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Chapter 21. Down on the Farm 1890/91


11th September 1890 committee meeting  –

scratch game be played on 13th September.  “The match to be played by permission of Captain Carruthers at Bury Park Farm.”  Messrs Deacon and Humphrey to captain the teams.  “That notice be inserted into the Reporter”.  “During the meeting Mr Hunt saw Mr Carruthers who gave his consent for the game to be played on his ground and also for two to three weeks if wanted”.  

The Luton Reporter of 13th September 1890 gave an update on the Luton Charity Cup. 

“the special committee of the Charity Football Cup Association met at the Cowper Arms coffee-tavern on Monday night under the presidency of Mr F. Beecroft in order to hold the draw for the first round of the competition.  Amongst those present were representatives of the Luton Montrose and Maidenhead clubs.  It was ascertained that there were 20 entries and the draw resulted as follows: Division 1, Luton Montrose v Luton Town; Bedford, Mountaineers and Luton Terriers, byes.  Division 2, Kettering Hawks v Stantonbury; Rushden, Irthlingborough and Kettering Town, byes.  Division 3, Banbury v Wolverton L and N.W. ; Maidenhead, Wolverton Town and Wallingford, byes.  Division 4, Millwall Athletic v City Ramblers; Vulcans, 1st Scots Guards and Windsor Phoenix, byes.  It was decided that the first-named clubs should have choice of grounds, and that the first round should be played on or before Saturday, October 25th.” 

15th sept 1890 committee meeting –

“resolved that Rule 3a, 3c and IV of the Central Committee be objected to also that the matter be left in the hands of our representatives”.  If Montrose refuse to play on our own ground their ground be objected to.  The Hon sec to see Mr Read bout distributing bills and “looking after the balls”.  

20th September Luton Reporter –

“Luton Town Club.  The first match of this Club of the season was played on Saturday last in the Dallow-lane in the field adjoining the ordinary ground, which is being laid out for the forthcoming winter’s play.  The opponents of the Club on this occasion were the Grove House team, who appeared upon the scene with only ten men.  A goodly company stood to watch the play, a fact which promises well in the financial sense.  during the first half the Luton team played with the sun straight in their faces, but notwithstanding this disadvantage they managed to weigh their opponents down by scoring twice.  Luton was seen to greater advantage during the second half, when they  severely pressed the visitors, and before the final whistle sounded they had scored six goals to nil, one of those points being counted from a remarkably clean shot by J.C. Lomax, who was deservedly applauded.  Such a start as this should inspire the players and their numerous supporters with the hope of proving victorious when they encounter the 93rd Highlanders a week hence.  The team have certainly an acquisition in the new back Saddington, who has played some time with the Grantham Rovers.  He will be seen to greater advantage probably when he has to meet stronger men than last week, but his physique should count for something”.  

The Luton Times report –

“The first match was played on Saturday last in the field adjoining the ordinary ground in Dallow Lane, which is being laid out in an admirable manner for the forthcoming winter.  The first opponents of the local talent were the Grove House team, who appeared upon the scene with only ten men.  A goodly company stood to watch the play, a fact which speaks well for the financial success of this year’s play.  During the first half Luton men played with the sun straight in their faces, but notwithstanding this disadvantage, they managed to weight their opponents down by scoring twice.  Luton were seen to greater advantage in the second half, when they severely pressed their visitors, and before the final whistle sounded they had scored six goals to nil, one of the points being counted from a remarkably clear long shot by J.C. Lomax, who was deservedly applauded.  Such a start as this should inspire the players and their supporters when they encounter the 93rd Highlanders, a week hence.  The team have certainly an acquisition in the new back, Saddington, who has played for some time with Grantham Rovers.  He will be seen to greater advantage probably when he has stronger men to meet than those of Grove House, but his physique should count for something.”  

The turnover of local clubs in the town continues apace with Stanley losing to St. Saviour’s and Star beating Albion, both by 3 goals to 1.  

22nd September committee meeting –

Mr Pitkin selected to act as referee on sat 27th against City Ramblers.  “Resolved that both teams be insured leaving it to the Hon Sec to make the best possible terms”.  “Mr R Cook to act as referee in cup tie against Wolverton”.  Gate money for Sat 20th £2 5s 6d.  

“A discussion then took place about the condition of our ground after which it was decided that committee should meet on the ground and decide as to what should be done.  It was proposed by Mr Browning, seconded by Mr Pakes that the charge for Saturday Oct 4th should be members 2d, non members 4d”.  An amendment was proposed that the charge be 3d and 6d which was carried.  

23rd September committee meeting – members of the committee met on the ground

“and after viewing both grounds resolved that the match for Saturday 27th be played on the ground at the back of the Bury providing Mr Seymour’s consent could be obtained”.  

The last weekend in September saw the Town play City Ramblers. 

Played in Dallow-lane on Saturday and resulted in a win for the visitors by three goals to nil, all three points being obtained in the first half of the game.  The home team was as follows:- Goal, T. Read; backs, A. Sanders and G. Humphrey; half-backs, J. Wright, G. Saddington and A. Hoy; forwards, G. Deacon, (centre); W. Miller and J.C. Lomax (left); and H. and F. Whitby (right).” 

Luton Rangers beat Apsley End 5 0 and Star beat Park Wanderers 3 1.  No teams are given in any games other than Town games.  

