The Theatre, Soot and barracking - 1925-26

The 1925 AGM was not exactly the best and most positive in the club's history. It also showed how priorities had changed in the club. Pre-war it was seen that as long as the club made a profit and run it's books accordingly then no matter the results on the field, the club could hold it's head high. How times had changed! The club reporting a working loss of over £586,leaving the club over £800 in the red. Southern league and professional football was not coming cheap.

Chairman Mr Farr, who had recently been having a war of words in the press regarding attendances figures, put the loss down to the awful weather the previous season. Director Mr Dodge argued against him and accused the lack of attendances on the 'well known fact in the town that players showing a lack of effort in some games' Manager, Jack Gregory felt the remark was uncalled for and argued that each player gave their all each time they walked on to the pitch. 

The supporters club, charged with raising important revenue for the club, were looking for more inintive ways to get some extra coffers. It would seem culture was the way forward as the Palace Theatre was booked and a West End play was put on, the abbreviately named E & E. O. It's not documented how it went down in front of the football supporters of Yeovil, but it flopped in the West End! A fun fair was also organised on the pitch for a week,  after the first two days which were well attended it poured down for the rest of the  week. The highlight of the fair being a man who scored a maximum 27 pins in 3 balls at skittles and walked out of Huish with a live pig! 

On the playing front, James Gardiner had impressed Bristol Rovers in their previous seasons FA Cup match and was transferred to them, Rovers promising a match at Huish as part payment. Watts, Jack Gregory's first signing left for Dartford. A sign of the financial times were players coming in, all local players from like the likes of Shaftesbury and Beaminster. However one player that caught the eye of many when signing for Yeovil was Billy Haywood. Just two seasons previously Haywood scored on his debut for Chelsea against Aston Villa in front of 60,000. The previous season he'd been at Halifax Town. Along with Haywood, Silvester was signed from Sunderland. 

Billy Haywood

Before the season had started, the club decided to listen to the fans and reduce season ticket prices and reduced admission to 3d to the Enclosure. The amateurs competing in the Western League Div 2 and Dorset League and the professional wing of the club in the Southern League West and Western league. Confusingly both leagues holding mostly  the same teams. 

1925-26, got underway with the usual practice match at Huish, a match well attended with the monies going to the local hospital charity fund. A mixture of local players, even from the Yeovil league thrown in with players such as Hayward and Haywood. 

Wales would be the destination for the opening Southern League matches as the Glovers made the ferry trip from Weston Super Mare. First up was Barry, it wasn't the start the Glovers wanted. Finding themselves 2-0 down in front of 2000 Welshmen, at half time. Only a Hayward wind assisted shot midway through the second half giving any joy. The opening side for the 1925-26 season being. 

Vallis, Day, May, Abbott, Gallon, Gregory, Pidgeon, Silvester, Scott, Haywood, Hayward 

After a day sightseeing, the Glovers travelled 30 miles North to play Ebbw Vale. Ebbw Vale and Yeovil had a mutual appreciation relationship. When the Glovers took the field 3000 applauded the Somerset boys. 2000 of them paying and 1000 of them sat free of charge in a natural grandstand that surrounded the ground. The same eleven players as against Barry took the field this time playing a more attacking game. With the new offside rule, two players were allowed between the attacker instead of three previously. Yeovil took advantage of it and played it well, yet still only returning with a 1-1 draw with Jack Gregory scoring. 

Five days later, Yeovil played their third away match in a week. This time a trip to Weymouth, where the local rivalry between the two clubs, a rivalry that still last today, was starting to take shape. The Glovers's fans were well represented at the Rec, Weymouth's old ground. It was an end to end game that finally saw Johnny Hayward win it for Yeovil 4-3. Unfortunately the excitement was too much for one Weymouth fan, a war pensioner, who fell over the ropes and died of a heart attack on the ground, despite the best efforts to revive him by the Cosham Fire Brigade who were on holiday and decided to take in the match. 

The matches came thick and fast, three games came in a week after the Weymouth match, on the Monday, a 2-2 draw at Swindon reserves . Thursday a 1-1 draw at home to Bristol City reserves  and Saturday again at Huish a Western League fixture with Weymouth, producing a fine 3-1 victory with teenage scoring sensation Harry Scott with a brace. 

