Bigamy, Lowes and angry strikers - 1928-29

In the summer of 1928, Huish was flooded. Rain storms for once not being the reason. 'Jet ball' was played by opposing fire brigades, a game where two teams had to score by propelling a 2 metre high ball through the goals using the power of water jets from the fireman's hoses. Yeovil Fire Brigade played Wincanton fire brigade at Huish in June. The pitch was flooded and no score recorded!

With Jack Gregory now gone the club advertised in various publications for a new man to take charge. A player-coach with good experience, a good teamperament and aware of tactics. Wether the adverts raised any interest is doubtful, two weeks later they had appointed from within. Tommy Lowes, had been at the club for two years and was well respected and liked. Previously with Newcastle, where he made his first division debut, Coventry City and Newport County. Tommy set about his recruitment by placing his own adverts in the press. Wanting "Young players, professional or amateurs in all positions. State terms and availability. Apply to Mr T Lowes 4 Queen Street, Yeovil "

Tommy Lowes - Player-Manager 1928-29

Lowes, a native Geordie, aimed his recruitment from the North-East. Joe Smith, originally from the Whitley Bay area was signed on, a heavily built centre-half, previously with Merthyr Town. Newcastle born Joe Campbell was signed from Bradford City. Twenty-five year old striker, Robert Nelson White, another Geordie was signed on Tranmere Rovers. Closer to home, full back David Baynham, a Welshman also signed as  Full back  from Bournemouth and Boscombe. All four would last just a season at Huish. 

Joe Campbell signed from Bradford City

A local derby away at Taunton in the Southern League got the season underway. Six new players, in Lowes starting first line up. Two points seemed to be heading to South Somerset, as Robert 'Bob' White scored his first of the season in the first half. The Glovers mostly dominated the second half but could not land the killer second goal. With a minute in the clock remaining, Taunton equalised to send their fans into ecstacy. Although the neutrals calling Yeovil a 'well balanced side'. Yeovil's starting eleven for the first match being:

Packer, Day, Baynham, Lewis, Smith, Campbell, McIIroy, Scott, Lloyd, White, Parker 

McIIroy came on loan from Workington and Lewes arrived, again in loan from Charlton Athletic. Both returned to their clubs after a month. Lloyd the amateur player from Bristol still impressing when he played. 

A week later, in front of 3000 at Huish, Merthyr Town Reserves paid a visit and took an early lead. It woke Yeovil up, particularly Bob White who scored a hat trick in his home debut in a fine 4-2 win. The Yeovil press again describing the Yeovil side 'Sound in every department'. Five days later in the first Western League fixture, Torquay United Reserves were despatched 1-0, Bob White again on the score sheet. 

The events that followed were extraordinary, with league fixtures mainly being over taken by FA Cup fixtures, replays and second replays. By the time the 1928-29 Cup run had finished at the end of November, The Glovers had played just a hand full of league fixtures. If you wish to read about the 1928 FA Cup run you can do here.

By the time the Cup run had finished, nearly at the start of December, just four Southern league matches had been played, meaning a massive catch-up operation was needed. The club had boosted it's numbers by signing Powell from Merthyr and John Goulden from Raith Rovers and previously with Hull. 

Goulden and Powell

Southern League action started up again with a tedious home match against Torquay Utd. A club who just a couple of seasons earlier had been Yeovil's equal, however now Torquay were a league side and it was their reserves side now competing against the Glovers. A late goal sealed the points for the Devon side. The result being a catalyst of seven straight defeats. A week later, away to Plymouth Argyle Reserves and the 4-1 defeat described the team as having muscle but 'a team without a brain'. 

Bristol City reserves managed to score 10 goals against the Glovers in eight days in the Western League, winning 6-3 at Huish and 4-1 at Ashton Gate. It was going to get worse though! 

To say their was animosity between the Glovers and Taunton Town would be putting it mildly. Just a few weeks before Taunton had defeated the Glovers in the FA Cup at Huish in a replayed game. A few days later, Taunton were thrown out of the cup for playing an unregistered player and the tie awarded to Yeovil, Taunton were livid, and it would be them up next in a Christmas and Boxing day double. On Christmas day within minutes Packer in the Glovers goal had broken his finger and Yeovil were down to ten men. It showed, Taunton pressed and tackled and over run the Glovers  sending them back to South Somerset in the back of a 4-1 hiding. A day later at Huish the humiliation was complete. Taunton again using brut force and again reducing Yeovil to ten men, Rowling in defence being so incapacitated he was sent to the wing and just stood there, unable to run. Taunton's Christmas revenge was finalised as they ran out 6-1 winners. Newport, Wales was the last game of 1928, and by now Yeovil fans couldn't wait for the year to end. County reserves not having any sympathy with them, as they romped home 3-1, with Yeovil sarcastically by the press being praised for putting in their best performance in a long time. 