29th September committee meeting –

Team selected for 1st round E.F.A.  Gate money for Sat 27th £3 2s 1d.  The committee men should meet on the ground on Tuesday 30th sept at 1.45 and settle where the cup tie should be played.  Also “that in case the Cup tie should be played on Mr Heley’s ground a cab be obtained in which to sell tickets.  also that 5 police be applied for on cup tie date”.  

30th September commitee meeting – Resolved that cup tie be played on Mr Heley’s ground.  The ground committee prepare the pitch.  

4th October 1890 from the Luton Reporter. 

“The English Cup Match.  The chances of the Luton Club obtaining a good position in this division for the English Challenge Cup qualifying competition have been extinguished very quickly, the 93rd Highlanders having vanquished them in surprisingly easy style on Saturday last.  When it became known that Luton were drawn against what was regarded as a formidable combination the hopes of their supporters sank rapidly, and the match was generally looked upon as a foregone conclusion in favour of the strangers.  The team had obtained the choice of grounds, but the elected to visit Luton, where there was a better chance of obtaining a good “gate,” a consideration which is becoming more and more important in football clubs throughout the country.  The Scotchmen certainly came with an excellent record.  They had been in existence as a football club for five years, and during that time they had been defeated only three times.  That they were no mean opponents was further demonstrated by the fact that in one year they had scored 127 goals, against only four obtained against them, while those familiar with the doings of the more important elevens remembered that they had previously won the Army and Navy Cup.  Their avocation gave sufficient promise that they would have plenty of exercise, while on the other hand they had to meet the foemen who seldom have the opportunity to play together, and who certainly have had but little individual practice this season.  The alterations which are at present taking place in the Town Club’s filed precluded the possibility of the match taking place there, and it was accordingly played in a field attached to the Bury Park Farm, which proved adequately adapted to the purpose.  The game had been announced to commence at 3 o’clock but it was not until long after that time that a start was made.  In the meantime a large number of spectators had assembled, despite the increased charge for admission, and, the weather being brilliantly fine, there seemed every prospect of an enjoyable afternoon’s sport.  

Luton lost the toss, and had to play during the first half of the game uphill against the wind and sun.  The teams faced the centre line as follows:- Luton: T. Read, goal; G. Humphrey and A. Sanders, backs; E.H. Lomax, A. Taylor and G.J. Saddington, half backs; L.C.R. Thring (captain), centre; W. Miller, J.C. Lomax, left wing; H. Whitby and F.K. Whitby, right wing, forwards.  93rd Highlanders: Robertson, goal; Stirratt and Kudems (captain), backs; McMillan, Thomson and Stevenson, half-backs; Urquhart, centre; Roy, Duffie, left wing; McLafferty and Young, right wing, forwards.  Thring kicked off for Luton at about a quarter to 4, and the visitors at once obtained possession.  the ball was rapidly conveyed to the vicinity of the home goal, where “hands” was given in dangerous proximity to Read’s charge.  the scrimmage which followed the free kick resulted in a “corner” being conceded by the Lutonians.  The danger was averted by some good kicking by the backs, and the leather was taken along the outside line by the local forwards.  They were deprived of possession, however, and the soldiers gave a slight indication of their powers by passing brilliantly right up the field.  The run resulted in one of the forward division getting too far ahead and the “offside” rule was applied, Luton being allowed an unimpeded kick.  Similar ill luck was experienced very shortly afterwards after some very pretty play by the right wing forwards.  Thring and Taylor rendered themselves conspicuous hereabouts on behalf of their side, while Saddington had relieved his comrades once or twice in good style.  The visitors continued to press and a “corner” soon fell to them, this being quickly followed by “hands” in the mouth of the home fortress.  The kick was converted into a “corner” by one of the “straw plaiters,” but no more resulted.  The Luton men thereafter transferred the operations into their foemen’s territory and at one time Thring looked like scoring, but he was fouled in the back by McMillan, and the claim for a free kick was allowed.  J.C. Lomax distinguished himself next by a brilliant run, but his opponents were too numerous in the neighbourhood of their citadel, and the assault ended in a goal-kick.  The Town men continued to attack in a spirited manner and two or three times the ball went behind the goal-line.  At length the Highlanders turned the tables by rushing the leather to the opposite end and obtaining a “corner” from Sanders.  The ball was kicked into the centre with great precision, but one of the Luton forwards booted it out.  The enthusiasm of the onlookers was next aroused  by J.C. Lomax, who made a very fine run, and having eluded the opposing backs took a shot at goal which missed by about a foot.  Thring seemed to be a marked man about this time, for he was twice charged in the back by the centre half-back within a few minutes, and each time his adversary received a well-deserved groan from the crowd.  In the meantime Read had defended his charge in a first-class style, one shot being fisted out after seeming as though it must score.  The best run which had been made up to now was made by Miller, who took the sphere right up his wing in spite of his opponents’ efforts to stop him.  He had been showing good form all through, and was loudly applauded.  The Highlanders very shortly afterwards kicked the ball through the Luton uprights, but the point was disallowed on the ground that “hands” had been given previously.  But they played up well and eventually secured the first notch in the match from a struggle in front of the home goal.  The most notable incident from now until half-time was that the Luton captain was a fourth time fouled by McMillan, who was cautioned by the referee.  At the mid way stage of the game the score stood: Highlanders 1; Luton nil.  When ends were changed it was found that the slight disadvantage which the home team had to face at the outset had disappeared, for the wind had dropped and the sun was almost hidden.  The contest had been fairly even to this point, and it was thought by many of the spectators that the local eleven might at least equalise.  Their hope were destined to be soon extinguished, however, for in less than two minutes after the resumption a second goal was placed to the credit of the Scotchmen.  A third point was added after a very little time, and it seemed that the Lutonians became most inexcusably demoralised.  Their combination had not been at all good at any time, but now they seemed to fall to pieces and give up heart.  Their opponents, on the other hand, played with even better combination than before, and gave such an exhibition of the correct game as has rarely been witnessed in the town.  Play was almost entirely confined to the Luton side of the line, and at length a fourth point was scored, the ball going through off Sanders head.  This was followed in rapid succession by a fifth , and then the partizans of the Luton Town abandoned all hope.  So certain was the defeat, indeed, that they eagerly seized the opportunity to bestow lavish applause upon good defensive play.  They were evidently thankful for small mercies, but their sense of mortification was deepened by two more goals being added in dashing style.  Ernest Lomax was injured slightly just before the finish, but he able to continue playing.  At the end the Highlanders had qualified for the second round by seven goals to nil, the points being secured as follows: Urquhart, 3; Roy, 1; McLafferty, 1; Young, 2.  The umpires were Lieut. Whatman (Highlanders) and Mr R. Healing (Luton) while Mr C. Squires, of the London Association, acted as referee.  