The relatively decent start to the Southern League fixtures came to a crashing halt against Plymouth Argyle reserves at Home Park. A four hour train journey, without Gregory and Gallon, a penalty that never was, luck being on the Plymouth side, the Yeovil media looked for any excuse for the 4-1 defeat. Small consultation coming in Billy Haywood scoring his first goal for the club. 

When Plymouth came to Yeovil a few weeks later they remained undefeated and victory seem to be just a formality for the Devonians. Yeovil decided a change of tactic was in order and bypassing midfield played the long ball. It worked, in an exciting match, goals from Gregory and Silvester inflicted Argyle's first Southern league defeat of the season. Unfortunately, the game was marred by a serious injury to Argyle's outside left, Wallace. In a challenge with Yeovil full back Day, he received a knee to his abdomen which resulted in him being stretchered to the changing room. Whilst there, Wallace collapsed unconscious and was rushed to Yeovil hospital, not regaining consciousness until 11pm that night. Thankfully after a couple of days he was well enough to return to Plymouth. In doing so he heaped praise on the care the Yeovil club and the hospital had shown him. Also saying that he didn't hold the Yeovil defender any mallice and it was a complete accident. One year later a similar injury at Yeovil would not have such a happy ending.


Wallace - Badly injured at Huish 

A week later another interesting incident took place when Swindon Town Reserves arrived at Huish. With the scores 1-1 in the second half a telegram arrived for Ing in the Swindon defence. His Sister-in-law had been taken seriously ill and he had to return home immediately, which he duly did. 

When the Glovers visited St James Park, Exeter they were in good form after the Plymouth and Swindon results against higher placed opposition, Exeter Reserves seemed like a relatively easy match. So relaxed were they, they decided to play young Radford a striker from the reserves - a local Exeter lad. They were in for a shock when the team sheet showed the Grecians had decided to play eight players who had featured in their Division three side that season.. It showed. Yeovil were torn apart on front of 3000, the 6-0 scoreline could have been doubled. 

After the previous seasons FA Cup success the club had been exempt to the 4th Qualifying Round. The draw had not been kind, a difficult trip to Plainmoor, Torquay. The GWR put on a special train leaving Pen Mill at 11.00am, priced at just 25 shillings. Surprisingly only 300 Yeovil fans took up the offer and they took their place in Torquay's biggest attendance at that time of 5000. Rain fell heavily throughout, dark clouds made visibity poor. Yeovil were over run in the first half finding themselves 3-0 down before a Hayward penalty pulled one back just before half time. It's how it stayed, the Yeovil backs of Day and May being called out for the defeat, both unable to stop the Torquay wings. " they were obliged to return to wence they came, sadder and wiser men" as one Torquay journalist poetically described it. 

Young Harry Scott, still only 17 years old, spent his time away from the pitch working at Petters and once a week traveling to a London to finish his education. The Newton Abbott lad was an impressive, intelligent and well loved young man and seen as one of the hottest prospects in the South-West. Jack Gregory aware that the lights of the career  great Johnny Hayward were starting to dim, saw Harry Scott as a natural replacement. Bedding him in slowly between reserves and first team. In mid-December 1925 Bath City arrived at Huish for a Southern League match, Gregory picking Scott in the middle of the attack and putting Hayward out wide. Scott was unplayable, by half time he'd scored a hat trick as Yeovil retired to the wooden changing room. He was not finished, adding two more in the second half. His fourth could only be described as the petulance of youth. After nipping in front of the Bath keeper, he held the ball on the goal line, inviting a challenge from the Bath full back, as the full back rushed in, Scott pulled it back with the sole of his boot and as the defender kicked thin air, Scott calmly side footed it into the net. The Yeovil fans were said to be too shocked at this skill to celebrate. The match had shown to Gregory that Scott was ready, his apprenticeship under Hayward was finished and for the rest of the season he would be an ever present. 

Harry Scott

Off the pitch the Supporters Club were still looking at new ways to raise funds, an all night Christmas  dance was organised at the Assembly Rooms, dancing to the Blackmore Vale orchestra. The all night dance finished at 1.00am. 

It was a white Christmas Day in 1925, the players woke up and headed by charabanc to the Lambridge Ground, Bath City's ground before moving to Twerton Park in 1932. When arriving they found the pitch a few inches deep in snow and unplayable. The referee though thought otherwise and called for two bags of soot to use to mark out the lines so play could commence. They hunted high and low, yet not an ounce of soot could be found - match abandoned. Boxing day saw Swindon Town Reserves arrive, the fourth time they'd met in three months in the two competitive leagues., this match being in the Western League. Scott again showing why he was now the leading player at Huish, scoring two and winning a penalty that Hayward converted in an exciting 3-3 draw in front of over 3000. 

