CHAPTER 18. COME ON YOU REDS
There was a six-a-side tournament in town on the August Bank Holiday. Athletic A team beat Montrose B in the final. Frank and Harry Whitby, Herbert Spratley, and other Luton Town players such as Garrett, Monroe, King, Burley, Hoy, Barrett and Ellingham all played in the tournament. Six-a-side was popular and I have a photographs of 12 players which I that first thought included the umpire. Closer inspection showed the six were wearing one kit and six another kit.
In the wider game, professionalism had arrived in full. Restricted professionalism arrived in 1885 but those were barely enforced so all were lifted in the Summer of 1889. Many Scots came down to mainly Lancashire during the summer of 1889 after inducements of £200 for the season was offered to them. Alternatively a “refresher on the spot of £30 and £3 per week” were offered (The real football” by J.A.H. Catton).
3rd September commitee meeting –
“resolved that Messrs Deacon and Monro prepare the ground, repair racks and do all necessary repairs”. “resolved that the stakes and rope be left with the secretary to procure at the best advantage”. “Resolved that E. Monro be the ground man for this season and that his remuneration be 3/- per week, his duties to be specified in writing by the secretary”. “Resolved that the new colours be a dark cardinal, self colour, and that specification be obtained”.
10th September 1889 committee meeting –
“Hon sec produced two samples of jerseys but as these were not what the committee desired it was resolved that the question as to shirts be left over until next meeting”. “It was resolved that 18 shirts be purchased instead of 12 as proposed at our former meeting”.
The committee room was to be changed to the Cowpers Arms on the same terms as the one at the Exchange cafe.
17th September committee meeting at Cowpers Arms –
“team selected for 24th to play South West Ham. gate money for the 14th was 10/1. resolved that the Hon sec obtain 18 flannel shirts of the selected colour”.
A fete was held on the Dallow Lane Meadows three night running this week.
24th September committee meeting – team selected for 24th against Old St Paul’s. gate money for sat 21st was £1 1s 1d
28th September Luton Times
“the Luton Town Football Club played a well contested game with the Old St. Paul’s men, and won by one goal to nil”.
The Luton Reporter begins its report in football with an attack on the game and it’s coverage for the season is patchy. The first football report comes under the heading
“Accidents in the Football field. A young man named Hopton died on Monday at Newport (Mon.) Infirmary from injuries received in a football match on Saturday.
During a football match under Association Rules at Heywood on Saturday, a young man named Ashworth, in charging an opponent, fell violently to the ground and sustained serious injuries to his spine. He was carried from the field in great agony. It is feared he will not recover.
On Saturday a boy named Murray, ten years of age, fell down dead whilst playing football with some other boys at Preston. The deceased had just scored a goal, when he fell to the ground and expired”.
The editorial gloated
“The football season has begun well. The record of last Saturday’s casualties reads like the history of a busy day in the middle of the skating season . One player was killed almost outright, another was so severely injured that it is doubtful whether he will recover, and a third dropped down dead on the field from excitement, though the same thing might have happened in any game. If the holocaust continues we shall soon have to cease speaking ill of the people who delighted to witness the gladiatorial contests in the arenas of Rome, or the bull-fight lovers of Spain”.
The game was in need of rule change but the one sided campaign against football is beyond comprehension. As already mentioned, cricket was an equally dangerous game yet there is no similar campaign against it. By its own admission, the newspaper admits that skating was equally as bad. Every week there are reports of horses bolting and passengers and pedestrians being injured or killed. More relevant is the inadequate safety procedures in the farming and building trades and in the factories which were causing injury almost every week. No mention is made against those employers who failed to look after their employees. After all, the employers were the backbone of the wealth of the town and the political elite. That prejudice is irritating to say the least.
1st October committee meeting –
“Team selected same as week before with the exception of Deacon who plays in the place of Narburgh”. gate money for 28th sep was £2 8s 11d.
8th October committee meeting – Teams selected to play Millwall Athletic and St. John’s Stratford. “Resolved that Hon Sec offer Nov 9th for our match in the Kettering Cup”.
12th October 1889 – Luton Times.
