The Great cup run of 1928.

As any football fan worth his salt would tell you, the name of Yeovil Town FC is synonymous with the FA Cup and it's giant killing exploits. For Yeovil fan's, the years 1935, 1949, 1963, 1971 have special significance, most can virtually tell you the players of those great Yeovil sides.

However, there is one season long forgotten, not even mentioned anymore for many reasons, mainly no one is around now who was alive when it took place. Also because, as crazy as the cup run was, not one football league team was defeated. Although the FA Cup run of 1928 has to go down as one of the craziest ever in the club's long history. Lasting just five rounds over ten weeks, it became so all consuming that hardly a Saturday or Thursday passed in that small time scale where the Glovers were not involved in an FA Cup match. It is a remarkable story and one worth telling!

It all started on the 15th October 1928 with a derby in the preliminary round. Taunton Town at that time were big rivals, long before the Weymouth rivalry ever took off. Since the death of Ernest Hyman who died from his injuries received against Taunton there was a bitterness that grew. It would be at the County town team Yeovil would head for their first cup match.

It was the cup match all of Somerset wanted to see. Over a thousand Yeovilians invaded Taunton for the match. After Day had given Yeovil a 1-0 lead on a cold wet Saturday afternoon, it looked to be enough to send the Glovers through. Fortune wasn't on their side though, defender Bert Grist received a nasty head injury and had to be stretchered from the field. Shortly after Taunton, took advantage of the man advantage and equalised and that's how it stayed. With a replay on the following Wednesday afternoon, Yeovil travelled home seeing it a forgone conclusion. It wasn't! Over 3000, many of them from Taunton packed into Huish. As always between the two sides a physical battle ensued. Tackles flying in, not from malice as such but from enthusiasm, or so the local media liked to portray it. Taunton opened the scoring in the first half, setting the sound of rattles around the ground from their fans. Any hope of overturning the goal was dismissed as Taunton scored twice more in the second half. It would be they who would be travelleing to Plymouth Civil service in the next round just ten days later. Yeovil's Cup run had finished at the first hurdle. Or had it? 

W. Curtis the Taunton defender had played in both matches, it transpired his registration to play in the FA Cup had not been received by the FA Committee. Taunton received the following telegram a few days later:

'Your club ruled out of the competition and fined two guineas for breach of rules - signed the Football Association' 

At the same time Ernest Sercombe the Yeovil secretary received by telegram :

' Taunton ruled out of competition. Match awarded to your club. You play Plymouth Civil service at Plymouth Saturday next - signed the Football Association

Taunton to say the least we're not best please, they'd already booked a train and taken money to take their fans to Plymouth on the Saturday. One ex-Yeovil player, probably Bill Day, expressed his thoughts in the local media.

However, it transposed that Yeovil had made no complaint whatsoever and the error in registration was discovered by a clerk at the FA themselves. With all that the upshot was Yeovil were through to the next round away to Plymouth Civil Service and Taunton were giving out refunds for a train they did not now need. 

A year earlier, Yeovil had been humiliated at Plymouth against the Civil Service, a repeat would not be tolerated. On a cold wet windy day on one of the bleakest pitches imaginable, another humiliation looked on the cards when 'Service' found themselves 2-1 ahead. Thankfully Bob White, a summer signing from Tranmere, saved any red faces and forced a replay for the following Thursday. Thursday came and at 5-0 after sixty minutes, all looked well, until Yeovil conceded three in a ten minute spell that put people on edge, with 'Service' pressing for more, young Lloyd, an amateur player from Bristol, finished the job off - 6-3.

Yeovil welcomed Wells City in the next round, the second qualifying. Any old supporters around at that time would remember Wells City as one of the best teams in Somerset around the 1890's. They also had a reputation for arrogantly complaining to the Somerset FA over any minor misdemeanor if the Glovers had the audacity to beat them. Once complaining after a defeat at Pen Mill thst the length of the pitch was two yards short! 

The Citizens, as Wells refereed themselves gave a battling performance. Early in the second half they shocked all by taking a 2-1 lead but were eventually swatted away 5-2. So assured were Yeovil of a victory they played two trialist. Powell from Merthyr Town and John Goulden from Raith Rovers and previously with Hull City. Both impressed and were signed on for the season.

