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Chapter 27. Someone had blundered.

CHAPTER 27.  Someone had blundered.  

The title of this chapter ties in with the West Herts game in Chapter 25 when we saw a referee make a mistake that cost the Straw Plaiters a draw at Dallow Lane.  You will recall that the game was against our friends down the road.  The crowd had gathered so close behind the West Herts goal (no nets) that they were almost on the goal line.  West Herts were 4 3 up in the last minute when a Luton header hit the fans standing directly behind the goal.  A roar went up for a goal, but the ref, seeing the ball bounce back into play off a spectator, refused to give it.    The game ended 4 3 in favour of the Watford side and the Hertfordshire newspapers revelled in the victory.  In this chapter we see the reverse fixture at Watford where another refereeing blunder, this time by a Watford ref in favour of West Herts.  These two incidents sealed the rivalry between the two towns.  

23rd January 1892.  Taken from the Luton Reporter of 30th January 1892.  

“The Kettering Cup

The finals for the divisions in the competitions for this cup were played on Saturday and Monday last.  The teams who had survived the ordeal of the previous rounds were as  follows; Luton Town, Luton Montrose, Grantham Rovers, Newark Town, Rushden, Finedon, Kettering, Kettering Anchors.  Of these the four elevens who enter the semi-finals are Luton Town, Grantham Rovers, Finedon and Kettering.  The details are as follows;

Luton Town v Luton Montrose.  This was necessarily the most interesting tie to the residents in the this neighbourhood.  It was played on the Town Club’s ground, though the Montrose had obtained the choice of ground through the ballot, and was attended by several hundreds of onlookers.  The weather was extremely favourable, but the ground was very sticky and soft after the recent severe frost.  The premier club lost the toss, and Oclee kicked off from the gas-works end a quarter of an hour late.  At the outset the juniors pressed, and with the first five minutes had a couple of shots at goal, one of these failing to score by the merest trifle.  They soon afterwards obtained a “corner,” but the leather was kicked behind the line, when things looked threatening for the “reds.”  The Town men had in the meantime been showing execrably bad form, but they woke up after an appreciable space had expired, and Oclee made a magnificent run and finished up with a good shot, which was kept out by Tearle in fine style.  Harry Whitby emulated this performance immediately afterwards, but his efforts were similarly ineffectual.  The Town backs had been distinguishing themselves, Hoy proving himself very reliable, while the half-backs were exhibiting good form.  Their side experienced very hard luck on several occasions in failing to score.  At one time Cheshire sent in one of his teasing daisy-cutters, and Tearle, who caught the ball in his hands, was only enabled to avert the downfall of his charge by steering the leather round the posts, thus conceding a “corner” to his opponents.  Oclee and Taylor were proving themselves thorns in the side of their adversaries, the former by excellent passing and the latter by his sure tackling, but in spite of this the Montrose had their own turn at pressing.  After some pretty play between H. Whitby and his wing companion, Oclee sent in a shot which failed to have the desired effect by a merest trifle, the ball rolling across the mouth of the goal in tantalising fashion.  A period of bad play on the part of the “reds” followed, Oclee being the only forward who maintained his reputation.  The Montrose made a determined attack, and the Town goal experienced one or two extremely narrow escapes.  At length the leading club’s representatives swarmed into the juniors goal for a “corner” and from the melee Wright lifted the ball very gently over the heads of the players in front of him and through the uprights.  It was a grand shot, and he was deservedly cheered.  Nothing further resulted before half-time, when the Montrose were a goal behind.  Soon after the resumption Harry Whitby made a capital run down the left side and Oclee from the pass sent in a splendid shot, the ball striking the bar and bounding over.  Just afterwards Frank Whitby added a second point from a scrimmage.  As time went on the leaders seemed to exert themselves and gave their opponents a taste of their true form, and there was then scarcely a comparison in point of excellence, the “reds being immeasurably superior.  An unpleasant incident occurred hereabouts, Oclee being badly fouled by Bird, an infraction of the rules which was deservedly punished.  Taylor increased his side’s lead soon after, when the contestants were in the neighbourhood of the Montrose goal.  A grand piece of combined play by Cheshire and H. Whitby enabled the them to run the leather up the ground and when it was transferred to the centre Deacon promptly ran it through.  A few minutes later Montrose obtained their only point.  The ball was sent in at great pace to Burley who fell with it, and on an appeal the referee decided in favour of the Montrose, though it must be confessed that the goal was a very doubtful one.  From now to the finish the Town men kept up a persistent bombardment of their foemen’s citadel and it was only by a combination of fortuitous circumstances that the “boys” were able to starve off a heavy total.  Their goal-keeper exhibited good defensive ability and saved many shots which seemed certain to score.  Amongst the others who distinguished themselves were C. Colling, Goodliffe and Stickles.  The game eventually ended in a win for the Town by four goals to one, The eleven were as follows:- Luton Town: Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and A. Hoy; half-backs, H. Paul, A.H. Taylor and J. Wright; forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), F.K. Whitby, G. Deacon (right), H. Whitby and W. Cheshire (left).  Montrose: Goal, A. Tearle; backs, G. Roe and J. Stickles; half-backs, W. Goodliffe, W. Bird and W. King; forwards, F. Hoy (centre), F. Biggs and G. King (right), H Hurcombe and C. Colling (left).  The referee was Mr A.J. Smith of Bedford.”  

There followed short reports of the other games in the cup that weekend.  

“Rushden v Finedon.  This game at Rushden was remarkable for a somewhat sensational termination.  Both sides were well represented, the visitors’ eleven including A.G. Henfrey, the well-known Corinthian centre forward.  During the first half the visitors led by two to nil.  It was not until their opponents had increased their total to four and that time was rapidly approaching that the homesters succeeded in opening their account.  During an invasion some loose kicking by the Finedon halves let Claridge (Rushden right wing) put in a good centre, and Lichfield (left wing) pooped the leather through, appeals for off-side not being upheld.  On resuming the home forwards led off well, and a free-kick allowed Bailey (Rushden half-back) to send the ball flying through, a beautifully clear shot.  This double success considerably roused a dying interest, and again Rushden dashed in, but Henfrey quickly relieved, and after a rapid run banged the ball by the home custodian.  In response to this Claridge ran on the outside and centred nicely. Lichfield and Groome set their heads to work under the bar and brought the score to 5-3.  Remarkable as this scoring was it was not all, for just before the finish of a game that had been all in Finedon’s favour, Bailey sent in one of his fine long kicks which bounded through off the upright and made the final reading – Finedon 5, Rushden 4.”  

“Grantham Rovers v Newark – At Newark the Grantham Rovers (the present holders) beat Newark by two goals to none.  It was a very close game.  At half-time neither side had scored, but after the interval the Rovers gradually assumed the upper hand and scored twice.  The play was much closer than the score (small as it is) seems to represent.”  

“Kettering v Kettering Anchor.  On Monday Kettering met the Kettering Anchors and won a very one-sided game by 12 goals to none.  The Anchors were out-classed at every point, and Kettering could, without doubt, have increased the score had they exerted themselves to their full extent.”  

”The Semi-Finals – The draw for the semi-finals took place on Wednesday night, with the following result: Finedon v Kettering on February 20; Luton Town v Grantham Rovers on March 5.  Both matches are to be played at Kettering.”  

25th January 1892 committee meeting –

Teams selected against West Herts for sat 30th jan.  A. Whitby to take Deacon’s place.  Team selected against West Ham Carpenters 

Gate money for sat 23rd £5 11s 8d, 3rd round Kettering Cup.

Expenses of same – Ground 16/-.  Referee 12/6, total £1 8s 6d. thus leaving £4 3s 2d for division Montrose portion £2 1s 7d.  

30th January 1892.  From the Luton Reporter of 6th February 1892.  

“Luton Town v West Herts.  The return match at Watford on Saturday between these teams  had been anticipated with an unusual amount of interest.  A keen rivalry has existed for a considerable time between the clubs and the fact that both have been acquitting themselves exceedingly well during the season heightened the feeling of expectancy.  Another circumstance which tended in the same direction was the result of the first encounter between the elevens at Luton when the verdict was in favour of the visitors by four goals to three.  A good number went over from Luton to witness the game, the party numbering about 100.  There was no nearly so large an attendance on the ground as might have been expected, only some 800 being present.  The Watford authorities had requisitioned the services of their strongest players.  All lovers of football were glad to see the veteran F. Sargent back in his place at centre forward, and other notable West Herts. men were fond to be included in the ranks.  The Lutonians were considerably weakened by the absence of Deacon, who had been more badly hurt in the cup tie with Montrose on the previous Saturday than was at first supposed.  His place was filled by A. Whitby with indifferent success.  

