Replacing Harry Lowe as manager during the summer of 1953 was Ike Clarke, who came to
Huish from Portsmouth - then a major force in the football world.
A member of Pompey's star-studded championship-winning teams of the late 'forties, Clarke
was an inside-forward. His squad during the 1953/54 season at Yeovil very much reflected
his Portsmouth connections and was as follows:
Goalkeeper: Leather (from Portsmouth); Full-backs: Warren, Topping, Lewis (Torquay Utd),
Voysey (Portsmouth); Half-backs: Nagy, Brown, Francis (Weymouth), Edwards (Portsmouth);
Forwards: McKay, Lunn, Hindle, Hawkins, Ryan (York C.),
Marsh (Worcester C.), Reid (Watford),
Wylde (Portsmouth), Northover (Portland Utd).
The season got off to a poor start, Yeovil Town losing their first three games and scoring
only one goal. But slowly the results began to come and the team soon climbed into the top six
places in the Southern League. But the recent poor seasons had meant membership of the
Supporters' Club had fallen to 2,500 ... well over 1,000 down on the previous season.
On 31st October, 1953, against Kettering Town, the new shelter on the North Terrace was brought
into full use for the first time.
After defeating Merthyr Tydfil 2-1 at home in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the FA Cup,
Yeovil were drawn at home to Third Division (South) Norwich City in the First Round Proper.
But Yeovil were not to be the giant killers this season, going out of the competition 2-0
before a crowd of 11,968 who had paid £1,123 9s. 3d. for admission.
The Yeovil team that day was: Leather; Warren, Lewis; Edwards, Nagy, Topping; Ryan,
Marsh, Reid, Lunn, McKay. The referee was Bill Dellow, who went on to become secretary of
the Southern League for many seasons.
Yeovil again had a disappointing season in the Southern League Cup, going out in the first
round at Guildford City after defeating Gloucester City in the Qualifying Round. But the League
season continued to improve. By the end of January, 1954, Yeovil had reached the top position
with Merthyr, Headington United and Weymouth tucked in behind. The Supporters Club organised
a trip to Chelmsford on 23rd January, they left Yeovil at 8 am and spent the evening in
London on the way back, the cost being £1 per head!
Yeovil entertained Street in the Somerset Professional Cup early in February, they won 4-2
before 3,424 spectators who paid £276 gate receipts. Indeed, it was not until 20th February
that the team suffered its first home defeat in the League, Dartford taking away the points
with a 3-1 win. The results then tailed off, Yeovil finishing the season in third place,
fourteen points behind Merthyr. Winger Mick Ryan was top goalscorer followed by Billy Lunn.
Finances were a constant worry throughout the season and "gates" had fallen to an
unacceptable level. Concern was expressed in the matchday programme, cost 3d, that the attendance
for a game against Bath City was only 4,437, receipts being £357. The following week
the reserves entertained Poole where the 1,083 attending paid £55. The weekly wage bill
at the time was £490, added to this figure was the other overheads of the club plus
entertainment tax payable on gate receipts. In an effort to make ends meet the club sold an
end of terrace house in Beer Street. Overall, however, the season represented a dramatic
improvement in the Club's fortunes compared with the recent past and hopes were high that the
1954/55 season would bring further success.
Link: 1953-54 First Team Fixtures And Results.
Link: 1953-54 First Team Scorers.