The Great 1934-35 Cup run.

Yeovil v Liverpool 1935

The tag of 'Giant Killers' is synonymous with Yeovil Town, although, a tag that seems to be fading away. Of course, it's a name that could be attributed to many clubs over the years, Hereford, Woking, Blyth Spartan come to mind. However, none more so than the Glovers. As  we saw previously, Yeovil's first Giant Killing act came in the 1924-25 season when the club disposed of Bournemouth and Boscombe at Huish, the result not really being a great shock at the time. Just eighteen months previously both sides had been in the same league. 

Roll forward ten years, to the 1934-35 season, this was the season that can lay claim as  establishing Yeovil Town as true Giant Killers and a season that saw the Glovers' players become household names throughout the country.

Thirty-five years old, Liverpudlian and ex-England International Louis Antonio Page had taken over the reigns from the succesful David Pratt a year earlier. Page's first season hadn't continued the success that Pratt had brought to the club. Many fans and also club officials wondering if Page was the right man for the job. Page needed to stamp his mark on the club, to save his career. The  34-35 Cup run certainly would do that and propel Page's management career and Yeovil's reputation with it. 

Louis Antonio Page

It all started, as do all good acts of giant Killing, with the Glovers having to work their way through the qualifying rounds. For Yeovil that meant a trip to Devon. 

Tiverton AFC, (Away) First qualifying round 

Amateurs, Tiverton AFC, were champions of the Exeter and District League. Formed twenty-one years before and known as Tiverton Athletic. Their small Elms Ground held a tiny wooden  150 seater stand on one side of the ground, the only other spectator areas being two grass banks behind the goals. 

Tiverton AFC in 1933 

The Great Western Railway ran a special from Yeovil Pen Mill for the match, which a few hundred Glovers's fans took up. Others making their way across Somerset and a Devon by charabanc and motorcar. By kick-off over 2000 had packed the tiny ground with a good 500 making their way from Somerset. With a full strength side, Yeovil gave full respect to the Devon amateurs, however by half time it was  four-nil to the green and whites. Scoring nearly fifty goals in their first nine games, the scoreline wasn't a surprise. A tame second half, saw Yeovil just go through the motions, however did see young local lad Harry Swain score his first for the club, a bullet header from a corner. A Tiverton penalty, scored by Hellier a few minutes from the end being their one and only consolation for the Devon side. Although the Tiverton committee probably more than happy with the gate receipts. 

Wells City, (Home), Second qualifying round

Twenty odd years previously an FA Cup draw against Wells City, home or away, would have sent Yeovil fan's into sleepless nights. Both teams being on the same footing. Go back a few years earlier and Wells City definitely being seen as the primary club in Somerset. They also had a, well deserved reputation, for seeking any chance to go to the Somerset FA to get a defeat overturned. Once famously measuring the pitch out at Pen Mill after losing and discovering the length of the pitch as 50cm too short! Those days were long gone. Yeovil had climbed the professional ladder and Wells had stood still. Now plying their trade in the Western League Division Two, a league that Yeovil's reserve side had competed in. 

The programme notes Mr Fox, the Yeovil Chairman confidently wrote 'We should win easily, the way we are playing - but you never know'. Wells, in the blue shirts ran out of the old wooden changing rooms at Huish, getting a warm welcome from their 300 fans who had made the journey. All hoping that Wells could contain the best striking force outside of the league. A striking force containing Jack Taylor who had already scored sixteen from twelve games in the season so far. Wells best and only chance was to defend and hope the footballing Gods were on their side. Although not totally on their side, the Gods did help Wells come in at half time only two-one behind, with their young striker Paul scoring just before the break. Alas, Yeovil stepped up a few gears in the second half and scored at will. Assisted by a Tom McNeil hat trick, it ended 8-2. Louis Page congratulating the Cathedral Boys for playing a good and clean game. 

Glastonbury, (Away), Third qualifying round 

Another Western League Division Two side awaited next for the Glovers, and it wouldn't be far to go. Glastonbury had pulled off some fine results against Dartmouth and Weston-super-Mare to get to the third qualifying. Thinking of the finances, Glastonbury held a committee meeting to decide where the match should take place Huish or Glastonbury's small Abbey Moore stadium, home they decided with increased admission fees. If the weather was bad, extra covered accommodation, marques more than likely, would be provided. Glastonbury players voiced before the match that they were confident of providing a shock result, especially on their home turf. 