Shortly after 3 o’clock the teams ranged up in the following order:- West Herts: Goal, J. Woods; backs, E.H. Marriette and W.A. Sargent; half-backs, J. Penney, C.H. Peacock and E. Villiers; forwards, F. Sargent (centre), captain, W.S. Coles, T. Coles (left), E. Butler and J. Culverhouse (right).  Luton Town: Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and A. 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 A. Whitby (right).  Taylor lost choice of ends and Oclee kicked off.  There was little advantage in winning the toss for the ground was in excellent condition and a strong wind which was blowing swept across the field.  From the start the home team showed that they meant business, and after the opening exchanges their forwards ran down capitally, the bulk of the work being done by F. Sargent, who was eventually compelled to kick over the line.  They repeated this performance a few moments later, but Sanders proved thoroughly reliable.  From a mistake by the same player shortly afterwards the home forwards, who were attacking in determined fashion, were afforded an opportunity and the ball found its way into Burley’s hands.  The visitors’ keeper experienced little difficulty in disposing of it effectively, though he was hotly assailed by F. Sargent and his colleagues.  Burley is remarkable for his coolness in face of danger, and he never gave a more admirable exhibition of this than now.  The Luton forwards had not yet settled down to work; their passing had been somewhat weak and none of them had flattered their supporters.  At length Cheshire put in a capital dodging run, but at the critical moment he was pulled up by A. Sargent.  From a miskick by the same player the homesters were enabled to carry the fray to the other hand, but just when he had got in a splendid position for shooting the centre man gave “hands.”  During the period when the Town goal was being assailed Taylor and Paul put in some grand work, while Wright also showed himself to be in good form.  Paul was jeered by a section of the Watford spectators, but it made no difference; he was ubiquitous as usual, and used both head and feet with the dexterity which he has become familiar to local onlookers.  More than once he was applauded for some particularly fine heading.  H. Whitby was the next Lutonian who claimed notice.  He made one of his well-known runs, and, eluding Penney, took a flying shot at goal, which unfortunately was unproductive.  The Watfordians retaliated, and P. Coles sent in a stinging shot, which just went outside the net – for the West Herts. executive have just adopted this latest improvement.  A great shout went up from the homesters, but this rapidly changed to dead silence when it was recognised that they had been mistaken.  Sanders evoked applause by brilliantly stopping one of his adversaries, and his comrades emulated him by making a fierce attack on Wood’s charge.  A “corner,” the first in the game, fell to the visitors in consequence, but though the leather was kicked well into the mouth of the goal nothing resulted.  “Freddy,” as Sargent is affectionately dabbed, next attacked Burley’s goal, but his attempt was easily frustrated.  An appeal for a goal was disallowed.  Directly after this “hands” was given against the “reds” twenty yards from their upright, but the left-wing men managed to obtain possession, and by means of some better passing than they had yet shown they got the ball well up the field, but A. Sargent prevented their further progress.  Burley was kept busy for a space, and Paul headed out twice in his best style, a “corner” following the second time.  H. Whitby and his companion ran up their side very well indeed, but were unable to obtain the desired notch.  Butler had a grand chance with an open goal but he failed in the most unaccountable way, and immediately thereafter gave his opponents a free kick by placing himself off-side.  From a throw in by Taylor about now the ball found its way in front of the Rovers’ citadel, and Paul placed it just over the bar.  Luton had now settled down, and were playing in far better style than at the commencement, and they made it warm for Woods, more than one shot missing by the merest trifle.  Paul, Sanders and Hoy were showing brilliant defence, while A. Sargent was similarly conspicuous on the other side.  After a foul had been given against Taylor, a very unpleasant incident occurred.  Culverhouse kicked into the Luton goal, but Burley, standing on the line fisted out.  A goal was claimed and to the intense surprise of at least the spectators from Luton the referee (Mr E.J. Sargent) awarded the point.  After vainly protesting Taylor and his companions proceeded to leave the ground in a body amid hooting from the crowd.  It was pointed out to the visitors’ captain, however, that by recently adopted rule of the Association his side would be liable to suspension, and though urged by some to abandon the game better counsels prevailed and the Lutonians returned, a step which was received with general applause.  It might be supposed that after such an unfortunate occurrence as this both sides would redouble their efforts, and this proved to be the case, and from this stage until half-time little fault could be found with the play.  The “lads in red” gamely struggled to retrieve their position, but they missed two or three excellent opportunities.  On one occasion A. Whitby failed when he had the goal at his mercy, and his brother Frank was similarly unfortunate twice running.  When the interval arrived the score was: West Herts 1: Luton 0.  About five minutes after the re-start W.S. Coles managed to pass the backs and finished up by scoring in magnificent style, thus putting his side two notches ahead.  Play was fairly even for a time, every advantage having to be hardly won.  F. Sargent displayed some of his old brilliancy and hotly assailed the Town Club’s fortress, the ball on one occasion striking the cross-bar and bounding over.  At another time Burley steered it along the goal-line, but it was returned right across the goal without being touched.  By means of some determined efforts Luton got through the last line of defence and Harry Whitby opened the account for his side with a capital shot.  P. Coles having finished up a run by striking the post with the ball.  F. Whitby made an incursion into his foemen’s territory but failed at the critical moment.  His brother Harry followed this example, though his failure was not quite so noticeable.  A period of well-contested play followed and at length the “reds” were enabled to add to their score.  The obtained “hands” in front of goal, and Taylor gently lifted the leather through off the heads of some of his opponents.  This rendered the scores level, a result which was enthusiastically cheered by the Lutonians present.  From now to the finish both sides increased their exertions, but neither succeeded in altering their total and a splendidly contested struggle ended in a draw of two goals all.  The linesmen were Messrs F. Scott (Luton) and C.H. Halsey (West Herts).”  

“With Bat, Ball and Bicycle” commented as follows;

“There has been a very strong feeling of dissatisfaction expressed with regard to the result of the match between the Town Club and West Herts on Saturday, and for once the complaints are not without a very good show of reason.  It is particularly unfortunate that there should have been any element of uncertainty about the score, for this will very readily call to mind the extremely unsatisfactory conclusion of the first match at Luton, when the Rovers were enabled to claim a win by the narrow majority of four goals to three.  The cause of complaint on this occasion was even more pronounced, and the partisans of the local team who journeyed to Watford did not fail to express their ideas in very outspoken fashion.  In reply to a question as to who was the best man on the home side a Lutonian cynically replies “The referee,” a sally which called forth approving laughter from his companions.  

There did not seem much uncertainty amongst the onlookers as to the wrongfulness of the decision, it being apparent to all but the most jaundiced of judgments that a distinct mistake had been made.  The ball was met by Burley with his arms extended at their full length while he was standing on the goal-line, and how it was possible for it to have gone between the posts under these conditions passes my comprehension to understand.  It is evident that “Some one had blundered,” and it was equally certain that when the referee had made a mistake he was prepared to abide by his decision in spite of all that could be urged.  

The Lutonians were. I think, wise in resolving to play on, though at one time their resentment was so great that there seemed little prospect of inducing them to resume.  A hint as to the danger of suspension was, however, sufficient for Captain Taylor, who readily perceived that his team’s chances in the forthcoming cup contest would be jeopardised by rash and inconsiderate action.  It is but fair to the spectators that when the “reds” again took up their positions the applause was general, and it may be stated that the referee appeared desirous afterwards of avoiding anything which would lead to a renewal of unpleasantness.  

The game was splendidly contested throughout, and despite what may be said to the contrary I do not think there was anything to choose between the elevens.  The result was distinctly a moral win for the visitors, but unfortunately matches are – like Parliamentary elections – decided by the totals obtained by the opposing sides.  The Lutonians are, however, entitled to congratulate themselves on the very creditable show which they made.  After the dispute they fought desperately to obtain the victory and though not successful in achieving this they acquitted themselves in a way which was highly pleasing to their admirers.  I should like to see the team meet again, for the question of supremacy can scarcely be said to have been decided yet.  

