Yeovil Town Story Part 32
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THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 32

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SEASON 1973-74 : THE FOOTBALL LEAGUE'S 'CLOSED SHOP' POLICY CONTINUES

Manager Cec Irwin spent a busy summer in 1973. With the backing of a profit of £1,654 from the 1972/73 season, which turned out to be the last for more than a decade, and the transfer of Cliff Myers to Torquay United for £6,600, he set out to strengthen the team.

Myers would be missed, the scored 84 goals in 328 appearances for the Club, but it was hoped the new signings would spearhead a successful campaign for a place in the Football League at the end of the season. Coming to Huish in the summer were Dave Verity (from Halifax Town), Steve Briggs (Doncaster Rovers), Mike Harrison (Southend Utd), Clive Slattery (Swansea) and Brian Usher (Doncaster). Usher broke down in his first friendly game and left the Club. In addition, Cyril Davies made a comeback, but he also broke down and did not sign a contract.

Dick Plumb returned to the club from Exeter City
Dick Plumb, who returned to the club from Exeter City in January 1974.
Players signed during the season were Tommy Walker from Burnley who was released after nine games and four goals, Ray Pickett (Oxford - costing a £3,000 fee in December), Mike Franklin (after a month's loan from Charlton Ath) and, in January, 1974 Dick Plumb, who returned to the Club via Exeter City for a £4,000 fee. Striker John Brown was sold to Weymouth for £2,000 after the arrival of Plumb.

The season opened with a 1-1 draw at Dartford, but Yeovil were in the bottom half of the table and out of the Southern League Cup defeated 4-1 on aggregate by Poole Town, by the end of the month. At the end of October the Club had climbed into the top half of the table averaging a point a game.

November brought three exciting F.A. Cup ties with Weymouth. The first match at Huish attracted 5,709 people who saw a 1-1 draw. They also witnessed crowd trouble with nine arrests. Four days later Yeovil came from behind twice with goals from Bertram and Slattery to force a further replay. No neutral ground was available for this, so the F.A. spun a coin and Weymouth won the choice of venue. They also scored the only goal of this game, Alan Beer netting just after Yeovil 'keeper Tony Clark had been injured in a clash with Alan Skirton and been replaced by Paul Smith. Yeovil had dominated the game, which marked the end of Clark's run of 232 consecutive games.

A disappointing season continued with a 2-1 defeat at Guildford City in the F.A. Trophy and the abandonment of the Western Counties Cup due to the three-day week and the consequent ban on the use of floodlights after Yeovil had reached the Semi-Finals. February saw Yeovil playing their first ever Sunday Southern League match at Huish, with Atherstone providing the opposition. The crowd of 2,002 was only slightly higher than for the two previous Saturday games.

By the end of March, Yeovil were seventh, five points behind leaders Dartford who had three games in hand. Gates had dropped and the Club was once again in a loss-making situation. In an effort to increase revenue, the Club appointed its first full-time Commercial Manager, Richard Washbrook, who arrived on 5th April after being an assistant at Birmingham City.

Two days before the last League game of the season, a 1-1 draw at home to Dartford, Yeovil entertained F.A. Cup holders Sunderland to honour an agreement Cec Irwin had with his old club. The 3,241 people saw Yeovil win 2-0 against a team fielding eight of the players who had beaten Leeds United at Wembley the previous May. The final match of the season saw Yeovil demolish Third Division Hereford United 9-0, two of the goals coming from trialist Ken Brown from the North East.

Yeovil finished in sixth place, eleven points behind Champions Dartford and the average 'gate' had dropped by 924 to 2,262. Ken Thompson, who had been placed on the transfer list at his own request, was voted "Player of the Year" and Terry Bertram, Alan Impey, Steve Briggs and Clive Slattery were all released.

The Club made a staggering loss of £18,456 on the season, with wages having increased by £9,609 and 'gate' receipts dropping by £7,170. The overdraft stood at £11,250.