Although a windy day, marques were not needed as a record crowd of 2300, piled into the tiny ground, of course many from Yeovil. If Yeovil thought they were in for an easy afternoon, they were in for a shock. Glastonbury attacked from the off, more than once causing Tommy Lynch in the Yeovil goal to make diving saves. Tackles began to fly and with it tempers as a hot blooded Somerset match took place. Mr Yandle the referee from Martock struggling to keep players in line. After thirty minutes Tom McNeil calmly placed the ball under Hardy in the Glastonbury goal to give Yeovil the lead. The crunching tackles continued, Jack Taylor, the Glovers striker coming together with Jefferies with shuddering force, ending up with Taylor hobbling into the changing room at half time and the Glovers one up. Taylor didn't appear for the second half, however with no subs in those days he manfully hobbled onto the field after fifteen minutes of the second half. Just in time to see Fred 'Titch' Holbeach put the Glovers two-up. Glastonbury were far from finished and kept pressing until rewarded with a goal from Molton ten minutes from the end. The last ten, Glastonbury gave it their all, however the amateurs falling to their knees at the end as it finished 2-1. Glastonbury voicing animosity at Yeovil's strong armed  tactics. Yeovil it seemed were just glad to get out of there! 

Weymouth, (Home) Fourth qualifying round 

Weymouth, at this time were not seen as the Glovers sworn enemy in these days. That accolade went to Taunton Town. Weymouth, had been through a rough stage financially, even going so far as to approach Portland United to amalgamate with them - Portland refused. They now found themselves playing in the same league as Glastonbury and Wells in the Western League Division two. 

Weymouth FC - 1934-35

Despite a cold, wet typical November afternoon, 4300 crammed into Huish to see the Glovers take on the minnows from Dorset. Jimmy Parle, the Scottish inside right signed from Worcester City at the start of the season had a field day and scored at will. His four goals giving Hillier in the Terra's goal no chance, Yeovil didn't have it all their own way, as Weymouth surprisingly scored twice. Further goals from a Jack Taylor and Louis Page, ended the match 6-2, with the Yeovil fan's excitedly waiting for the 1st round draw a few days later. Weymouth returned to play the likes of Paulton Rovers and Radstock Town. Within a couple of years they'd gone bust - again! 

Crystal Palace, (Home) FIRST ROUND

When the draw was made, Yeovil couldn't be happier. A draw at home and against one of the best teams in the hat - Crystal Palace. For Palace, it raised memories of their last visit to Non-league oppposition, four years earlier to Bath City, they'd been humiliated and lost 2-1. An ambitious Palace were in the top three, going for Division Three South honours. The scramble for tickets was made immediately the draw being made with the club being inundated. Yeovil's biggest concern was the  injury leading scorer Jack Taylor had picked up previously at Glastonbury, he'd been unfit since. As cover Yeovil had signed on Toni Savage, a local lad from Langport, a player who would take no nonsense also, he was a fine amateur boxer. Savage showed his prowess in scoring twice against Exeter City reserves before the Palace game. Palace, decided to travel to the West Country early and parked up in Weymouth to sample the sea air and have a round of golf. Yeovil also deciding a trip to the seaside was in order and headed to Weston-super-Mare for brine baths. 

Match day saw queues form early, even before the turnstiles opened. As all wanted to be in place for the 2.15pm kick off. A record crowd of over 10,000 had crammed into Huish, many of them with South London accents as Louis Page led out his green shirted team, to a deafening cheer. Jack Taylor had not recovered and the Langport lad, Savage would be making his FA Cup debut. From the off, Yeovil were attacking, swarming the Palace goal at the Queen Street end and surprising Dunn in the Palace goal with shots from every angle at every opportunity. Palace looked shell shocked as the bombardment continued. It was only a matter of time before Yeovil scored. The time being twenty minutes, as McNeil shouldered Dunn of the ball and curled it into the top corner from ten yards. Palace, although having the odd chance, relieved to be only one down at half time. If Palace thought that Yeovil would let up in the second half, they were mistaken again endless attacks. The second goal coming midway through the second half Jimmy Parle firing across goal which Owens deflected into his own goal. With twenty minutes to go, Page wrapped up the victory and Palace were dead and buried. 