It is difficult to know whom to award the palm to on the Luton side, for all showed up prominently at one time or another.  Amongst the forwards by far the best style was shown by Harry Whitby and Oclee, while Cheshire at intervals aroused himself from the laziness which he has so frequently exhibited of late.  Frank Whitby carried the ball down well but shot badly, and his brother Alfred played passably, though he was evidently nervous.  Paul again proved himself the right man in the right place and in spite of the unfavourable shouts of the noisy element he persisted in depriving the West Herts. men in grand fashion.  His heading was really admirable, a remark which also applies to Taylor, whose all round play was excellent.  Wright, too, was plucky in tackling and the careful way in which he fed the forwards was remarked upon.  The backs both did splendidly, though Sanders displayed and unfortunate tendency to kick into touch.  Hoy’s play seems to improve continually, and I think I am correct in saying that on Saturday he made scarcely a mistake.  

The forwards showed the best form on the West Herts. side.  Fred Sargent was as tricky as ever, but it seemed that his companions left rather too much for him to do, regarding him as their champion.  The brothers Coles were prominent, however, and Butler did some excellent work on the wing.  The pair of backs were very safe.  Of the two Alec Sargent was most admired, and he did a vast amount of work.”  

The Luton News of 6th February 1892 contained the following letter – 

“To the Editor of the Luton News

Sir.- As a spectator of the above match at Watford on Saturday, I should like to enter my protest against the partiality of the referee.  The match had not been in progress more than ten minutes before anybody with the least knowledge of football could see that he was utterly incompetent to deal with so good a game.  The way in which he leisurely walked up and down the field without the least observance of the rules, led me to think that this must have been his first lesson in football, and when he awarded a goal from a long shot, which the Luton goal-keeper cleared with ease, my surprise and imagination knew no bounds.  It was in my judgment a most palpable error.  I can hardly believe that the gentleman in question is a brother of the two well-known West Herts players of the name of Sergent, and who were both taking part in the match, and if I may be allowed to offer them a suggestion, I would suggest that they advise their brother to be an innocent spectator from the pavilion until he can follow the game with that close precision which is expected from all competent referees.  Yours etc Jas. Squires, Grove House, Cardiff Grove, Luton.”  

With bat, bat and bicycle continued.

”The Town men have up to present been highly successful in their cup matches.  They have qualified to enter the semi-final at Kettering and will prove a very hard nut to crack.  Remembering the excellent fight which our men made with the same team in the final a  coupe of years ago, and considering their manifest improvement since, I am convinced they will prove a thorn in the side of the Rovers.  To-morrow the locals are announced to play the Terriers in the Luton cup competition, and should they survive – and I do not seriously fear defeat – they will enter the semi-final of this also.  

Bye the bye, the results of last Saturday’s English Cup ties should be very flattering to the local players.  West Bromwich Albion, who beat the Town Club in December, defeated the Blackburn Rovers, the holders of the cup for the last two years, while Middlesborough only succumbed to Preston North End, who promise to show up prominently, by two to one after a closely contested game.  If any reliance can be placed on this form, the inference to be drawn is that Luton Town are considerably better than a good many folks think. 

It was suggested two or three years ago that the formation of a Southern League would do much to improve football at this end of the country.  It has now been revived, however, and I should not be at all surprised if a Southern League becomes a fait accompli before next season.  If the promoters of the Kettering and Luton cup contest could be induced to institute a qualifying competition Luton Town would undoubtedly be one of the selected clubs, and they would then have time to engage in league matches.  That the idea is a good one cannot be doubted, and the teams mentioned for membership render it certain that some grand games would be witnessed.  

The action on the present occasion has been put forward in the columns of the Evening News, and here is what “Lutonian” writes to the editor of that paper:- “I was very glad to read in your issue last week your suggestion of a Southern League.  Now, Sir, the only way to get better football in the south is to form a league.  I am sure our Town Club would readily fall in with the idea, and I would suggest the following 12 clubs: Royal Arsenal, Millwall Athletic, Clapton, London Caledonians, Chatham, Marlow, Reading, West Herts., Chiswick Park, Ilford, Crouch End and Luton Town.” Another correspondent suggests Luton Town as a member of the league, and the idea is to be further discussed.  

Here is what a correspondent writes to me on the subject: “The selection of 12 clubs would rest with the committees, but they would hardly reject the claims of our own club, and surely the latter would go in for it.  Rather that, I should say, than the Kettering Cup.  The idea of a League was whispered but was not taken up, but it is to be hoped the matter will be procrastinated until t is too late.  Let the Club make its intentions known at once through the Press, is that London clubs may see how the matter is likely to go.  But wait ! Would the Royal Arsenal join such a League and forego many of their greatest matches.”  

While the first team were enduring a bias referee in Watford, the Reserves beat West Ham two one on the Town ground.  

In local football there were three games reported.  

“Montrose 2nd v Star. – Played on the Montrose ground on Saturday.  There was some good play in both sides, but the Montrose was the better team and won by 6 goals to 2.  The Montrose team was as follows:- Goal, F. Snoxell; backs, K. Davis and F. Day; half-backs, W. Goodliffe, E. Saunders and F. Lovell; forwards, F. Plater and J. Skelton (right), W. Byfield (centre), W. Deacon and W. Saunders (left).  

Montrose 3rd v West Luton Albion. – Played on the West Luton Albion ground on Saturday, and resulted in a win for the Montrose by 2 goals to 1.  The Montrose team was a s follows:- Goal, A. Bailey; backs, H.W. Cawdell and J. Butler; half-backs, F. Bonfield, C. Samuels and D. Connolly; forwards, E. Fuller and G. Bailey (right), F. Rudd (centre), C. Gilbert and C. Colling (left).  

Luton Unity v Volunteers.- Played on the Bury on Saturday last in fine weather, but with a strong wind blowing across the ground.  Stonebridge and Humphrey scored for the Unity in the first half.  Humphrey scored for the Unity in the second period, and the game ended in a win for them by three to nil.  The Unity teams was as follows:- Goal, Emerson; backs, G. Ford and G. Stickles; half-backs, C. Hoy, F. Eton and J. McArthur; forwards, E. Bachini and H. Humphrey (right), A.G. Cox (centre), L. Birchmore and E. Stonebridge (left wing).”  

1st Feb 1892 committee meeting –

“Teams selected against Terriers for sat 6th, admission 3d.

Resolved that price of admission to St. Mary’s Hospital be 3d and Old St. Marks be 3d.  

“That Hon Sec be empowered to put a letter in the evening news advertising the league”.  

Gate money for Sat 30th £1 11s 5d.

Expenses of Watford match £1 7s 9d.

Resolved that Hon Sec write Mr H.J. Favell stating that March 5th was most inconvenient for us to play off the Semi Final in the Kettering Cup Competition and that in the event of the date not being altered they were afraid they should have to scratch.  

That Bowes Park and Barnes match be scratched also that no dogs be admitted the ground during matches”.  

Mr Hunt tendered his resignation as Treasurer of the club but this was allowed to stand by until our next meeting.  

6th February 1892.  From the Luton Reporter of 13th February 1892.  