“Luton Town v Millwall Athletic. This was played at North Woolwich on Saturday, and a very fast game ended in a win for Luton 2 goals to 1. Luton team – E. Mouse, A. Saunders, A. Martin, A.H. Taylor, E.H. Lomax, T. Moody, J.C. Lomax, W. Miller, F. Narburgh, H. Whitby, F.K. Whitby; umpire F. Pitkin.
The same afternoon the second town team played the Stratford Club, walking round them to the tune of 12 goals to nil. Luton team – F. Whitehead, W. King, F. Phillipson, (Cambridge), S. Pitkin, W. Bird, A. Hoy, H.G. Spratley, G. Deacon, E. Carter, W. Walker, S. Arnold; umpire W. Carter”.
Sad to see George Deacon reduced to the second team but he was 30 years old by now and the senior player at the club. Note the name change of Millwall from Rovers to Athletic.
15th October committee meeting – gate money for 12th oct was £1 5s 0d. Match expenses for Millwall Athletic £2 3s 0d. “Resolved that Hon sec obtain an explanation of rule 20 in the rules for the Kettering Cup”.
22nd October committee meeting – gate money for 19th was £1 12s 1d. Team selected for cup tie viz. Monroe, Martin, Philipson, Moody, Lomax, Taylor, Lomax, Miller, Narburgh, Whitby, Whitby”. “Resolved that Mr G Deacon accompany the team to Maidenhead also that for the sake of the extra 2d a message be sent to both clubs”. Expenses of Wolverton match £1 2s 6d.
The last Saturday in October saw the Town travel to Maidenhead for the second preliminary round of the F.A. Cup. The Luton Times takes up the story.
“English Association Cup (second round). Luton Town v Maidenhead. This tie was played off on Saturday last, at Maidenhead, the Luton team being accompanied by rail by a large number of their supporters, besides others who went down by road. The Luton team won the toss, and Maidenhead kicked off with a slight wind against them. The “Straw Plaiters” (as the London papers described the Luton team), at once assumed the aggressive, and from a free kick in front of the home goal, the ball was passed by G.H. Whitby to Charlie Lomax, who, with a smart bit of play, shot it through at a clinking pace, thus drawing “first blood” for Luton, amid the cheers of a large number of Lutonians and the groans of the Berkshire spectators. Luton were again enabled to score with the aid of H. Whitby before half time. When ends were changed over, the Maidenhead supporters were backing their club at 7 to 4 on them to win, but the Luton boys, although men of straw, were able to defeat their purpose, and had several squeaks of lowering their opponents colours. Each goal was in turn threatened and 4 corners were obtained by both sides, but of no use, until about 20 minutes of time, when a soft goal was obtained for the home team. This put them on their mettle, and Luton had their work cut out to prevent their equalising, but, owing to the grand goal-keeping of Monroe, coupled with the magnificent defence of the Luton back division, the game finished in a victory for Luton by 2 goals to one. The Luton team was as follows:- E. Monroe, goal; A. Martin and G. Humphreys, backs; A. Taylor, E.H. Lomax and E. Moody, half backs; J.C. Lomax, W. Miller, H. Whitby, F.K. Whitby and L. Narburgh, forwards; umpire F. Pitkin. On Saturday next the Luton Town meet the holders of the Berks and Bucks Cup (Great Marlow) in the Dallow lane, the match starting at 3.30. The other clubs left in this division are Old St. Paul’s, Clapton, Old Brightonians and Old Etonians, one of which the Luton Town will have to play on November 16th”.
The Luton Reporter has a very similar report.
“Judging by the recent form the Luton Club have a somewhat easy task before them in the third round, for they are drawn against Old St. Paul’s, who only disposed of Reading by four goals to three, the last named team having been knocked out by Luton last season by seven goals to nil. There is a possibility of the match, which is fixed for November 16, being played at Luton, though Old St. Paul’s team have the choice of ground”.