Yeovil v Crystal Palace 

The final whistle arrived with the swarm of green shirted players being replaced by Yeovil fans, shouldering thier heroes back to the changing room. They witnessed the biggest result in Yeovil's history so far. 

Exeter City, (Home) SECOND ROUND

When the draw came for the second round, Yeovil still didn't know who they'd be facing. However, it was to be another home tie against either Exeter City or Charlton Athletic who would replay at St James Park. Either way, Exeter were  confident of a victory over Charlton and then against Yeovil. Exeter's Manager, Irishman Billy McDevitt commenting that Yeovil weren't in the same league as Charlton and that the Yeovil win over Palace was 'just one of those things that come off once in alot of times in the cup' 

The whole Yeovil team sat in the St James Park stand to witness City comfortably defeat Charlton 5-2, with excursion companies, confidently already with printed leaflets, handing out cheap excursions to Yeovil for the second round match. 

For Yeovil, they went straight into action raising the capacity of Huish to increase revenue. In the space of 48 hours over the weekend, with workmen working by floodlight they'd erected a Directors stand on the corner of Huish at the Queens Street End. The stand became a familiar feature at Huish right up to the 1980s.

The Directors Stand built in 48 hours. 

As with the case as with every giant killing run, the National media arrived in Yeovil all looking for an angle on the run. The Daily Mirror picked up on a secret drink Yeovil players drank before every match, a secret cocktail only known only to Chairman Mr George Fox. It wasn't a secret cocktail for long - Sherry and egg yolks. The licensing committee in Yeovil decided to keep the pubs open all afternoon to show hospitality to their visitors from Exeter. 

Exeter travelled to Yeovil on the day of the match, stopping for lunch at Chard before continuing their journey. All roads led to Yeovil, with 3500 Exetertonians also attending the match, from early morning supporters of both clubs were milling outside Huish waiting for the gates to open. 

Jack Taylor had  still not recovered, young Toni Savage was out of luck this time though. The Glovers had signed Billy Crewe from Colwyn Bay and it would be him replacing Taylor. Huish was packed to the rafters, as both teams ran out of the wooden changing room, now overlooked by the new Directors stand. Yeovil out first followed by City. 

Exeter has obviously not consulted Palace on Yeovil's attacking tactics. From the off it  was a repeat of the Palace game as Yeovil pushed forward with Crewe in the thick of the action. After five minutes, Louis Page in a mazy run into the Exeter box was brought down, penalty! George Smith, the hard tackling, Geordie right-half blasted the ball into the Queen Street net to put Yeovil one-up. However unlike the Palace match Exeter had plenty of chances to score, Lynch saving Yeovil on a number of occasions 

George Smith
After fifteen minutes it was two-nil, Page cutting in to hit an unstoppable shot past Chesters in the Exeter goal. Exeter piled on the pressure and it was Yeovil's turn to defend, however they couldn't stop John Angus pulling one back for The Grecians after 25 minutes. After the break, Exeter attacked in numbers but unable to breach the the outstanding Yeovil defence. In the last five minutes, Billy Crewe, only with the club for days, became an instant hero by scoring twice in the last five minutes. The 4-1 scoreline although not reflecting the tightness of the match, meant that Yeovil woukd be playing in the third round of the FA Cup for the first time in their history.

Billy Crewe goes close at the Bruttons End 

Liverpool, (Home) THIRD ROUND

After the Exeter match, the question of who the club and fans wanted next was met mostly with of 'We want Arsenal'. It wasn't the Gunners, however fellow Division One team  Liverpool were just as welcome. As of now, one of the most famous and formidable clubs in the country. Every player a household name and filled with international players, mostly South African . However, if Liverpool were known through the footballing world, now so were Yeovil, with every daily, weekly, and monthly desperate to know more about the 'Giant Killers with a peculiar little ground'. 

