The goal king, the station master and Fulham - 1931-32

Even by the annual loses of Yeovil and Petters United standards, the £400.00 loss reported at the shareholders meeting in June 1931,was a new financial low. A rise in salaries mixed with low attendances being the reasons. The club's idea to get the Glovers out of this financial mess was more matches and obviously making the players earn their corn. Not content with just the London Combination, the club decided on also entering the Southern League western and the Western League division One. Meaning sixty games not including Cup games and friendlies, in fact by the end of seasond the club would play an astonishing seventy-six first team games, there was no reserve side.

To accomplish this, Player-Manager David  Pratt would also need to set out on building a new side. Many of his succesful side from the previous season being tempted away into league football. Pratt, a master of finding young players struggling for first team places at their current clubs, wasted no time.

First to sign on was 26 years old Tom Millington from Crewe although previously having Division One experience with Everton. Also, reputed to be the fastest footballer in the country. Millington, also had his own cigarette card, the panani sticker of its day. This marked him out as a 'proper footballer'

Cecil Pemberton was just twenty-one years old, the season before he'd been at Burnley, yet failed to make an appearance. He was tempted to Yeovil by Pratt and in his one and only season at Huish, would have league scouts scrambling to Huish.

Cecil Pemberton 

Outside-Right and Scottish league winner, Willie Molloy was signed from Dumbarton, twenty-seven years old, Molloy had previously been at Glasgow Celtic and was known as a leader in the pitch. Again a player who would have a major influence on the team.

Willie Molloy 

Like Pratt's previous seasons, a week didn't go by without a new quality signing George McAndrew came in from Dumbarton. Even from the Yeovil league as a young lad named Butcher was signed in from Merriot. However, Yeovil surprised the footballing World when they announced their next signing. Richard 'Dick' Pym in his day was considered amongst the best goalkeepers in the game. An ex England International keeper, he'd started his career at Exeter before going to Bolton Wanderers making over 300 appearances for them. Famously, including the 1923 FA Cup final, known as thr White Horse final. Although now thirty-eight years old it was still a major signing. However, Pym, from a family of fisherman in Topsham, Devon saw Yeovil the ideal club, being close to home and allowed him to focus on his family run fishing business.

Dick Pym at Huish in 1931 

One hopes that the players had a good night sleep the night before the first match of the season, Northampton Town in the London Combination. The Cobblers had also spent the summer recruiting, and produced a side made  up of signings from Division One clubs. A record crowd for an opening day fixture, 3700 saw the new Yeovil side take Northampton apart in the first half with lightning speed attacks, Millington showing his pace to great affect. It was three-nil at half time. The second half being a relatively dull affair with just one Glovers goal added. The scorers being Molloy, who got two on his debut, Tom Millington and Tom McNeil . The opening side for the first match being :

Dick Pym, Arthur Rankin, Bill Day, David Pratt,  George Jordan, Tom Millington, Patrick McDade, Tom Parkin, Willie Molloy, Martin Davin, Tom McNeil, Cecil Pemberton

Bruton Football club were devastated when their 'brilliant' goalkeeper and captain Roy White signed for Yeovil. White, of course was going to be cover for Dick Pym. When the Glovers travelled to Llanelly, two days after the  Northampton match White was making a very quick debut. Also making their debut was local amateur player John Hutchinson. It didn't go well for either player. Although only losing only 1-0, White was released immediately and signed for Wells City and Hutchinson stayed and  played just a handful of games.

Lancastrian Cecil Pemberton had had a quiet start to his Glovers career, still only twenty-one, standing at 5'9, first time away from home he'd not scored so far. Quite a rariety for young Cecil, his scoring talents in the Burnley reserves had raised eye brows how he was never given a chance with the Burnley first team. When Cornish amateur side Wadebridge arrived in the FA Cup preliminary round, Cecil thought it was time he displayed his talents. He scored five in an 11-1 demolishing. After that young Cecil couldn't stop scoring all season. Two days later he scored in a 1-1 draw against Newport reserves. Playing his and Yeovil's third game in five days away to Swindon Reserves, Pemberton made it an incredible ten goals in three matches by scoring four in a match that comically finished 9-4 to Yeovil. Incidently, during that week, the Glovers played five games in seven days on the seventh day Pemberton scored his thirteenth goal of the week in a 5-1 over Tunbridge Wells.