Huish was getting a reputation for quite a hostile place to come and play, with a section of the ground never shy to voice their dissent at opposition players, the referee and even their own players if they felt they were not up to the job. Against Plymouth Argyle and repeated in the local press, the board decided to write an open letter asking for fans to stop these remarks. Amateur players had complained that it took away their confidence to perform and the barricking of away players had consequences when Yeovil played at opposition grounds. 

Also announced was that player-manager Jack Gregory had extended his contract for another two seasons. 

Now regarded as the premier club in Somerset, the Glovers were slowly being pushed for that title by Taunton United. When they arrived at Huish in early February 1926, it proved that the tide towards the county town was slowing moving in it's favour. Gregory deciding to use the match to put in a goalkeeper named Parker on trial from Weymouth. Although reportedly having a decent game. Alas, Taunton defeated the Glovers 1-0, a goal coming midway through the first half from George Hunt, more prominently known for his prowess in the cricket field for Somerset. Parker despite his efforts in the Yeovil goal was sent back to Weymouth. 

George Hunt - Taunton United FC and Somerset Cricket Club 

A week later another trip to Wales saw the Glovers travel with a very weakened side, Hayward and Pidgeon out injured. The Mushrooms as Mid-Rhondda United were known, still should have been a close game, giving the welshmen were below the Glovers in the Southern League standings. By half time Yeovil were 4-0 down , defending again being classed as weak, Yeovil faired better in the second period, only conceding two more in a 6-0 defeat. 

The embarrassing defeat at Mid-Rhondda seemed to kick the Glovers into action as they decided to go on an eleven match unbeaten run. Starting against Barry a week later, with Yeovil 1-0 down at half time the Huish crowd it would seem had dismissed the previous letter in the Western Gazette regarding barracking and were not best pleased with the offering in show. The second half was a different ball game with Hayward's experience and Scott's youth proving the perfect combination both scoring to give Yeovil a 3-1 victory. Decent results followed with victories over Torquay and Plymouth Argyle Reserves in the Western League. Bristol Rovers Reserves turned up at Huish in a Thursday afternoon only to find Johnny Hayward simply at his best, as the ageing player scoring all four in a 4-0 victory. 

There was only one match though that Glovers fans wanted to win most. The Somerset derby and return match away to Taunton United. Many Yeovilians made the trek to the County town to give Taunton its highest attendance of the season of over 1400. Yeovil took no chances whatsoever and produced their strongest side to regain County pride, which they duly did. First half goals from Jim Gallon and Tom Edwards gave the Glovers a 2-0 lead at the break. Taunton pressed and pulled one back in the second half before Hayward, scoring his fifth goal in three days finished the job off to great cheers. 

Ironically, the unbeaten run came to an end against Mid-Rhondda, the team they last lost against, at Huish. In a hard fought game on a warm day, the Welshman winning by the odd goal in three. The winner coming just five minutes before the end. 

William Maynard had been one of the original Yeovil players, long before the Casuals were formed. His love of the association game became one of the driving forces to push the formation of an independent association club in the town away from it's joint Rugby club liason. He later became a well loved and respected  president of the club. A successful businessman, he on occasions had paid outstanding club debts to allow the club to continue in it's early days enabling it to hold it's head high. In April the news came in of his death in the town aged 74  . A man who without his early involvement most probably would have meant the club failing. Even in his final year he'd been a regular at Huish cheering on his beloved Glovers. 

William Maynard 

The season came to a slow end, dead rubber games where even the local press didn't seem best interested in reporting. All played at in front of substandard crowds. It ended as it started in Wales, away to Pontypridd, young Radford up from the reserves scoring in a 1-1 draw in front of a few hundred. 

The season, like the one before can best be described as mediocre. However, with the previous season a good cup run kept interest and welcoming finances going. The club finished half way in the Southern League Western Section and just above halfway in the Western League. The reserve side hadn't faired any better, finishing second from bottom in the Western League second division and just above half way in the Dorset league. Reserve games being watched in the low hundreds against the likes of Portland Reserves and Westbourne Athletic. 

It could only get better - or could it? 

Happy days. 


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