Immediately the question of where the game would be held was asked in all the national papers. The Yeovil board holding an emergency meeting to discuss the matter. Liverpool's Anfield with a capacity of 60,000 and often filled was a tempting prospect to always cash strapped Yeovil. Chairman, George Fox, appeared from the meeting to announce that Huish would be the venue, with additional 3000 places being found in the ground. Tickets would be made avaliable with an increased price. No one complained. Mr Fox also reminding the press that a few years earlier Yeovil had beaten Liverpool in a friendly at Huish and that Liverpool side was better than the one Yeovil would play. 

Liverpudlian, Louis Page, decided that it would be a fine idea to take his team away for secret training, with even the players wifes being sworn to secrecy of the location. It didn't stay a secret for long, Page writing to a journalist friend at the Liverpool Echo, wrote the letter on hotel headed paper. 'The Dolphin Hotel, Beer, Devonshire'. Before long half of Fleet Street descended on the small  seaside town, all trying to find a new story on the Yeovil team. Cover blown, the team were happy to have photos taken before heading for a new secret location - Seaton! 

One story that had emerged was that Player-Manager Louis Page was suffering from a neck injury, casually passed off  as only lumbago, however Page was keeping the real extent of his injury a secret. 

Liverpool, decided to travel down to Somerset a day before the match and interestingly chose Bridgwater as their stop the night before. The players getting a warm 'Good luck' From many fans at Lime Street Station. For the fans they'd wake early on the 12th January 1935, the football special left Lime Street at 5.40am. 

Yeovil, as a town, had never seen such excitement, as people woke up on match day. A population of still only 25,000, everywhere you looked the club's colours were flying, even on babies prams. As previously, crowds were lining the entrances long before the opening at noon. Many, proudly in the Liverpool colours. 

Huish, was packed again to the rafters, many without tickets climbed trees outside the ground or using step ladders from the brewery at the Bruttons End. 

Noise levels rose as both teams took the field, Yeovil first. Captain Louis Page receiving a lucky heather from a female fan, as news reals filmed Huish for the first time for the cinema news. Good news for the Glovers's fans was the return of star striker Jack Taylor. 

Louis Page receiving his lucky heather 

Again Yeovil used the same tactics as previously and attacked Liverpool at force, cheered on by the majority of the 13,000 crowd. Speaking after the match, Liverpool's right back, Tom Cooper expressed surprise at the noise for such a small ground and a red hot crowd  is worth a goal start. A goal start is exactly what Yeovil got. A corner at the Queen Street End from 'Titch' Holbeach going to the far post where Tom Mcneil controlled and hit first time past South African Keeper, Arthur Riley, sending the crowd delirious. Liverpool kept calm though and Tommy Lynch, Yeovil's hero keeper made save after save from the Liverpool attack force . However after 23 minutes the equaliser came. A mix up in defence seeing Haydon Price slicing the ball into the net under pressure from Hodgson. Yeovil, were spurred on again though, Taylor shocking all by missing two opportunities which looked easier to score, pulling both wide from a few yards out with the keeper nowhere in sight. However, no Yeovil fan was complaining st the 1-1 scoreline come half time. 

Any thoughts of giant killing though were soon put to bed, immediately from the kick off another another pair of  South Africans, Berry Nieuwenhuys and Gordon Hodgson combined to put Liverpool 2-1 ahead and the signal for the end of Yeovil's great cup run. Three more Liverpool goals by the 57th minute meaning the contest was over. However Tom McNeil scored again at the Bruttons End to give Yeovil fan's another reason to cheer until Syd Roberts scored his second and Liverpool's sixth in the last minute. 

The usual adjectives of plucky and brave, lined the match reports the next day. However, it transpired that Louis Page's lumbago was actually a discolated bone in his neck and he'd played in absolute agony, unable to head or make quick movements. One Liverpool Echo, voicing how it would have been a different match if Taylor had scored one or both of his easy first half chances. 

It was all over for another year, of course less than fifteen years later, Yeovil would go better. Liverpool went on to finish seventh in the First division whilst Yeovil went on to have one of its most succesful seasons in its history. 

The cup run of 1934-35 gave Yeovil an identity, the Giant Killers. It also raised the profile of a club that just twenty years before was plying its trade on a field behind the Pen Mill Hotel. 

If football fans around the country had never heard of Yeovil and Petters United, then they had now! 

Happy days. 


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