It only remains to account in some way for the defeat of the local team, and this is not a difficult task.  It is an undeniable fact that the visitors were far the better team.  Their combination was all that could be desired, admirable short passing and correct heading being characteristic of the whole of them.  Few mistakes were made, and the men were always in their places, thus avoiding the confused rushing to and fro which is so frequently witnessed.  The members of the team relied upon one another, and the result was as might be expected.  The Luton team, on the contrary, were at sixes and sevens, and there was an utter lack of combination.  The forwards were but rarely in their places, and when they did obtain possession of the ball they almost invariably threw away their chances by indulging in selfish play.  In this respect they might have learned a valuable lesson from the tactics of their adversaries, for it is certain that until they have altered their efforts they will never do well against good teams.  It is also true that the Luton team seemed to relax their efforts when a goal had been registered against them, and to altogether lose heart.  The Highlanders were of course in excellent trim, and the fact that they were in condition no doubt assisted in achieving the result, but it was above all the pleasing unity which prevailed amongst them that was accountable for the victory.  On the Luton side the chief credit is due to Miller and Sanders, whilst Urquhart was the pick of the visitors”.  

The Luton Times adds some useful information –

“These teams met in a field in the Dunstable-road on Saturday, in the presence of numerous spectators”.  “..The Luton men, though they showed less skill than their opponents, playing with much pluck..”.  

The weakness of the Luton team is well summed up at the end of the report.  The team still seemed relied on individual play rather than teamwork, or combination play as it was known.  To me it seems that the cause is simple, a lack of a lack of practice together.  If we look at the team we see that Taylor lived in Bedford and had been given a ball to practice with in his home town.  Saddington came from Grantham so presumably received a letter or telegram to say where and when the club were playing.  The Lomax brothers were living in Twickenham so had a very long journey for matches.  Thring was headmaster at Dunstable Grammar School so would have been busy as were the Luton based men with their jobs. With dark evenings and no floodlit pitches practice could only occur at the weekends if there was no match.  We have seen players not turn up and substitutes having to be obtained from the crowd.  The Lomax brothers, and others, could not always attend so there were changes to the team which did not help continuity.  It must have been galling for good, reliable, willing Luton based players that the Lomax brothers could turn up when they chose and walk straight into the first team.  

J.C. Lomax said at the Annual Meeting that he hoped that there were up and coming young players in the town who would make the first team.  He joked that he was getting old, but it seems to me that there was a hint that they should not rely on him.  In proposing the Mayor as President was he hoping to be relieved of responsibility and duty?  Or was he just being the modest gentleman that he undoubtedly was.  Did he realise that he was part of the problem that the club faced.  Could the old guard of 1885 adapt to the tactics, fitness and organisation required to achieve success in 1890.  They had come close to winning the Kettering Charity Cup but was that achievement just papering over the cracks.  Did the defeat have a psychological effect on them similar to a play off defeat today.  The following season there is often a reaction that is difficult to explain.  Sometimes it is only a change of personnel that can get a team out of a rut.  

Football had taken a grip of the youngsters in the town in 1885 and were playing in the streets and parks whenever they could.  Those youngsters of 1885 were young men now and some should be pushing for a chance in the team.  They would have watched the Highlanders take the Straw Plaiters apart and known for themselves what went wrong, who the weak players were and had ideas about how to resolve the problem.  The number of new teams in the town was growing rapidly.  The town needed a good football team in order to gain entry to a League which had been talked about for a while.  If the team was of low quality then other teams would be invited.  Also the crowds, and the revenue would diminish if the team was a poor one.  The Club had invested in improving the Dallow Lane ground and entered into a seven year lease.  A poor season on the pitch might see the end of the Club if the downward spiral developed.  I am not positive that the crowds would diminish that much for although the Lutonians wanted their team to win, there seems to have been a general appreciation of good play by either team.  

The Highlanders would qualify for the First round of the F.A. Cup proper where they lost 2 0 away to Sunderland Albion.  

6th October committee meeting –

“gate and sale of cards for Oct 4th £20 17s 8d.  Charge for Sat 11th oct be 3d.  “Mr Long move the hut for the sale of tickets to the temporary ground”.  2 policemen required for 11th Oct.  

