rovers Res the club had its first Mayoral visit at Huish, Alderman Petter, took his place to see Billy Poole again in fine form, scoring twice again, the second a last minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw which sent the Huish faithful delirious. Poole becoming an instant hero.
Again the FA Cup had been kind to the club, giving them a home draw. However Barry, their opponents had already won 4-1 at Huish barely a month before, of course pre-Billy Poole. Poole again was incredible, non stop running, clever passing and always in the right place. He went one beter than his previous two performances and completed a hat trick. After his second, Poole collapsed on the pitch and was advised to leave the field for treatment, he refused and two minutes later scored his third in a fine 3-1 win. Poole by now, with 7 goals in 3 games was gaining hero status.
The draw for the FA Cup had given the Glovers a trip down the road away to rivals Weymouth. Weymouth as noted before were in the financial mire. A decent crowd with the visit of the Glovers was a lifeline. It became even more of a lifeline when the match was postponed due to rain and the match was rearranged for the following Wednesday afternoon. During the delay the draw for the first round had been made and a very lucrative away match against second division Reading awaited the Victor's. The press saw Yeovil as clear favourites even remarking how Yeovil could go about beating Reading after they had disposed of The Terras. Now with Billy Poole in the ranks, the match was seen as a foregone conclusion. Over 500 Glovers fans made the trip south on the Wednesday afternoon. Arriving at the Rec, they were stunned to discover Poole was not included in the side. It got worse! Despite a good opening fifteen minutes, when Yeovil played Weymouth off the park, the Terras found themselves in front through Bell only for Lowes to equalise just before half time. The second half though was an absolute shambles with Bell the Weymouth striker adding three more to his tally. The lucrative Reading tie and the money would be going to Weymouth. As for Yeovil, questions were immediately being asked regarding Billy Poole's exclusion. A week later in a 5-1 defeat away to Argyle reserves, Poole again was nowhere to be seen.
If Poole had gone, then a replacement was soon found. One with a much higher pedigree. Scotsman Jack Conner had a proven league goal record at Sunderland, Crystal Palace and Millwall amongst others. Now aged 35 and at the end of his career, however with Lowe at 36 years old and Hayward at 39 still performing admirably, there was hope for Connor. It didn't take him long to get off the mark, scoring in his second match in a 2-2 Southern league match at home to Torquay United.
|Jack Connor |
The mystery of Billy Poole was finally resolved in the programme s notes for the visit of Plymouth Argyle reserves a week later, a match that the Glovers won 3-2. His contract had been terminated with the stinging words of
"... when a man is not amenable to discipline, it is in the best interest of the club no matter how good a player he is to part company..."
It would seem Billy Poole had issues, later he joined Merthyr Town, on a suspiciously short three month contract, it was not renewed.
Christmas arrived like any other down the years at Yeovil and Petters. Circumstance though would mean it would be one of the most tragic in the club's history. It started on Christmas Day, an away fixture at Taunton United, a hard fought game saw the Glovers claim County pride with a Tommy Lowes strike fifteen minutes before the end. "A match lacking in seasonal cheer with too many fouls" was how the press described it. Less than 24 hours later the same two sides met again, this time in front of 2900 at Huish with an 11 o'clock kick off, by the end the result had become irrelevant. A serious abdominal injury to Ernest Hyman had taken away all sense of Christmas cheer. Ernest was urgently transferred to Yeovil hospital after being administered morphine to ease the incredible pain and discomfort the player was in. He underwent surgery that evening.
1926 ended in dark clouds over Huish, a 5-3 defeat against Exeter reserves was secondary to the news that Ernest Hyman was still in a serious condition at Yeovil hospital, attended by his parents from Radstock and his fiance from Yeovil. Some relieve came when high flying Ebbw Vale came to Huish on New year's day. A fine display saw the Welshman return after a 3-2 defeat. Parker, Lowes and a Hayward penalty doing the job for the Glovers.
On Friday 7th January the news broke, Ernest Hyman whilst undergoing a second operation had tragically succumbed to his injury he'd received on Boxing day. His death was mourned throughout the footballing World. Ernest was just 22 years old, a player that literally gave his life for Yeovil football club. To read more of the life of Ernest Hyman and his tragic death click here.
Bristol City Reserves came to Huish, the first match after Ernest Hyman's passing. Before the match both sets of players and the referees stood around the centre circle, the 2000 crowd stood heads bowed and caps off as the band played 'Abide with me'. A scene that must have been heartbreaking. A city side containing several first team players could not stop Tommy Lowes equalising at 2-2 in the last three minutes.
Elsewhere in the Western League Div 2, Frome Town had caught the ire of the Yeovil players. The Yeovil side complaining that there wasn't enough water to wash after the match. Frome explained that finances were tight and if Yeovil donated £50 to them they'd would rectify the situation. Yeovil refused the offer and no action was taken by the Western League committee.
