Following relegation for the first time in their history, Saturday 24th August saw the
start of a new era for the club with their first ever game in the Vauxhall-Opel League,
where a Jon Economou goal brought maximum points back from Hayes.
Kevin Reeves was a high profile loan signing during the 1985-86 season.
During the summer shareholders were told that despite relegation, the club had still
made a profit of £7,542 for season 1984-85. Also during the summer, Yeovil shocked
many people by opting to play in the London based Vauxhall-Opel League rather than the
Southern League. The reasoning behind this decision being that in past seasons, no club from
the chosen league had accepted promotion. The choice almost proved to be the right one because
at the end of the season, Yeovil had won 91 points but were beaten into second place by
Sutton United with 94 points, who accepted promotion.
Summer signings included
Tim Bintley (Martock), David Craig (Weston-super-Mare) and Forbes Philipson-Masters (Bristol City).
Others to join the club during the
season were Gary Kember (local), Gary Smith (Bath City), Gerry Pearson (Maidstone United),
Kevin Reeves (on loan - Manchester City), Dave Walter (Torrington - Fee £2,900),
Paul Randall (Bristol Rovers), Tony Ricketts (Bath City - Fee £7,500),
Alan Pardew (Dulwich Hamlet - Fee £5,000), Neil Coates (Bournemouth),
Andy Dymond (Forest Green), Dave Spencer (Bath City) and Chris Garland as coach.
Kevin Reeves signed on loan from Manchester City who they signed for a £1m transfer fee
Life in the new league started well with nine points from three games without a goal
conceeded. A big shock was to follow, however, when a crowd of 188 saw Yeovil crash to a
1-4 defeat at Croydon, the next three games were also lost. A string of mixed results followed
but on September 21st, Yeovil started a 20 match unbeaten league run, which lasted until a
1-3 defeat at Sutton United on 8th March 1986. By then the league was developing into a two
horse race between Yeovil and Sutton United. Yeovil had won 60 points from their 28 games
and Sutton 55 from 26 games. Goals and points still continued to flow and it was not until
23rd March, when Yeovil were held to a 0-0 draw at Barking, that the team failed to score in a
Alan Pardew, pictured in the background, signed for Yeovil during the season.
April arrived and the run-in to the Championship was becoming very tense. Yeovil had 82
points from 38 games, Sutton were two points adrift but had three games in hand and had to
visit Huish. This meeting on the night of Tuesday 22nd April attracted an attendance of 5,348
and the Yeovil contingent went home happy having seen their team win 2-0 with goals from
John McGinlay and Dave Spencer. They also went home to dream about promotion! Four days later,
these dreams were dashed when Yeovil crashed at mid-table Wokingham
1-2, one of their goals being scored by one Michael Spencer!
The season ended on Sunday 11th May 1986 when Swindon Town brought
their full Division Four Championship team to Huish to play in a friendly game, Yeovil winning 4-2.
The league programme had, despite just failing to win promotion, been a great success.
This success though did not rub off the Cup competitions. Barry Town were beaten 4-1 at Huish
in the Fourth Qualifying Round of the F.A. Cup, but Hereford United had a comfortable 4-2 win
at Huish in the next round. Some of the crowd of 4,533 were in danger during this game, when
part of the perimeter wall collapsed. The F.A. Trophy turned out to be a great embarrassment,
losing 1-2 at home to Saltash United. This defeat was made all the worse by the fact the
reserves had already beaten them 3-1 away in the Western League Cup.
The AC Delco Cup also saw an upset, when Maidenhead United drew 2-2 at Huish and then won the
replay 3-1. Yeovil reached the final of the Somerset Premier Cup but were beaten 0-3 on aggregate
by Bath City.
John McGinlay made the most appearances for the club during the season and also got married in November 1985.
Yeovil were still the best supported club in the country, with an average of 1,761 per
home game coming through the turnstiles.
John McGinlay with 48 appearances played most times for the club followed by Phil James
and David Craig (45), Dave Linney and Tom Richie (41) and Gerry Pearson (40). McGinlay was
also leading goalscorer with 18, followed by Gerry Pearson (12) and Phil James (9).
Off the field, Yeovil had a new Main Sponsor, Wincanton Garages. Also for the first time
the club obtained a sponsor for a match, when the Somerset Star did the honours for the game
against Wokingham on 25th September 1985. On 2nd November, John McGinlay married Lee Farrell,
daughter of Yeovil director, Ian Farrell.
Serious negotiations commenced between the club and
Bartlett Construction regarding moving from Huish to a new site at Houndstone camp. The first
such meeting took place on 12th November 1985 when an offer of £1.3 m was made. Following
further meetings and more detailed plans being studied the offer was raised to over
£2m early in the New Year, when the directors agreed in principle for the move to go ahead.
A company, Collier & Madge, who specialised in buying and selling supermarket sites was engaged
to advise the club and to ensure the best possible price was obtained. Everyone went off for the
summer looking forward to the 1986-87 season.