Yeovil Town Story Part 31
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THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 31

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SEASON 1971-72 : ANOTHER F.A. TROPHY SEMI-FINAL APPEARANCE

Terry and Jean Cotton from 1971
Terry Cotton and his wife Jean - now the Club Secretary - shortly after he signed for Yeovil.
At the AGM in August, 1971, Norman Burfield stood down and Ivan Rendall was elected Chairman.

Membership of the Southern League grew to 56 clubs as the new format saw 22 clubs in the Premier Division, 18 clubs in the First Division (North) and 16 in the First Division (South).

Only two players had been signed during the close season, Terry Cotton a centre-forward from Swansea and Ken Wookey from Workington.

Yeovil opened the defence of their Championship with a home game against Romford: The crowd of 3,347 was not happy with a 0-0 draw. Four days later Yeovil beat Telford United 2-1 in the Southern League Championship, the Yeovil goals being scored by Cotton.

By the end of October, Yeovil were in 12th position and had been knocked out of the Southern League Cup by Merthyr Tydfil 3-2 on aggregate. Worse was to follow, however, for a week later Yeovil went out of the F.A. Cup 2-0 at Bridgwater Town who were bottom of the Western League at the time. Ken Jones, ex-Yeovil goalkeeper, had a great game for the winners.

Even the signing of Welsh Internaitonal, Barrie Jones, failed to stop the slide and, by the turn of the year, Yeovil were down in 14th position. Relegation was a possibility and there was only the F.A. Trophy left to play for. When the draw was made this also looked to be an impossibility, Wimbledon away being the draw, Yeovil, however, pur on an inspired display to win 5-1.

In the Second Round Yeovil beat Hastings United 4-1 at Huish, the main incident in the second half was when Cliff Myers gave Mike Hughes the V-sign after a row on the pitch. Myers was suspended for seven days and relieved of the captaincy!

In Round Three, Yeovil had the worst possible draw away to the run-away league leaders, Chelmsford City, who had taken 24 out of 26 home league points. They had also scored 73 goals from 26 games. A crowd of 5,191 saw Yeovil rise to their task magnificently and goals from Weller, Cotton and one three minutes from the end from Clancy saw Yeovil into the quarter-finals by 3-2.

Mike Hughes - on his way out to join Torquay
A young Mike Hughes, who left at the end of the 1971-72 season to join Torquay United.
Success in the Trophy also rubbed off in the League and, by the time Yeovil travelled to Grantham, they had moved up to 7th position. Grantham were leaders of the Midland League and had been beaten only once in their previous 28 games, a 'gate' of 4,103 turned up to see the clash which Yeovil won with a penalty by Cliff Myers, had Ron Bayliss sent off early in the second half and then had to hang on desperately for the rest of the game as Grantham mounted attack after attack down the slope. A train load of Yeovil supporters were delayed en route and arrived half an hour late. They were also two hours late getting back to Yeovil and British Rail refunded 50p of the £2.50 fare.

In the semi-final Yeovil met Stafford Rangers from the Northern Premier League at Oxford. A crowd of 6,566 saw Yeovil crash to a 4-0 defeat, Stafford went on to win the Trophy, beating Barnet at Wembley.

Yeovil finished the season in 7th position with 47 points, Hereford United were second and were elected to the Football League.

Alan Herrity was voted Player of the Year. Len Harris had a benefit game against Portsmouth and ended his Huish career with a record 691 appearance to his credit. Also released were Grey, Bayliss and Wookey. Fans petitioned the Board to change their minds about Bayliss, but the pleas fell on deaf ears.

On 24th May, 1972, it was announced that Mike Hughes was leaving to become coach at Torquay United and so ended yet another great chapter in the clubs history.

Season 1971-72 : Southern League Table
Overall
Team P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Chelmsford City 42 28 6 8 109 46 62 +63
2 Hereford United 42 24 12 6 68 30 60 +38
3 Dover Athletic 42 20 11 11 67 45 51 +22
4 Barnet 42 21 7 14 80 57 49 +23
5 Dartford 42 20 8 14 75 68 48 +7
6 Weymouth 42 21 5 16 69 43 47 +26
7 Yeovil Town 42 18 11 13 67 51 47 +16
8 Hillingdon Borough 42 20 6 16 64 58 46 +6
9 Margate 42 19 8 15 74 68 46 +6
10 Wimbledon 42 19 7 16 75 54 45 +21
11 Romford 42 16 13 13 54 49 45 +5
12 Guildford City 42 20 5 17 71 65 45 +6
13 Telford United 42 18 7 17 83 68 43 +15
14 Nuneaton Borough 42 16 10 16 46 47 42 -1
15 Bedford Town 42 16 9 17 59 66 41 -7
16 Worcester City 42 17 7 18 46 57 41 -11
17 Cambridge City 42 12 14 16 68 71 38 -3
18 Folkestone Town 42 14 7 21 58 64 35 -6
19 Poole Town 42 9 11 22 41 72 29 -31
20 Bath City 42 11 4 27 45 86 26 -41
21 Merthyr Tydfil 42 7 8 27 29 93 22 -64
22 Gravesend and Northfleet 42 5 6 31 30 110 16 -80

SEASON 1972-73 : PROFESSIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR FOOTBALL LEAGUE STATUS

The club appointed its new Player/Manager on 17th June, 1972. He was Cecil Irwin, aged 30, who had made over 300 appearances at full-back for Sunderland.