John Clancy was leading goalscorer with 11, Terry Cotton making the maximum 53 appearances.

The Club continued the policy of enlisting professional help in its aim to gaining a place in the Football League, but the results of the election were again disappointing - even though one national firm of bookmakers had made Yeovil 6/4 on to gain a League place and had stopped taking bets on the outcome. Kettering topped the Non-League clubs with 16 votes, followed by Yeovil (14), Wigan Ath (10), Chelmsford City (8), Nuneaton Boro (1) and Telford Utd (1).

Season 1973-74 : Southern League Table
Overall
Team P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Dartford 42 22 13 7 67 37 57 +30
2 Grantham 42 18 13 11 70 49 49 +21
3 Chelmsford City 42 19 10 13 62 49 48 +13
4 Kettering Town 42 16 16 10 62 51 48 +11
5 Maidstone United 42 16 14 12 54 43 46 +11
6 Yeovil Town 42 13 20 9 45 39 46 +6
7 Weymouth 42 19 7 16 60 41 45 +19
8 Barnet 42 18 9 15 55 46 45 +9
9 Nuneaton Borough 42 13 19 10 54 47 45 +7
10 Cambridge City 42 15 12 15 45 54 42 -9
11 Atherstone Town 42 16 9 17 61 59 41 +2
12 Wimbledon 42 15 11 16 50 56 41 -6
13 Telford United 42 12 16 14 51 57 40 -6
14 Dover Athletic 42 11 17 14 41 46 39 -5
15 Tonbridge Angels 42 12 15 15 38 45 39 -7
16 Romford 42 11 17 14 39 52 39 -13
17 Margate 42 15 8 19 56 63 38 -7
18 Guildford City 42 13 11 18 48 67 37 -19
19 Worcester City 42 11 14 17 53 67 36 -14
20 Bedford Town 42 11 14 17 38 51 36 -13
21 Folkestone Town 42 11 12 19 56 65 34 -9
22 Hillingdon Borough 42 9 15 18 44 65 33 -21

SEASON 1974-75 : CEC IRWIN'S CONTRACT NOT RENEWED

Despite the record loss reported for the 1973/74 season, manager Cec Irwin spent a busy summer in 1974 signing Brian Thompson (from Sunderland), Frank McMahon (Darlington), Ken Brown (South Shields), Chris Porter (Swindon Town) and Jim Lovery (Hyde United). Later in the season he was to sign Ken Sandercock (Torquay United) and John Tones (Arsenal) on loan for a month, whilst Paul Smith rejoined the Club from Westland, Yeovil.

By the end of October, Yeovil headed the table on goal difference from Nuneaton Borough, with Wimbledon in third place. The team was also through to the Second Round of the Southern League Cup after defeating Waterlooville 3-2 on aggregate. November started with a defeat in the F.A. Cup 4th Qualifying Round - 2-1 at Bath City in front of 5,330 people. This defeat was to cost Yeovil exemption to this stage of the competition the following season. Another win in the S.L. Cup over Poole Town by 3-1 was followed by a 2-1 success over Minehead in the F.A. Trophy and two friendly matches against Oxford United (1-0) and Norwich City (2-2). Yeovil were still leading the Southern League table, but the Club's financial position was deteriorating and Dick Donavan, the Club's first ever full-time secretary, left the scene.

The New Year arrived with Yeovil still leading the race for the Championship, helped by a 7-0 win over Telford United in the Christmas fixture. A special train was run to Canterbury for the next match in the F.A. Trophy, Yeovil's 600 travelling fans boosting the 'gate' to 822. Yeovil lost 3-0 and there was ugly scenes at Canterbury Station as the supporters gave the team a hostile reception as they boarded the train for the return journey.