29th October committee meeting –
expenses of cup match 2nd round £4 2s 6d. “After the ordinary committee work was competed Mr Pitkin explained that after the match was over with Maidenhead the subject of insuring the teams was mentioned to Mr J.C. Lomax who at once fell in with the idea as laid before him by Mr Pitkin viz. that Marlow match should be played as a benefit for the above if the finances of the club would admit it. Mr Lomax then gave him £6 towards insuring the teams stating that he was pleased the subject had been mentioned. “It was resolved on the motion of Mr Pitkin seconded by Mr Bonfield that the best thanks of the committee be tendered to Mr J.C. Lomax for his great kindness in helping the club over this difficulty”. “It was resolved the thanks of the committee be tendered to Mr Pitkin for the manner in which he had brought the matter under Mr Lomax’s attention”. “It was resolved that Hon Sec should see Mr Beecroft with respect to the insurance of the team and if his terms were anything near those of the Glasgow firm, he should accept them”.
2nd November 1889. The Luton Times –
“Great Marlow (holders Berks and Bucks Cup) v Luton. Great interest was taken in this match, which was played in the Dallow-lane, Luton, on Saturday last, nearly 1,000 persons being present. The visitors did not turn up until late and the game was not started until 4 o’clock. The Town forwards pressed the first ten minutes, and three or four shots were sent in, but they soon fell to pieces, and, in fact, the home forwards played the worse passing game they have done this season; they all seemed of the same mind, and when one of them got the ball, he tried to get a goal himself, and the consequence was Marlow were too good for the. On the contrary, the Great Marlow forwards played a splendid game, every one seemed in his place, and it was as much as the Luton backs and goal-keeper could do to prevent them from scoring. The Marlow team scored the only goal of the match from a scrimmage in front of the goal, Monro being unable to see the ball, and it rolled through. When the teams changed over, the supporters of the town thought they could at least make the score level, if not get one ahead, but they seemed all over the field at once, and when any one of them did have a chance, he “muffed” it. The backs and half-backs of each team played well, also the goalkeepers. The game was a fast and even one. Although giving great satisfaction to all those present, the result might have been different if the Luton forwards had played a little bit more together, but they seemed broken up, and a little bit “off colour”. It is hoped they will play a more combined game in the next two weeks in the cup ties, or they will knocked out easy. However, they can’t expect to win always. This is the first time the town have been defeated this season. The Luton team was as follows:- E. Monro, goal; G. Humphrey and A. Martin, backs; A. Taylor, J. Moody and E.H. Lomax, half backs; J.C. Lomax, G. Deacon, L. Narburgh. F.K. Whitby and H. Whitby, forwards. Umpire, J. Bennett; referee Mr J. Long. The Town have to meet Old St. Paul’s in the next round of the English Cup on the 16th, and play Hitchin on Saturday in the first round of the Kettering District Cup”.
The Luton Reporter
“Luton Town v Great Marlow. – A match between these teams was played on the Dallow-lane ground on Saturday last, when an excellent game was witnessed by about a thousand spectators. It had been anticipated from the prowess of the visitors, who are the holders of the Herts and Bucks Cup, that the match would be a close one, and so it proved, for the Marlow men only succeeded in gaining the victory by one goal to nil. From commencement to finish the game was a very fast one, and capital form was shown by both sides, though the strangers played in somewhat better style than the home team. The admirable combination of the visitors won them the game, while the Luton men were somewhat weak in this particular. The goal which was obtained was a lucky one, for it really resulted from an extremely bad kick by one of the half-backs. A noteworthy feature of the game was the enthusiastic reception which was accorded to the visitors and the impartiality which which good pay was applauded. While there were frequent shouts of “Go it, Straw Plaiters”, there were equally hearty cries of encouragement to the visiting team, and the applause which was evoked by the goal which they obtained was general. The Luton men are to be congratulated on the fact that the score was so small. The following are the names of the teams : Great Marlow: T. Walker, goal; W. Mellett and G.H. Creswell, backs; J.T. Flint, J.G. Meakes and E. Shaw, half-backs; F.C, Bayley, L. Stone, right; H.W. Morris, C.J. Plumridge, left; R. A. Lunnon, centre, forwards”. The Reporter then gives the Luton team as already mentioned. They then continue “We are requested to state that through the liberality and the excess of gate money last week both Luton teams have been insured against accident. It could not resist commenting on the insurance of the players. Its editorial says “Football has quite enough of its own to answer for as a dangerous game – and when teams have to be specially insured against accident there would appear to be a confession on the part of the players themselves in this respect – so that it is unfair to blame it unnecessarily. The death of the young man Sherlock at Belfast on Saturday can scarcely be described as a “football accident”, seeing that after hastily swallowing his dinner, he had run all the way to the field, where he fell down and expired five minutes afterwards”.
