London, lead thieves and Pratt - 1930-31

There was a renewed feeling around Huish in the summer of 1930. After the previous season had seen David Pratt restore the pride back into the club, the questions were could he improve on his excellent first season or would the ambitious Mr Pratt be around for much longer. It had already been reported in the northern press that he was on the short list for the Bradford City job, although unsuccessful. 

Interviews or not, David Pratt had managed to rise the profile of the club and also importantly,  the finances. For the first time the club were in a position to offer summer wages to players to entice them to stay, most did. Pratt had also made his first signature not long after the season had finished. Glaswegian, Arthur Rankin, a fast and skillful winger, had previously been at Bristol City and Charlton Athletic. Rankin going on to make over 150 appearances for the Glovers scoring 48 goals from the wing. 

Arthur Rankin

Another player who would make a massive influence on the season was 28 years old Welshman Trevor Edmunds, signed from Chesterfield and previously with Bradford City. A player who through the season would score an incredible fifty four goals from just forty appearances. 

Trevor Edmunds 

Full back, Reg Dyer came in from Fulham where he had made nearly 100 appearances for the Cottagers. He would struggle to settle though and was used mainly as cover. 

Reg Dyer 

Mr Pratt, was still putting out the feelers through advertising for players in the North. 

The 1930-31 season would see the Glovers away from Southern League football as they entered the London Combination league Division Two a league with only one London team and matches stretching from Newport to Norwich. Also the opportunity for the football loving Yeovil public to see the Glovers pitted against clubs they had never played before. Along with the London Combination, Western League Division One would also be contested. 

The London Combination season opened in front of over 3500 at Huish, on one of the hottest days Yeovil had seen for years. The visitors Peterborough and Fletton United, came with bags of confidence although they arrived just thirty minutes before kick off. With Samuel Cheetham injured after fifteen minutes and unable to continue, the heat really was on Yeovil with just ten men. Peterborough took full advantage and by half time were three-nil up. The second half saw Yeovil produce one of the great comebacks. Within minutes Billy Whitehead had calmly slotted one back. The ten men pressed and pressed, only stopping to pour water over their heads from buckets on the side line. With about 15 minutes remaining, crowd favourite Albert Bloxham had reduced the arrears to one. With the crowd now in full voice, a couple of minutes later Rankin floated over a corner and Tom NcNeil rose with a thundering header to bring the scores level, sending the Glovers fans in to ecstacy. Three apeice is how it stayed as the ten men, in the boiling heat slumped to their knees in exhaustion at the end. The opening side of the 1930-31 season being :

William Johnson, Bill Day, Samuel Cheetham, Jordan, David Pratt, Tom Parkin, Albert Bloxham, Trevor Edmunds, Billy Whitehead, Tom McNeil, Arthur Rankin

Thames Association FC, had the distinction of playing in the biggest stadium in the country, the 125,000 capacity West Ham Stadium. In fact the club were formed in 1928 solely to fit the stadium, something they failed to do. The enormous stadium boasted  Greyhound racing and Speedway until a group of businessmen decided to start their own football club to play there. Thus Thames Association FC came into being and it would be they who would arrive next at Huish, slightly smaller with a capacity now of around 10,000. 

The West Ham stadium 

Reg Dyer who had signed from Fulham to for cover to Cheetham, and Mick Connaboy arrived from Cowdenbeath, who valued him at £1000. Dyer had a debut to forget as he left the field injured early in te match. Thames with their rich backers showing what money can buy, by eventually winning four-two. A year later Thames Association were disbanded!

Thames Association FC -1930-31

In conditions that could not be any more different, Yeovil lost to Peterborough, two weeks after the 'comeback' match at Huish. In constant rainfall, Yeovil led 2-1 at the break through Tom NcNeil and a Bill Day penalty. Only for Peterborough to make a comeback in the second half, scoring the winner to make it 3-2 just before the end. 

Cornwall was the venue for the FA Cup, a trip to amateurs St Austell. For older supporters it would have revived the last time the two sides met in 1913, with the Glovers losing a replayed game 2-0. Gale force winds and driving rain kept the attendance to a minimum, with a sprinkling of Yeovil fan's included. A relatively easy match saw Trevor Edmunds score a hat trick in a 5-1 victory. 