Goulden and Powell 

Yeovil finally had a two week break from the FA Cup. They would need the rest! Barry in Wales for quite a few seasons had given the Glovers some of its hardest matches, especially in the principality. It would be to them that Yeovil travelled to next in the 3rd qualifying round. A sizeable crowd from Somerset made the long journey to Jenner Park, Barry's ground in Wales and were in full voice. . After a minute and one-down they probably wished they hadn't of bothered. At 2-1 down and just a minute on the clock remaining they definitely wished they hadn't. With seconds ticking down, the new Huish hero Bob White hammered in the equaliser to send the Yeovil fan's wild and throwing their caps in the air. Of course, it meant one thing another FA Cup replay and their seventh FA Cup match so far, the following Thursday afternoon. Despite a thrilling game, end to end action even an extra thirty minutes couldn't separate them.  Even though most ardent of Yeovil fan had to concede that Yeovil had been extremely fortunate not to lose. A second replay was required, the match to be played at Ashton Gate, Bristol four days later. It was a case of Dejavu at Bristol as again Barry scored a very early goal which they held onto before half time. The second half though saw a different story  as the ageing Barry team slowly ran out of steam and Yeovil took over, two goals from new guy Goulden and one from White saw Yeovil head to the next round. There was no let up in Cup action, five days later in the next round, the 4th Qualifying it was Salisbury City away. 

Salisbury City, were competing in the Western League Div two, the same league as Yeovil and Petters Reserve side. An easy match was anticipated. Typical of this season's amazing FA Cup run, a tired Yeovil found themselves 3-2 at Victoria Park in front of Salisbury's biggest attendance. Frank Newman saving the Glovers with an equaliser midway through the second half. The last thing Yeovil needed - another replay. Before the replay the first round draw had been made, the winners would be at home to Plymouth Argyle, which meant one thing - much needed gate receipts. The replay on the Thursday couldn't have been been easier . By half time the Glovers found themselves 4-0 ahead, Bob White getting a brace. The final score of 5-2 would see Argyle head to Huish. 

By the time Argyle would come to Huish the FA Cup run, with replays , second replays etc had lasted ten weeks. So all consuming it had become that in that ten weeks only three league matches had been played. 

Plymouth Argyle 1928-29

The directors of Argyle's first job was to contact Huish and ask for the match to be changed to Home Park. A tempting offer when considering Argyle were averaging upwards of 20,000 a match in the Third Division South. Yeovil replied in the negative, pointing out that the majority of the matches in the cup run had been away and they owed it to their fans, in what at that stage was the biggest match in the club's history. 

Plymouth were a strong side, with household names. Names such as Welsh International Moses Russell and the brilliant Jack Leslie, the only black professional player in the country. A few seasons before Leslie had been picked to play for England. The story goes that when the England selectors understood that Leslie was a black player  his selection was taken away and he was never picked again.  A statue to Jack Leslie is currently (July 2021) being produced and will proudly be displayed outside Home Park. 

Moses Russell and Jack Leslie 

Yeovil went into extra training full of optimism that they could pull off a result. Even gaining advice from an old Aston Villa player, who had retired to the town. However some saw the fact a side of Argyle's statue having to come to lowly Yeovil has an afront. Swindon Town's Secretary penned a letter to the press voicing that financially for professional league sides it was a disaster to play non-league teams and Argyle shouldn't be forced to play little old Yeovil. 

Plymouth travelled upto Taunton the night before the game and bedded for the night. Travelling to Yeovil in the morning. Tickets for the match had been hottest ones in town. As a crowd of 6500 crowded into Huish, at that time with a capacity of 8000. Many from Devon had travelled up and took up their 25 percent of the stand seats. Those without tickets or unable to afford the 4 shillings entry climbed onto the roof of the Queen Street stand. As the teams ran out the noise was deafening. Yeovil attacked the Bruttons End in the first half with a gust of a wind behind them. Attacking in numbers and speed and with the wind on their backs  it seemed only a matter of time before the Argyle defence broke and conceded. Yeovil's hope was to score in that period and hold on. Alas the plan was destroyed two minutes before half time, Bristol born Alf Matthews calming slotting the ball under Packer's body to give Argyle the lead. 

Alf Matthews 

With the wind behind them in the second half, it was no contest Argyle pressed, passed and in today's parlance did a professional job. Three more goals followed, the best being a thirty yard shot from Jack Leslie. Ray Bowden notched a brace, Bowden later sold to Arsenal for £5000 and became an England International. 

Ray Bowden scores the third Argyle goal 

For Yeovil fan's, there was something to cheer, Fred Rowland, obviously inspired by Leslie's thirty yard goal, scored with a forty yard screamer to reduce the arrears. Soon after the final whistle was blown and Yeovil's amazing 1928 Cup run had came to an end. Argyle reaching the fourth round  before going down at home, one-nil to Bradford Park Avenue. 

For Yeovil, the cup run had consequences, with such a back log of fixtures after it, they were always playing catch up, resulting playing eleven games in April. League wise it was a disaster which saw manager Tommy Lowes resign at the end of the season. 

However, 1928 is always worth remembering, for Yeovil that season the cup really did 'over runneth

Happy days... 


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