“The Luton Cup.  The clubs to enter the third round of the Luton Cup competition were eight in number and six of them were antagonised on Saturday last.  The remaining pair were Millwall Athletic and Chesham, and the contest between these have been postponed until Feb. 30, the first-named having obtained the extension on the grounds of their being engaged in another cup match.  The results of the games were pretty much according to anticipation, though the largeness of the majority gained by Kettering over Wolverton was somewhat of a surprise.  The following are the details:-

Luton Town v Terriers.  Played on the Town Club’s ground before some hundreds of spectators.  The weather was fine, and a high wind proved little disadvantage inasmuch as it blew straight across the ground.  The Terriers lost the toss, and kicked off considerably later than the advertised hour.  Immediately after the start Oclee distinguished himself by making a brilliant run up the centre, but the effort was resultless, the payer finishing up with a very weak shot at goal.  The Terriers broke away, but the “reds” rapidly returned and for a space the game was in the younger club’s territory.  F. Whitby steered the ball over the bar, and a “corner” to the Town was rendered nugatory.  Directly afterwards Oclee scored a grand goal when a bout 10 yards from the uprights.  The Town men had not up to the present been exhibiting very good form, but this success seemed to stimulate them a trifle.  Deacon was next to distinguish himself by sending in a very fine shot from the corner-line, which missed by the smallest space conceivable.  Oclee shortly afterwards experienced similar hard luck, a capital piece of heading only failing through the exceptional ability of the opposing goalkeeper.  The Terriers, who were playing very well indeed, next took their turn at pressing, and on one or two occasions looked like scoring.  Day was exhibiting splendid form at back, while Dimmock was most prominent in the forward ranks.  The Town soon afterwards resumed the attack, and H. Whitby kicked over the bar, while Read was forced to steer over a shot from F. Whitby.  The juniors experienced a similar misfortune about now.  Play was extremely slow for some time; both fortresses were assailed in turn, but nothing resulted.  It was not until after the midway interval that any changes were made in the score.  The Terriers’ goal was very hotly assailed, and after a more than usually determined attack the ball went through.  A third notch was obtained from a corner kick, and the game eventually ended in favour of the premier club by three to nil.  The “reds” are accordingly champions of the division and are qualified to enter the semi-final.  Mr F. Pitkin acted as referee, and the linesmen were Messrs J. Bennett and W. Carter.  The winning team was as follows:- Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and A. Hoy; half-backs, A.H. Taylor, H. Paul and J. Wright; forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), H. Whitby, W. Cheshire (left), F.K. Whitby and G. Deacon (right).”  

Edmonton Albion played the 1st Scot Guards at Edmonton in front of 500 spectators.  The Army men won 3 2.  The other game Kettering trounced Wolverton L. & N.W. by five goals to nil.  

With Bat, Ball and Bicycle –

“As the cup competitions draw to a close it is found that “the lads in red,” as their admirers fondly term the Town men, and taking good places.  They are now qualified to enter the semi-finals of both the Kettering and Luton Cups, and I learn they are confident of success in at least one of the contests.  It is now possible to indicate the clubs which will in all probabilities also be engaged.  The Kettering and 1st Scots Guards elevens qualified on Saturday by beating Wolverton L. & N.W. and Edmonton Albion respectively, and there is little doubt that Millwall Athletic will easily eliminate Chesham to-morrow week.  

Last Saturday’s game between the Town and the Terriers was only remarkable for the sturdy fight which the latter made and for the bad form of the winners.  The exhibition which the seniors gave was certainly not worth walking far to see, a remark which will be borne out when it is said that the spectators repeatedly called upon them to exert themselves.  That the score was not larger was owing to the very fine goalkeeping of Read and the back play of Day.  At Edmonton the 1st Scots Guards had to struggle very hard to beat the Albion, but the match at Kettering ended in a runaway victory for the homesters over the Wolverton railway men.  

The suggestion to form a Southern League has been well taken up in some quarters, but not so widely as the importance of the matter deserves.  The “evening News” on Saturday contained a number of letters on the subject, amongst them being three from the secretaries of the Luton, Reading and Swindon clubs intimating their desire to join.  The Luton secretary (Mr Smith) says – “We have long wished that a Southern League were formed, and have followed your remarks re: same with pleasure, and for a start I am instructed by my committee to give in our name as one willing and eager to form the same, our one stipulation being that only clubs of good standing such as those you mention be accepted.  Any meeting called for purposes of arranging such a League we should gladly attend.”  

The secretary of the Reading Club (Mr H.E. Walker) observes – “Another great thing it would do; it would do away with the many cup-ties that are such a prevailing nuisance.  At the beginning of the season you have a good show of fixtures, but at the end you have only carried out about only half of your original fixtures, thus causing no end of work for nothing.  I was speaking to the secretary of a prominent London club, and he agreed with me that football in the South could only be placed on a substantial footing by forming a League.”  The first part of this might well have emanated from Luton.  

Mr H.G. Spratley writes from Luton as follows:- “The letters that have appeared in your columns concerning a proposed Southern League have given our football enthusiasts a lot to talk about, and the general opinion all over town is that a League should be formed, and I consider the best way would be for some responsible person to call a meeting of delegates from the proposed clubs at once, so that a League could be formed and fixtures made before the annual meeting of secretaries.  

A correspondent, signing himself “Pelican,” says – “No one can doubt that Southern clubs are far behind their brethren in the North, but, sir, do you think it would be fair for such clubs as the Royal Arsenal, for instance, to place their first team against teams that have been beaten by their reserves?  And again, would it pay to do so?  What I would venture to suggest is that a Southern League and also an Alliance be formed, which would be conducted on the same lines as the present League and Alliance, which, I think, would make the competitions more equal, and would give some of the weaker clubs an opportunity to distinguish themselves, which I contend to the partiality of the London Football Association does not.  I would suggest such clubs as the following for the League:- Clapton Casuals, Royal Arsenal, Millwall Athletic, Chatham, London Caledonians, Old Foresters, and Luton; and for the Alliance such as St. Bart’s Hospital, Royal Arsenal Reserves, City Ramblers, Foxes, 2nd Scots Guards and Reading.”

“Another correspondent ridicules the idea that the Royal Arsenal would join such a League, and “An old player” makes the following complimentary allusion, to the Town Club:- “I was very glad to see in last Saturday’s edition that the Luton Town F.C. was one of the clubs suggested to belong to the League.  Anyone who has seen this club play this season will have been struck with the good form they display.  I have seen them once or twice, and am wonderfully pleased with their play, and I fancy they would give any South of England club a good game.  They have a good ground, and any club visiting them can rely upon a splendid reception by a large crowd that takes great interest in our winter game.” 

The writer of “Football Gossip” in the same paper, alludes to what has been done and urges the London clubs to action.  He proceeds:- “I may as well make it clear to all interested, that it would be as well to leave Royal Arsenal out of the calculations – for two reasons.  Firstly, they are not likely to join because with their highly-paid pro’s it is necessary for them to try at higher games.  secondly, even if they would join, it would be as well to bar them, because amateur clubs who do not pay highly for the services of players could hardly hope to have a chance.  The competition would be robbed of much of its interest as there were in it a club whose superiority made the result a foregone conclusion.  Luton is also nominally a professional team, but here the objection would not hold good, for the players are only paid out of pocket expenses, and not for their services.  They are all real Lutonians, and not imported.  Swindon want to come in,  Here there is the difficulty of distance, and I doubt whether it would pay the Swindon club to make a dozen journeys from home.  Of course that is for them to consider.  In fact, I have no wish to discuss details – general principles are enough for me  The rest is for the clubs themselves to settle.”  

The writer afterwards says :- “If I were to suggest to clubs who might form the League I say they should be as follows:- London Caledonians, Clapham, Millwall Athletic, Crusaders, Chiswick Park, Chatham, Luton, Marlow, Reading and West Herts, or Ilford.  If any of the Old Boys clubs, say Old Foresters, or Old Carthusians, chose to come in so much the better.  Each club would have to play 18 matches, nine at home and nine away.  The travelling expenses would in the case of the London clubs not prove heavy, as they would have to go out of London five times each.  Chatham, Reading, Luton and Marlow would have the greatest burden to bear, but as these clubs can all get good gates, I have little doubt hey would be able to bear it.  Now, Londoners, be up and doing and let us see if we cannot start next season with a Southern League.”  

The column went on to say that the match with St. Mary’s Hospital on Wednesday had been scratched.  

In local football, Luton teams had mixed fortunes.  West Luton Albion lost six nil to St. Albans Rovers.  Their team was as follows:- Goal, H. Saunders; backs, J. Halsey and W. Barford; half-backs, W. Allen, J. Custance and W. Pederick; forwards, F. Saunders, J. Wheatley (right), W. Dalton (centre), W. Barton and H. Jeeves (left).   Luton Montrose however, beat Redbourn 11 nil at home.  Their team was as follows:- Goal, A. Tearle; backs, F. Hoy and G. King; half-backs, E. Fuller, W. Bird and W. King; forwards, F. Biggs and W. Brown (right), H. Hurcombe, W. Miller and C. Colling (left).  Custance, the King’s, Brown and Frank Hoy would all play for Luton Town.  Walter Miller already had finished his career with the Straw Plaiters.  

8th Feb 1892 committee meeting –

“Team selected against St Marks for sat 13th 

Gate money for sat 16th £5 14s 2d, Pavilion 1/-, Terriers share £2 10s 0d.  