St Austell FC Circa 1930

When club president Stanley Vincent wanted a wall removed in some new premises in Princess Street he had acquired, he offered the chance for four players to earn some extra cash and demolish it for him. And a fine job they did. However, on his return Mr Vincent discovered 7cwt of lead has also been removed from the roof. He called the police. After investigation it transpired the four players , Mick Connaboy, Arthur Rankin, George Jordan and Patrick McDade had had the lead away and sold it on to a fruiterer in the town. Of course Mr Vincent knowing the scandal it would cause did not want to press the matter any further, the police did though. At court, the defence used a novel approach 

" the defendants have been silly but they are all from Scotland and unaware of the serious nature of the offence" 

Each player was bound over for six months and ordered to pay £5. 

After Yeovil's first ever trip to Northampton to take on Northampton reserves a match they won easily 3-1, it was FA Cup time again. The rivalry between Taunton and Yeovil had been growing year and year, so when the draw gave Yeovil a home tie against them it was a match all Somerset wanted to see. 

A crowd of 7000 piled into Huish, including a sizeable crowd from the County Town. Taunton, with ex-Glover Fred Weston at centre forward, defended as if their lives depended on it for the first sixty minutes and then as tends to happen were awarded a penalty, which Curtis just squeezed past Willy Johnson in the Yeovil goal. Taunton then reverting to defend their one goal lead. Attack after attack was pushed away with the clock slowly clicking away. Then in the last minute a ball from Rankin found Tom NcNeil who hammered it first time past  Bristowe in the Taunton goal. The crowd celebrated by running on and embracing McNeil and those that couldn't flew their caps high into the air. A reply the following Thursday afternoon being the result. Over 2000 turned up at Priory Park, Taunton for the replay. A match that saw Yeovil awarded three penalties, all for handball, yet still lose. With the scores 1-1 at full time, Yeovil had already contrived to miss a first half penalty and then to equalise with one. Extra time saw Taunton throw caution to the wind and it paid off, three goals in a short spell and another missed Yeovil penalty saw the County Town 4-1 victors. 

The Taunton result allowed Yeovil to focus on league glory and two weeks later they made their longest journey so far in the club's history. Norwich, it was decided could be reached by train from Yeovil all in one day as the team set off before most of the town had stirred. Still on the train to Norwich with thirty minutes to kick off, the players decided to change in the train and excited Norwich station in full playing kit and piled into a group of taxis. Arriving minutes before the kick off. Despite the arduous journey and travel mismanagement, the Glovers put on an excellent display with a brace from Broxham and one from Tom NcNeil seeing a 3-1 win and a happier journey home. 

After a disastrous 8-2 defeat at Aston Gate against Bristol City reserves, a result that apparently flattered City, things were happening behind the scenes. David Pratt had applied and was short listed for the vacant Bournemouth and Boscombe manager's job. It would appear in doing so had not given the Yeovil board prior notice. Alas, Pratt was not successful in his application, however news of his attempted departure had reached Huish, the chairman Mr Farthing not being happy. 

Within twenty four hours David Pratt had resigned his Manager-Secretary role, with himself and the board refusing to comment. Shock was felt around the town, none more so than the players, who signed a petition asking for him to be reinstated. After the dust had settled the board and Pratt met again and settled their differences and David Pratt's resignation was redrawn.

Christmas came round and although the first half of the season had mostly been a mixed bag of results the Glovers were sitting nicely in the top half of both Western and London leagues and a championship double a possibility. A 3-2 defeat away at Ashton Gate against City reserves  again was undeserved and the Boxing day 1-1 was seen as a point gained. The third game in three days, with virtually the same eleven, came at home against Taunton, where a Trevor Edmunds hat trick was seen as revenge on Taunton for the cup exit, Yeovil running out 5-0 winners in front of 3000 at Huish. 

January 1932 started in fine style with three straight wins, and then welcomed Exeter City Reserves for a Western League match, a league that Exeter remained unbeaten in and sitting  top of the league. It is hard to explain the result that followed and the 2300 crowd could scarcely believe it also. Exeter were not particularly under strength, however it seemed that whenever Yeovil attacked they scored. At half time it was 5-0 to the Glovers, they'd taken twenty minutes to score their first. Then an incredibly spell that saw four goals in six minutes, all for Yeovil. It didn't stop. NcNeil and Edmunds both helped themselves to hat tricks and by the end it was 12-0! Incidently, Exeter won the league eventually conceding twenty-four goals, twelve came in that one match. Incredibly a week later the two sides met again at St James Park. Exeter winning 6-0!