4th November committee meeting – Team selected for Hitchin (first round Kettering Cup) and Bowes Park.. Gate money for 2nd Nov £7 6s 10d. “Amount of gate money received from Maidenhead 19s 6d”.
The match against Bowes Park on 9th November was scratched owing to the Lord Mayor’s Show being held that day. The Luton Reporter details a controversial game at Hitchin.
“A large number of Lutonians journeyed over to Hitchin on Saturday last to witness the struggle between the Luton Town team and the Hitchin eleven in the preliminary round of the Kettering district cup competition. A good game was witnessed, but the visitors were disgusted at the result which was called a draw, though it is stated that the decisions should have been in favour of Luton. The home team did not once succeed in eluding the vigilance of the visitors’ goal keeper, but on no less than three occasions the ball passed the Hitchin goal. In all these case the points were disallowed on the ground of “off side”, although in one instance the umpires agreed in stating that a goal had been obtained. The action of the referee in refusing to allow the score gave rise to considerable dissatisfaction, and it is understood that the Luton men have lodged a protest with the Kettering authorities against his decision. The visitors are in the meantime consoling themselves with the reflection that they had all the best of the play on Saturday”.
11th November committee meeting –
“A discussion took place with reference to the Hitchin match after which it was resolved to send protest as drawn up by Hon sec with the exception of the passage about the part taken by the spectators”. Expenses of Hitchin match £1 10s 9d.
The Luton Times is exasperated by the performance against Old St. Paul’s in the English Cup. They merely say
“The home team were simply nowhere. St. Paul’s scored one goal before half time, and three afterwards, winning by four goals to nil”.
The policy of the Luton Times towards football is summed up this week as there is a large report on a chess game between Luton and another town. Other editions contains details of a draughts tournament with no football mentioned at all. Clearly the hobbies of the great and the good take precedence over football at this time.
The Luton Reporter carried a better report on the 16th November.
“English Cup Tie.- Luton v Old St. Paul’s. After having a bye in the first, and defeating Maidenhead on their own ground in the second round, the Luton team were drawn in the third round against Old St. Paul’s, a well known London club of high standing. It was decided that the match should be played on the latters’ ground at Chobham Farm, Leyton in Essex. Unsuccessful efforts had been made to bring the game to Dallow-lane. A good company of Lutonians accompanied the local players on their journey. The ground was found to be fairly level, but the recent fogs had rendered it very difficult for the Luton men to play on. St. Paul’s appeared on the ground without their crack centre, Nolloth, but were otherwise strongly represented. Watson opened the attack for them with a rush, but Patterson quickly returned it. At this point an unfortunate piece of play was exhibited. Monro, anxious to maintain his good reputation, ran out of his place, and Whitehouse, by a long “daisy cutter”, scored the first goal for the old boys within three minutes of the start. “Hands” was given close to the Luton posts, but the backs soon placed matters out of danger. Patterson ran up the right wing splendidly; Monro advanced to the attack, but the ball rolled easily through, and the second goal was announced amid enthusiastic shouts of the Stratford mechanics. This repeated back luck threw a wet blanket over the Luton players and partizans, which was not removed when Whitehouse, soon after, from a sharp, short shooter, baffled the custodian and made it the third goal for the “old uns” in twenty minutes. The anxiety of the “reds” now degenerated into nervousness, and for the remainder of the half they played somewhat loosely, though at times they came close to scoring, J.C. Lomax and A. Taylor doing good work for their colours. Notwithstanding the goals obtained, the play during the first half was tolerably even. For some minutes after the re-start the game was particularly tame, relieved occasionally by fine runs by F. Whitby or Leese. Then the leather was travelling mostly in the Luton territory, but Monro’s splendid fisting was much admired, even by the Londoners. A good piece of passing by Elias and Leese placed the ball to Watson, who sharply did the needful, and the fourth notch