CHAPTER 25. REDS RESURGENT 1891/92
The end to the 1890/91 season was disappointing. The switch to professionalism had not brought better fortune. The loss in the Kettering Charity Cup to Wolverton L&NWRR was bad enough but did not come close to the humiliating 6 1 home defeat to Bedford in the Luton Charity Cup. The committee had decided to pay only three players – so they could have Saturday morning off work and arrive at kick off on time. So actually semi-professionals. We can only guess that some of the other players were upset about that as performances and results suffered. That issue had been settled in the Summer when all players were now paid – the result was an F.A. Cup run that restored pride.
12th September 1891 – The Town beat St. Luke’s this weekend by the odd goal. No report was produced and it does not show on the fixture list.
14th Sept 1891 committee meeting –
“gate money for 12th sept £2 13s 7d. “Resolved after considerable discussion that the left back be left in Hon Secs hands”. “That in the event of Mr Thurnham applying for our ground for the cup tie between Norton College and Terriers the charge of 15/- be made for same also that a hut for the convenience of gatemen be left in the Hon secs hands”.
16th Sept 1891 committee meeting –
“The meeting was called to consider a letter from Mr McFie in which he stated he would be willing to play regularly for the Town on the payment of 12/6 per trip to cover travelling and hotel expenses but he would sign no form as it would debar him from running as an amateur. This letter was discussed at considerable length after which it was resolved that Mr McFie be asked to come on Saturday 19th on his own terms. Also that it be left on Hon Sec’s hands to make best terms possible while he was in the town”.
On the 19th September 1891-
“Luton Town v City Ramblers. This match was played on the Athletic Grounds on Saturday last in very unsuitable weather, and after some good play on both sides, resulted in a win for the visitors by three goals to two. The losers experienced very hard luck, the whistle sounded for “hands” on two occasions when the ball had been kicked through their opponents’ goal. Some members of the home team exhibited good style. The Town Club’s eleven was as follows:- Goal, J. Burley; backs, . Sanders and M. McFie; half-backs, J. Wright, A. Taylor and H. Paul; forwards, F. and H. Whitby (left), H.W. Oclee (centre), G. Deacon and M. Cheshire (right).”
With Bat, Ball and Bicycle agreed that the Town were unlucky and the best team. “The players are already beginning to settle into their places and to show a desire to abandon the mistaken individualism which ruined their chances last season. Oclee is proving a success as centre forward, and the very name of Paul at half-back is a guarantee of good play. McFie at back did not shape at all well, and I hear that Hoy will in all probability be called upon to take a position in the back division in the cup matches.”
There was a brief review of the upcoming F.A. Cup tie against Swindon Town. It was noted that Swindon did not do particularly well in the cup last season and Luton should win narrowly. The cup team was likely to be Goal, J. Burley; backs A. Sanders and J. Hoy (or M. Mcfie),; half-backs, H. Paul, J.W. Wright and A.H. Taylor; forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), F.K and H. Whitby (left), G. Deacon and M. Cheshire (right).”
“The newly formed Bury Park team played their first match on Saturday, when they defeated the Stanley by two goals to nil. The form displayed was not by any means brilliant, but it was evident that a good eleven may be selected. The Bury Park players were as follows:- Goal, F. Cooke; backs, P. Inwards and E.P. Hughes; half-backs, E. Barford (captain), H. Barford and A. Bates; forwards, F.W. Hill, W. Miller, A. Burnett (left), H.G. Spratley and W. Waller (right).”
21st Sept 1891 committee meeting –
gate money for Sat 19th £2 19s 3d Pavilion 3/4. Resolved that the charge for cup tie Swindon Town be members 2d, non members 4d. The team be insured on the terms obtained by the Hon sec. “That a proof of rules for players be struck off for the perusal of the committee”. “It was resolved that one of the old balls be allowed Messrs Taylor and Oclee for their use in order to keep themselves in practice”.
On 26th September 1891 Luton Town v Woodville.
“These teams met on the Athletic Grounds on Saturday, and after a good game, which was somewhat interfered with by a high wind blowing across the ground victory rested with the home combination by two goals to one. The Lutonians exhibited good form all round. the team was composed as follows: Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and J. Hoy; half-backs, J. Wright, A.H. Taylor and H. Paul; forwards, F.K. Whitby, H. Whitby (left), H.W. Oclee (centre), G. Deacon and M. Cheshire (right).”
Hope of victory against Swindon had diminished when knowledge of their win over the Casuals by nine goals to one spread. However, closer examination revealed that Casuals split their squad into three and only none turned up at Swindon and they had to obtain two substitutes from the crowd. With Bat Ball and Bicycle added some analysis of the Luton team. “Some persons who profess to know a great deal about the subject have been freely criticising last week’s note respecting the play of Luton Town, and it is freely asserted that the team is not nearly so powerful as last year. This may safely be left to events to determine, but it is a golden rule of football that eleven moderately good players who combine will frequently produce better results than the same number of individually brilliant men who are all strangers to the others’ methods. If any illustration of this is needed a vert glaring one is to be had in last year’s history of the Town Club when cup matches were lost pretty much through the lack of combination. I commend the wisdom of the Town Club’s executive in abandoning the tactics pursued in former years, and I am bold to assert that for good work the present team will compare well with any that have preceded it.
There are admittedly weak spots, but where is the medium team which is absolutely irreproachable? Some very unfair things are being said about one or two members, and it is well that something should be advanced in reply. Oclee, the new centre forward, is one of those who are most freely attacked, and I think the best reply to his critics is that given by one who has played against him that “he knows his work.” He is an entirely unselfish player, and it is a pity that the admirable way which he combines with his fellow forwards is not more generally imitated. Combination is the great secret of success, and it cannot be too often urged upon those concerned that they will never achieve anything like it until they accept the principle and proceed to carry it out.
Here is what a contemporary has to say on the subject, and it is satisfactory to find that for once, we are in accord: “With regard to the Luton players, of course they have not yet had time to secure all the advantages of good combination, but they undoubtedly showed a marked improvement on previous form. What is wanted chiefly among the forwards, is a little more smartness on the ball, when it is got in front of goal. They worked well, but had they shown a greater degree of certainty about their shooting, the result of Saturday’s match (with the City Ramblers) would probably have been vert different from what it was. The half-backs gave a good exhibition, “Hod Paul in particular showing up in fine form, and doing wonders, both with his head and feet. Bert Sanders also played a thoroughly sound game at back, but McFie who had taken Hoy’s place, was scarcely up to his usual mark. Taking the team altogether, however, they seemed a very likely lot, and with a good ground, a capable and energetic secretary, and a whole host of enthusiastic supporters, the Club should have a successful season before it”.
28th Sept 1891 committee meeting – Gate money for sat 26th £ 9s 2d. Pavilion 4/-. “Resolved that Mr McFie’s services be dispensed with on account of the treatment the club had received from him”. Team selected for Swindon, the same as for Woodville.
3rd October 1891 Luton Town v Swindon Town. The Luton Reporter of 10th October 1891
“Luton and the English Cup. Luton Town v Swindon Town. This match in the first round of the qualifying series of contests in the English Cup competition was played in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday. The weather was brilliantly fine during the day and this doubtless had some influence on the attendance, which was an excellent one, upwards of 2,000 persons lined the ropes. The visitors arrived at about 1 o’clock, having been travelling for four hours, and operations commenced fairly punctually. The Swindonians came with a high reputation, for their brilliant victory over the Casuals in the previous week had done a great deal to raise them in the estimation of the football world. They amply sustained their football reputation for excellent all-round play, but the home players proved more than a match for them and the result of the best contested game that has yet been played on the ground was that the visitors had in the end to acknowledge defeat by four goals to three. The details are as follows:-
The home captain lost the toss and the Lutonians defended the goal at the gas-works end during the first half. The sun was shining very brightly in the faces of the Luton men during this time and not only did they labour under this distinct disadvantage but they were also playing against the wind. The elevens faced the central circle in the following order:- Luton: Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and J. Hoy; half-backs, J. Wright, A.H. Taylor and H. Paul; forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), H. Whitby, M. Cheshire (left), G. Deacon and F.K. Whitby (right). Swindon: Goal, F. Crossley (captain); backs, G. Plimley and W. Richardson; half-backs, F. Parker, E.G. Wainwright and H. Lewis; forwards, H. Offer, R. Reynolds (right), R.H. Davis (centre), R.L. Jones and J.H. Hayward (left). Oclee kicked off a few minutes after 3, and his companions at once pressed, but the visitors’ backs obtained possession and promptly carried the fray into their adversaries’ territory, the ball being kicked over the cross-bar. “Hands” against each team followed, and Swindon again kicked too high. Deacon was about this time lavishly applauded for a fine run in the course of which he eluded two or three of his heavy opponents. The Swindon forwards had already given evidence that their combination was infinitely better than that of the home team, and by means of some fine passing they managed to work the leather into dangerous proximity of the home fortress on more than one occasion. They were never, however, able to baffle Sanders, who was playing a sterling game. Their tactics when in front of goal were not successful, for had they been smarter they must have inevitably have scored two or three times. Some admirable play by the Luton forwards resulted in a sharp scrimmage in front of the Swindon uprights, but nothing came of it, the ball striking one of the posts. Oclee, who was hurt hereabouts, was ruled off-side and a penalty kick was granted to his opponents, who also obtained a “corner” directly afterwards, despite a fine attempt by Sanders to save the ball going behind the line. The penalty kick was splendidly made into the mouth of the Luton goal, but the danger was averted, Paul and Sanders being very conspicuous just now. Burley next had an opportunity of exhibiting his defensive powers, these being severely taxed for a space. Shot after shot was poured in, but the Luton custodian showed himself equal to the emergency and the cheers of the spectators were freely lavished upon some great saves. The visitors penned their opponents in, but they were somewhat weak in front of goal and thus several opportunities were allowed to slip. Deacon, who had been playing an extremely plucky game, next evoked the cheers of the admirers of his side by a splendid run, and it was only by kicking out of bounds, that Plimley was able to prevent a score resulting. Deacon