Yeovil Town Story Part 36
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THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 36

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SEASON 1979-80

Brian Thompson (left) was transferred to Mansfield Town
Brian Thompson (left) was transferred to Mansfield Town. Ken Brown (right) and Frank McMahon (partially pictured) had already left the club for Bath City.
Despite a loss of £16,699 in the club's last season in the Southern League, manager Barry Lloyd still had money available in the summer of 1979 to prepare for the step up into the newly-formed Alliance Premier League. Jess Payne came from Torquay United for £5,000, Glyn Broome from Bath City (£2,000), Mark Williams from Telford United (£300) and Joe Scott from Bournemouth (£5,000). Also signed were Geoff Battams (Plymouth Argyle), Jimmy Harmison (Ashington), Clive Westlake (llminster Town) and Graham Weeks (Exeter City). Whilst Stuart Housley rejoined from Westlands.

To help balance the books, Brian Thompson moved to Mansfield Town for a £7,000 fee and, at the end of the season, Trevor Finnigan moved to Weymouth for £5,000 and Scott To Hungerford Town for £4,000, Harmison was unable to settle in the south and returned to Ashington for a small fee.

The 1979/80 season opened on 18th August, Yeovil making their longest journey for a League match when going to Barrow to play their first match in the A.P.L. A 'gate' of 2,027 saw them lose 2-0. By mid-October Yeovil were fifth, three points behind Altrincham with three games in hand. At the turn of the year they were in ninth spot with 19 points from 19 games and Altrincham still top.

Yeovil finished the season in 'twelfth place out of twenty with Altrincham the first ever A.P.L. Champions, two points ahead of Weymouth. Yeovil's biggest win was 5-0 at home to Barnet. The average home 'gate' was 1,588. The supporters could look back on the season with a sigh of relief, Yeovil had coped with the new league to finish in a mid-table position.

The A.P.L. itself had proved a great success, the additional travelling providing no great hardship. Attendances were up generally and the introduction of Football League referees meant supporters could see the top officials in action.

Once again it was the Cup competitions which gave the club its biggest successes. The A.P.L. Cup was the only exception with a 3-1 defeat at Nuneaton. In the F.A. Cup, luck with the draw at first went against Yeovil Town. In the 1st Qualifying Round Yeovil went to Bridgwater Town, drew 0-0 and won the replay 2-0. In the second, Liskeard were defeated in Cornwall and in the 3rd it was over the Tamar again to play Saltash United. An exciting 3-3 draw saw the teams back at Huish, two Finnigan goals giving Yeovil a 2-1 win. The 4th Qualifying Round at last brought a home draw, 3,571 spectators seeing Weymouth outplay Yeovil Town for twenty minutes and take a one goal lead before a brace from Gary Turner put Yeovil into the First Round proper.

Graham Roberts, as a youngster
Graham Roberts, as a youngster, played against Yeovil on Boxing Day 1979. Seventeen years later, he was back as Yeovil's manager.
Drawn away to Enfield - unbeaten at home and running away with the Isthmian League - a Clive Green goal gave Yeovil a famous victory and a home tie against Slough Town in the next round. 4,033 turned up for this match, a Mark Williams goal putting Yeovil into the Third Round for the ninth time in their history.

The draw was broadcast live on the Saturday at 5.15pm and hundreds of people stayed behind after the match to hear Yeovil had been drawn at home to First Division Norwich City. Tickets were put on sale on Boxing Day at the match against traditional rivals Weymouth, a new A.P.L. record attendance of 4,872 turning up for the game. Playing No 9 for Weymouth that day was one Graham Roberts who shortly after was transferred to Tottenham Hotspur.

Television cameras were at Huish all week prior to the game, this being one of the "Match of the Day" selections. Standing fourth in Division One, Norwich City's line-up included Martin Peters, Kevin Keelan, Kevin Bond, Justin Fashanu and Graham Paddon. But it was local boy Malcolm Gold who was picked "Man of the Match" by commentator Barry Davies. Many present felt referee Challis should have taken stern action for a Peters' foul on Gold, whilst 'Keeper Brian Parker spent most of the match concussed and was detained in hospital overnight.

Norwich won 3-0 before 8,525 people paying a record £18,404 in gate money, Yeovil's share being over £7,000 plus £5,000 from additional advertising sold around the ground because of TV coverage and £1,500 from TV rights.

The following day Trevor Finnigan was married to Christine and most of the team attended the wedding in Bournemouth.

In the F.A. Trophy a 2-2 draw at Maidstone was followed by a 4-2 win in the replay. Chorley were trounced 5-2 at Huish in the Second Round, but a 1-0 defeat at Blyth Spartans in the next round brought an exit from the competition. The team travelled to Northumberland by rail for half-price thanks to a Persil soap powder promotion. The Supporters Club ran a special train for £7.00 per person return, which left Yeovil at midnight on the Friday night, arriving back in Yeovil at 5.30am Sunday morning - a 29.5 hour trip!

Jess Payne, who signed from Torquay United for 5,000 pounds
Jess Payne, who signed from Torquay United for 5,000 pounds in the summer of 1979 scored four goals in the 1979/80 season.
Yeovil used 30 players during the season made up as follow: Brian Parker, Brian Thompson, Tony Cottle, Geoff Battams, Bryn Jones, Terry Cotton, Jimmy Harmison, Steve Morrall, Dave Platt, Kevin Leigh, Graham Weeks, Clive Green, Trevor Finnigan, John Clancy, Jess Payne, Stuart Housley, Glyn Broom, Bob Baird, Mark Williams, Eric Carville, Malcolm Gold, Gary Turner, Joe Scott, Nigel Ryan, Clive Westlake, Barry Knott, Paul Tindall, Chris Neate, Ritchie Horton and Steve Hayward.

Clive Green was top goalscorer with 19 goals, followed by Trevor Finnigan (16), Joe Scott (10), Mark Williams (9), Dave Platt (5), Kevin Leigh and Jess Payne (4), Steve Morrall, Jimmy Harmison and Stuart Housley (3), Garry Turner (2), John Clancy, Paul Tindall and Tony Cottle (1).

Off the field the club introduced a new weekly competition, "Goldliner" and the first top prize of £1000 was won in September by Mrs Marina Warne.

The Yeovil Town Story : Other Pages

THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 36

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