11th October 1890. 

“Luton Town v Great Marlow.  A large crowd assembled in the Bury Farm meadow. Dunstable-road. last Saturday, to witness the contest with the holders of the Berks and Bucks Cup, a team always welcome in Luton on account of their skilful and gentlemanly exposition of the game.  The local team started the ball with “you level sun” straight in their faces, a disadvantage which sadly told against them.  Soon after the start the visitors came near scoring, but were over-ruled by the referee on some technical point, but this disappointment was returned, for later in the afternoon the Lutonians claimed a similar point but were similarly treated.  Some good play was seen and the goals were alternately attacked, until the Marlow wing man got away, centred, and the ball passed easily under the bar, much to the chagrin of the spectators, who nevertheless applauded the admirable play of the visitors.  It will be remembered by some that it was by a like piece of play that the Marlow match was lost last year.  Half time came without any further result, though Moore, Humphrey and Stanley were doing sterling work.  During the second half the Lutonians pressed their opponents several times, and often came close to scoring, but they had to be contented with some praiseworthy trying.  No amount of cheering or kicking would send that leather message to its destination, and when the final whistle sounded the score stood exactly as it did last year – Marlow one, Luton nil.  It is doubtful, though, if the best team won for the Luton men certainly pulled themselves together after the ignominious minimising of the previous Saturday.  Their combination was much improved, and the effort in respect of short passing more apparent, but they should still be reminded to pass with their eyes open and not let the ball glide to a man of another colour.  The visitors showed their superior skill when hard driven but they lacked the vigour of the home team.  Teams: Luton :- T. Read, goal; G. Humphrey and A. Sanders, backs; Saddington, Gill and Taylor, half backs; F. and H. Whitby, Miller, S.P. Moore and S.M. Stanley, forwards.  Marlow, T. Walker, goal; Flint and Shaw, backs; Meakes, R.A. Lunnon (captain) and C.J. Plumbridge, half backs; F. Lunnon, E. Clark, W.P. Wethered, Faulkner and A.M. Arlowman, forwards.  Umpires J. Long and H. Lunnon; Referee, F. Pitkin.”  

The Lomax brothers and Thring are missing from the week before to highlight the lack of continuity.  A better performance but against a weaker team than the Highlanders.  

In the Luton Charity Cup this weekend, Millwall beat City Ramblers one nil.  

In local football, St. John’s College were still on the scene drawing 2 2 with Stanley F.C. Luton in Peoples Park.  Their next two games were played on Bury Farm Meadow where they beat Boxmoor Grammar school by 14 goals to 1 and drew one all with St. Albans Grammar School.  

13th October committee meeting –

Team selected for Tottenham Hotspur.  Gate money for Oct 11th £5 6s 9d.  It was resolved that 30/- be offered to Old St Mark’s for a match on Nov 1st failing this Hon sec make best arrangement possible.  “That £3 0s 0d be guaranteed to Montrose for the match to be played on our own ground”.  

Hon sec stated he had received a letter from the central committee containing the following amended rules.

Rule I  the ground to be closed 1 hour after match instead of at sunset.

Rule III A and C.  The Football Club to commence their season 2nd Saturday in September, finishing the 3rd in April.  The Luton Town Cricket club have power to practice or play matches all through April and September, except those Saturday as mentioned”.  

Rule IV  Neither of the clubs have power to sub let the ground.  The committee reserve themselves the right of letting the ground on any days subject to the club having no fixture”.  

The Central Committee is the new Football, Cricket and Athletic club committee for the management of Dallow Lane.  The offer to Old St. Marks shows the way football was heading.  The well supported teams could offer these sums due to their larger crowds.  They would win more games, wins cups hopefully, attract even more fans and get wealthier.  The Town could not afford to play some of these smaller teams away as they would make a loss.  

On Wednesday 15th October the Town sent a strong second team to Dunstable Grammar School and won 7 1. 

“the home team were overmatched, and did not display anything like good form.  The teams were: Luton: Goal, R. Burley; backs, G. Humphrey and A, Cheshire.  Half-backs, T. Barford, J. Wright and J. Hoy;  Forwards, J. Read, centre; W. Miller and F. Hoy, left wing; H.G. Spratley and W. Wheeler, right wing.  Dunstable: Goal, R.S. Hornby; backs J.D. Seddon and R. Marsh; half-backs, R. Healing, W.H. McNamara and C. Fox; Forwards, L.C.R. Thring, centre; F. and E. Gladwell, left wing; P.J. Phillipson and C. Anderson, right wing.”

Luton Town played Tottenham Hotspurs on the 18th October. 

“Played at Luton on Saturday, and won by the Town team by four goals to one. Luton won the toss, and elected to play with the wind.  The visitors started the ball.  Luton at once commenced to attack, and within two minutes Harry Whitby scored.  Stanley quickly gained another, and not to be denied, Whitby shot a third, and keeping up the pressure, Moore was responsible for a fourth.  At half-time Luton were 4 goals, Hotspurs nil.  Crossing over, Hotspurs, with the wind made play more even, Luton doing most of the work, the visitors’ goal being repeatedly attacked, the ball striking the bar and post but nothing resulted.  Hotspurs scored just before time”.  

On the 25th October 1890 the Town played their first game in the Luton Charity Cup against the second team in Luton. 