“Resolved that Hon Sec write Grantham Rovers stating that we did not want to take any undue advantage of them with respect to the Kettering Cup as to the scratching that might be arranged.  

Mr Hunt’s resignation be accepted and Mr Evans act as Treasurer pro tem.  

Interlude – snow storms hit the town with falls on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  

13th February 1892.  From the Luton Reporter of 20th February 1892.  

“Luton Town v Old St. Mark’s.  This, one of the most important fixtures of the season, was decided on the Town Club’s ground on Saturday, and ended in a decisive win for the homesters by two goals to none.  The closeness which had characterised the previous struggles between the teams led to a large attendance, it being computed that about 1,000 were present.  The weather was bright and dry, but a cutting wind blew across the ground to the discomfort of the spectators.  It was somewhat late when the elevens ranged up in the following order:- Luton – Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and A. Hoy; half-backs, J. Wright, H. Paul and A.H. Taylor; forwards, F. Whitby, G. Deacon (right), H.W. Oclee (centre), W. Cheshire and H. Whitby (left).  Old St. Mark’s:- Goal, J.W. Payne; backs, F. Leese and J.C. Jarvis; half-backs, A.W. Ventner, W.A. Silvey and J.W. Thornley; forwards, W.D. Redmond, C. Cattell (left), J.F. wood (centre), J.M. Baxter and J.R. Schumacher (right).  Luton won the toss and Wood kicked off.  The homesters pressed but St. Mark’s retaliated and it was only the fine back play of Hoy and his companions that took the sting out of their attack.  The first corner fell to Luton but it was not improved upon, and Oclee shortly afterwards kicked behind when the leather had been well taken up.  Free kicks for “hands” and corners were obtained by the “reds,” but none of these were productive of the desired result.  The visitors next made an incursion into the opposite side’s territory and one of their forwards spoilt a great chance by placing himself off-side.  After some scrambling play Hoy made a grand shot at goal which met with the same fate at its precursors.  Some very fine combined play by H. Whitby and Cheshire was next witnessed; indeed the whole of the Lutonians were leaving no stone unturned, the half-backs acquitting themselves particularly well.  S. Mark’s pressed a trifle, but they were not allowed to stay long in the Luton confines, the sphere being rapidly transferred to the other end, where the home forwards failed in front of the uprights in execrable style.  At length the Town players’ account was opened through the medium of Cheshire, who sent in a stinging shot which it was next to impossible to stop.  Immediately afterwards H. Whitby, who had been exhibiting exceedingly good form, strike the post with a capital shot, while a little later he sent the leather skimming over the bar.  The old students next called upon Burley too defend his charge, but the compliment was returned, and Payne’s fortress was more than once in imminent danger of being captured.  Taylor, who was playing as well as ever he did, on one occasion sent in a warm attempt which the visitors’ keeper safely disposed of, and though the ball was again kicked in he managed to prevent it going through.  The pace, which had been very high, slackened considerably and with the exception of a magnificent exhibition by Hoy, play was uneventful for a space, and both ends were visited.  This continued to be the condition of affairs  when half-time arrived, the score was standing: Luton 1, Old St. Mark’s 0.  In the second period the visitors showed much better style than previously, while Luton on the contrary feel off greatly.  ten minutes from the interval , St. Mark’s looked like scoring but “hands” were awarded against them and this relieved the Lutonians.  Paul, who had been discernible in every scrimmage, was hurt, but fortunately his injury was not severe and he was enabled to continue.  His presence became manifest to the St. Mark’s men at one time: the Luton citadel seemed certain to fall when Paul rushed into the breach and with one of his wonderful pieces of heading sent the balls several yards up the field.  Oclee was showing good style just now, and H. Whitby at one period sent in a terribly fast shot which Payne only managed to keep out with extreme difficulty.  Burley had a very bad time subsequently, but acquitted himself extremely well.  Frank Whitby put in stinging attempt, but it was not until a minute before time arrived that the score was added to.  The same player then sent the ball from the corner flag into the mouth of the goal and from the scrimmage that followed it went through off one of the St. Mark’s men.  The game thus ended : Luton 2 Old St. Mark’s 0.  Mr J. Bennett was referee and the linesmen were Messrs W. Jacquest and W. Smith.”  

With Bat, Ball and Bicycle –

“There was naturally a good gathering on the Athletic Grounds on Saturday, when Luton met Old St.Mark’s, the closeness of the previous encounters between the clubs having presented a great deal of interest.  The visitors came with a high reputation, their matches during the previous two or three weeks having resulted in hollow victories for them.  There were a few in the town who were thus led to think highly of the collegians chances but they sadly reckoned with their host and had neglected to take into account the vast improvement which had admittedly taken place this season in the home combination.  The match was splendidly contested and the Lutonians had to struggle very had to obtain their lead of two to love.  

The Lutonians showed dashing form in the first half, their passing tactics being far better than usual in the early portion.  At times they slackened considerably, but this was not by any means from decrease of stamina, for when necessary they renewed their efforts and showed that they were by no means exhausted.  After scoring their first goal, the play noticeably degenerated and it was not until they were being pressed in the second three-quarters that they completely equalled their former exhibitions.  

It becomes monotonous, perhaps, to say that all behaved as well as ever, but such was the fact.  Amongst the forwards Oclee, who I am glad to find is now being appraised as his due worth by some who were previously sceptical with regard to his ability, left no endeavour unmade to secure the victory for his side.  He is always unselfish – perhaps rather too much at times – as this trait was very apparent on Saturday, while he recked not the age of the opponents whom he had to “go for.”  Harry Whitby was the best of the other forwards, though Cheshire gave us some notion of his power at times.  

The half-backs again proved themselves a really reliable trio, and I am beginning to wonder what we should do without Paul and our old friend the captain.  The former got hurt but with his usual disregard of personal misadventure, he went on – and it was fortunate that he did, for directly after he resumed he was instrumental in saving what looked like the almost certain downfall of his side’s fortress.  Taylor played in sterling style, while Wright afforded unqualified satisfaction to his admirers for he worked like a Trojan.  Hoy seems to become safer week by week, and was at his best – at one time he deprived several of his adversaries in exceedingly meritorious fashion.  Sanders and Burley also upheld their reputations though it should be confessed that one was struck with the need for the former to correct a lately developed tendency to kick into touch.  

The St. Mark’s players proved themselves a very capable lot, and more than once they experienced hard luck in failing to score – though this must not be construed into an admission that they by any means had the best of the game.  They were very fast and their passing was fairly accurate but the sturdiness of the “reds” backs was too much for them.  Schumacher was the smartest of the forwards but he displayed an unfortunate prowess to putting himself off-side.  Leese was as firm as a rock at back, and Payne by his plucky defence rendered nugatory many strenuous attempts to lower his colours.  

The conduct of referees has recently very hotly called into question in certain quarters, and though it is impossible for any but one mortal to be regarded as infallible it must be confessed that there is often times good ground for the complaints.  Last Saturday’s referee has not escaped censure by some spectators, who claim he was rather too sharp in his decisions.  This may possibly be the case, but i give the gentleman concerned credit for carrying out his duties honestly and impartially.  

The proposal to form a Southern League seems in a fair way to become accomplished, the correspondence in the “Evening News” having evoked general expressions of favour.  Mr T.W. Beardsley, vice chairman of the Royal Arsenal club, writes on Saturday to the effect that he considers this an opportune time for a step in this direction.  “It will,” says the writer, “raise the standard of football in the South (London in particular) from the state of lethargy and mediocrity it is labouring under, and stimulate in the minds of young aspirants a desire to attain League perfection.  There appears to be a lack of sympathy on the part of leading clubs with a Southern League, but I hope there is sufficient pluck in the south to overcome that little difficulty.”  

The same writer suggests the holding of a meeting of representatives of clubs that are interested in this movement, no matter whether first or second-rate teams, to be held at Oliphant’s Restaurant, Ludgate-circus, London, on Wednesday next, at 7.15, to decide what steps shall be taken.  He also suggests that clubs intending to send representatives should furnish the Evening News with their names for publication to ensure a representative gathering.  Several other correspondents write in favour of the institution of a League, though one or two advance the difficulty of access between outlying places mentioned as worthy of inclusion.  The idea is eagerly welcomed at Luton, and the West Herts executive are to consider it.  