February saw the Glovers continue their high scoring ways, firstly their first trip to Folkestone saw the Glovers being praised by their opposition directors as one of the best footballing sides they had witnessed as Bloxham scored four in a 6-1 win. A week later Bath City were torn apart 5-0 at Huish. A match that saw £100 in gate revenues but one director saying it wasn't enough as some players were out of work and the club were making up their wages to keep them at the club. A trip to Surrey, saw the club's first match with Guildford City. This time Mick Connaboy's turn for a hat trick in a 7-1 victory. 

The differences between David Pratt and the board seemed to be being them as the club had retained the services of David Pratt for another season. Although the ambitious Pratt had his eyes and ears to the ground for other offers. 

Way back in November, the Glovers travelled to the County ground Swindon to take on Swindon reserves in the London combination. With just six minutes left and Yeovil 3-1 up, the referee decided the light was too bad to continue and abandoned the match. The league in their wisdom decided to replay the match and in March, again Yeovil travelled to Swindon, they lost 2-1.

Excitement grew in the town when it was announced that the Holland International team would be coming to Huish to play a friendly as part of a tour that would also see them play Bristol Rovers on Good Friday. 

Trevor Edmunds was now on fire by March he'd scored over 30 goals and league scouts had started to warm their backsides in the old wooden stand at Huish for most matches. Not just to see Edmunds but a host of other players in the squad were being tracked. When the Glovers travelled to Taunton in the Western League, Edmunds was unstoppable scoring all four goals in a 4-1 victory. 

It wasn't the players leaving which was the main worry, David Pratt had signed  for another season although later showing his wish to leave. The Liverpool press reported he'd been short listed for the Southport job again being unsuccessful. 

Easter came with sad news, with the FA refusing to sanction their match against the Dutch international team, the Dutch had revised their plans and now wouldn't be visiting the West Country. Although on closer inspection it wasn't thr Dutch national team but a team from Holland called 'Swallows FC'. A hastily arranged match with the famous amateur side Casuals FC, saw a small crowd witness a 6-4 victory. 

April still saw Yeovil in with a very good chance for a double championship laying second in both leagues.  Hard fought 2-1 wins over Folkestone and Norwich City reserves, saw Yeovil head to Dartford for the penultimate away match of the London Combination season. Unfortunately a side weakened by injuries and playing their seventh game in fifteen days, capitulated and went down 5-1, with it virtually handing the London Combination championship to Aldershot. The season ending with an away match that saw the Glovers play in the biggest stadium in their history, the 125,000 capacity West Ham Stadium against Thames AFC. The stadium looking empty as a meagre 1000 turned up to see Yeovil avenge their early season defeat against Thames by winning 2-1. Within a year Thames AFC were defunct. 

The disappointment of finishing runners up was replaced with an end of season friendly visit of two of the most famous teams in England, Liverpool and Newcastle United. 

Liverpool arrived on a Monday evening straight from London after defeating Arsenal on the Saturday. Receiving a fine Somerset welcome and like Newcastle later in the week they were given a tour around the Westland factory. Over 7000, piled into Huish to see a mixed first and reserve Liverpool side, play not to their full limits enabling Yeovil to win 8-4.

There days later, it was Newcastle turn to arrive 

Newcastle enjoyed Yeovil so much they stayed for three days, touring the area and looking around the town. On the pitch they played attractive football, winning 3-2. Newcastle goals coming from Scotsman Jimmy Boyd and English man Ronnie Starling, both players who represented their countries internationally. 

The season ended at the beginning of May, with the last London Combination match of the season, at Huish against Northampton Town reserves A dead rubber saw Trevor Edmunds score his last two goals for the club, taking his total to 54 for the season. Also playing his last match was Albert Bloxham, a fans favourite for the last two seasons. Also scoring twice to take his tally to 42 for the season. The Glovers ending up six-nil winners. 

So, another season had finished, the Glovers ending up runners up in both leagues was seen as a successful season. 

Again, like the season before the same questions lingered, would Pratt go? And if not could he keep this talented side together? 

Happy days. 


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