continued to shine, and from a pass of his F. Whitby was enabled to kick the ball into the space immediately in front of the goal. Oclee failed in his shot, but a “corner” followed. Sanders had a further opportunity of giving his enemies a taste of his quality and he was always equal to the occasion, the lion’s share of the work at back being performed by him in admirable style. “Corners’ fell to Swindon in rapid succession at this stage, and the supporters of the home combination experienced an anxious time. First H. Whitby conceded a “corner,” then Wright made a mistake by kicking in the direction of his own goal, and Taylor followed by heading the ball over the cross-bar. Hoy, however, rendered himself conspicuous and was instrumental in transferring the scene of operations to the other end of the field. The Swindonians quickly retaliated, and from a grand shot from the left wing, Burley succeeded in making the “save” of the season. The ball was travelling at great pace and it seemed almost impossible to avert the disaster, but the Luton keeper, behaving in the coolest conceivable manner, disposed of the leather. Sanders next relieved very finely, and F. Whitby and Deacon managed to get the ball up the field, but a weak kick at the critical moment rendered their efforts nugatory. By means of some excellent passing the Swindon forwards were enabled to again Burley’s charge, but Sanders, running from his place, averted the danger. Shortly afterwards Burley again distinguished himself by defending his citadel in face of a determined attack, but the visitors were not to be denied and ultimately Jones was enabled to credit his side with first blood. From now to half time the teams took turns in pressing, but it must be confessed that the Swindon rushes were more dangerous than those of the home division, and Burley’s ingenuity was severely taxed more than once. At one time he fell with the ball in his arms and Offer rushed up to charge him, but the Swindonians were not quick enough, the home custodian throwing the ball some distance up the field. At length Offer was enabled to have his revenge for this disappointment, and shortly before the arrival of the end of the first period he added a second point. When the whistle sounded for the usual interval the visitors had scored two to their opponents nil, and things looked bad for the Town men. Shortly after the resumption a different complexion was put upon the game, for the local players scored twice in rapid succession. On the first occasion the leather was well taken down and from a good “centre’ by F. Whitby Cheshire scored by a fast shot. Within five minutes the same player was enabled to take a snap kick from a throw in and Crossley failed to stop the ball. This made the score level, a result which was received with tumultuous cheering by the supporters of the Luton representatives. Both teams were now upon their mettle and they struggled gamely to obtain the advantage. For a considerable space the play was confined to the middle of the ground, occasional breaks away relieving the monotony. Each side experiencing hard luck, some splendid attempts being frustrated. Deacon, H. Whitby and Taylor were rendering themselves conspicuous on the home side, while the visiting forwards were most noticeable on their side. It was not until a quarter of an hour before time that any further advantage was secured, and the courage of the Luton partisans dropped considerably when Reynolds obtained a third notch for Swindon. Immediately thereafter the ball was forced through a fourth time, but the referee had whistled for “off-side” and the score was consequently disallowed. Five minutes later Deacon evoked enthusiastic shouts by equalising the scores from a throw-in, and the home eleven now tried all they knew to obtain the advantage. With about five minutes left to play Sanders sent in a magnificent shot and H. Whitby put on the finishing touch by heading through the goal. The wild scene of jubilation which followed is indescribable, for it was generally recognised that this was the deciding point. Hats were tossed up in all directions and the spectators shouted themselves hoarse in their excitement. From now until the end the Lutonians acted on the defensive and when the referee’s whistle announced that time had expired the home representatives had won a stoutly fought game by four goals to three. The players were rapturously cheered on returning to the pavilion and they amply deserved their reception, for their success was as unlooked for as it was welcome. The linesmen were Messrs A.E. Holland and T. Keens, Jun and Mr R.E.A. Maynard (hon. sec. of the Reading Standard Cup) won golden opinions by the irreproachable way in which he filled the difficult post of referee. His decisions were devoid of the slightest suspicion of bias throughout, a fact which will be patent when it is intimated that they were unchallenged.”
“With bat, ball and bicycle” commented
“The most fitting theme with which to commence this column is that which has been filling the hearts of local footballers with jubilation this week – the splendid manner in which the Luton team disposed of Swindon’s chances in the English Cup contest. It will generally be conceded that the local players acquitted themselves with the highest credit in the severe ordeal to which they were subjected, but it must also be confessed, in all honesty, that the victory was not devoid of a very pronounced element of luck. Despite the sinister rumours which had been circulating in the week before the encounter I felt confident that the visitors would not have such an easy walk-over as some down-hearted persons were anticipating, and my prediction was amply verified by the result.
The game throughout was stoutly contested, but it was apparent to all but the most jaundiced minds that the losers were distinctly the better side. Directly after the start the excellence of the combination among their forwards began to make itself noticeable and as time wore on it became clear that there was scarcely a weak spot in the team. The general remark amongst the spectators was that the colours of the Swindon men seemed present everywhere they were needed, and a better indication of the thoroughness of their organisation could not be wished. It was quite a treat to the lover of the scientific game to witness the ease and confidence with which the forwards practised the short-passing system, and if any proof of its efficacy was desired it might readily be had by contrasting of the losers with the high kicking of the Lutonians. The lack of combination amongst the home forwards was scarcely ever so glaringly shown up, and it will surely soon become manifest even to the players themselves.
At times during the game there seemed little to choose between the sides, but when the visitors obtained possession they at once asserted their superiority. In front of goal they were not quite so good as might have been expected, but during the first half they managed to render Burley’s position anything but enviable. Some of the shots missed scoring by the merest chance, but the Luton goalkeeper emerged from the fray “with blushing honours thick upon him.” It may safely be averred, indeed, that it was simply Burley’s dexterity at this stage that saved his companions from a heavy defeat. When the first period had expired the visitors had obtained two points, and the most ardent supporter of the “reds” had made up his mind that his favourites were in for a drubbing.
The truth of the axiom that “there’s many a slip twixt cup and lip” was, however, demonstrated in the concluding half in a manner the reverse of pleasing to the Swindonians. Cheshire managed to credit his side with two excellent goals before many minutes had expired after operations had resumed, but it was not until the termination of the match was near that the excitement of the onlookers was fully roused. Swindon managed to obtain the lead by a point, and then both elevens seemed to rouse themselves for a final effort. The Lutonians, playing with rare dash, equalised ten minutes before the arrival of time, and amid enthusiastic shouts they put on the finishing touch when only five minutes remained to play. The local representatives all exerted themselves strenuously, but a special word of praise is due to Deacon, Sanders and Burley, who all showed brilliant form.
Not the least pleasing feature of the game was the general satisfaction which seemed to be evoked by the decisions of the referee (Mr. Maynard). It is not often that a match passes without a dispute arising, but on this occasion there was absolutely nothing with which a malcontent could quarrel. His action was devoid of the least trace of partiality, and that this was recognised by the crowd may be gathered from the fact that he was lavishly cheered at the close.
The draw for the second round has resulted in Luton being pitted against Windsor Phoenix, whose fine play in the final of the Luton Cup last year will be fresh in the memories of all. The Lutonians have another difficult task set them, the Phoenix being as hard a nut to crack as Swindon were. The locals have again obtained choice of grounds, and the match must be played on October 24. The remaining three matches in the division are : Southampton St. Mary’s v Reading, Clifton v Somerset Rovers, Bedminster v 93rd Highlanders. It may be mentioned that in the first round the Highlanders, Windsor and Bedminster had byes.”
5th Oct 1891 committee meeting –
Gate money for sat oct 3rd £16 3s 7d. Pavilion 4/7. Expenses of cup tie ground ex £3 6s 6d
“Travelling expenses of Swindon team £6 12s 0d.
Total expenses £9 18s 6d leaving £6 5s 1d to be divided between the two clubs. Swindon’s portion = £ 2s 6d”. Cheque to be sent by Hon Sec.
Team selected to play Millwall at Millwall Linesman Mr F Pitkin. and Ashton Grammar School, linesman Mr Hinson. Referee Mr J Bennett.
“Resolved that the charge for St. Marks College be 3d, members free”.
“That goal keeper be supplied with a pair of gloves for match purposes”.
10th October 1891, report from the 17th October 1891 Luton Reporter.
“Luton Town v Millwall Athletic. Played on the ground of the latter on Saturday, and ended in a decisive defeat of the visitors by five goals to one. The weather was of the most unfavourable nature, and the ground was in a bad condition. The play was fast throughout, and the Lutonians scored the first point, Cheshire doing the needful. The home team soon retaliated, and when half-time arrived the Athletic were leading by four goals to one. Play was more equal in the second portion and no further score took place until within ten minutes of the arrival of time, when Jones added the fifth point. Mr C. Squires (City Ramblers) was referee, and the linesmen were Messrs F. Pitkin and F.B. Kidd. The teams were constituted as follows: – Millwall Athletic: O. Caygill (goal); J. Fenton and H. Earle (backs); T. Willing, H. Butler (captain) and H. Thompson, half-backs; D. Gloak and J. Withington (left wing, P. Banks (centre), E. Jones and D. McCulloch (right wing). Luton Town: J. Burley (goal), A. Sanders and J. Hoy (backs), J. Wright, H. Paul and A.H. Taylor (half-backs); G. Deacon and F.K. Whitby (right wing), H.W. Oclee (centre), H. Whitby and M. Cheshire (left wing) (forwards).”
With Bat, Ball and Bicycle commented as follows:
“Last week’s remarks with regard to the match between Luton and Swindon seem to have given great offence to some members of the home executive and I have been severely animadverted upon accordingly, but I have as yet failed to discover the particular passages which have caused this fluttering in the dove-cotes. There is little room for doubt, however, that they are those in which the combination of the Swindon forwards is commended to the disparagement of the home division. The outside opinion of this very point which has reached me since the match has, curiously enough been altogether corroborative of what was stated in this column. It has been freely confessed that it was pretty much in the forwards that the strength of the swindon eleven lay, and when this opinion is so generally held it seems to me about time for the admirers of the home team to acknowledge it.