“Luton Town v Luton Montrose.  This contest took place in the Bury Park field, and ended in a win for the first-named by five goals to nil.  The match was not, however, nearly so one sided as the score would seem to indicate, and the vanquished eleven have no cause to be ashamed of the result.  The weather was most unsuitable for any athletic contest.  Rain had been falling in the whole of the forenoon and the turf was saturated this rendering the prospect of dashing play somewhat remote. At about the time announced for commencing operations, however, the aspect improved; the drenching, dispiriting showers ceased to fall, and later on the sun shone out.  Despite the uninviting nature of the weather conditions, large numbers of supporters of the rival teams appeared on the ground, and when play began the ropes were lined with a surprisingly good muster of spectators.  It was about half past 3 when the following elevens faced the central ring:- Luton Town: T. Read, goal; A. Sanders and C.J. Saddington, backs; J. Wright, A. Whitby and A. Taylor, half-backs; F.S.P. Moore, centre; F. Whitby and H. Whitby, right; J.C. Lomax and W. Miller, left wing, forwards.  Luton Montrose: G. Folks (captain), goal; A. Colling and J. Stickles, backs; W. King, J.W. Bird and A. Hoy, half-backs; F. Hoy, centre; C. Colling and G. King, left; G. Roe and H. Hurcombe, right wing, forwards.  As will be seen by the names the Town club put their strongest eleven into the field, and when they were ranged opposite their opponents it was seen that they were infinitely superior in physique.  The “boys” as a section of the crowd termed Montrose, were slightly built and youthful, and to most of the onlookers it seemed that the Town men would have matters all their own way.  But appearances are oft deceptive, and it was certainly so in this case, for from the start to finish the Montrose played with great dash and unabated vigour.  They lost the toss and had to play against the wind and up a slight incline.  Their opponents went off with a rush, and the leather was soon forced into uncomfortable proximity to the Montrose goal-line.  The danger was averted by means of conceding a corner, which was ineffectual, though the Town came within an ace of scoring.  The latter continued to press for some time and the Montrose backs were hard-worked, but they came out of the ordeal very satisfactorily.  A. Colling distinguished himself by his fearless tackling and effective kicking.  The game continued in the territory of the junior club for some time, and their goalkeeper rendered himself conspicuous by the brilliant manner in which he saved his fortress on more than one occasion.  At length, however, the hopes of the Montrose partizans fell fell considerably, for Moore secured the first goal for the Town from a scrimmage in front of the uprights.  Ten minutes later F. Whitby credited his side with a second point by means of an excellent shot.  The “boys” were not by any means daunted by these reverses , but continued to struggle gamely, though their forwards experienced considerable difficulty in passing J. Wright, who was ubiquitous as centre half-back throughout the whole of the game.  The Town men played with even greater dash, and before half-time had arrived, they added a third notch to their total, Moore doing the needful.  This player had made a very brilliant run, but beyond that had not particularly distinguished himself.  The Montrose thus had to face a large balance when they commenced the second half.  This was soon added to, for Miller registered a fourth goal to the leaders a very few minutes after the game was re-started.  Play subsequently became very even, and it was not until shortly before the call of “time” that any further score resulted.  Moore again scored, and the game thus ended as stated above.  The form of the two teams was fairly good, but again the combination of the Town eleven was wretchedly bad.  None of the forwards showed the slightest disposition to “pass” and with one or two exceptions they did not shine.  By far the hardest-work man on the side was Wright, who was indefatigable. The backs, too, were reliable, and it is only fair to Saddington to say that he apparently far better in that position than as half-back.  The Montrose forwards, though much younger and lighter than their opponents, played throughout with commendable pluck, and showed much better combination.  During the second half especially they made several excellent runs, and more than once narrowly missed scoring.  King at half-back and Stickles and Colling at back showed admirable form.  Mr R. Healing, Dunstable Grammar School was referee while the umpires were: Mr J.G. Hunt (Town) and Mr A. Bailey (Montrose)”.  

The Luton Times adds some useful details of the Montrose team

“Collings, King and Hoy did excellent work for their sides indeed, and a word of praise is due to the plucky young lads for playing the short passing game, which occasionally troubled their opponents, who however, were far too strong in weight, and experience for them”.  

A result which flattered the Town and again the Reporter highlights the greed of the forwards.  Matters do break down very quickly when the ball is given to a player whom you know will not pass.  One just does not bother making any sort of run for even if he does see you, he will probably use you as a decoy and try for goal himself.  If the same is to be said of all the forwards then the team shape will breaks down.  No one is waiting for rebounds off defenders or the goal keepers fumbles or poor punches.  The forward players will be all over the pitch hoping the ball will fall to them and not strictly doing all their duties.  The pressure on the defenders will mount as the ball will keep coming back at regular intervals.  The snippet from the Luton Times indicates that the Montrose youngsters represented the young talent in the town, who were brought up under the influence of the combination game, and did try to pass to each other at every opportunity.  This was clearly noted by the newspapers, even the grumpy Luton Times, and the committee could not fail to notice.  As we have seen, the lesson had been learned time and again that the combination game was the way forward to success.  Here, although the boys lost, they made a deep impression.  

The club advertised for good men to play for the reserves –  They should apply to Isaac smith at his home at 32 Grove Road.  The advert ended with “Travelling expenses defrayed by the Club.”

Other results in the Luton Charity Cup were as follows:- Kettering Hawks at Kettering beat Stantonbury by five goal to two; Wolverton on their own ground vanquished Banbury by seven goals to one.  