was recorded for the “Saints”. After this two or three times they again got very close up, but Humphrey and Monro succeeded in keeping them out. For about seven minutes before the call of time Luton pressed a little, but nothing resulted, and when the whistle sounded the visitors had to retire defeated by four goals to nil. The victors played to a man in a very dashing style, and their defence was admirable, C. Taylor appearing to do as he pleased. Notwithstanding their hard luck, nearly all the Luton men did themselves credit, though at times they showed a lack of pluck and combination, and sadly needed a strong centre man to keep them together. The brothers Lomax, F. Whitby, Moody and Humphrey did their best work. The teams were as follows:- Old St. Paul’s :- Keeves, goal; C. Taylor and Lindsay, backs; Elias, Butler and Myerscough, half backs; Leese and Whitehouse left wing; C. Watson, centre; Patterson and Ingram, right wing. Luton Town:- Monro, goal; A. Martin and G. Humphrey, backs; A. Taylor, E.H. Lomax and Moody, half-backs; J.C. Lomax and Miller, left wing; Narburgh, centre; F. Whitby and H. Whitby, right wing. Umpires:- Messrs C. Squires and John Long. Referee:- Mr F.J. Wall, London Football Association. It should be added that Old St. Paul’s now have to play Clapton in the final round for this division, the Old Brightonians having scratched to the last-named”.
The Sporting Life said
“At the outset there was the promise of a close game, and although there were three goals scored agains them the Luton men had very little, if any, the worst of the play in the first half. After the interval, however, the “Saints” had all the best of the game, and but for the stout defence offered they would have run up a heavy score. As it was they only put in one more point, and were victorious by four goals to love. The visiting forwards payed a neat passing game, but the back division was not so strong as that of Old St. Paul’s, Taylor, Lindsey, Butler and Elias all playing well”.
19th November committee meeting – Expenses of Old St. Paul’s (Association Cup 3rd round) £2 13s 7d.
The Luton Reporter published a letter on 30th November about the Hitchin match.
“Football, Luton Town v Hitchin. Sir, In your report of the above match in the issue of the 16th inst. you state that “A goal was disallowed by the referee although the umpires agreed in stating that a goal had been obtained”. This was not the fact, as, indeed must be patent to every impartial person, because if the umpires agree there is no appeal to the referee. I trust, therefore, you will contradict the above statement. I am, sir, yours sincerely R. Fred. Bond, Cambs Swifts F.C. and Cambs. F.A. Referee”.
23rd November 1889. Luton Reporter
“Luton Town v St. Albans. This, which in the opinion of some may be regarded as “the match of the season”, was played last Saturday on the Town ground in Dallow-lane, in most uninviting weather. There was, however, a good “gate,” as the match had been much anticipated. Deacon started the ball for the locals towards the Workhouse, but it was soon returned by the visitors, who pressed rather severely for the first fifteen minutes, and missed two splendid chances at goal. The tables, however, were soon reversed. Miller, by a magnificent piece of leather chasing, transferred to H. Whitby, who scored one of the best goals ever obtained in the Lane. After the kick-off Miller, who played all through in grand style, settled on the ball, and made a praiseworthy attempt, which was frustrated by a “header,” and after a corner and scrimmage the ball got away. In the second half the “reds” made matters pretty warm for the citizens. J.C. Lomax, Miller and F. Whitby in succession endeavoured to add to the count, the last named missing an easy chance through being blinded by smoke of a passing engine. About four minutes before the sound of the whistle Humphrey kicked out of danger, Moore dropped on the ball, dashed down the field by himself, and taking advantage of the semi-darkness, dodged the Luton goal keeper, and averted defeat, for at the end of the game stood drawn “one all”. Miller, Deacon, and the two Whitbys were conspicuous by their dashing play, and thoroughly merited all the praise they obtained; for St. Albans Moore, Biggs, Sharpe and Humphrey were the best. Luton:- Reade, goal; Hoy and Martin, backs; E. Lomax, A. Taylor and Miller, half-backs; F. and H. Whitby, J.C. Lomax, Deacon and Moody, forwards”. St. Albans:- Spicer, goal; G. Humphrey and Long, backs; A. Paul, Looker and M. Sharpe, half-backs; Biggs, S.P. Moore, W. Sharpe, Miskin and McFie, forwards”.