A new year saw a slight change of fortunes, firstly Ebbw Vale become the first club to lose to the Glovers in nearly two months. On a snow covered pitch at Huish in front of a 'moderate' crowd, two late goals gave the fans something to cheer about for once. 

Then scandal rocked the club! Twenty-seven year old, Percy Williams was signed previously from Bristol City and had moved and settled in the town. He had met an eighteen year old Yeovil lass called Katherine Miles. Williams had proposed to Katherine, and they'd gone to the Registry office where he signed his status as a 'Bachelor'. A couple of days before the wedding when Percy was with Katherine and her family, a woman approached them and declared that she was in fact Percy's wife and lived in Bristol and had no intention of a divorce. Katherine was heartbroken, her parents livid and reported Percy to the police. He was lucky to escape prison for attempted bigamy and false declaration on a marriage document - he was fined £5!

A draw against Torquay reserves and a home win against Exeter reserves, gave thought to all that the season was turning - they were wrong!.

The local press in Yeovil, magnanimously praised Yeovil for a 'credible performance' away to Plymouth Argyle Reserves. One can summise that the press were being generous, Yeovil had lost 5-1. Joe Campbell's goal being the solitary consulation. St James Park, Exeter a week later see the Glovers hit rock bottom. Despite opening the scoring though Bob White and only being 2-1 behind at half time, the second half became an absolute disaster. Player Manager Tommy Lowes had to retire from a recurrent leg injury and Exeter reserves took full advantage. At the end it was 8-2, young Rogers in the goal beong praised for keeping the score down. One player definitely not having a bad season was Bob White, his brace in the match bringing his total to 24 for the season so far. 

Robert 'Bob' White

Crowds were down, finances were in the red and drastic decisions needed to be made. It was announced that the Yeovil reserves side, a constant since when the Yeovil Casuals were formed in 1895, would be no more after the season. A new team, Petters Westland Works (Yeovil) FC had recently be formed from the Westland works. Looking to expand they would play their fixtures at Huish the following season in the Somerset Senior league. Most of the reserves signing on for the new team. 

As Yeovil had a habit of doing through the years, they manage to dig themselves out and start to put some results together. Starting with a 5-1, Southern league victory away at Bath City, young Lloyd scoring four. Three wins out of three followed, in the best display so far of the season, Bristol City Reserves were despatched 3-0. Three days later at Eastville, Bristol Rovers reserves were in a kind mood by missing two penalties as The Glovers ran out 4-3 winners. Percy Williams, attempted bigamy behind him on the score sheet. At Penydaren Park, Merthyr, the Glovers again put on an excellent display, turning over Merthyr reserves 4-1.

Merthyr Town 1928-29

The arduous FA Cup run and fixture backlog came home to roost in April, the last month of the season. Eleven matches in twenty-nine days. It was a disaster. It started well with a fine 3-0 Southern League win at home to Bath City, Bob White with a brace that was pleasing on the eye to the ever growing League club scouts to view him, turning up at Huish. The next day at Barry the same players returned back to England 3-0 losers. Two days later in front of a sparse crowd at Huish Bristol Rovers turned the Glovers over 4-1. 

The frustration was shown two days later. In a 5-1 away defeat at Exeter City reserves, Bob White becoming so disgusted with the defence that whilst the match was in progress he picked up the ball in his hands and threw it down in front of them. Defeat followed defeat, at Bristol City Reserves, the team were reduced to nine men for most of the game with Campbell and Goulden both being transferred to the infirmary for injuries. The 3-0 defeat was seen as a good result under the circumstances. Finally a victory was to be had at the end of April, a 2-0 Somerset Professional cup victory over Taunton was seen as little consultation. 

The season came to an end with a home Southern league match against Newport County reserves. By now, Yeovil had been confirmed as finishing bottom of the Western League and were laying second from bottom of the Southern League, as County Reserves were second from top, no hope was given by the few that bothered to turn up. As usual the unpredictable Glovers surprised all by saving the best to last, running out 6-1 victors. With that the season was over, and not before time. 

Tommy Lowes reign as manager had resulted in the worst season both in league and financial status. His reign ended quietly, within a couple of weeks he was gone. Surprisingly, Lowes poor performance hadnt put of Third Division Barrow who appointed him a month later. After spending five years at Holker Street he moved onto manage Walsall, who he managed until war broke out. After  the war, scouting for Norwich City right up until the 1970's. Tommy died in at the ripe old age of 102 in 1993. 

One highlight for the season was striker Bob White's goals, an incredible fifty-four in forty appearances. It hadn't gone unnoticed, he was snapped up by Wolves as soon as the season was over. 

As for the Glovers, a new horizon was just around the corner where a Pratt would mould one of Yeovil's greatest teams. 

Happy days! 



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