With Pemberton on fire, Yeovil's season was going along nicely as crowds flocked to see  this fast paced, free scoring David Pratt side. Another home FA Cup game against Plymouth and District League side Dartmouth United, should have been an easy passage. The 1500 Huish crowd saw the Devonians take the lead before Molley and Davin put the Glovers 2-1 ahead at half time. A sixteen year old Dartmouth striker pulled the scores level, until Yeovil finally finished off the match with further goals from McNeil and Molloy. An away match at Street awaiting in the next round.

The Yeovil Committee not content with Yeovil playing twelve games in twenty-three days in September also organised a friendly against Wolverhampton Wanderers. Mike Connaboy, the player who the season before had stolen the President's lead, had been transferred to the black County pre-season and the match was part of the payment.

Over 2000, turned up to see the famous English side but were unfortunately dissapointed to see mostly it was Wolves reserves. David Pratt took the opportunity to give a trial to Dash, an eighteen year old midfield player from Barwick and Stoford. The 8-4 victory to Wolves being described as a lacklustre affair.

Street, decided to refuse the chance to play at Huish and decided that their Victoria Road ground would be a good place to force a replay and then get the welcome finances from a match at Yeovil. The plan failed as Yeovil ran out easy winners 4-1 in front of 2400 who paid £57.

Elsewhere, ex-Yeovil player William Maynard had become the Mayor of Taunton, his Father being one of the leading lights in the formation of Yeovil Casuals.

Next up in the FA Cup, a difficult away draw at Lovells Athletic in Newport awaited. Yeovil didn't fancy the trip and offered Lovells a cash incentive to change the venue. The Welshman politely refused. The players and fans headed over to Wales and arrived at the Rexville ground full of hope despite the baran surroundings.

Rexville, Lovells Athletic 

A hard fought and close match ensued, Tommy Millington finding his form and his speed causing the Lovells defence constant trouble. After twenty minutes Martin Davin found the ball come to him fifteen yards out and let fly with an unstoppable shot that flew into the net. Despite Lovells best efforts they could find no way through, Yeovil even wasting a penalty in the second half as Pratt blazed over. The victory was rightly celebrated by the Yeovil fans. Two weeks later they'd be back in Wales for the next round.

Martin Davin

Llanelly FC were going to be the hardest test yet for the Glovers to advance into the main rounds of the FA Cup. An ambitious club who were one of the best supported outside of the league, especially at there Stebonheath stadium. The GWR decided to put on a football special to Wales, and over 200 Yeovil fans mixed in with the bumper crowd of 6000. It became virtually a repeat of the Lovells match as Yeovil sucked up the pressure and passed at speed on the break. Twenty minutes from the end a Yeovil corner was met with headed power by fans by the ever dependable Tom McNeil which flew into the net. After that it was park the bus for the last twenty, which Yeovil did comfortably. With the club still one round away from Round one, cup excitement was building.

Tom McNeil, scored the winner at Llanelly 

Still unbeaten in the London Combination, Folkestone arrived at Huish for a top of the table clash with most seeing Yeovil as favourites. One thing they didn't take into  account was John 'Jack' Cock! Holding the acclaim of being the first Cornishman to play for England, Cock was an extraordinary man. He scored after thirty seconds on his England debut. A striker that scored 234 goals in 390 league matches, a decorated war hero with the Military Medal for bravery, an accomplished stage singer and also actor who appeared in football related films in the 1920's. Now, approaching his 40th birthday, he lined up for Folkestone at Huish. Jack ran the show at Huish, cleverly laying on passes to the main stroke force to score at ease. , ending in a 4-0 victory to the Kent side.

The extraordinary John 'Jack' Cock 

Next up in the FA Cup, the 4th qualifying round, were Salisbury City, competing in the Western League. David Pratt, expressed his pleasure at the draw, more for the gate receipts than the chance of winning. Pratt must have been pleased with the 3500 that turned up, including a train load of Salisbury fans. With the score 0-0 at half time, Pratt would have been less pleased. However four quick second half goals from Davin (2), Molloy and McNeil saw the Glovers coasting, two late Salisbury goals were not enough as Yeovil entered the first round draw with the big boys.

