Yeovil Town Story Part 40
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THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 40

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SEASON 1984-85

Ian MacFarlane landed in the managerial hotseat in May 1984
Ian MacFarlane landed in the managerial hotseat in May 1984.
During the summer of 1984, Yeovil Town were looking for another manager. A short list of three was drawn up to appoint the Club's 21st manager since the war. On 21st May, Graham Carr (then of Nuneaton Borough), failed to turn up for his interview and Ian MacFarlane finally got the nod over Gerry Gow.

Within two weeks, MacFarlane had dispensed with the services of long-serving trainer Maurice O'Donnell.

Despite Yeovil's appalling previous season's record, new manager Ian MacFarlane only made one summer signing, Shaun Wolff from Shepton Mallett Town. He joined the following squad of players who had been retained:- Grant Northover, Richie Horton, Mick Doherty, Jeremy Brown, Clive Green, Billy Elliott, Jamie Ward, Phil James, Malcolm Gold, Dave Linney, Marc Bartlett, Stuart Gibson, Nigel Jarvis, Paul Barber, Tony Pounder, Mark Williams, Chris Card, Andy Stone, Paul Charles and Paul Muir.

Others to join the club during the season were:- Dave Platt (back from Weymouth), Alan Slough (Luton), Steve Smith (Trowbridge), Dave Roberts (Trowbridge), Alan Butler (Burnley), Paul Thorpe (Bristol City), Paul Cheesley (Bristol City), Chris Lilygreen (Newport), Jon Economou (Bristol City), Dean Holtham (Weymouth), Wayne Hughes (Paulton Rovers), Tom Ritchie (Bristol City), John McGinlay (Nairn County), Martin Tooze (Heavitree United), Colin Barnes (Torquay), Ian Davies, Lou Chappie and Ian Botham.

Paul Thorpe joined the club from Bristol City during the season
Paul Thorpe joined the club from Bristol City during the season.
The only pre-season friendly's were against Avon (Bradford), Taunton Town, Yeovilton and Minehead. Several players were in dispute with MacFarlane. Meanwhile, the League had obtained a sponsor and it was renamed The Gola League, the Club's first benefit from the arrangement being a £1,000 cheque presented at the League's A.G.M. The newly formed Gola League carried on the points scoring system from the Alliance Premier League - 3 points for an away win, 2 points for a home win and 1 point for a draw. The Club had also obtained its own sponsor, Marney's Sports.

The season opened with a 4-2 defeat at home to Boston United. Eleven days later, on 29th August, MacFarlane announced his resignation, taking up a coaching appointment at Burnley two weeks later. Five days later, Gerry Gow was appointed Player Manager.

The season saw many comings and goings, forty players turning out for the first team. The first eight matches were all lost so that, by the time Yeovil defeated Maidstone 3-0 at Huish on 22nd September, they were stranded at the bottom of the table with relegation staring the Club in the face, for the third season in succession.

In the F.A. Cup, Yeovil defeated Witney Town 3-1 at Huish in the Fourth Qualifying Round, but went out 2-0 at Torquay United in the First Round Proper. The 'gate' at Plainmoor was only 2,617. After early successes in the Bob Lord Trophy against Dartford (3-2 on aggregate) and Worcester City (3-2 at Huish) Yeovil went out of the competition 3-1 at Maidstone in the Third Round. The F.A. Trophy was another disappointment, Yeovil losing 2-0 at Gloucester City in the Third Qualifying Round. But Yeovil did reach the final of the Somerset Premier Cup, which Bath City won 4-1 on aggregate.

Before Christmas striker Mick Doherty was sold to Weymouth for £8,000 following a transfer request. But Billy Elliott was still in dispute with the Club and was finally sold to Poole Town for £1,000 in March 1985.

Ian Botham signed for the club in January and is pictured with Gerry Gow and Gerry Lock
Ian Botham signed for the club in January and is pictured with Gerry Gow and Gerry Lock.
At the turn of the year, Yeovil's league position was desperate - one from the bottom with only 11 points from 23 games and 13 points below Frickley Athletic, who were fourth from bottom. The arrival of cricketer Ian Botham on a non-contract basis saw a 'gate' of 2,099 for the visit of Northwich Victoria on 26th January. Other clubs, too, reported a big increase in attendances at their games when Botham was in the Yeovil side. His last game for the Club was at Frickley on 23rd March, just twelve hours before flying out with Somerset for their tour of the West Indies.

January also saw the start of negotiations to sell Huish and move to a new stadium at Houndstone.

Despite the occasional success offering hope that relegation would be avoided, only one point was picked up from the last seven games. The final match of the season at Barrow, where Yeovil had played their first match in the old Alliance Premier League, marked the end of an era, Yeovil being relegated with just six wins and 25 points - a massive 17 points from safety.

The only pleasing features of the season (promising hope for the future), was the wonderful support the Club received through the turnstiles. The league matches attracted an average 1,296 spectators - better than any other club in non-league football, and the signing of a young Scot, John McGinlay, on the recommendation of former manager Cecil Irvin.

Rumours abounded that Wycombe Wanderers, who had qualified for the Gola League from the Vauxhall-Opel League, would not accept promotion, but they proved unfounded. And so started a new era for Yeovil Town in the Vauxhall-Opel League - and they were relegated for the first time in their history.

The 1984-85 Gola League squad
Yeovil's line up for their Gola League match against Barnet on 9th March 1985. Their 2-1 victory that day being one of only six League successes all season.

Back Row (L-R): Ian Botham, Wayne Hughes, Paul Thorpe, Steve Smith, Tom Ritchie, Phil James, Paul Cheesley, Gerry Gow (Manager).
Front Row (L-R): Malcolm Gold, Dave Linney, Jeremy Brown, Jon Economou, Colin Barnes, Richie Horton



The Yeovil Town Story : Other Pages

THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 40

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