When it was found that the semi-final between Luton and the Grantham Rovers in the Kettering Cup would fall on the date fixed for the Casuals to visit Luton there was an idea expressed that the locals should scratch.  This has not been determined upon, however, and accordingly the Town men will journey to Kettering of March 5.  The local executive are chartering a train which will depart at 1.30, the fare for the double journey being 2s.” ONLOOKER.  

In local football Luton Montrose went to Wolverton L. & N.W. and lost to their reserves by nine goal to nil.  The Montrose team was Goal, E. Fisher; backs, E. Davis and F. Hoy; half-backs, F. Moody, W. Bird and W. King; forwards,  G. King and W. Byfield (right wing), H. Hurcombe (centre), W. Deacon and W. Colling (left wing).  

10th February 1892 committee meeting –

“Hon Sec read Mr Favell’s letter which stated that they had tried to arrange with the Kettering Club to have their ground on February 27th for the tie Luton v Grantham but Kettering declined to let their ground for that date.  The tie would therefore have to be played on March 5th or 7th.  If the latter date was not suitable it must come off on the 5th.  The matter was freely discussed when it was pointed out that Monday 7th would not suit the town and there was no alternative.  It was resolved that we play Grantham on March 5th”.  

‘It was resolved that the Hon Sec write the Bros Whitby stating that the committee left their resignation until Sat 13th and that if not withdrawn by that date, the same would be accepted”.  

17th February 1892 committee meeting –

“gate money for sat 13th £5 14s 9d.  Pavilion 2/-.  

“A definite reply be obtained from the bro Whitby’s with regard to the withdrawal of their resignation before they be allowed to play”.  

“It was proposed by Mr Hinson and Seconded by Mr Hughes that a guarantee of 300 be given to M.R. for a special to Kettering on March 5th, return fare 2/- not to start before 1.30 PM.  This was also carried 3 for and none against”.  

“Proposed Mr Bennett, sec Mr Evans that Hon sec represent the club at the meeting called for the formation of a Southern League”.  

20th February 1892.  From the Luton Reporter of 27th February 1892.  

“Luton Town v Woodville.

This match was played on Saturday on the Town ground.  Despite the severity of the weather there was a good attendance of spectators.  The ground was covered deeply with snow.  the visitors brought only eight men and had to secure the services of two substitutes on the field, while Paul was missing from his post on the home side.  The game proved very one-sided, the homesters winning by 13 goals to one.  Cheshire opened the Luton account , Oclee added a second, and before half-time Deacon gained a third.  Woodville had scored in the meantime, and when the teams crossed over the Town were leading by three goals to one.  After the change of ends Luton added 10 more and prevented their opponents increasing their total.  The goals for the winners were obtained as follows: Oclee four, Cheshire three, Deacon three, H. Whitby two and King one.  The home eleven were as follows:- Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and A. Hoy; half-backs, A.H. Taylor, J. Wright and G. King; forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), F.K. Whitby, G. Deacon (right), H. Whitby and W. Cheshire (left).  

THE KETTERING CUP:- Last Saturday had been fixed as the date for the first of the semi-finals in the competition for the Kettering Cup, the clubs to be engaged being Finedon and Kettering.  Every arrangement was made for the match; the ground was partially cleared of snow, and a special train arranged.  Early in the week Thomas Rowe, one of the Finedon half-backs, met with a serious accident whilst following his normal occupation, from the effects of which the poor fellow died in the General Infirmary at Northampton on Thursday night.  On Friday afternoon a deputation from the Finedon Club waited upon the Cup Secretary (Mr H.T. Favell) to inform him that the Finedon players had decided in consequence of Rowe’s death not to meet Kettering on Saturday, Mr Favell endeavoured to persuade them to do so, but they refused.  On Saturday the Kettering Club attended at the time for the kick off and kicked a goal and have claimed the match.  Finedon have expressed their willingness to meet Kettering on any date after Rowe’s funeral.  


On Wednesday night a meeting of representatives of Southern football clubs took place in London for the purpose of considering the availability of forming a Southern League.  There were delegates from 24 clubs, Luton Town being represented by Mr I. Smith.  Mr Beardsley (Royal Arsenal), in proposing “That a Southern League be formed,” said he should like to bring about a consummation.  His experience was that the greatest interest was centred in League football.  He thought it was very necessary indeed to forma League.  Mr Henderson (Millwall Athletic) seconded, and the proposition was carried unanimously.  The number of clubs to form the League was then discussed.  Mr Smith (Luton Town) proposed that the League should be formed of 10 clubs.  His club had been in favour of a League for four years past.  Three years ago a meeting was called for the same purpose.  In “The Sportsman” it has been said that probably Luton and other country clubs had plenty of Saturdays to spare.  He could assure them that their chief difficulty was to get through their matches.  They, like London clubs, were messed up with those abominable things called “cups.”  In consequence of these they were either scratching to some club every Saturday or being scratched to.  His club would work hard for the formation of a Southern League to save themselves from the blackballing they were subject to in other quarters.  Mr Williams (Wolverton) seconded.  Amendments were proposed in favour of the number being eight and 12 clubs, and Mr Smith withdrew his motion in favour of the latter, which was eventually agreed to by 20 votes to five.  It having been decided to select the teams to form the League on the spot, and some questions with regard to Royal Arsenal and Millwall Athletic having been answered, Mr Smith (Luton Town) asked for information as to which took the gate-money in League matches.  If he was enlightened on this point, he would promise that his club would stand by what he did that evening.  It was explained to him that his question was a matter for the clubs themselves to settle and not for the present meeting.  The business of selecting the teams to form the League was therefore proceeded with, with the result that the following were chosen:-

Chatham 26 votes

Luton Town 26 votes

Millwall Athletic 25 votes

Marlow 24 votes

Swindon Town 24 votes

Reading 22 votes

West Herts 21 votes

Royal Arsenal 19 votes

Ilford 19 votes

Chiswick Park 18 votes

Old St. Mark’s 15 votes

Crouch End 12 votes

The unsuccessful clubs were voted for as follows: Chesham 10, Wolverton 9, City Ramblers 8, Woodville 8, Uxbridge 7, St. Albans 6, Erith 3, Westminster 3, Criterion 2, Old St. Stephen’s 2, Upton Park 2 and Tottenham Hotspur 1.  

Mr J. Butler, whose address is 3, Kerlsey Street, Poplar, was appointed secretary pro tem, after a request from Crouch End to be allowed to withdraw had been refused.  It was then proposed that the clubs not selected on the League should form an Alliance, and on the proposition being carried, a vote of thanks to the chairman brought the meeting to a close, it being adjourned indefinitely.”  

“The remarks in the “Sportsman” to which Mr Smith referred were as follows: “the subject is a difficult one to tackle, and has its advantages and disadvantages.  On the other hand, there should be a better fixity of programme, and perhaps a keener interest in the game; on the other the introduction of League in  the South will tend towards the spread of professionalism with many of its objectionable features, and the rendering of of an enjoyable afternoon’s football subservient to mercenary principles.  It will be almost impossible for clubs to carry out a League programme and compete in the Football Association, the London, Middlesex and other Cup competitions, with a few visits from famous provincial teams thrown in.  Keener interest than was recently evinced at the Oval when the Casuals met Millwall Athletic, and the Old Westminsters played Clapton, it would be difficult to conceive, and the question arises, Is it not better to let well alone?  For the Arsenal, Luton Chatham and Swindon, who are outside the metropolitan competitions, there may be plenty of spare Saturdays, but not for others I could name, unless the Cup ties are not to be thrown over.  Again, the clubs are nothing like so well matched as is the case in the provincial combinations, and teams that drifted rapidly to the bottom would – from my experience of amateur bodies – find a lethargic state of affairs arise, which could not fail to prove injurious to the clubs.  Such are a few of the questions that suggest themselves to me, and without expressing any decided opinion on the matter, I would ask delegates to seriously weigh up the pros and cons before taking a step to-night that may afterwards be deeply regretted.”  

Interlude – The Luton Town Cricket Club had their Annual General Meeting chaired by our old friend, John Cotchin.  The secretary, the former Luton Town football player Gilbert Small, reported a huge deficit in the clubs accounts in the sum of £42 15s 6d.  Money spent on “professional aid” which I take to mean professional players had cost the club about £40.  Rent to the Central committee was an additional £20.  It was agreed that a town the size of Luton should be able to support the town’s cricket club.  