Every acknowledgement was made of the gameness with which the Lutonians struggled, and, though the ill-feeling which my criticism seems to have evoked may well be treated with indifference, it is still remarkable that the lovers of the Town Club will persistently remain blind to their own demerits. It has repeatedly been urged – and even admitted by members of the team – that the one great drawback is lack of combination, and surely the most ardent followers cannot conscientiously argue that their favourites have yet mastered the lesson. I have heard rumours of pains and penalties, but I disregard them. It has been hinted, however, that the frequent expressions in the direction indicated have been dictated by an ulterior motive, and I take the earliest opportunity of characterising the insinuation as a deliberate falsehood. The comments which have been made have proceeded simply from a desire to see the members of the team improve their game.
The Town Club met a decided reverse at Millwall on Saturday, and none but the most jaundiced observer will have been very greatly surprised. The Millwall Athletic team has been steadily improving during the last two seasons and it is now justly regarded as an excellent combination. Their selection as one of the clubs who are excused the qualifying contest of the London Senior Cup will possibly serve as sufficient warrant for this statement. Still, I did not expect to see the majority of goals quite so heavy, and, indeed, there seem to be several excuses which may well be advanced in behalf of the Lutonians. In the first place they were playing on a strange ground which was in a shockingly bad state, and while they were subjected to considerable roughness on the part of their opponents the demeanour of the spectators was of the worst possible description.”
This is a clear indication that the committee was not addressing the need for a combination game. They were in charge of everything to do with the club so could have directed the players to practice the combination game. The game had moved on significantly and the Football League was beginning its fourth season. We have mentioned the possible influence of J.C. Lomax on the playing style of the team but his influence had been waining due to his absence and the rise of local players. While the committee were paying for loss of time for the matches, they clearly needed to address the apparent lack of practice.
12th Oct 1891 committee meeting – Expenses of Millwall match on 10th Oct, £2 8s 0d. Charge for cup tie, “Town v Phoenix be non members 6d, members 3d”.
17th October 1891. The Luton Reporter of the 24th October 1891 reports
“Luton Town v St. Mark’s College. Played in the Athletic Grounds on Saturday, and ended in a very easy win for the home eleven by five goals to nil. The Lutonians making a very fine show. The teams were as follows: – Luton: J. Burley (goal); B. Sanders and J. Hoy (backs); A.H. Taylor (captain), H. Paul and J. Wright, half-backs; F. Whitby, G. Deacon, H.W. Oclee, W. Cheshire and H. Whitby (forwards). St. Mark’s: W.H. Swallow (goal); F.W. Elam and G. Gough (backs); R. Lewis (captain), W. Dives and E.G. McDonald (half-backs); J. Sanders, A. Gittins, J. Sunnicliffe, H. Butterworth and R.E. Swift (forwards).”
With Bat, Ball and Bicycle
“Luton Town administered a severe beating to St. Mark’s College on Saturday, the majority in favour of the winners being five to nil. The result was pretty much in accord with general anticipation, but the winners deserve to be congratulated on their achievement. They will come up for their engagement with the Windsor Phoenix to-morrow with confidence, and I shall not be at all surprised to see them win. It would put them well on the way to the championship of the division, a “consummation devoutly to be wished” by all who follow the doings of the club. The home team will not be altered, the eleven being that which has so worthily represented the premier club heretofore.
I hear that there is some curious forecasting of the result of the forthcoming encounter between the Town and Bury Park. Some persons are estimating the balance in favour of the Town Club at various figures up to a score, and it is said one enthusiast has so much confidence in the prowess of the “reds” as to aver that the amateurs will not manage to get over the half way line. It is somewhat early to speculate, perhaps, and events may be safely left to show whether these prognostications are well founded or not.
I am asked to state that the Bury park club play Wellingborough All Saints at Bury Park to-morrow. It is said that the visitors are a very good team. “
19th Oct 1891 committee meeting –
same team that played against St. Marks College play against Windsor Phoenix”. Gate money for sat 17th £4 16s 9d. Pavilion 3/3.
“2 police be on the ground on sat 24th”.
“that Stanley C, be allowed the use of the ground, charge 15/-“.
Printing problem with Mr Atkins?
24th October 1891. From the Luton Reporter of 31st October 1891.
“The English Cup. Luton Town v Windsor Phoenix. These teams met on Saturday on the Athletic Ground in the second round of the English cup qualifying competition. The visitors had not been engaged in the first round, a bye falling to their share, whereas the Town had disposed of Swindon Town after a hard fight by four goals to three. The Phoenix had in the previous week given some indication of their quality by administering a nine to nothing beating to the Second Life Guards. Although they had not previous met the Luton cracks the local spectators were perfectly familiar with their form, for they appeared here twice last season in the concluding rounds of the Luton Cup. On the first occasion they met Wolverton in the semi-final and defeated them by two goals to nil, while in the final they were beaten by Kettering by five to one. Their team had changed considerably in its constitution since that time. It had been greatly strengthened by the inclusion of three of the 93rd highlanders’ players, and the backs, who rendered themselves particularly noticeable in the early part of the year by their brilliant defence, were still found donning the light and dark blue. The home team was exactly the same as eliminated Swindon. It was somewhat later than the advertised time when the elevens took up their positions in the following order:- Luton Town : J. Burley, goal; A. Sanders and J. Hoy, backs; J. Wright, H. Paul and A.H. Taylor, half-backs; H.W. Oclee (centre), F. Whitby, G. Deacon (right), W. Cheshire and H. Whitby Left) forwards. Windsor Phoenix: J. May, goal; A.W. Brown and H.C.F. Davenport, backs; C. Thompson, O. McCloskie and H. Barton, half-backs; J. Dudson (centre), J.J. Earl, H. Hackshaw (right), J. Emery and C. Barker (left) forwards. The home team won the choice of positions and elected to defend the Dallow-lane goal. It was about 3 o’clock when Dudson kicked off before about 2,000 spectators. The sun was shining very brightly, and this somewhat incommoded the Phoenix, who were playing in the full glare. Luton went off with a rush and in a few seconds the leather was found in close proximity to the opposition goal. The home players failed to score, however, and Davenport kicked away. A grand run and some excellent passing by the Luton left wing almost resulted in a score. The ball was admirably centred from a “corner” directly afterwards, and Paul headed it in. A point was claimed, but although it had apparently passed through by a foot before the goal-keeper stopped it, the referee declined to allow the notch on the ground that he could not see. After two or three more brilliant rushes by the Town forwards, who were showing very fine form, the visitors retaliated and things looked ominous when “hands” against the “blues” relieved the pressure. The game thereafter continued fairly even for a space, but at length the “royal borough” men visited their adversaries quarters and obtained a “corner” off Hoy. This was not improved upon, and by means of some very fine “heading” the Lutonians managed to transfer the scene of operations to the other end. “Hands” fell to them about a dozen yards from the uprights and they strenuously endeavoured to obtain first blood, but they were unable to baffle the vigilance of May. The next noteworthy incident was a laughable one. One of the visiting forwards obtained possession from a good pass by the back division, and though the referee immediately whistled to denote that he had infringed the “off-side” rule he persisted in finishing his run by kicking the ball past Burley. The referee, of course, promptly disallowed the claim for a goal. Paul was rendering himself very conspicuous just now; he was doing a great amount of work, and it did not seem to trouble him how the ball came, for he was equally ready with his head and feet. In the course of some determined assaults on the Windsor fortress H. Whitby and Deacon became noticeable, both dribbling and passing exceedingly well. A fine shot from the right wing should have scored, and May only averted the disaster by steering the leather behind the line. Sanders, who had been showing stubborn defence, executed a particularly brilliant manoeuvre just afterwards. The opposition forwards had managed to get past him and his companion and it seemed that the downfall of the Luton stronghold was imminent, when he rushed back and managed to deprive his enemies and send the leather down the field. The front division at once assailed May’s charge and Oclee kicked over the cross-bar. The sphere was returned directly afterwards, however, and Harry Whitby opened the Luton score with a grand shot from a pass by Oclee. From this stage until the interval arrived the play was pretty much confined to the Windsor boundaries. The Lutonians seemed to exert themselves more strenuously, and more than once they came within an ace of scoring. Deacon on one occasion sent in a very warm shot after a pleasing exhibition of combined tactics, and it was only by the skin of his teeth that may was enabled to preserve his charge. Just before the whistle sounded, the home forwards brought about a “corner” from a scrimmage in front of the Phoenix goal, but the kick-in was ineffective. At half-time the score was: Luton, one; Windsor none. The adverse conditions which the “reds” had to contend against in the second portion did not seem to diminish their determination in the slightest degree, for though the sun was shining brightly in their faces they still continued to press. Their opponents, on the contrary, seemed to be somewhat deprived of their energy, their weight telling on them in the fast play which had been witnessed. For a space the Luton partisans had an anxious time, the leather been taken uncomfortably close to their citadel, but it was not for long. The forwards were too smart for their foemens’ back division, and time after time they put in some grand bursts. One of the most noticeable of these was a good display by F. Whitby and Deacon, and disaster to the Windsor side was only staved off by the leather being headed over the bar. Hard luck continued to be experienced by the Town men, and it was only by the merest chance that they failed on several occasions to increase their total. Another laughable incident occurred at this period. “Offside” was given against the visitors, but despite this their centre forward persisted in finishing his run. Deacon’s fearless tackling continued to be remarked upon, and by his plucky tactics he managed to baffle Brown on several occasions. Burley, who had hitherto been troubled very little, was next afforded an opportunity of displaying his dexterity, and he acquitted himself as satisfactorily as ever. The ball was well shot in and the Luton custodian fell with it, but by a combination of good luck and excellent judgment he managed to get rid of it. Immediately afterwards a magnificent try was made from the visitors’ right wing; the ball came in at high speed, but Burley knocked it many yards from his charge. Very shortly afterwards the local representatives increased their lead through the agency of Deacon, who sent in a fast, low shot which it would have puzzled the best of keepers to stop. Luton had now quite outplayed their adversaries, but they still played an open game and did not fall back upon defensive tactics. Their courage was amply rewarded, for just before the finish Cheshire scored in splendid style. When time had expired the “reds” had qualified for the third round by three notches to nil. The whole of the members of the home team showed good form, and the short passing by the forwards was a considerable improvement upon their previous displays. They won on their merits, and are deserving of hearty commendation. The opposition forwards were the weakest portion of the team, and had it not been for the steadiness with which Davenport and Brown resisted the determined rushes of the Lutonians the score of the winners would have been much larger. The referee was Mr C. Squires (City Ramblers), and the linemen were Messrs A.J. Smith (Luton) and W.B. Hill (Windsor).