This is the famous game when Frank Whitby misses an open goal because of smoke from a passing railway engine. This gives us the far edge of the pitch which must have been very near to the railway line. There are accounts of boys watching games for free from a footpath alongside the railway line so this shows how close to the action they must have been.
The Reporter continues
“The Hitchin Match. It will be remembered that on November 9th the Town club played Hitchin on their own ground for the Kettering Cup. Through the debated decision of the referee the game was drawn, Luton scoring 3 goals, which were over-ruled, to Hitchin nil. The match has again to be played on Saturday next in Dallow-lane, and after the experience at Hitchin a hotly contested game is expected”.
Isaac Smith, the Town secretary had his letter in reply to the referee, Mr Bond, published the following week in the Luton Reporter.
“Sir, with reference to Mr Bond’s letter in your last issue, I beg to confirm your report of the match, and adhere to the statement that ‘A goal was disallowed by the referee, although both umpires agreed in stating that a goal had been obtained’. I further state that no appeal was made to the referee by either umpire, and that Mr Bond admitted after the match that the umpires agreed: also that it was patent to all present that the most partial and therefore most incompetent man on the field was the said Mr Bond, whose decisions were contrary to all rules of football. On behalf of the Luton Town Football Committee, Isaac Smith, Hon Sec.”
It is difficult to judge what happened without more information. Rule 13 of the Laws of association football says “in the event of an appeal for any supposed infringement of the Rules, the ball shall be in play until a decision has been given.” Rule 14 says “Each of the competing clubs shall be entitled to appoint an umpire, whose duties shall be to decide all disputed points when appealed to; and by mutual agreement, a referee may be chosen to decide in all cases of difference between the umpires”.
When the ball went through the posts what happened. There must have been an appeal for offside, the ball was retrieved from the crowd/field and lined up for a free kick by the Hitchin players. The umpires must have conferred and signalled for a goal. This would have counted as a goal even if Hitchin had taken the free kick according to Rule 13. The onus must have been on the referee to signal for a goal with his whistle on seeing the umpires agreement. From what we know, my guess is that the referee disallowed it by not blowing his whistle for a goal. A fact that is not mentioned is the fact that the Hitchin players played on, an ungentlemanly act in itself knowing that the umpires agreed it was a goal and taking advantage of the lack of the referee’s whistle. The result of the protest to the Kettering Cup Committee was that there should be a replay.
It is events like this that help create rivalries as many of us football fans enjoy a grudge. Rivalries between counties are well known and in football terms the rivalry between Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire was hotting up. We have already seen the rivalry mentioned between Luton and St. Albans as towns, and in football the Hertfordshire men often had Watford and others play for them. Hemel (Boxmoor) also had a long rivalry with Luton Clubs. The Hertfordshire Newspapers seemed to take every opportunity to seize the moral high ground whenever they could, conveniently omitting that exactly the same issues arose in their own county. Watford Rovers were already rivals just by being in Hertfordshire. With the entry into Kettering Cup, rivalries would resume with also Northamptonshire teams too.
26th November committee meeting – Team selected to play against Hitchin. Gate money for sat 23rd, £2 7s 7d.
Luton would get their victory this time though as the Luton Reporter sets out the full story of the replay which took place on the 30th November.