Local football teams were springing up all over the town as football’s popularity grew.  The following report illustrates the point:-

“A match was played on the People’s Park early on Wednesday morning between the employees of Messrs Smith and Small and Mr. George Warren.  After a good struggle Messrs Smith and Small’s team was victorious by one goal to nil.”  To play before work on a October morning shows dedication.  Other teams also got in on the act.  “Strawopolists (Messrs Hucklesby and Co’s employees) v United Services – Played on the ground of the Town Club on Tuesday last, and resulted in a decisive victory for the former by three goals to one.  The teams were:- Strawopolists: W. Burley, goal; P. Bachlin (captain) and S. Biggs, backs; O. Meister, A. Wilkinson and R. Barford, half-backs; Fisher, centre; W. Seear, B. Weatherhead, H. Sanders and A. Squire, forwards.  United Service: G. Worboys, goal; W. Tearle and F. Cooke, backs; A. Webb, T. Andrews and substitute, half-backs; C. Squires (centre), H. Webb, F. Hill, R. Gilder and S. Gilder, forwards”.  

On the Thursday Strawopolists played Mr G. Warren’s Employees on the People’s Park which the former won 3 goals to 2.  

St. John’s College were still playing and beat Hatfield Junior F.C. by three goal to two.  The College team was:- P. Rice, goal; S. Bowden and E. Willis, backs; P. Stevens, R. Stevens and J. Green, half-backs; C. Stevens and H. Rice, right wing; M. Cottam, centre; J.B. Furlong and W. Thomson, left wing, forwards.  

In the English Association Cup the 93rd Highlanders beat Watford Rovers 3 2 at Watford.  

20th October committee meeting –

gate money for 18th oct £2 9s 10d.  It was resolved to continue playing on the same ground and to engage 2 policemen for sat Oct 25th.  

The draw for the second round of the Luton Charity Cup took place at the Cowper Arms Coffee Tavern on Thursday 23rd October. 

“the names of the teams who were to have  choice of grounds were drawn by ballot by the chairman, while Mr H. Beecroft drew the names of the opponents.  The result of the ballot was as follows:- 

1st Division: Luton Town v Luton Terriers; Mountaineers v Bedford.

2nd Division: Rushden v Kettering Hawks; Irthlingborough v Kettering Town.

3rd Division: Wolverton Town v Wallingford; Wolverton L. and N.W. v Maidenhead.

4th Division: Vulcans v Scots Guards; Millwall v Windsor Phoenix.  

The first-named teams have the choice of grounds and the matches are to be played on or before December 27th”.  

27th October committee meeting –

gate money for 25th oct was £3 15s 11d.  Admission for Old St Marks be 3d and half price for members. For Wolverton 3d, members free.  “It was resolved that Hon Sec advertise for men wishing to play in the Town reserves to send in their names to Hon Sec”.   The advert appeared in the 1st November Luton Reporter.  “The Town Club have vacancies in the Reserve Team for good men; application to be made to the Hon. Sec. or at 32 Grove-road.  N.B. Travelling expenses defrayed by the Club”.  

On 1st November the Town met Old St. Mark’s. 

“A match was played between these teams in the Bury Meadow on Saturday, and after a closely contested struggle ended in a win for the home eleven by the narrow majority of five goals to four.  The visitors brought a strong team, while the Lutonians were thoroughly representative.  From start to finish the interest of the spectators was sustained, the game being remarkable for brilliant play.  During the first half the match was of a give and take character, and when the interval arrived the score stood at three goals all.  Both teams exerted themselves to the utmost in the second period, and at one one time they each had obtained four goals each.  The Luton men played with great dash and determination towards the close, however, and amid enthusiastic shouts from their admirers obtained the deciding notch.  It had been generally supposed that the Old St. Mark’s eleven, which is composed of ex-students of Chelsea College, would prove too strong for the local champions, and they thoroughly deserved the high opinion which had been formed of them, for they played admirably.  The home side, which was materially strengthened by the inclusion of three Harpenden School players, showed better form than they had exhibited of late, and played well together.  Bennett at half-back was indefatigable and could always be depended upon, while Moore and Stanley were the pick of the forwards.  Cheshire made his first appearance in the Town ranks at back and created a very favourable impression.  The teams were as follows:- Old St. Mark’s: Goal, C.G. Gill; backs, F.J. Leese and J.F. Wood; half-backs, R. Casby, J.K. Adamson and W.H. Silvey; Forwards, right, J.R. Schumacher and T. Holding; centre, W.W. Powell; left, J.W. Thursley and W.D. Redmond.  Luton: Goal, T. Read; backs, A. Sanders and M. Cheshire; half-backs, J. Wright, C.W. Bennett and A.H. Taylor;  forwards, right, H. Whitby and F. Whitby; centre, S.F.P. Moore; left, S.M. Stanley and W. Miller.  The Luton umpire was Mr J.G. Hunt while Mr F. Pitkin acted as referee”.  

This week also saw Rovers 1st eleven lose to Star second eleven  by 3 goals to 2 on the Moor.  Montrose beat St. John’s college Past and Present by 3 goals to 2.  On People’s Park a match between,

“George-street Rovers (the employees of Mr George Warren) and of Messrs H. Slade and Co, ended in an easy win for the Rovers by 7 goals to nil”.  