With Bat, Ball and Bicycle
“Jubilation at the continued success of Luton Town in the national competition has been the order in local football circles this week, and I am happy to be able to congratulate the members of the team upon the admirable manner in which they justified the good opinion of their chances expressed in this column last week. It must be confessed that when one read of the nine to nil thrashing which Windsor administered to the 2nd Life Guards and observed that they had imported members of the 93rd Highlanders into their eleven one became “harrassed with doubts,” as Mark Twain has it, but the brilliancy with which the locals have been exhibiting lately served to revive the flagging hopes. When the game started in Saturday there was none of the strongly avowed favouring of the visitors which characterised the Swindon match; if anything, the opinion seemed to be that the “reds” ought to assert their superiority.
The most noticeable feature of the encounter was the greatly improved combination amongst the Luton forwards. This was remarked upon by many of the spectators, and I hasten to “give honour to whom honour is due.” The short passing tactics which were freely adopted on this occasion were delightful to at least one of those present, and it is not wide of the mark to say that Saturday’s game in this respect was as different from some which had preceded it as light is from darkness. The forwards seem to have profited from the frequent admonitions which have been addressed to them, and so far as the match under consideration is concerned I have nothing to say regarding their combination but words of satisfaction.
The whole of the members of the home club displayed capital form, and though some shone more brilliantly than others this is unavoidable. Paul, the centre half-back, afforded intense satisfaction to the spectators by the splendid game which he played. I do not think he made a mistake, and the manner in which he tackled his opponents and fed his forwards was very praiseworthy. With head and foot he was equally ready, and it was a matter of certainty that if he could get within reach of the ball he would capture it. His companions at half-back behaved as well as ever, both calling forth shouts of approval at frequent intervals by their plucky and determined play. Sanders in the rear was as firm as a rock, and try as they would the Phoenix forwards failed to fluster hi. Time after time he came to the rescue when danger threatened, and his kicking was always well-judged. Hoy, too fully maintained the high reputation which he earned this season.
It is impossible to speak of the forwards except in commendatory language. Oclee in the centre was unselfish in the extreme, and if his shots at goal were not quite so good as might have been wished he amply atoned for his mistakes by the excellence of his generalship. Deacon again bore himself splendidly, his persistent attacks on the visitors’ backs leading to several chances of scoring. He was cheered freely by the crowd, with whom he is a great favourite. His companion on the wing made some fine runs and centred well, an example which was closely copied by Cheshire and H. Whitby on the opposite wing, both of who succeeded in eluding the vigilance of the Phoenix goal-keeper.
The draw for the third round took place on Wednesday night. In this division a protest by Reading against Southampton St. Mary’s for playing Fleming and McMillan (of the 93rd Highlanders), unqualified. A protest of Somerset Rovers against Clifton on the ground of a wrong decision of the referee was adjourned. The draw for this division was as follows: Bedminster v Luton; Clifton or Somerset Rovers v Reading. The matches are to be played on November 14 on the ground of the first-named, and the start is to be not later than 2.30.
One of the daily papers, in announcing the result of the match, makes the following amusing jumble:- “The Burton Phoenix journeyed to Luton, where the Windsor team defeated them by three goals to none.” Possibly some of my readers will be able to assist me in unravelling this mysterious coil. For some days I have been vainly endeavouring to decipher it, and am at length left pretty much the condition of the man who tried for a week to solve the American “fifteen” puzzle.
26th oct 1891 committee meeting –
“same team that play against Guy’s as played against Phoenix. Mr Pitkin’s name be submitted to Bury park as referee on sat Nov 7th also that Mr Evans be linesman”. Charge for the Bury Park game be 2d, members free “.
Gate money for Sat 14th £18 13s 4d Pavilion 6/4.
“Expenses of cup tie Town v Windsor Phoenix
Ground expenses, referee etc £3 1s 0d
Travelling ditto £3 5s 6d
Total £6 6s 6d
Leaving £12 7s 4d for division between clubs therefore Windsor’s portion = £6 3s 8d’.
Phoenix cheque therefore £9 9s 2d.
2nd November 1891 committee meeting – Resolved that
“A Division of police be accepted as a match for 26th December subject to arrangement by Hon Sec”.
Gate money for 7th nov £3 10s 3 1/2 d, Pavilion 3/2.
Bedminster referee and linesmen chosen.
Kings Cross game be scratched
“Burley’s case with regard to the volunteers be not entertained by the team”.
The following is crossed out “That Hon sec should see the Bros Whitby with regards to the boycotting of Oclee”. initialled as crossed out by the chairman.
31st October 1891 – The Luton Reporter of 7th November 1891 –
“Luton Town v Guy’s Hospital. Played on the Athletic ground on Saturday and ended in the home eleven being badly beaten by four goals to one. The visitors were a strong team, while the Lutonians were playing without the assistance of Sanders at back. Guy’s showed good form, while on the other hand the home representatives gave an exhibition which was decidedly poor when compared with their brilliant show the previous week. The Town men experienced some very hard luck at times but they were beaten on their merits. The Luton team was as follows:- Goal, J. Burley; backs, J. Hoy and S. Day; half-backs, H. Paul, A.H. Taylor and J. Wright; forwards, H. W. Oclee (centre), H. Whitby, W. Cheshire (left), F. Whitby and G. Deacon (right).”
With bat, ball and bicycle –
“After their brilliant form on Saturday week it was scarcely to be expected that the Luton Town Club should succumb so quickly, but the unexpected happened on Saturday, and the locals sustained a heavy reverse at the hands of Guy’s Hospital. It is true that the visitors were a strong combination, but competent judges for once, agree in confessing that they were not superior to the home elven. It may be regarded as savouring somewhat of an attempt to explain away a defeat if it is stated that the Lutonians experienced extremely hard luck, but the truth must be stated. Time after time the home forwards came within an ace of scoring, and it was only by the worst of fortune that they failed to improve their total.
The animosity which existed between the Whitby brothers and Oclee seems to have had an effect on the pitch against a team that they normally beat comfortably.
7th November 1891, The Luton Reporter of 14th November reports –
“Luton Town v Bury Park. Interest in this locality centred in this tie, which was decided in the Athletic Grounds. The Town executive put their full team into the field, and the Bury were fairly well represented, though the constitution of the eleven seems to have afforded dissatisfaction in some quarters. The weather was good, though towards the close a true November mist covered the ground and the atmosphere became miserably damp and cold. The visitors’ captain won the toss and just before 3 o’clock Oclee kicked off from the gasworks end. For the first few minutes the Buryites were very severely pressed and they averted disaster with difficulty. “Corners” to the home players fell in rapid succession but they were not improved upon and it was not until nearly quarter of an hour had elapsed from the commencement that F. Whitby drew first blood for them, the ball passing through off one of the defenders. In a couple of minutes the same player credited his side with a second point and things looked ominous for the visitors, who were penned in. The most noticeable occurrence for some time was what looked like an uncommonly bad foul. Deacon was running for the ball when he was tripped by Inwards and thrown heavily to the ground. It was at first feared that the plucky little man had been badly hurt, but happily this proved not to be the case, though the shaking which he received must have been a terrible one. A free kick to the Town was promptly awarded, and when Wright placed the leather in the mouth of the goal it was headed through and a third notch put down to the account of the leaders. Things were uneventful for a space, and Smart at length relieved the monotony by making a grand dash up the field, but he finished up with an execrably bad shy at the Town uprights. The Park citadel was next assailed and Hoy sent in a splendid shot which was only kept out with difficulty. The “reds” were determined on improving their advantage however, and they at length carried their design into execution, Cheshire passing from his wing to F. Whitby, who did the needful. H. Whitby had been rendering himself conspicuous by some remarkably fine play on the left wing, the manner in which he kicked into the centre being admirable in the extreme. On one occasion the ball was sent in with such excellent judgment that it struck on the cross-bar and rebounded into play. After a capital effort by F. Whitby, the opposition forwards took possession and made their first run down the ground, Cottam finishing by kicking over the bar. By means of some first-rate passing the Town men again invaded their adversaries’ limits, and Oclee rushed the ball right through the goal, this making the fifth time the Bury colours had been lowered. A narrow escape was witnessed immediately afterwards, the goal-keeper for the wearers of the “claret” only disposing of a hot shot from Frank Whitby by conceding a “corner.’ Miller who had been playing well, retaliated but Wright headed out, and the Bury obtained their first “corner.” At half-time the score read : Town 5; Bury 0. After the resumption the home eleven did not appear to try very hard and the play became uninteresting. The Bury, on the other hand, did all they knew to penetrate the defence of the other side, but except on one occasion they did not succeed. The ball was then sent through from a scrimmage and the Bury supporters cheered wildly, but the point was ruled against them on the grounds of an infraction of the law relating to “Offside.” Towards the close the leaders seemed to arose themselves, and somewhat better exchanges were witnessed. Taylor made a grand run, and transferred to Oclee, who evaded the Bury custodian and put on the sixth and final goal. When time arrived the visitors were beaten by six goals to nil. The linesmen were Messrs I. Smith and T. Keens, jun., and Mr F. Pitkin officiated as referee. The teams were composed as follows:- Town: Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and J. Hoy; half-backs, H. Paul, A.H. Taylor (captain) and J. Wright; forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), H. Whitby, W. Cheshire (left), F.K. Whitby and G. Deacon (right). Bury Park: Goal, E. Whitehead; backs, P. Inwards and W. Swain; half-backs, E. Arnold, E. Barford and A. Bates; forwards, M. Cottam (centre), W. Miller, A.E. Smart (left), A. Arnold and W. Waller (right).