“Kettering Cup. Hitchin v Luton Town. The committee having decided that the disputed game of November 9th should be replayed, admirable football weather and the prospect of an interesting match drew a big crowd to Dallow-lane on Saturday last. Luton turned out a representative team, but Hitchin was not so well represented as in the former match, as none of the “Blues” played for them. A few minutes after the advertised time the teams took up their positions thus:- Luton:- Monro, goal; Hoy and Martin, backs; Moody, Taylor and E. Lomax, half-backs; F. and H. Whitby, Deacon, J.C. Lomax and Miller, forwards’ Hitchin; Little, goal; English and Davis, backs; Vizard, Spencer and Bennett, half-backs; Goodliffe, Perks, Swire, Dennis and Williams, forwards. Goodliffe kicked off down the slope, and his men brought the ball quickly towards Monro and secured two corners very soon after, but without effect. The local forwards then took possession, and after one or to ineffectual endeavours “J.C.” by a mild shot broke the foe for Luton, an event which allowed many of the spectators to breathe more freely, and which was hailed with enthusiastic shouts. E. Lomax was called upon to take four corners in as many minutes, but the goal stood intact. From this point Luton pressed very hard, and some stinging shots were pelted forward, though all of them were beyond the wood; in fact, the Lutonians experienced some very hard luck. H. Whitby soon afterwards ran up the flank, and passed to Deacon, who sent the red flag up for the second time, the appeal of off-side being over-ruled. From a neat piece of tackling by Hoy, Deacon shot again, and the goalkeeper sent the ball behind him. From the corner it was neatly planted on the head of Taylor, who outwitted the “Little boy” between the Hitchin posts and scored the third goal just as the whistle was about to announce half-time. When operations were resumed the local men kept the ball near their opponents’ goal and attacked unmercifully, though the scene was occasionally varied by a break away on the part of the visiting forwards, and, but for Monro’s dexterity and coolness under the bar, his citadel must have been captured. Deacon and A. Taylor were now playing with special prominence, their tackling being repeatedly cheered. An imitation of “buck-jumping” by Bennett and F. Whitby also caused much merriment among the bystanders. From his wing, C. Lomax sent a regular rasper to the Hitchin keeper, but with his hands high up he saved splendidly, only, however, to see the ball pass under from a medley of men around him. Twice “hands” were given in the teeth of the Hitchin goal, but the backs kept matters beyond the reach of danger. F. Whitby subsequently brought the ball down, centred to J.C. Lomax, and the fifth goal was added. At the call of time and, amid the delight of their partizans, the Lutonians passed the first round of the competition by 5 goals to nil. The game throughout was very fast, and the decisions of the umpires and referee decidedly fair, and, with the exception of a few spectators who remembered too bitterly the last encounter, the match was unmarked by any roughness or unnecessary vocal demonstration. At times the Luton forwards brought the ball up the field well, while their combination was better than usual, and but for their erratic shooting the score must have been much greater for them than it was. Deacon and A. Taylor for the home team, Dennis, Bennett and Little for the visitors showed by far the smartest form. The umpires were Messrs J. Bennett and J.E. Riley, while Mr A. Smith, Bedford acted as referee”. The reports ends with a simple analysis of the game. Another step forward in coverage of football in the town.
The Luton Times reports on the Hitchin game played on the 30th November.
“Luton Town v Hitchin (Kettering Charity Cup). This tie, which was drawn at Hitchin on November 9, was re-played on Saturday last at Luton. Both sides were fairly well represented, but Hitchin suffered defeat by five goals (J.C. Lomax three, Deacon and A. Taylor) to none”.
3rd December committee meeting – “Gate money for sat 30th nov, £5 2s 2d (1st round Kettering Cup). Expenses of same £2 8s 6d, thus leaving a balance of £2 13s 8d to be divided between Hitchin and Luton, viz. £1 6s 10d Hitchin’s share”. “Resolved that Hon sec write to the Reporter contradicting the statement made by Mr Bond in his letter of last week”.
Heavy snow caused the scratching of the home game against Bedford and the away match at South West Ham in London both scheduled for the 7th December.
10th December committee meeting – “Amount received for Old St Paul’s as our portion of gate £1 5s 0d”.
14th December 1889.
“Luton Town v Tottenham Hotspur. Luton encountered this rising London team on Saturday last on their own ground in very foggy weather. During the latter part of the game it was almost impossible to distinguish the players. Notwithstanding the slippery condition of the ground a fast game was witnessed, though it only lasted half an hour each way. The match ended in another victory for the Luton men by 2 goals to none”.