Wether it was the hangover from Ernest Hyman's death one will not know, but the team went on a miserable run with six defeats in a row, starting with a 6-1 reverse at Ashton Gate against Bristol City reserves. In those six defeats the club conceded 25 goals in a shocking period for the club.
Poole Town arrived at Huish in late February. The Dolphins had become national news earlier in the season by reaching the 3rd Round of the FA Cup. A trip to Liverpool to play Everton at Goodison did not bring the hammering that most expected. A fine display by the a Dorset saw just a 3-1 loss with the great striker Dixie Dean scoring. Yeovil surprisingly went one better than Everton and didn't concede with Hayward, Yeovil's answer to Dean, scoring in a very welcome 3-0 victory in the Western League.
Alas, the Poole result was just the anomaly, again the Glovers went on a straight six match losing streak. A two day trip to Wales at the beginning of April could not have gone any worse if was planned. Firstly, against Mid-Rhondda in the Southern League against a team who had not won a Southern league match all season. The Glovers arrived just 45 minutes before kick off and then duly obliged and went down 4-0.
A day later at Ebbw Vale, the team arrived in rainfall of biblical proportions and a pitch that was mostly under water. With no other dates available the two teams decided to crack on and play in the driving rain. When the rain stopped it became replaced with freezing driving snow. In front of just a handful of spectators. Howe and Connor both had to retire from the results of hyperthermia, Stan Abbott collapsed from the same immediately after the final whistle. Ebbw Vale recorded a 4-0 victory, two goals conceded whilst Yeovil goalkeeper Parker was suffering from a shaking fit from the cold and couldn't move.
The committee had a plan though. They'd decided the best way forward to restore glories and to bring fans back to Huish was to apply for election to league football. At an extraordinary meeting of the shareholders in March, attended by a packed crowd, the club and its shareholders hammered it out. The arguments for that better football would bring bigger crowds and arguments against being that the town was too small to obtain the required crowds to sustain a football league club. The upshot being that if £1000 could be raised in ten days an application would be made. This despite the Glovers laying second from bottom of the Southern League.
Maybe boyed by the chances of third division football, on the field the Glovers fought back from their 12 defeats in 13 games. Starting with a 7-0 home win over Weymouth in the Western League in a match where young Harry Scott helped himself to four goals. On Good Friday, the Glovers again took on Weymouth at the Rec with the GWR offering fans the chance to travel with a 2 shilling ticket. Yeovil again coming out on top 4-2. Scott again on the score sheet with a brace.
The Good Friday result was not welcome by all in Yeovil though. The Rev. Fisher from the Holy Trinity Church in the town condemned the team for playing on such a religious day. Using the Easter message to ask "If you're best friend was laying dead on Good Friday would you play football?" calling for the practice of Yeovil playing on religious holidays to stop.
Swindon Reserves were the next day and were taking apart 6-1, Harry Scott scoring his eighth goal in eight days. Two days later, Weymouth arrived at Huish again, their third match with the Terras in eleven days. Yeovil again finding renewed form in a 4-0 win. Yeovil played their fourth game in five days the next day, home to Mid- Rhondda, the Glovers avenging their embarrassing defeat in Wales in a fine 3-1 win. This ending a hundred percent record over Easter. It was some turnaround!
Although the £1000 in ten days target hadn't been met the club had raised enough to start 'a propoganda campaign' travelling the length and breadth of the country meeting officials from Division one and two clubs. With other Southern league clubs including Torquay also aiming for league entrance, it was going to be a hard sell for the club.
The season was slowly winding down as the Glovers headed to Barry on the 23rd April 1927. The date was a special day for the Welshmen, the day Cardiff City became the first Welsh team to reach the FA Cup final against Arsenal. To ensure that the Welsh crowd was kept up to date of progress at the cup final, loud speakers were erected around the Jenners Park ground. Meaning the two teams played with the sound of the cup final ringing through their ears. Barry made it a good day for the Welsh beating a weakened Yeovil 6-1 whilst Cardiff won the cup final 1-0.
The season finally came to an end with a 1-0 defeat at Plainmoor. The two clubs had grown up in the same leagues, similar size clubs with similar attendances. One, by the start of the next season would be a full league club. Spoiler - it wasn't Yeovil.
1926-27 had been one of the most most challenging off the pitch dealing with the sadness of the death of Ernest Hyman. On the pitch the Glovers again had failed to impress finishing third from bottom of thr Southern league western and below half way in the Western League. The club's only success being crowned Dorset league champions. The championship clinched after a 2-2 draw away to Bournemouth trams. Not many celebrated!
There was one last event at Huish. An event that bought in 1800 spectators, more than alot of league games. The event was called 'Pushball'. Where a 6ft high ball weighing 68lbs was 'pushed' by two opposing sides in to their opponents goal. Ten teams competed watched with much hilarity by the spectators. The winners being Yeovil police, obviously no push around!