With bat, ball and bicycle –
“The most interesting topic in the athletic world this week has been the first round of ties in the Charity Cup competition. The clubs engaged on Saturday included several well-known combinations, and the results were pretty much n accordance with the previously formed ideas, though it must be confessed that in some instances the majorities were larger than anticipated. The hollowest beating was that administered by Millwall Athletic to the City Ramblers, eight to none being a margin which requires a great deal of explaining away. Wolverton L. and N.W. disposed of Wolverton Town in a fashion almost as summary. On the other hand two of the teams were so equally matched that a draw resulted. Interest in this locality naturally turned upon the encounter between the Town and Bury Park elevens, and the issue was fairly in accordance with the expectations of those who knew anything of the rival combinations. Speaking from a view of the play, I would say that the wonder was that the losers were let off so lightly. The supporters of the Bury are congratulating themselves on the good fight which they made, but it surely take little to lead to self-laudation on their part, for from the commencement of the game to its close, they were completely outplayed. After half time the winners did not seem to treat the thing at all seriously, and it was only when the Town men relaxed their efforts considerably that the other side’s play was noticeably good.
The most striking feature of the game was the excellent play of the Town forwards. Time after time the men on the outside lines sent the ball in front of the goal, and it was only by the sheerest bad luck that they failed to score on several occasions. Of only two or three of the losers can it honestly be said that they played a consistently good game; spills and mis-kicks seemed to come to them naturally. The manner in which Deacon was knocked over by one of the Bury backs was reprehensible in the extreme, and the crowd evinced their resentment in an unmistakeable way. It must be added, however, that this feeling against the losers was carried to too great a length , the partiality of the spectators being unnecessarily plainly shown. The losers, after all, played a better game than usual, and though beaten were not altogether disgraced.
It may interest readers to know that the Canadian football team are to pay a visit to the town on the 2nd of next month in order to meet the Town Club. The match should be productive of some good play, and if the local champions manage to win they will be greatly raised in the estimation of the outside football world. With the West Bromwich Albion fixture a month later admirers of the winter game will have plenty for their money this season.
The Town team depart to-day (Friday) to Bristol in order to meet Bedminster in the English Cup tie to-morrow, and a large number of enthusiasts will follow them to the western town by the excursion train which is to be run on the Midland. There does not seem much doubt as to the result, if the locals acquit themselves as well as they have hitherto done this season. Last Saturday Bedminster went under to Swindon to the tune of 13 to nil, so that they do not seem very formidable adversaries. The Lutonians, may be warned against entering on the game in a spirit of over-confidence, for football is one of the most uncertain games.”
9th Nov 1891 committee meeting –
“Team selected for Bedminster. Gate money for sat nov 7th £3 15s 11d, pavilion 1/4.
“resolved that £15 be guaranteed to the Canadians for a match on Wednesday December 2nd”. Also that Hon Sec travel with the team to Bedminster. Also ask Bedminster to supply a linesman for the Town also.
“resolved that Hon Sec inform players in case of staying over Saturday they must stay at their own expense”. “No match be played on sat 14th on Athletic ground”.
14th November 1891. From the Luton Reporter of 21st November 1891.
“Luton and the English Cup. The members of the Luton Town team continued their victorious career in the English Cup competition on Saturday by easily beating Bedminster in the third round of the qualifying series, this being the semi-final round for the division. This was the first time that the Lutonians had had to go away from home, the victories over Swindon and Windsor Phoenix having been obtained on the Dunstable-road ground. It was somewhat unfortunate that the club were set such a long journey, for the probabilities of getting a large attendance were not great and the expenses of travelling would consequently fall to a considerable extent on the home executive. It was with light hearts, however, that the members of the team set out on Friday afternoon for what was known of their foemen did not lad to the supposition that much difficulty would be experienced in vanquishing them. The Westerners had been peculiarly fortunate in escaping elimination at an earlier stage. They received a bye in the first round and in the second batch the 93rd Highlanders were compelled by stress of circumstances to scratch to them. They had not thus had an opportunity of exhibiting their prowess. On Saturday week, however, they played an ordinary game with Swindon, who beat them by no fewer than 13 goals to nothing. Although it was stated that four of the best men of the Gloucestershire eleven were then absent, the Lutonians had ample justification for believing that they would win.
Shortly after 6 o’clock on Saturday the platform at the Midland station was crowded by enthusiasts who intended to avail themselves of the facilities afforded by the railway company for visiting Bristol. Tickets were taken by nearly 200 and about half of the number were accommodated in saloons. The morning was dark and uncompromising but football lovers reck not of discomfort, and those of whom were bent upon following the fortunes of their favourites set forth on their 200 mile journey with light hearts. As time wore on the sun broke through, many a delightful glimpse of cloud-capped hill and wooded plain being obtained. At about mid-day the Western city was reached after a capital run, and the travellers were enabled to engage in a tour of inspection, the game not being timed to commence until upwards of two hours later.
At the hour announced for the start there was a somewhat meagre attendance, and it seemed that about half the onlookers hailed from Bedfordshire, photographs of Taylor (the Luton captain), and a gold-stamped ivy leaves bearing the injunction “Play up, Luton,” being noticeable in all directions. After some delay caused by the non-arrival of two of the home eleven, the rival captains tossed for position with the result that Taylor lost. Bedminster elected to play uphill, and ten minutes after time Oclee kicked off for the visitors against a strong wind. It at once became apparent that the ground was very heavy, for not only were slips frequent, but the speed of the forwards seemed to be greatly interfered with. The home forwards started pressing, but the Lutonians retaliated, and Batten relieved once or twice in extremely good style when his opponents looked like doing mischief. When the game had been in progress about three minutes, H. Whitby rushed the ball down the left wing in grand style, and from the centre with which he finished up Deacon scored the first point in the game. Tame play followed for a space, and then Luton pressed, Paul distinguishing himself by the determined fashion in which he tackled his adversaries and deprived them of possession. The Bedminster spectators must have experienced an anxious time about now, for the ball was kept in front of their representatives’ fortress for some minutes. Despite their most strenuous efforts, however, the visitors were unable to improve their total, the home back division acquitting themselves nobly, and preserving their goal downfall in a manner as admirable as it was astonishing. Hoy evoked a shout of laughter hereabouts by kicking the sphere out of bounds into a road close by, a manoeuvre which was twice repeated by Sanders at a later stage. Although they had secured a manifest advantage, the play of the “reds” had not yet come up to what was expected of them; it was almost utterly devoid of brilliancy, and was of a painfully slow character. There had been but little combination amongst the forwards, and although this defect was afterwards remedied somewhat the men did not at any period of the match display the same excellent passing tactics which were exhibited in the Windsor Phoenix encounter. If anything the homesters were worse, for in the early portion of the game they did not make the slightest attempt to combine, their sole idea seemingly to kick the leather as far as they could towards their opponents citadel. Taylor, the popular leader of the Lutonians, had been doing a vast amount of work in the meantime and he frequently evoked the sympathetic plaudits of the onlookers. On one occasion he threw the ball from the touchline into the mouth of the Bedminster goal, and from the melee which followed it was forced behind the line, a “corner” resulting. “Hands” fell to the visitors in the centre of the ground twice in rapid succession, bit no advantage accrued to them. Sanders took the free kick on one occasion and was jeered at by a section of the crowd when he kicked over the bar. Bedminster took their turn at invading the enemy’s territory, but the forwards were stopped by Taylor who transferred to H. Whitby, who brought the ball ball down the side in good style. The same player next had a tussle with the home backs, whom he evaded, and centred the leather in that admirable manner for which he has lately made himself noted. It was rushed between the posts and a delighted shout burst firth from the Bedfordshire men, but to their chagrin the referee declined to award the point, averring that the ball went through off Paul’s hands. The Luton goal-keeper soon afterwards was forced to use his hands, the opposing forwards swarming to the attack in determined fashion. The pressure was not long sustained, however, H. Whitby transferring the scene of operations to the other end by a brilliant run. He finished up by a magnificent shy at the uprights, but the home keeper acquitted himself worthily and all that was conceded was a “corner” which proved profitless. Oclee, who had been playing in a manner which distinctly favoured of lack of condition, next showed up prominently by sending in a hot shot which was splendidly kept out. The Gloucestershire men imitated the example of their rivals by obtaining a “corner,” the first which they had yet secured. This was not improved upon, and Oclee and Cheshire passed finely together right down the field, the last-named concluding with an attempt which struck the cross-bar. The goal-keeper on the home side made a bad mistake shortly afterwards, but it was fortunately unattended with bad results. He ran out at the ball but missed it and the leather rolled dangerously near to his charge, but the Luton forwards did not avail themselves of the opportunity this presented. H. Whitby and Cheshire carried the ball down their wing immediately afterwards and from the kick into the front of the goal Oclee scored, though with considerable difficulty. Up to this point the weather had been brilliantly fine, but rain now fell heavily for some minutes. This rendered the turf more slippery than it was previously and the ball more difficult to manipulate satisfactorily. Only a short-time had elapsed since the second notch was secured when the Luton left wing men repeated their rushing tactics and the sphere went through off Batten. Oclee was ruled “off-side” directly afterwards, though he had passed the opposing backs, and about now H. Whitby and Paul continually rendered themselves noticeable, the latter “heading” splendidly. F. Whitby had also been doing some capital work on the right wing, while Deacon was as courageous as ever. The first-named made several fine runs, and at about this stage he passed very prettily to the centre, the result being that a “corner” was secured. The interval arrived at a very critical period . The Lutonians had obtained another opportunity of kicking into goal from the corner flag, and when the whistle blew a very exciting struggle was taking place in front of the Bedminster goal. When the teams crossed over the record was as follows: Luton 3 Bedminster 0. The first few minutes’ play after the re-start was uneventful, but Paul at length imported some variety by sending in a shot which puzzled the home custodian. The Bedminster forwards seemed to have improved considerably and after one or two ineffectual attempts at length succeeded in opening their account, the shot being one which was impossible for Burley to keep out. This seemed to put the homesters on their mettle, and in response to encouraging shouts the Lutonians redoubled their efforts to improve their position. The result was that for an appreciable space the quality of the play was incomparably better than that which had preceded it, but even at its best it did not reach a very high standard. The left wing of the “reds” surpassed their previous efforts about now and made a determined raid into the defenders’ quarters, but no score resulted, their backs kicking behind their goal-line. F. Whitby shortly afterwards obtained possession and finished up a grand run by sending in the finest shot of the day. The ball travelled at a terrific rate and it was at first doubtful whether it had passed the goalkeeper, but when it was seen that a point had been conceded a general shout of applause went up. From this time forward the issue was never seriously in doubt. The visitors continued to play an open game and they continued to press so continuously that for the most part the ball was kept in close proximity to the Bedminster fortress. The besiegers experienced very hard luck, too, for despite the fact that they were constantly attacking they failed to increase their lead. Time after time the home goalkeeper was forced to throw or fist the ball out, then the cross-bar or the posts would be struck, and again the leather would be sent spinning over the top. Occasionally the Bedminster forwards broke away and Taylor (of Bedminster) managed to render himself noticeable, but danger did not threaten except on one occasion when Sanders was hooted by the local partisans for kicking over his own goal when severely pressed. The brother Whitby and Deacon played in conspicuously good style during the constant bombardment of the Bedminster goal. When time arrived the Lutonians had qualified for the divisional final by four goals to one. It should be stated that Paul was injured ten minutes from the start. The teams were as follows:- Luton: goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and J. Hoy; half-backs, H. Paul, A.H. Taylor (captain) and J. Wright; forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), H. Whitby, W. Cheshire (left), F.K. Whitby and G. Deacon (right). Bedminster: Goal, I.Wright; backs, G.E. Jones and F.J. batten; half-backs, H.A. Marshall, F.W. Gyles (captain) and F. Skeates; forwards, J.F. McCarthy and H.G. Harris (right wing), H.J. Batchelor (centre), C. Rich and W. Taylor (left wing). Linesmen W.A. Deakin (Bedminster) and E.A. Barford (Luton). Referee, J.R. Riddle.”