17th December committee meeting – “Teams selected to play against Star, Millwall, Woodville, Montrose and Alexander Institute”. Gate money for sat 14th was £1 12s 5d. Reserves play Montrose on Xmas Day.
21st December. The first team drew 0 0 away to Woodville. The reserves beat the Alexander Institute 4 1 at Dallow Lane.
23rd December committee meeting – Teams re-arranged for holiday matches. gate money for 21st was 18/5. Expenses to Woodville £2 10s 6d.
Christmas Day fell on a Wednesday. The Luton Reporter of 28th December 1889 gave a short report on all the holiday matches.
“Luton Club.- The town players have been very busy during the holiday. Last Saturday the first team travelled to London and encountered the Woodville Club on their own ground, but as neither side managed to score, the game was left drawn. On the same day the second eleven met the Alexandra and proved themselves much superior, winning the game by 5 goals to 1. On Christmas Day the same eleven played the Luton Montrose on the Town ground in Dallow-lane. The latter played a plucky game, some of their forwards showing excellent form considering their youth. At the end the game stood drawn – 2 all. Yesterday (Thursday) the second eleven played the Star from London, and again proved victorious by 6 goals to 1. The goals were scored by Waller (2), Carter (2), Spratley and Smart. The play exhibited by some of the juniors of the Luton Club speaks well for future success”.
4th January 1890 Luton Reporter.
“Luton Town v Millwall Athletic. – These teams met in Dallow-lane in the afternoon of Boxing Day. At the outset the home team forced the play, and after one or two futile attempts, Humphrey from the back took the ball well up the field and from a scrimmage it passed easily under the bar. Deacon, later in the game, took the ball from Taylor and scored the second point for his side. Within the last ten minutes two more points were put on. The first was obtained from a beautiful piece of dribbling by Carter who carried the leather up the ground by himself and succeeded in eluding the goal keeper. The last resulted from F. Whitby’s tackling by which he took possession of the ball and ultimately shot it through, thus winning the game by four goals to nil. The score certainly must have been much higher for them if the Luton men could only manage to place the ball with much better judgment and certainty when it has been brought home. Their accuracy in field kicking and improvement in combination are much counterbalanced by this defect. Luton were represented by Monro, goal; G. Humphrey and Martin, backs, Moody, “Tap ‘us” Wright, A. Taylor, half-backs; Carter, F.K. and H. Whitby, Deacon and Miller, forwards.”
Where does “tap ‘us” come from. Only the second nickname used in the line ups to date. The last Saturday in 1889 saw the Town take on Spartan Rovers.
“Played on the home quarters on Saturday on a hard ground. The play for some time was of a scrambling character, until Miller centred beautifully to the older Whitby and he chalked up the first goal for the “reds” by a shot from the knee. The locals soon afterwards managed to score again, this time by the agency of Deacon. Hands fell to Luton; the ball was sent to the side and taken by Taylor, who from the rear did the needful for the third time. Taylor was temporarily disabled by a blow on the head a few minutes later. The Lutonians thereafter seemed the relax their efforts, and twice in about five minutes Munro allowed the visitors to score. This excited greater interest in the play and each side redoubled its efforts. Though Luton continued to have the best of the play they failed to add to their record while the Rovers added another point, making a drawn game of three goals each. The Luton team was as follows:- Munro, goal; G. Humphrey and A. Martin (backs); Taylor, Moody and Wright, half backs; Miller, F. and H. Whitby, Deacon and Carter, forwards)”.
The Reporter went on the to summarise the season so far.
“The Luton Club has now played half the matches of the season with the following results: Games played 18, won 11, lost 2 (Great Marlow and Old St. Pauls): drawn 5, goals for 59; goals against 18”.
Excelsior drew with St. Matthews but lost 10 nil on Boxing Day to St. Saviour’s Rovers on White-hill.
31st December 1889 committee meeting – gate money Montrose 28th £2 18s 6d. Star £1 9s 4d. Millwall £4 9s 3d. Spartans £1 17s 0d.