22nd February 1892 committee meeting –

“Gate money for sat 20th £2 11s 0d, Pavilion 1/2.  

Team selected against Edmonton for sat 27th.  admission 3d and members free.  

“It was resolved that Mr Hinson should accompany Hon Sec as second delegate to League Meeting”.  

The 27th February 1892 Luton Reporter carried a letter.

“Luton Football Club

Sir, I am sure that the Luton football public will heartily congratulate Mr H. Whitby on his recent marriage and wish him every success and happiness in this most important undertaking.  Football has obtained a firm hold as a national winter pastime, and no town of any size is without its club, while the friendly rivalry and enthusiasm grows as a club attains greater success in this pastime.  None of the Luton players have worked harder or more successfully to place the Luton Town Club in its present position than this very popular left-wing player, and the spectators have been lavish in their applause when by a grand effort he has succeeded in eluding his opponents and made one of those fine runs that so characterises his play.  Some of his admirers have thought this a most fitting opportunity to show their appreciation in a more substantial way than mere cheering by making him a suitable present, and this they will ask him to accept at the termination of the match, Luton v Edmonton on Saturday.  As doubtless many who are anxious to show their appreciation have not had an opportunity of contributing, there will be a few gentlemen willing to receive contributions on the field on Saturday, but not later than half-time.  

Yours truly


27th February 1892.  From the Luton Reporter of 5th March 1892.  

“Luton Town v Edmonton.  This match was played on the Dunstable-road ground on Saturday and ended in a win for the homesters by the narrow margin of three goals to two.  The visitors came one man short, but were enabled to secure the services as substitute of S. Day, who made a very efficient back.  A. Whitby on the Luton side filled the place of his brother Harry, who had been injured in the previous week.  It was difficult at first to distinguish the players, the colours being almost precisely similar, but the Lutonians solved the difficulty by wearing white bands.  The game is scarcely worthy of description, for with the exception of occasional flashes of excellence the home eleven made a very poor display.  The Lutonians were the first to score, A. Whitby sending the ball through from a good pass from his brother, Frank.  Soon after the commencement of the second period Oclee scored from a pass by Deacon.  Shortly afterwards, however, the visitors obtained two notches in rapid succession and the issue was for some time in doubt, Paul eventually putting on the winning point for his side.  Oclee showed more consistent form on the Luton side, though Cheshire and Hoy also played well, and Simmons made himself conspicuous for Edmonton.  The teams were: Luton: Goal, J. Burley; A. Sanders and A. Hoy; half-backs, A.H. Taylor, H. Paul, and J. Wright; forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), F.K. Whitby, G. Deacon (right), W. Cheshire and A. Whitby (right).  Edmonton: Goal, G. Pennington; backs, W. Newby and S. Day; half-backs, C. Whemersley, N.S. Lydon and W. Chillingworth; forwards, H. Simmons (centre), S. Sheppard, F.D. Browne (left), J. Brigden and H. Ellis (right).  Mr F. Pitkin was referee, and Messrs H. Wilkinson and H. Gray acted as linesmen.  

After the match a presentation was made to Mr H. Whitby, who has recently entered the matrimonial state.  Mr H. Webb presented in a few felicitations and appreciative sentences a cheque for £8 8s., which amount had been subscribed by a number of friends.  “Harry” briefly expressed his acknowledgements and his determination to endeavour in the future to continue to merit the confidence which had been placed in him.”

In local football the Montrose first team went to St. Albans and defeated Stanville by four goals to one.  the Montrose second team beat Stanley and the Stanley ground by four goals to two.    

Played on 29th February 1892. 

“Millwall Athletic v Chesham.  This match in the third round [of the Luton Charity Cup] had been postponed by permission, the Londoners being engaged in another competition.  They met at Millwall on Monday, when contrary to expectation, those present witnessed a most exciting struggle.  It was generally thought that the Athletic team would get a hollow victory, but the margin at the close was only two goals to one in their favour, and that after having none best of the the game.  Fairly good teams opposed each other.  The fine weather attracted a company of about 500, but the greasy state ground militated greatly against fast play.  Chesham kicked off, but the forwards being immediately dispossessed of the ball, Millwall attacked and gained two corners in as many minutes, but these availed themselves nothing.  The visitors in turn assumed the aggressive, and for some little period gave Caygill a warm time of it, but he managed to defend his charge splendidly.  For quite a quarter of an hour the game fluctuated considerably, on side then the other looking dangerous, and although either side were awarded several corners, nothing resulted.  Eventually a fine rush by the home forwards enabled Jones to score, but before half-time Howell, after a brilliant dribble from mid-field, equalised.  In the second portion play became very exciting, corners being numerous, and ultimately from one of these Lindsay for the home club managed to send the ball through.  Right up to the close the result was stubbornly contested, Chesham having hard luck in not scoring on several occasions, and they were eventually beaten by two goals to one.  The teams were :- Millwall Athletic; O. Caygill (goal); H. Withington and H. Earle (backs); T. Walling, H. Butler (captain) and D. Gloak (half-backs); F. McCulloch and R. Jones (right wing), F. Banks (centre), F. Withington and B. Dunman (left wing), forwards.  Chesham : F. Sills (goal); A. Hobbs and G. Darnell (backs); F. Sproutley, W. Woods and A. Mead (half-backs); F. Howell, J. Culverhouse (right wing), H. Holliman (centre), W. Mayo and R. Russell (left wing) forwards.”  

The paper went on-

“The Semi-Finals. – Millwall Athletic having, according to anticipation, disposed of Chesham in the Luton Cup contest, they are entitled to enter the semi-finals.  The draw for the semi-finals has resulted as follows:- Millwall Athletic v Kettering on March 12; Luton Town v 1st Scots Guards on April 2, both games to be played at Luton – the kick off being fixed in each game at 3.30.  Both games are likely to be severely contested.  

29th February committee meeting –

“Team selected against Kettering Cup against Grantham Rovers.  Mr Evans accompany team.  

Gate money for Sat 27th £4 15s 10 1/2d, Pavilion 1/4.  

4th March 1892 – Ground be let for the Luton Charity Competition for Sat March 12th, April 2nd, and April 16th at the charge of £2 per match.  

Letter received from A. Robertson of Royal Arsenal.  His offer “be not entertained”.  

5th March 1892.  From the Luton Reporter of 12th March 1892.  