16th Nov 1891 committee meeting –
“Team against Grove Park selected. Mr H Wilkins meet the team.
“Expenses of cup match v Bury Park 15/11 leaving £3 0s 0d for division between clubs”.
“Hon sec to see Montrose with regard to arranging about ground”.
21st November 1891 – from the Luton Reporter of 28th November 1891.
“Luton Town v Grove Park. – The Town Club had been drawn to play Bedford on Saturday in the Kettering Cup competition but their opponents scratched and the fixture with Grove Park was proceeded with before a good attendance. The home eleven succeeded in administering a severe beating to their adversaries, the balance in their favour at the close being no less than eight to nil. Luton kicked off, and the right wing forwards took the ball down well, and F. Whitby kicked behind. Oclee and H. Whitby followed this example a minute later. From the kick-off the visitors’ left wing obtained possession and made a good run, but they finished up by kicking out. Luton pressed, and from some combined play, Cheshire headed in goal, but the leather was fisted out. F. Whitby with a grand shot scored for Luton shortly afterwards. The home side continued to have the best of the game, and after Taylor had narrowly missed scoring, H. Whitby rushed down and beat the goal keeper. He repeated this performance a minute later, and from a corner taken by H. Whitby, F. Whitby scored the fourth goal. Deacon, from a scrimmage, added a fifth, while the sixth was also obtained through his agency. Oclee scored the seventh, and just before time H. Whitby put on the concluding notch. The locals showed by far the best form they have exhibited this season. The passing of the forwards was well-timed and accurate, while they were well supported by the half-backs. Hoy played a good game and Sanders is regaining his old form. The home eleven was constituted as usual.”
With bat, ball and bicycle thought that the recent results meant that their cup prospects against Clifton were “extremely rosy.”
“However, the West Herts Club (late Watford Rovers) would prove a severe test. The match against the Canadians on Wednesday was eagerly anticipated. The column continues “I am told that the party to visit Bristol next Saturday, will be far larger than that which went thither a fortnight ago, and this is only a natural outcome of the position. The Luton champions have never previously occupied such an excellent position in the competition. Some years since they entered the third round but had to succumb to more powerful adversaries. Their success this season has been well-deserved, and there will be a large crowd of their admirers at the Western city to witness the manner in which their favourites comport themselves. Their opponents on this occasion are far more worthy of their steel than the Bedminster men proved themselves, and though Luton may possibly be beaten, I have every confidence in announcing the belief that they will bear worthily.
I hear that the Midland Company are to run an excursion train to Bristol to-morrow week for the cup match.”
Finally, “Onlooker” the author of the column says
“I hear that there is considerable doubt amongst some followers of the Town Club as to whether their champions will be strong enough to cope with West Herts to-morrow, They have this season beaten what have proved themselves to be far stronger combinations, however, and I do not seriously fear a reverse now. Undoubtedly they will have to exert themselves , but their record of eight wins out of 12 matches this year would naturally inspire any but the least hopeful with confidence.”
23rd Nov 1891 committee meeting –
“resolved regular cup team play against West Herts sat 28th”. “Charge for West Herts be 3d, members free”. Gate money for sat 21st £2 14s 3d, pavilion 1/4.
Resolved that the Kettering matches be scratched and the Ashton School be left open. Acknowledges cheque from Bedminster.
“Resolved that Hon sec should write the Canadians asking to have the match fro Dec 2nd cancelled as having to go to Bristol on the following Sat for the 4th round of the English Cup we find it impossible to raise a team for the previous Wednesday”.
“Mr Woodbridge asked for use of the ground on Sat Dec 5th for Luton Charity Cup tie St. Matthews v Terriers. It was therefore proposed by Mr Smith Seconded by Mr Woodbridge that the use of the ground be granted on payment of £1 0s 0d”.
St. Matthews saw the benefit of employing a closed ground for a cup tie to raise money.
28th November 1891 – From the Luton Reporter of 5th December 1891.
“Luton Town v West Herts. These teams met on the Athletic Ground on Saturday, when the last-named managed to snatch a victory by four goals to three. A great deal of interest was manifested in the game, and despite the fact that the weather was most uninviting a large crowd surrounded the ropes. The meeting had been looked forward to by local enthusiasts, for the clubs had not been antagonists for several years, and the fact that each side held a confident idea that they would obtain the honours lent additional interest to the match. Both sides were strong but F.A. Sargent, the Watford centre-forward, was absent from his post owing to injuries, while H. Paul was an absentee from the Luton team. The clubs were represented as follows:- Watford Rovers: J. Woods, goal; W.A. Sargent and W.H. Hinton, backs; C.H. Peacock, E.E. Villiers and J. Penney, half-backs; P. Coles, J.W. Sharp, W.S. Coles, W. Dodds and A. Horton, forwards. Luton Town: J. Burley, goal; A. Sanders and J. Hoy, backs; the Rev. C.W. Bennett, A. Taylor and J. Wright, half-backs; H.W. Oclee (centre), G. Deacon, F.K. Whitby (right), H. Whitby and W. Cheshire (left), forwards. It was not until considerably later than the advertised time that the elevens ranged up, and it was then discovered that the home commander had lost the toss and had to kick against the wind. Oclee started the ball, and it at once became apparent that the ground was in a heavy and slippery state. The homesters pressed and so determined was their onslaught that Cheshire was enabled to credit them with the opening point after half a minute from the start. Still forcing the play, the Lutonians obtained free kicks in rapid succession and things looked bad for the visitors, but their backs behaved manfully and averted the danger. Some capital combined play by the home forwards resulted in the leather being taken to the Rovers’ end, F. Whitby finished up by kicking over. The Watford men then took their turn, but Sanders pulled their forwards up in grand style. Some plucky play by Oclee and his right wing companions enabled Luton to attack, and with the ball passed from the left to Deacon it seemed that a score must inevitably follow, but that player shot just over the bar. F. Whitby and his brother had been making some brilliant runs, and from a splendid from the first-mentioned Sargent conceded a “corner,” which proved ineffective. A mistake by Sanders almost let in his opponents but Burley rushed out and kicked away. The visitors’ left wing men had been distinguishing themselves by some very smart play, Sharp being particularly noticeable, and chiefly through their instrumentality a couple of “corners” were obtained. From the second of these W.S. Coles was enabled to equalise the scores. The Lutonians thereafter swarmed to the attack, and the Whitbys kept up a hot fusillade at their adversaries’ fortress. On one occasion just afterwards Oclee missed a somewhat easy chance of scoring from a capital pass from Deacon. Some very fine combination by the visitors was exhibited thereafter and the ball went through, but it was promptly ruled off-side. The Rovers had their revenge, however, for from a bad mistake by one of the Lutonians they secured their second point through the agency of their centre-forward. The leaders continued to press, and a magnificent shot was fisted out by Burley. The home eleven were not long in arrear, however, for they made a determined rush and Oclee was enabled to make the scores level. Half-time arrived immediately afterwards. After the re-start the game continued fairly even for a space, though the “reds” experienced very hard luck once or twice. When the game had been in progress for some minutes Wright was knocked over, and it was feared that he was badly hurt. He resumed after a few minutes’ cessation, but at the end of the game it was announced that he had broken a rib. After a very fine shot by H. Whitby had been steered behind, the home forwards ran the ball down excellently and Cheshire gave his side the lead. Watford soon retaliated, and no sooner had the ball been put down than they rushed away and obtained a fourth notch. With darkness rapidly falling it was generally felt that this was the winning point, but the home eleven played with such spirit that during the last ten minutes it seemed as though they must score. On one occasion the ball was headed in from a “corner” and a great shout went up from the spectators who were clustering on the goal-line, but the referee over-ruled the claim for a goal. Despite their utmost endeavours the locals were unable to increase their total, though the visitors’ goal-keeper must have had an anxious time, and the result of a splendidly fought game was as stated above. The referee (Mr. F. Pitkin) was subjected to a hostile reception on leaving the ground.