Yeovil's third Football League campaign was in full swing and - in an effort to bring some sanity to the election system - the Club called a meeting with Kettering Town and Chelmsford City, each being leading non-League contenders at the time. Yeovil's proposal of just one club going forward at the end of the season to stop 'vote splitting' was rejected.

At the end of the season, the Club's fears were realised once again. The League clubs could not decide which non-League club to support and none was elected. Kettering topped the poll with 20 and Yeovil were second with 8.

Meanwhile, moves were afoot to form the Northern Premier League in an effort to satisfy the Football League's request to have comparable leagues in the North and South. Once again Yeovil Town were to the fore in the negotiations.

Back on the football field, Yeovil were beaten 2-0 at Margate in the Southern League Cup after having defeated Chelmsford City 4-1 at Huish in the previous round. By the end of March Yeovil were still in with a great chance to taking the title, being one point behind Nuneaton with a game in hand.

It therefore came as a great surprise when it was announced on 3rd April the Cec Irwin's contract would not be renewed at the end of the season. During his spell at the Club, the team had finished runners-up and sixth in the previous two seasons. He carried out his duties with great dignity until the end of the season, even scoring in a Western Floodlight League only five days after his dismissal, and saw Town finally finish in third place.

In all, 74 first team games were played, a record, and 'keeper Tony Clark played in 71 of them. The average attendance was up by 114 to 2,376 and Mike Harrison was voted "Player of the Year". John Clancy, Stuart Housley and Tony Clark had a testimonial year culminating in a game against Stoke City. The visitors fielded five internationals, including England 'keeper Peter Shilton and 1966 World Cup hero Geoff Hurst. 5,045 turned up for the game, which ended in a 2-2 draw.

A week later Alec Stock arranged a game for Ray Wright by bringing Fulham to Huish. On a great night of nostalgia, all except Nick Collins from the 1948/49 F.A. Cup giantkilling side were introduced to the crowd. Fulham, who played in the F.A. Cup Final the previous Saturday, won 2-1. Housley put Yeovil one up, with Fulham replying through Barry Lloyd, later to become manager of Yeovil, and Viv Busby.

The leading goalscorers over the season were Plumb (28), Brown (27), and Verity (12). Following Clark, Harrison made 69 appearances, Plumb 66, Housley and Cotton 63, Brian Thompson 60, Ken Thompson 59, Ken Brown 58 and Frank McMahon 49. Dave Verity and Ray Pickett were not retained.

Season 1974-75 : Southern League Table
Overall
Team P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Wimbledon 42 25 7 10 63 33 57 +30
2 Nuneaton Borough 42 23 8 11 56 37 54 +19
3 Yeovil Town 42 21 9 12 64 34 51 +30
4 Kettering Town 42 20 10 12 73 41 50 +32
5 Burton Albion 42 18 13 11 54 48 49 +6
6 Bath City 42 20 8 14 63 50 48 +13
7 Margate 42 17 12 13 64 64 46 0
8 Wealdstone 42 17 11 14 62 61 45 +1
9 Telford United 42 16 13 13 55 56 45 -1
10 Chelmsford City 42 16 12 14 62 51 44 +11
11 Grantham 42 16 11 15 70 62 43 +8
12 Dover Athletic 42 15 13 14 43 53 43 -10
13 Maidstone United 42 15 12 15 52 50 42 +2
14 Atherstone Town 42 14 14 14 48 53 42 -5
15 Weymouth 42 13 13 16 66 58 39 +8
16 Stourbridge 42 13 12 17 56 70 38 -14
17 Cambridge City 42 11 14 17 51 56 36 -5
18 Tonbridge Angels 42 11 12 19 44 66 34 -22
19 Romford 42 10 13 19 46 62 33 -16
20 Dartford 42 9 13 20 52 70 31 -18
21 Barnet 42 10 9 23 44 76 29 -32
22 Guildford and Dorking United 42 10 5 27 45 82 25 -37

The Yeovil Town Story : Other Pages

THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 32

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