Prior to the manager's appointment, the Board had signed John Brown from Poole Town. Other signings during the summer were John Piekalnietis (Southend United), Dave Spencer (Hull City) and Terry Bertram (Carlisle United), whilst Tony Cottle (Bristol City), Alan Impey (Bristol Rovers), Mike Trebilcock (on loan from Torquay United), Keith Brierley (on loan from Halifax Town) and Trevor Jones (on loan from Hereford United) were to join the Club during the season.

The season opened with the Club still smarting from a loss of £4,276 reported at the AGM in July. By the time the FA Cup came around in November, Yeovil were top of the Southern League but out of the Southern League Cup - defeated 3-1 at Bath City. Five minutes from the end of this match, Cecil Irwin slipped on the muddy surface and suffered a cartilage injury that put this fine player out for almost the rest of the season.

New manager Cecil Irwin
New manager Cecil Irwin, formerly of Sunderland, who damaged a cartilage and rarely played during the 1972/73 season.
Yeovil opened their FA Cup campaign with a match at home to Taunton Town winning 4-1 with referee Tony Glasson booking five Taunton players. The First Round brough yet another Football League Club to Huish, Brentford. Goals from Weller and Myers saw Yeovil into the next round by 2-1, the 'gate' being 9,447. Once again fortune smiled on the men in green and white for they came out of the hat first paired with Plymouth Argyle, then bottom of the Third Division. Another giant-killing act was not to be, however, the visitors winning 2-0 in front of 10,577 people. Yeovil's share of the 'gate' was £1,923.75.

During November, the Board discussed the possibility of levelling the ground at Huish and it was ascertained the cost of doing this would be around £17,000. The following month the Club received an offer of £260,000 for the purchase of Huish.

December started badly with a 3-2 defeat at home to Rugby Town in the FA Trophy, with Yeovil having been 2-0 up after only ten minutes. Meanwhile things continued to go well in the Southern League so that, in January, the team was in second place two points behind Dover with Weymouth five points adrift in third place.

February saw the club launch its first ever professional campaign to try to obtain Football League status. A budget of £2,500 was set aside and two professionals were appointed to spearhead the attack. The campaign was launched at the Grand Hotel, Bristol, on 15th March, 1973, with a.press conference and the issue of a brochure. From then until the end of the season the Club's directors met directors of every First and Second Division club to put Yeovil's case, but at the Football's League's AGM, Yeovil obtained only 14 votes.

The race for the championship was still wide open at the start of April, Yeovil by this time being third with 47 points, two points behind leaders Chelmsford City. Yeovil remained undefeated during the month, but three away draws resulted in Kettering Town taking the title by just one point from Yeovil Town.

The season was not over for Yeovil Town, however, Alan Herrity, Chris Weller, Paul Smith and Ken Thompson all having been granted testimonials. Four matches for their benefit were played at Huish in May against full-strength Football League opposition, against Fulham, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Ipswich Town and Hereford United. The aggregate attendance was 19,296 and each player received £1,150. The season's average league attendance was 3,186, the top 'gate' being 4,640 against Weymouth.

Alan Herrity (523 appearances), Chris Weller (218 appearances and 102 goals), Dave Spencer and John Piekalnietis were released. Terry Cotton, who had been converted from leading goalscorer to centre-half in the autumn, had a tremendous season and was voted 'Player of the Year'.

Season 1972-73 : Southern League Table
Overall
Team P W D L F A Pts GD
1 Kettering Town 42 20 17 5 74 44 57 +30
2 Yeovil Town 42 21 14 7 67 31 56 +36
3 Dover Athletic 42 23 9 10 61 38 55 +23
4 Chelmsford City 42 23 7 12 75 43 53 +32
5 Worcester City 42 20 13 9 68 47 53 +21
6 Weymouth 42 20 12 10 72 51 52 +21
7 Margate 42 17 15 10 80 60 49 +20
8 Bedford Town 42 16 15 11 43 36 47 +7
9 Nuneaton Borough 42 16 14 12 51 41 46 +10
10 Telford United 42 12 20 10 57 47 44 +10
11 Cambridge City 42 14 15 13 64 53 43 +11
12 Wimbledon 42 14 14 14 50 50 42 0
13 Romford 42 15 11 16 60 59 41 +1
14 Barnet 42 17 5 20 51 65 39 -14
15 Hillingdon Borough 42 16 6 20 52 58 38 -6
16 Dartford 42 12 11 19 49 63 35 -14
17 Guildford City 42 10 11 21 59 84 31 -25
18 Ramsgate Athletic 42 9 13 20 35 61 31 -26
19 Poole Town 42 10 10 22 50 88 30 -38
20 Burton Albion 42 9 7 26 43 81 25 -38
21 Waterlooville 42 4 16 22 33 63 24 -30

The Yeovil Town Story : Other Pages

THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 31

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