Reverend Charles William Bennett was born on 14th May 1865 at Pershore, Worcestershire. Obtained a B.A. at Oxford University in 1887. Became a curate at Harpenden in 1890.
30th November 1891 committee meeting –
“resolved that break be ordered to convey team from Bristol to Kingswood ground”. “The regular cup team play against Clifton”. Three linesmen for Clifton were proposed, Mr Scott winning the vote.
Gate money for sat 28th £7 8s 0d, Pavilion 13/-.
“Resolved that the charge for Banbury in the Kettering Cup Competition be 3d”.
“At this point of the meeting Mr Browning as a deputation waited upon the committee to ask for the use of our ground on Sat December 5th if not previously engaged. It was explained that the ground was already been let to St. Matthews”.
The matter with regard to Notts County and the Cricket Club be left over until some official communication has been received”.
“Mr Pitkin called the attention of the committee to the most ungentlemanly behaviour of the spectators on Sat Nov 28th naming Mr A. Payne and Mr W. Warren as ring leaders. He thought it was time the club set to work to put down this sort of thing for in the near future if allowed to continue, it would without doubt bring the club into disrepute”. The Committee throughly discussed the matter and it was thought that a public apology to Mr Pitkin might meet the case, failing this to be expelled from the club. This course was agreed to by Mr Pitkin. It was therefore unanimously resolved that Hon Sec write to Messrs Alfred Payne of 87 Stuart Street and Wm Warren of New Town Street requesting them to make a public apology to Mr Pitkin for their ungentlemanly conduct on Nov 28th failing this to be expelled from the club”. There followed a unanimous vote of confidence in Mr Pitkin.” The first hint of trouble at a Luton v Watford game therefore involved Luton fans having a go at the referee who was a Luton fan and committee member!
With bat ball and bicycle –
“The speculation which has for the last two or three years being going on in this locality as to the relative strength of Luton Town and the Watford Rovers has at length to some extent been set at rest, but it can scarcely be claimed that last Saturday’s match is to be accepted as the final test. On the one side the visitors were able to urge that the absence of F. Sargent from the centre greatly weakened their forward combination, while the homesters were ready with the argument that a corresponding disadvantage was suffered by them by the fact that Paul was not occupying his accustomed place at centre half-back. Both players would undoubtedly have strengthened their respective teams, but the absence of the one seemed to me to somewhat counterbalance that to the other. Whilst there is not very much force in the contention as to the weakening of the elevens, it must be confessed that the victory of the winners was not devoid of a very pronounced element of luck.
The game was splendidly contested throughout and was productive of some excellent play, but the Rovers can scarcely lay claim to having shown their superiority in this respect, for if anything the Lutonians had the best of the exchanges. The first half of the match was fairly even, but in the second portion the home eleven pressed much more strongly than their adversaries. On several occasions they missed chances of scoring by the merest trifle, and they certainly experienced very hard luck. During the last few minutes the visitors’ goalkeeper must have passed an unenviable time, for in the gathering darkness it was next to impossible to deal with certainty with the shots which were rained in upon him.
It was at this time that the homesters met with their worst luck. The Rovers were leading by a goal, when a “corner” was kicked in to the mouth of their fortress and as well as could be judged in the gloom and amongst a confused jumble of figures the leather seemed to pass between the posts. Some hundreds of spectators were gathered in close proximity to the uprights, and a general shout of triumph went up from them, but it was very short-lived, for the referee decided against the claimants. That a goal was scored seems undoubted, and the referee’s error is all the more regrettable when it is considered that it would have made the game a draw if the point had been awarded. I fully concur in the remark which fell from a bystander that “If ever a game deserved to be a draw this did,” for there was not a pin to choose between the elevens.
On the Luton side the forwards did best, the brothers Whitby again distinguished themselves by making some brilliant runs. Deacon was in admirable form, and while Oclee might have been smarter in front of goal he did extremely well. Cheshire scored for the losers in splendid style. The half-backs were weakened considerably in the second-half by Wright’s accident, and Sanders, contrary to custom, made one or two bad mistakes. It was generally remarked that the opposing forwards were not watched so closely by the home back division as they might have been.”
The fair minded column sums up the mood nicely. After waiting for years as to which team was the best, it is clear the Luton suffered very bad luck, something which we have seen time and again at vital moments.
The column declared that Wright’s injury was just a fractured rib and that he intends to play in the cup-tie at Clifton. Paul had also recovered from his accident “he is a veritable tower of strength to the half-backs, and his presence will become apparent to those opponents who run against him.”
The column comments upon the decision made to scratch the games against the Canadians.
“The reason for the step is a fear that some of the Lutonians might be injured and therefore possibly incapacitated for the Clifton encounter. Possibly this will be regarded as sufficient justification but I cannot help feeling that the decision was a mistaken one, seeing that one of the great objects of the managers of the clubs is to make the team better known in the football world.”
5th December 1891. From the Luton Reporter dated 12th December 1891.
“The English Cup. Luton Champions of the Division. Clifton v Luton. The final ties in the qualifying series of the English Cup competition were played on Saturday, the result being that ten clubs won for themselves the distinction of being hailed as champions of their several divisions. In this district – the eighth – Luton Town met Clifton and continued their brilliant career by summarily disposing of their antagonist. The encounter had been looked forward to with mixed feelings by those who regard themselves as authorities. On the other hand Clifton could claim of having easily beaten Poole, Somerset Rovers, and Reading, and their form all round was regarded as being exceptionally good. Luton, on the other hand, had defeated Swindon, Windsor Phoenix, and Bedminster, and the manner in which they had been playing for some weeks previously led to their admirers to entertain the feeling that they would acquit themselves worthily. Considering the importance of the fixture the number who availed themselves of the cheap trip on the Midland line to Bristol was surprisingly small, but doubtless the inordinate length of the journey and the uncertainty of the weather conditions deterred many from venturing. Whatever the reason might have been, there was a great falling off as compared with the total of a month ago, only about 80 taking tickets. The members of the team had, it should be stated journeyed westwards on the previous day, and it afforded their supporters great satisfaction to find that the Luton executive were able to put into the field exactly the same eleven as eliminated Bedminster, Wright and Paul having recovered from injuries recently sustained.
The match had been announced to be played on the County Ground, but as this was not available it was decided at Kingswood. The spectators numbered about 1,000. The ground was in a somewhat unsatisfactory state owing to the recent rains, the turf being soft and swampy. The home captain (Pocock) won the toss and decided to play uphill against the wind. When the sides ranged up on the central line it was found that they were represented as follows:- Clifton: Goal., J.J. Hunt; backs, M.L. Owen and W.L. Wynne; half-backs, J.M. Guttridge, G.J. Pocock and R.G. Lowndes; forwards, E. Compton (centre), H.G. Barlow, A.B. Colthurst (left), H.H. Francis and P.F. Newnham (right). Luton Town, Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and J. Hoy; half-backs, H. Paul, A. Taylor (captain), and J. Wright: forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), H. Whitby, W. Cheshire (left), F.K. Whitby and G. Deacon (right). Mr Durban (Aston Villa) was referee, and the linesmen were Messrs H. E. Rosslyn (Clifton and F. Scott (Luton). Oclee kicked off and the homesters obtaining possession the sphere was carried into the vicinity of the visitors’ goal where it remained for about a minute. Sanders ultimately relieved the pressure and H. Whitby and Cheshire transferred the scene of operations to the other end, where the supporters of Clifton had an anxious time. Guttridge and Francis managed to clear, the latter dribbling very finely until he was pulled up by the opposing half-backs. The Westerners continued to press for a space and the ball went behind from a shot by Newnham. The Lutonians retaliated and Owen was compelled to make a long kick. “Hands” against either team followed, and a free kick was awarded to Clifton for a foul, but nothing resulted on any of these occasions. Oclee at length broke away with his right wing comrades but their stay in the enemies’ confines was not a lengthened one, Owen tackling and dispossessing them in grand style . Compton thereafter looked like doing mischief, but Paul, who was playing magnificently, stuck to him like a leech and forced him to kick over the bar. The exchanges which followed ended in the Lutonians making a determined rush, all the forwards assisting in conveying the leather to the home bounds. Deacon finished up by a smart shot, which Hunt handled, but he did not throw the ball far enough away, and H. Whitby, dashing up, sent it in at a pace which rendered the custodian powerless to stop it. The drawing of first blood seemed to put the Westerners on their mettle, and for the first time in the game their forwards displayed really good combination. they played up in capital style, and the result of a hard tussle was that Barlow sent in a hot shot which struck one of the posts. H. Whitby returned the compliment. and the home backs were only able to maintain their charge in tact by conceding a “corner.” For some minutes afterwards the play was very even, and though Colthurst and Compton seemed to threaten mischief they were never really dangerous, the visiting halves preventing anything like combination by their pertinacious attacks. There was scarcely a pin to choose between them, but Paul and Taylor were working strenuously and in most determined fashion. Their constant tackling seemed to disconcert the Clifton forwards, whose play deteriorated considerably in consequence. Just before half-time arrived, Oclee and his companions made another raid into their adversaries’ territory, and the Town centre man ended with a somewhat weak attempt to lower the colours of his opponents. Hunt negotiated the ball but again failed to knock it away a sufficient distance, and H. Whitby evading several men who charged down upon him, registered the second point for his side amid enthusiastic cheers from the Lutonians present. At the interval the score stood: Luton two, Clifton, nil. When ends had been changed the Cliftonians went off with a rush, but they tired very soon and were compelled to act on the defensive, their keeper being called upon to exert himself on several occasions. Pocock endeavoured to infuse renewed energy into his followers, but the forwards failed to score and accordingly relaxed their efforts. Owen, who had been playing a faultless game, rendered himself conspicuous during the frequent attempts to capture the Clifton citadel, and Pocock and Newnham also exerted themselves strenuously. Deacon missed a chance of increasing his side’s lead, but this was atoned for by his comrades a little later. Paul obtained possession and passed to F. Whitby. That player kicked into goal but Hunt managed to dispose of the leather. H. Whitby, however, was in the neighbourhood and he obtained his third goal with a very fast low shot which it was impossible to negotiate. There was now only about 20 minutes to play, and it became apparent that it was over except the shouting. The home players were struggling on, though in a half-hearted style, whereas the Lutonians were exhibiting as much dash and brilliancy as ever. the latter soon relaxed their efforts, however, and contented themselves with defending their goal-line. Clifton aroused themselves just before the finish and put on a spurt, but they were unable to penetrate the leaders’ defence, and when the whistle announced that the end had arrived they were badly beaten by three to none.”
