Yeovil Town Story Part 39
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THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 39

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SEASON 1983-84

Dave Linney, who signed up for the club in 1983 as a player and is still at the club as the Commercial Manager
Dave Linney, who signed up for the club in 1983 as a player and is still at the club as the Commercial Manager.
During the summer of 1983, Mike Hughes was appointed General Manager and Trevor Finnigan returned to the Club to become Player Manager. Following Finnigan up from Weymouth were Gary Borthwick, Kieron Baker and Billy Elliott.

Other summer signings included Nigel Jarvis, Paul Charles, Simon White, Simon Culliford and Neil Prosser. During the season many other signings were made, some stayed for the season but many others played just a handful of games and moved on. Those signed during the season were Jamie Ward, Jess Payne, who returned for a second spell, Grant Northover, Paul McLaughnin, Kenny Allen, Mick Docherty, Gary Plumley, Kevin Meacock, Marc Bartlett, Stuart Gibson, Kevin Roberts, Adi Morris, Angelo Paparella and Dave Linney who was on his way down to Weymouth to sign for them. At the end of the season he was voted Supporters' Club 'Player of the Year'.

After he finished his football career Adi Morris made a name for himself in the world of rugby playing for Bath, including an appearance for them at Twickenham in the Pilkington Cup Final. Also in the summer of 1983, the small stand in the corner of the ground which had been erected for the F.A. Cup tie against Liverpool in 1936 was demolished.

The season opened full of promise with a new management and a new team, Frickley Athletic being beaten 3-0 at Huish before a crowd of 1,211. By the time of the club's entry into the F.A. Cup at the end of October, only one home game had been lost, 2-0 to Dagenham, but on the other side of the coin only one victory had been achieved away from home, 2-1 at Kidderminster.

Progress had been made into the Bob Lord Trophy Second Round for the first time ever with the defeat of Dagenham (0-0 away and 1-0 at home) and current Champions, Enfield, had been defeated at Huish 3-2.

The small stand at Huish in the process of demolition
The small stand at Huish in the process of demolition. The stand had been built in 1935 for the visit of Liverpool in the FA Cup.
On 1st October a most bizarre incident occurred when Steve Ragan, a Barnet striker, broke one of the goalposts and the match was abandoned. The League fined the club, but in an appeal to the Football Association the fine was quashed and the game was later replayed.

Due to their poor away record Yeovil were sixth from bottom, six points outside the relegation zone, when the F.A. Cup came around at the end of October when Minehead were beaten 4-2 after a 2-2 draw at Huish, but in the First Round Harrow Borough won 1-0 at Huish.

November saw the departure of Mike Hughes, Andy Bell was transferred to Weymouth for £2,500 and illness forced Keiron Baker to retire from the game. This set off a goalkeeper crisis which took a long time to overcome. During the rest of the season, Grant Northover, Kenny Allen, Gary Plumley and Kevin Roberts kept goal with varying degrees of success.

After five years Malcolm Gold finally got his name on the Yeovil score sheet when he netted Yeovil's fourth goal in a reserve team game at Elmore. Two weeks later he scored at last for the first team in the F.A. Trophy clash against Cheltenham Town.

The arrival of Mick Doherty from Slough in December provided the inspiration Yeovil needed. The Christmas games saw victories over Weymouth (3-1 away), Trowbridge (3-1 home) and watched by 1911, the best 'gate' of the season, trounced Weymouth 6-3. The gap between Yeovil and the relegation zone suddenly became five clubs and seven points.

After defeating Cheltenham Town 5-2 in the F.A. Trophy at Huish, another home tie saw Wealdstone as the visitors. They took a 3-0 lead, two of the goals coming from 40-50 yards free kicks taken by Wealdstone's huge centre half Dennis Byatt. On each occasion goalkeeper Grant Northover came rushing out of his goal only to see the ball sail over his head and into the back of the net. Encouraged with his success Byatt went for his 'hat trick' with an audacious 60 yards free kick. Again the ball flew over hapless Northover's head, but this time the ball also cleared the cross bar! But in one of the most dramatic fight-backs seen at Huish, Yeovil, with goals from Phil James, Mick Docherty (2) and Jamie Ward, won 4-3, the winning goal coming in stoppage time, In the next round a 1-1 draw at Dagenham was followed by a 1-4 home defeat in the replay.

Trevor Finnegan resigned as manager, but stayed with the club as a player
Trevor Finnegan resigned as manager, but stayed with the club as a player.
By now Trevor Finnigan had resigned as Player-Manager, but stayed with the club as a player, Reserve team manager Steve Coles taking over the hot seat. Jess Payne also decided to call it a day on the playing side. A spell of seven games in February and March sent the team spinning towards the relegation zone with only Gateshead, Kettering Town, Weymouth, Bangor City and Trowbridge Town below Yeovil.

The goal scoring exploits of Mick Doherty - nine goals in eleven games - gave hope, however. At Runcorn, who were second in the League, Yeovil took a two goal lead, but were finally pegged back to a 4-4 draw. The replayed match against Barnet was lost 2-4 and 'gates' were now down into the seven hundreds.

In April the Club failed to win a single League game and plummeted to two from bottom, eight points adrift of Kettering Town. Once again, however, Yeovil were saved from relegation by virtue of the fact that no club from the Isthmian League wanted promotion.

The only success of the season on the field was progress to the Semi-final of the Bob Lord Trophy. The Semi-Final was reached by aggregate wins over Dagenham (0-1), Bath City (3-1) and Kidderminster (5-2). But Scarborough proved too good for Yeovil, winning the two games 2-0 at Huish and 5-2 at the Athletic Ground.

The one bright note of a very disappointing season was the form of Mick Doherty who scored 23 goals in his 30 outings for the club. At the end of the season Trevor Finnigan was sold to Bath City and Gary Borthwick returned to Weymouth.

The Yeovil Town Story : Other Pages

THE YEOVIL TOWN STORY : PART 39

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