After the excitement of the cup, Yeovil were back in fine form recording back to back 5-1 victories at home. First against rivals Taunton, who were having an awful season both on the pitch and financially. Secondly against Torquay Reserves. Although, worryingly was a jaw industry to leading scorer Cec Pemberton that saw him taken to hospital. 

No doubt the whole of Yeovil were eagerly anticipating which top team they'd get in the First round of the FA Cup. Hayes at home, was a big anticlimax. Although it gave the club a reasonable chance of advancing. 

Although an Amateur team Hayes were not to be taken lightly. Competing in the Athenian league, they had reached the final of the FA Amateur cup the year before. Yeovil, hyping the match, expressed it to be the most important match in the club's history. It would give the Glovers their first chance to enter the second round. Like Salisbury, Hayes supplied a football special to boost the crowd. With over 6000 piling into Huish, the hype worked. 

Jaw injury recovered, the crowd cheered to see Pemberton on the team sheet. However it was his fellow forwards Rankin, Molloy and Davin who put the Glovers into the next round, a last minute consultation goal being Hayes only reward to take back to Middlesex. When the draw was made Fulham away, top of the Third Division South, saw a very happy Yeovil committee! 

Handing over a sprig of lucky Heather, the Mayor waved off the team and 700 excited  Yeovil fans from Pen Mill Station. Destination, Craven Cottage. Anticipating a good pay day the committee were not disappointed as nearly 16,000 paid nearly £1000 to witness the match. If Fulham were anticipating an easy passage to Round three they were frustrated by a fine Yeovil performance that saw the defence water tight with local lad and still working at the Glove factory, Bill Day having the match of his life. Playing quick one touch passing Yeovil had several chances to win the match, although the final 0-0 scoreline was an heroic effort. None more happier than Mr Vincent, the Chairman with the chance of more revenue for the replay, a replay that would take place on Thursday afternoon. 

All factories and schools were closed for the replay, as 1000 Cottagers arrived at Pen Mill. An hour before kickoff the police had their work cut out trying to control the mass of  entering crowds. Watford, who the winners would face in the Third Round, sat in the stand viewing their next opponents. Over 8000 paying fans no doubt had the Chairman rubbing his hands. After five minutes the majority Yeovil element in the crowd went berserk as Martin Davin hammered a thirty yard free kick pass Iceton in the Fulham goal. Sadly, It was as good as it got. Fulham equalised after twenty minutes and at 1-1 at half time a shock was on the cards. Alas, a misplaced George Jordan back pass allowed Fulham to take the lead. A minute later it was 3-1. The final result of 5-2, although not a disgrace meant the cup run was over for another year. Although for special guest Mr Bown, secretary of the Somerset FA, it was not a pleasant visit. A pickpocket stole his wallet containing £4.

With the cup run behind them, The team continued the rest of December unbeaten as they moved into 1932. At the turn  of the year the club were leading the Southern League Western and Western League, and second in the London combination. In the 41 games played so far they had amassed 126 goals, Pemberton had 36 of them! A determined  Bristol City reserves arrived for a London Combination match in heavy rain. In a farcical match that made football almost impossible, Yeovil added six more goals to their seasons tally without reply. The only shock being Pemberton wasn't on the score sheet.

A shock did happen a couple of weeks later, at Newport. Lovells Athletic hammered a near full strength Glovers 7-1. Yeovil being accused of trying to 'walk the ball into the net'.  Two days later normality was restored at Huish, second from bottom of the London Combination Guildford City beaten 6-1. Representatives of Blackburn Rovers were sat in the stand perusing the skills and goals of the Glovers. Martin Davin apparently being the target. 

After two away defeats in Kent against Folkestone and Dartford, London Combination honours were all but over, the Glovers now focusing on the Southern League Western and Western League. After a 4-0 victory over Torquay United at Huish, the Western League was seen to be nearly sown up. Although Plymouth Argyle at Reserves had put on a fine run and were on Yeovil's tails. A 2-1 defeat at Plymouth, virtually handing the championship to Argyle, with a game left. 

Ambitious David Pratt, who the previous season seemed to be on the short list of every league managers job going, was at it again. Bristol City announced he was on the short list for the vacant manager's job at Ashton Gate. Again, he was rejected at the last hurdle. 