“Plait Merchants v Manufacturers – a match between representatives of these branches of the local trade was played on Wednesday afternoon in the Bury Meadow.  The game was extremely well contested and gave rise to intense amusement.  The manufacturers eventually won by three goals to two, though a point gained by the plait manufacturers and disallowed on the ground of “off-side” was most palpably a goal”.  

3rd November committee meeting –

gate money for sat nov 1st £7 9s 0d.  “It was resolved that Hon Sec acknowledge Mr Saunders letter stating the committee could not entertain the idea set forth in the same while at the same time they did not wish to stop Mr Saunders from doing what he wished as a private individual”.  “Also that we continue to play on the Bury Park ground until the end of this week”.  The committee see Messrs Moore, Stanley and Bennett with regard to their playing against Wolverton.  Same terms be offered as before to Old St. Marks for a match on 22nd Nov. 

The 8th November 1890 saw the Town play their first game in the Kettering Charity Cup. 

“Luton v Wolverton L. & N.W.  These clubs were drawn as opponents in the first round of the competition for the Kettering and District Charity Cup both being in what is termed the first division, and they met to try conclusions on Saturday.  Luton had obtained choice of ground by ballot, and they, of course, elected to play at home.  The Bury Park Meadow was accordingly fixed upon as the scene of operations.  There was a very large attendance of spectators, the Wolverton players being accompanied to the town by a goodly number of partisans, while the home enthusiasts were tempted out by the brilliant nature of the weather.  Unfortunately the fair promise at the outset was not fulfilled, for during the second portion of the game cold, drizzling rain fell almost continuously, and towards the end darkness partially obscured the operations of the players.  Under such circumstances as these watching the game became the reverse of pleasant, but the most of those who lined the ropes manfully retained their positions to the end, and they were well rewarded, for towards the close the locals exhibited their best form.  It was nearly half-an-hour after the advertised time when the teams faced each other in the following order:- Wolverton: W. Anderson, goal; J. Davis and S. Coles (captain), backs; J. Cashmere, W.H. Williams and W. Brown, half-backs; W. Barton, W. Sharp, C.J. Lawless (centre), D. Mahoney, T. Barton, forwards.  Luton: T. Read, goal; A. Sanders, J.G. Saddington, backs; A.H. Taylor, J. Wright and A. Whitby, half-backs; W. Miller, J.C. Lomax, J.W. Dickson, H. Whitby and F.K. Whitby, forwards.  As will be seen the Luton eleven was not nearly so strong as it might have been made, and as explained last week this was owing to the Harpenden representatives being unable to play.  Luton lost the toss, and Dickson kicked off at 3.15.  The ball was rapidly conveyed into the visitors’ territory, and in less than a minute after the start the home centre forward took a shot at goal, which was, however, ineffectual.  The lines were not entirely cleared, for the ball remained close to the Wolverton goal, and the result of a sharp tussle there was that a corner fell to Luton.  For a short space play play was entirely confined to the strangers’ territory, and a second corner was obtained, which was resultless.  The most notable occurrence hereabouts was the unreliability of the Luton Umpire, who gave a couple of decisions which were palpably erroneous, but as one was in favour of the home team and the other for the opponents the mistakes were of little consequence.  The scene of operations was thereafter transferred to the opposite end and the home backs were kept busily engaged for a brief space.  A splendid kick at goal was credited to the visitors, but this was surpassed soon afterwards by one which one of the Luton forwards made, the sphere striking the crossbar and rebounding into play.  The game at this period was extremely fast, and some good individual play was enthusiastically applauded by the onlookers, whose partisan shouts were often very amusing.  Give and take was the order for some time, but at length the Lutonians recollected their role and again pressed their adversaries severely, two or three shots at goal being obtained.  The ball thereafter travelled from end to end with great rapidity, and at length the Wolverton forwards and passing the half-backs obtained a position near the Luton goal.  The home keeper left his post to relieve the backs, but he failed in his kick and the inevitable result followed.  The visitors were thus credited with the first goal in the match, and a miserable point it was.  At this stage Dickson, who had not been exhibiting particularly striking form, was transferred from the centre to the right wing and his place taken by H. Whitby.  Shortly before half time Luton equalised.  The ball was sent in from the wing in capital style and was headed through by Lomax.  In the second half the home eleven scored a second time and it seemed as though victory was to rest with them, but the visitors played an extremely plucky game.  An appeal for what was unmistakably an offside goal was promptly disallowed by the referee, but the delight of the supporters of the Wolverton men knew no bounds when their favourites secured a second point soon afterwards, this making the score two all.  From this stage to the finish Luton played a sterling good game and experienced very hard luck, but despite their most strenuous endeavours they were unable to gain any further advantage, and when the referee’s whistle announced that the time limit had been reached it was found that the result was a draw – Luton 2 Wolverton 2.  The play of both elevens was fairly good, and altogether the match was well worth seeing.  The referee was Mr R. Cook of St. Albans, and the umpires were Mr R. Jacks (Wolverton) and Mr J. Long (Luton).  Some of the Wolverton umpire’s decisions were undoubtably wrong, and his persistence roused the ire of the spectators, who manifested their disapproval in an unmistakable manner.  He was hustled when leaving the field.  Luton will now, of course, have to go to Wolverton in order that the tie may be decided”.  

The Luton Times of the 14th November noted that

“Some of the Luton spectators after the game mobbed the Wolverton umpire, Mr T. Jacks, and probably some proceedings will be taken.  The Luton players and committee were not to blame for this and much regret that it happened”.  