With Bat ball and bicycle –
“The members of the Town Club eleven are deserving of the heartiest congratulations on the brilliant achievement which they completed last Saturday of working their way into the competition proper for the English Cup. Saturday’s game formed an admirable climax to the performances of the team during the various stages of the qualifying contest. Now that the ordeal is over and Luton has won a distinction which has never previously been obtained it may frankly be confessed that the players have done even better than was hoped. Prior to Saturday they had disposed of some very formidable adversaries, but there were few who dared anticipate that victory awaited them at Clifton. Their position has been obtained through indomitable pluck and they are entitled to plume themselves upon having gained it.
The Cliftonians had a great reputation, having beaten Reading by eight goals to two, but this did not daunt the Bedfordshire men, who went forth determined to give a good account of themselves. The Westerners lost heart altogether when a couple of goals were registered against them, and were utterly unable to cope with the tactics of their opponents. The visitors, on the other hand, set themselves to break up the combination of the other side, and in this the half-backs succeeded to perfection. The whole of the side worked splendidly, and the fact of their knowing each other’s play did a great deal towards ensuring their success.
The consensus of opinion is that the half-backs were most deserving of praise. Paul was in his old place in the centre and he showed very clearly that he had recovered his form. No matter how the ball came to him he managed to get it away, and the manner in which he worried Compton [centre forward] was a treat to his admirers. Taylor too, put in ssome grand work, and at one time he seemed to have all the responsibility on his shoulders. He showed himself a very capable general, and it was owing to the adoption of tactics which he advised that the Clifton forwards were deprived of their sting. Wright had seemingly entirely recovered from his previous week’s accident and acquitted himself as satisfactorily as ever.
The backs were very reliable, both men stopping some ugly rushes. Hoy did not make a mistake, and his trued kicking afforded intense delight to the onlookers hailing from Luton. He has been steadily improving all through the season and has amply justified his selection – a remark which I gave utterance to in response to a hint that he has been somewhat neglected in the past. Hoy is now quite as safe in tackling and kicking as his companions; indeed, the pair will take a lot of beating.
The Whitby brothers were again the pick of the forwards, their frequent brilliant runs evoking the admiration even of their adversaries. The chief credit, of course, is with Harry who scored all three of the goals obtained by his side. There was no mistake about the shots which he sent in; they were all low and travelled at a terrific rate, and it was impossible to stop them. Oclee and Deacon showed good form, but Cheshire did not show up quite so prominently as usual.
The explanations which are given of the defeat by the local critics are exceedingly weak. One of them observes that the home team showed nothing like the good form which they had displayed against Reading, and goes on to remark that “Beyond the advantage of playing the same team throughout the season there was no lesson to be learnt from the visitors’ play, and their victory was rather owing to the unaccountable falling off of Clifton than to any special prowess of their own.” I am sure my readers will agree with me that in face of a three to nil beating this is rather lame.
Another critic abuses the Clifton forwards for giving up trying and says that only once they exhibited that dashing combination which gave them such a brilliant victory over Reading. He has grace to admit that “Compton, it is true, was splendidly marked by Paul and the backs were generally in the way.” The goal-keeper also comes in for a share of the blame, it being stated that “each goal came through his not getting the ball away far enough.”
The same gentleman’s judgment on the Lutonians will be read with interest. He says : “The Luton men were wonderfully smart on the ball, and it was palpable form from the start that they quite understand one another’s play – a substantial advantage only to be obtained by constant practice together. On Saturday’s form they quite deserved their victory, though it is doubtful if another meeting would be attended by a similar result. Their forwards were not particularly fast or clever but they were always in their places, and passed brilliantly at times. H. Whitby was certainly the best, and he obtained the third goal with a magnificent shot. The main strength of the team was in the half-backs, where Paul worked like a demon, and Taylor used his weight to advantage. They all headed finely, and their chief fault was that they kicked too hard. Both backs were very sure, and saved the goal-keeper considerably.”
I am told that if the Lutonians have not quite reached the summit of their ambition they at least do not expect to progress any further. To be included amongst the first 32 clubs in the country is a great honour in itself, but I do not think they will let the game rest there for lack of trying. They are drawn against Middlesbrough in the next round, and if they should manage to retain their laurels they will delight everybody, though none will be greatly surprised if they lose, for their next opponents are formidable Northern professional combinations. The club is not, however, one of the most powerful, and possibly this may lead the locals to entertain hopes of victory.”
The column ends with a clip from the Daily Graphic about crowd trouble creeping into the game.
“Many strictures have been passed from time to time on the ruffianism of football players, but an even more serious drawback to the pastime is the ruffianism of which the spectators are sometimes guilty in the heat of their excitement. An excellent instance of this fact was furnished on Saturday at Kettering. The linesman of the visitors had, it seems, given offence by some comments which he had published in a football paper on the Kettering players. This was resented by the mob, who not only hooted the unfortunate man, but pelted him with dirt and stones, and, but for the interference of some of the Kettering team, would have seriously maltreated him. If this incident had been an isolated one, it would not, perhaps, merit notice, but, unfortunately, rowdyism among the spectators of football matches is, by no means a rare phenomenon. Its suppression is an object which all those who have the interests of the game at heart should do their best to bring about.
An almost similar scene was witnessed here a fortnight ago when the Luton referee was subjected to hostile treatment by a blackguardly section of the crowd. Even admitting his decision was wrong he should not have been hooted and yelled at, and for credit’s sake of the attendants at football matches at Luton I am glad that the authorities took very strong action. There is no excuse for ruffianly conduct of this kind, which serves only to bring the town and the club into disrepute. I would like to see some of the offenders made examples of.
A letter containing a criticism on a local football match has been handed to me, but the fact that it is signed merely “An Onlooker” precludes its insertion. Correspondents must comply with the regulations laid down for their guidance or their communications cannot be used.
On the forthcoming cup tie with Middlesbrough, the paper received a letter which was published under the heading “Luton Football”. It reads as follows:
“Sir, I understand the Middlesbrough F.C. have approached Luton Town about the latter going to them to play the match in the English Cup tie on January 16th. On behalf of all the supporters of Luton supporters I hope no offer will be considered of sufficient importance for our team to consent to play this game away. Something, beside the mere £ s. d. has to be considered. In the first place, our team would not stand anything like a good chance to win on a strange ground, and to that has to be added the long fatiguing journey. In the second, by playing at Luton, it gives the supporters of the Club a treat they seldom get. In the third, it will make our Club and ground much better known of played here.
Our committee are not in want of funds, or £50 might be an inducement, so that their first duty is to study the views of those who all along have supported them. The feeling is very strong over this, and if they do, for the sake of a little financial gain, disappoint their best friends, they will regret their decision, as patrons have been heard to threaten to withdraw their support if such an un-sportsman-like action is taken. But I have too much confidence in the sense of Lutonians to believe that they would consent to sell their chance of climbing in this competition for a mess of pottage. Yours truly, An Old Supporter.”
The paper continued with the results of the other qualifying divisions. These were Newcastle East End, Middlesbrough Ironopolis, Blackpool, Sheffield United, Heanor Town, Small Heath, Northwich Victoria, London Caledonians or Old Westminsters (who had not played yet) and Chatham. The draw for the first round of the competition proper drew Luton Town to meet Middlesbrough with the Straw Plaiters having choice of grounds. The match was to be played on January 16 with a 2.12 kick off.
In 1936 Frank Whitby visited the Luton News offices and spoke about the Bedminster game;
“There was great rivalry between Bedminster and Clifton, and when Luton visited Clifton the Bedminster crowd went to the match and gave Luton their best support. The reason was that there were several collegians in the Clifton side, whereas the Bedminster team was composed of working men. When we played Bedminster, “Hod” Paul, my brother Harry and I travelled down on the Friday night and stayed until the Sunday. After the match some of the opposing team members said they would show us the sights of Bristol the following morning, with the result that we ended up at the Clifton Suspension Bridge. One of the Bedminster fellows mentioned that no one had been able to throw a stone across the river at that point and as I had won prizes for throwing a cricket ball in the past, I decided to give it a go. My first throw cleared the river, the wall and the road beyond sending the missile into some trees. Our friends stood in astonishment at the feat for a while, and then one of them remarked that two policemen were coming up the road, and there was a penalty for throwing stones. The locals all disappeared while we stood our ground not knowing what to do. “Hod” Paul, who had not thrown at all, stood with his back to the wall while one of the policemen took out his notebook and accused him of throwing stones, saying he had seen him throw. During the argument that followed my brother and I slipped away while “Hod” was arrested.”