“Luton Town v Grantham Rovers.  This match in the semi-finals for the Kettering Charity Cup was played at Kettering on Saturday.  Those present numbered around 3,000 and 4,000, that number including hundreds who took advantage of a special trip which was run from Luton.  Both teams came with a good reputation.  The supporters of the Lutonians, while recognising the vast improvement which their team has displayed this season, remembered with some degree of trembling the two games which the teams played a couple of years ago in the final for the same cup.  On that occasion the first encounter resulted in a draw, but the second attempt brought about a somewhat easy win for the Rovers.  On the journey down on Saturday many enthusiasts expressed the conviction that the Town men would assert their supremacy, but the prevailing opinion seemed to be that the odds ere slightly in favour of the enemy.  The weather was suitable, and the ground though somewhat heavy after the recent frosts, was in good condition.  At the advertised time the teams ranged up in the following order:- Luton: Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and A. Hoy; half-backs, H. Paul, A.H. Taylor (capt.)and J. Wright; Forwards, H.W. Oclee (centre), F.K. Whitby, G. Deacon (right), W. Cheshire and H. Whitby (left).  Grantham: Goal, Broadbent; backs, Tucker and Brittain; half-backs, Fisher, Hollingsworth, and Archer; forwards, Flinders (centre), Southwell, Pulling (right), Allen and Mulvey (left).  Grantham won the toss, and Oclee kicked off; a rush by the Luton forwards took the ball to the opposite end, but nothing followed.  Some give and take play was followed by the black and amber forwards breaking through their opponents’ defence and after an execrable mistake by Sanders, Flinders was enabled to send the leather through three minutes from the start.  Immediately afterwards the leaders carried the ball down and from a throw in experienced hard luck in failing to score, Mulvey shooting over.  The Lutonians, who had been playing n somewhat scrambling style, took their turn at attacking.  Cheshire centred well and the Grantham fortress had a narrow escape, its downfall only being averted by conceding of a “corner.”  This was resultless, as was another obtained directly after.  Flinders made a brilliant run into the Luton confines but Sanders kicked out, and the Grantham’s centre’s example was followed by the Town left-wing men who, however, failed to get near the posts.  When things looked very threatening for Luton Deacon relieved, and a foul against Wright was the only noteable event for a space.  “Hands” against Luton was awarded right in goal and a score seemed inevitable, but Archer sent the ball skimming over the cross-bar.  Taylor and Paul were playing extremely well at half-back just now, while Hoy frequently called forth general cheers by a sterling exhibition.  Deacon and Oclee next conveyed the sphere into the Rovers’ bounds and only missed scoring by the merest trifle.  Paul, who has been very unlucky lately, was hurt at this stage, and the game had to be suspended for a minute or two.  Soon after the resumption Sanders made another fatal mistake by which Flinders again profited.  Things now began to look very unpromising for the Town representatives, but they pluckily endeavoured to retrieve their fortunes and twice in the next few minutes Broadbent was called upon to defend his charge.  Hoy and Taylor saved the Luton goal several times when the enemy’s forwards seemed dangerous, but despite all their efforts the Rovers increased their lead almost directly from a corner splendidly kicked by Southwell.  Burley saved admirably immediately afterwards, and Mulvey, who throughout displayed a tendency to put himself off-side, was penalised for offending against the rule.  The leaders were exhibiting somewhat unnecessary roughness, and at one period Taylor was very badly fouled.  Several free kicks fell to Luton, owing to infractions of the rules by Rovers, but none of them brought about the desired result.  Hoy and Oclee distinguished themselves for the “reds,” the former continuing to display brilliant defensive powers, while the latter pluckily struggled to get through the rearward ranks of the Grantham team.  Mulvey very badly fouled Burley and was freely hooted, while a free kick was promptly awarded to Luton.  Corners to the leaders fell in rapid succession but none of them were profitable, though another mis-kick by Sanders almost let his adversaries in.  From now until half-time the game was fairly even, both goals being sharply assailed in turn.  When ends were changed, the score was as follows: Grantham 3 Luton 0.  Early in the second period Cheshire, after a fine run on the left wing, scored the first point for Luton with a magnificent shot, a result which called forth enthusiastic cheers, for curiously enough the Lutonians were favourites with the Kettering spectators.  The success seemed to infuse life into the “reds’ and for a time the game became worth witnessing.  The Lutonians went off with one of their well known rushes and missed scoring by a very little.  For 10 minutes the play ruled fast.  Oclee, Cheshire and Hoy rendering themselves conspicuous for the Town.  The Midland team, however, shortly afterwards obtained a somewhat lucky notch, and this served to take the sting out of the Luton attack, everybody recognising that the match was virtually over.  As time drew near the Lutonians gamely struggled to improve their position, but the Rovers’ back division proved impassable.  Deacon missed two grand chances; on one occasion he threw away the opportunity by passing to F. Whitby, and the second time he feebly kicked over the line.  When the end came Luton were badly beaten by four goals to one.  With the exceptions of the players mentioned none of the Town men rendered themselves conspicuous for good play; in fact, the form of most men was disappointing in the extreme.  Hoy and the three half-backs were the mainstay of the team, while Oclee and Cheshire played well.  The forward combination of the Granthamites was superb, and their backs were safe.  Altogether, the game reflects discredit upon the Luton record and will take a great deal of atoning for.  The referee was Mr T.H. Ashmole (Leicester), and the linesmen were Messrs W.H. Parkes and G.T. Maycock.”  

With Bat, Ball and Bicycle –

“This week brings me a difficult task – to explain the astonishing collapse of the Town players at Kettering on Saturday.  It is, if I may be allowed to indulge in a somewhat Hibernian expression, inexplicable to me, but the fact remains that the players could scarcely have made a more wretched show.  This is the fourth time within two years that I have accompanied the eleven to do battle in the Kettering cup contest, and, with the exception of the first visit when a draw resulted, we have always been compelled to return crestfallen.  On Saturday the beating was more decisive than ever, and the feeling which prevailed amongst the Luton section of the spectators was one of unqualified disgust.  

The disappointment was rendered all the more keen to some by the fact that they had been flattering their souls on the great advances which the “reds” have made during the last few months.  One of the more curious points connected with the game was the fact that the Kettering people selected the Lutonians as their favourites, and their partiality was exhibited in no stinting fashion.  It was veritably believed that the “straw-plaiters,” as our men were called, would qualify to meet their Town Club in the final, and the heartiness with which the wish was expressed brought the blush of shame to the Lutonian’s cheeks when he witnessed the sorry display of his representatives.  

I am afraid that the failure is partly to be accounted for by the slight supremacy of the winners, and although the opinion that the Granthamites were cleverer that the “reds” will not be held by all my readers I do not hesitate to assert that it was apparent.  The combination of their forwards was exceedingly good, and several times they ran round their adversaries’ half-backs.  Their defence was strong ad altogether they proved themselves to be a capable lot.  The final between them and Kettering should produce a good struggle.  

On the losers’ side Hoy showed by far the best style.  He played a grand game, and although hotly pressed at times he kicked with unvarying accuracy.  The applause which was lavished upon him from all parts of the ground affords sufficient indication of the opinion which the spectators formed regarding his merit.  His companion was distinctly out of form, and the misfortune that his glaring mistakes almost invariably resulted in the Rovers getting through.  I never saw Sanders play worse football; during the whole afternoon he made only one good kick.  It has been whispered that his chagrin was so pronounced that he somewhat hastily vowed he would never play again.  

The half-backs, as usual, were a great source of strength to the team; indeed, had it not been for them, I am afraid to think what the score might have been.  Paul, with the bad luck which has been attending him lately, got hurt two or three times, and once the game had to be stopped on that account.  He was as tricky as ever, and seemed to be always found when wanted, though he was not quite so brilliant as usual.  Taylor fought hard to turn the tide in his side’s favour and performed a vast amount of work, while Wright also showed stubborn defence, his efforts being warmly cheered at times.  

Amongst the forwards Oclee was the only one who showed up prominently, and even he was not so commendable as usual.  He tackled and passed well, but did not avail himself of several chances in front of the goal.  Cheshire put in one or two good runs, but he and his wing fellow were nearly always stopped.  Deacon absolutely threw away a couple of good opportunities.  Once when quite close to goal he made the fatal mistake of passing outside to his companion instead of kicking to the centre, and another time he feebly steered the ball over the goal-line.  Frank Whitby made one or two passable runs, but neither he nor his brother maintained their reputations.  Burley saved once or twice in capital fashion.  To sum up, the show made by the “reds” was disappointing in the extreme.”  

The column then mentioned the semi-final of the Luton Charity Cup the following day, the 12th March, between Kettering and Millwall Athletic at Luton.  Luton play 1st Scots Guards in the other semi-final and the writer expects Luton and Millwall to meet in the final. It then continued with a paragraph about the Southern League. 

“The first actual meeting of the recently formed Southern League was held in London on Saturday, when Mr W.A. Sargent (West Herts) was voted to the chair.  It was reported that Chatham, Reading, Great Marlow, Chiswick Park, and Crouch End had withdrawn from the League.  It was them formally put that the League be formed, and the following clubs be included :- Ilford, Millwall Athletic, Royal Arsenal, Luton Town, Old St. Mark’s, West Herts, Swindon Town and Chatham, the representatives of these clubs being in attendance.  The remaining four clubs to comprise the League will be elected at the ensuing meeting of the executive.  The representatives of the Royal Arsenal, Millwall Athletic, Ilford, and the Old St. Mark’s will form the executive committee.  It was agreed to ask Mr C.W. Alcock to become president of the League.  Mr Fred Butler, 3 Kerbey-street, Poplar, was elected honorary secretary.”  

The Luton News of 10th March 1893 added

“ A set of rules were drafted, and in due course be submitted to a general meeting for approval.  Among other things they provide that a club failing to play its first team shall be liable to a fine not not exceeding £10; that the executive shall have power to exclude any club by reason of objectionable conduct; that players shall be registered fourteen days before playing; and that the referees shall be appointed by the executive.”  

It continues

“According to this it would seem that the Arsenal will either have to enter their first eleven or withdraw from the League.”  

NOTE – playing the first team is obviously aimed at the Royal Arsenal.