10th November committee meeting –

Teams selected against Crouch End and Star.  Gate money for Nov 8th £9 0s 6d.  “Expenses of cup tie £1 18s 6d leaving £7 3s 6d for division, this amount being £3 11s 9d “.  “Resolved that 15 jerseys (club colours) should be obtained for second eleven”.  

The Luton Reporter carried two letters from Wolverton supporters about the events after the game. 

“Will you kindly allow me a little space to protest against the disgraceful and cowardly conduct of a portion of the Luton spectators towards the Wolverton football team, on Saturday last.  The hooting and yelling while the play was on would have done credit to a pack of Zulus.  When the game was ended some of the roughs commenced knocking our men down and beating them with sticks.  The umpire and several of our players are covered with bruises, while a reporter had his clothes nearly torn off his back.  Hoping such rowdyism will not occur again, I am yours truly, James Randall, Wolverton, November 10 1890”

The second letter –

“May I claim a few lines in your paper to protest against the abominable and outrageous conduct of the Luton spectators on Saturday after our match with the Town Club.  The facts may not be unknown to you, but in case they are, I may inform you that our umpire, a fair a man as ever stepped on a football field, on leaving the ground was brutally assaulted, the reason being attributed that he did not give decisions in accordance with the spectators views.  Even now he is unable to walk without pain, and if he had not taken to his heels his injuries would undoubtedly be more serious.  Not only this but several of or players were in the endeavour to protect him, were roughly handled, and received cuts with sticks, our esteemed captain, Mr Coles, getting the worst.  Several of our supporters faired badly, as well, at the hands of your townsmen.  We do not blame the Luton Town committee for any of the proceedings, but we did not like the action of the players, for if they had only come to our assistance I firmly believe that the crowd would have disappeared.  As soon as the referee whistled time they were off, though there were signs of a row brewing, and we were left to shift as best we could.  I am sure the respectable townsmen deeply deplore this incident, but for the credit of the Town Club something must be done to prevent such an event occurring in the future – I remain, sir, yours faithfully, W.H. Williams, Hon. Sec. Wolverton L. and N.W. Railway F.C., Wolverton, November 12 1890”.  W.H. Williams played the game at half back for Wolverton.  

11th November 1890.  Taken from the St. George’s School newsletter.  

“S. George’s v Luton Town.  A great deal of interest seemed to be taken in this match to judge from the crowd of spectators who lined the ropes to witness the encounter.  Luton had a fairly representative team, and though defeated in the end by three goals to nil gave us a very good game, and proved the most stubborn opponents we had so far met this season, indeed at one part of the match it seemed quite probable that they would succeed in spoiling our hitherto unbeaten record.  On starting a rush was made into the visitors’ territory, and More made an unsuccessful attempt to shoot a goal.  Luton retaliated with some good combined play on the right wing between the two Whitbys, who both showed to great advantage.  All our efforts to score were frustrated by the safe play of the Luton backs and the persistency with which they packed their goal when pressed until after half-time, when Mr Moore backed up by Vaughan broke through their defence and scored.  Luton tried hard to equalise and missed a fine chance of scoring.  A hot attack was not made on the Luton goal, and at length a shot from More took effect whilst our third goal was obtained from a scrimmage shortly afterwards, Mr Moore sending it through.  

S. George’s School 3 goals

Luton Town nil

S. George’s School._ Goal, G.B. Joy; backs, Mr J.H. Gill and W. Elliott; half-backs, Rev. C.W. Bennett, T.H. Vaughan (captain, F.J. Moore; forwards, Mr S.F. Moore (centre), F.W. Walker, J.H. Grey (right), Mr S.M. Stanley, A.H. More (left).  

Luton.- Goal, T. Read; backs, H. Chester and A. Martin; half-backs, A. Barford, A. Hoy and J. Wright; forwards, J. Read, J.K. Whitby (right), J. Hoy, A. Whitby (left).”

Only ten players are listed for Luton.   

12th November Special committee meeting at Midland Hotel.  Mr Isaac Smith in the Chair. 

“The Chairman stated that the meeting had been called to consider the letters of Messrs W.H. Williams Hon Sec Wolverton F.C. and H.J. Flavell (Hon Sec Kettering Charity Cup Committee).  These letters were freely discussed when it is thought that Mr W.H. William’s letter contained statements very far from the truth, and that Mr Favell having received a report from Wolverton would look differently at the matter when he had received our version of the affair.  It was therefore resolved that Hon Sec should reply to the letters”. 

15th November 1890 saw no wins for either Luton Town team.  The Luton Reporter of the 22nd November 1890 states that

“a somewhat weak team of the Town club journeyed to Crouch End on Saturday, where they were defeated by the local players by five goals to three.  there was some good play on both sides.  Luton Town v Grove Park, London – The Town reserves met a Grove Park team on the Bury Park ground on Saturday, when a draw resulted, two goals being scored by either side.”   

Other local teams faired better this weekend.  Luton Terriers enjoyed a great 5 1 victory at Dunstable with some well known players in the former’s side, J. Burley was in goal with A. Martin and F. Plummer as backs.  F.W. Hill played centre forward.  Luton Excelsior had a fine 3 1 win at Bedford Wanderers though none of the players are familiar.  

Grosvenor College second eleven played Villa Rovers on “the College Recreation Ground” and won 16 nil.