Goals, were coming from all areas, all positions, headers, shots, tap-ins. In March  Norwich reserves made the long  journey to Somerset for a combination match and sent back 6-2 losers. Willy Molloy showing he was just as lethal as Pemberton by bagging five of the goals. Two days later despite winning 6-4 against Bournemouth & Boscombe reserves, the team were criticised for getting in each others way, in all trying to score. Molly helping himself to another hat trick. 

Come April, the Glovers were coasting the Southern League Western, sitting on top, points ahead and games in hand. A trip to Priory Park, Taunton should have seen the league done and dusted. However playing their fifth game in ten days proved too much, a tired looking Yeovil team going down 3-1 to their Somerset rivals. Celebrations would have to wait. Nevertheless, Western honours were finished after a 1-1 draw away to Torquay reserves, handing the league to Plymouth reserves. 

In the Southern League, the Glovers were making their best efforts to throw their top the table position away. After a sluggish 1-1 away draw a Exeter, they travelled two days later to Plymouth Argyle reserves, the only team that could overtake them. It was no surprise when the news of a 2-0 defeat was telegraphed to Huish. The championship would go down to the wire. 

With keeper Dick Pym likely to retire at the end of the season, Pratt immediately was looking for a new keeper. Jack Portass, had recently arrived in Crewkerne from Devon to become Station master at Crewkerne Station. News arrived to David Pratt he was a useful goalkeeper. Jack was signed on amateur forms and made his debut against Dartford at Huish in a drab 1-1 draw, Jack reported to have done fairly well. Alas after one more game, a 7-1 Somerset Cup victory over Taunton Jack returned back to the railway. 

Two games in two early May days would decide if Yeovil could add the Southern Western silverware to the board room. Exeter City reserves away were up first. A defeat would definitely hand the trophy to Plymouth Argyle. At one down at half time all was not looking well. Charlie Murley, a 21 year old forward from Barwick had made a few appearances during the season, playing today in place of the injured Pemberton young Charlie become the hero of the town by scoring the equaliser. Hopes were still alive at the end. The 1-1 giving Yeovil a simple arithmetic problem the next day. Yeovil v Plymouth Argyle reserves at Huish, won and Yeovil were champions, draw or lose it would be be heading to Plymouth. Young Charlie Murley was infamously released by the Glovers a year later and signed for Taunton Town. A few months later he had signed for Preston North End and  rubbing shoulders with the legendary Bill Shankley in the same Preston side. 

Cec Pemberton returned in place of hero Murley for the Argyle match. A fair crowd at Huish saw the returning Pemberton give the Glovers the lead only to be pegged back to 1-1 at half time. Contraversy hit the match ten minutes into the second half. Arthur Rankin, after a scramble, hit the post and saw the ball cross along the line. The referee after consulting the linesman gave the goal only to be surrounded by Argyle players convinced the ball hadn't gone over the line. Protesting to no avail, Argyle attacked to get the equaliser and the league title. Yeovil held firm though, the final blast of the whistle meaning after a hard strenuous season, Yeovil were again Southern League (Western) champions. 

There wasn't much time to celebrate the next two days saw two friendlies that couldn't have been more contrasting. First away to Crewkerne where over a 1000 saw the Glovers win 4-1. Crewkerne with Jack Portass in goal, the Station master. 

The next day, Yeovil's fourth game in four days, First Division Sunderland arrived at Huish. Sunderland kindly stepping in after Manchester City had postponed their trip to concentrate on their league hopes. 

Over 6000, turned out to watch one of the most famous sides in the country destroy a tired Yeovil side 7-2. The smallest player in football 5'5, Scottish International Benny Yorston scoring an easy hat trick for the Black Cats 
Benny Yorston 

After the match, the players and committee retired to the Three Choughs for an end of season meal. At the speeches, David Pratt expressed his believe that Yeovil were better than the majority of Division three teams. In traditional fashion, Mr Vincent the chairman congratulated the team on a fine season, a season that had seen the Glovers score over 200 goals, Pemberton scoring 65 of them. In typical Stanley Vincent fashion though he added  that financially the club finances were not as good as it may have been. One suspects Mr Pratt in hearing that wondered what he could do more! 

Happy days!


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