CHAPTER 29. REFORMERS TAKE CHARGE
The main thing that strikes me when looking back at the actions of the club committee is that they always made the right decisions at the right time. There was very little they got wrong in the years up to 1894 and we owe these unpaid volunteers a great debt. Made up of local businessmen, the committee was in charge of all aspects of the running of the club including team selection, player recruitment and acting as gatemen, referee and linesmen. The Summer of 1892 saw the election to the committee of a group of reformers who wanted to push the club forward. Change was required as the progress of the team on the pitch had stalled. The reformers were to quickly push the club into third best in the south behind Royal Arsenal and Millwall.
The Luton Reporter looked forward to the cricket season and back on the football season.
“The opening cricket match of the season is announced to be played here on Monday and Tuesday next, when teams representing the North and South of the county will meet. The elevens will be selected from the following:- North: Messrs W.F. Brown (captain), Captain C.E. Orman, R.C. Williams, L. Stileman, Gibbard, A.O. Jones, F. Wilkinson, H.E. Vipan, H.W. Oclee, R.F.A. Orr and F.W. Potter, with Rogers and Cherry. South: Messrs L.C.R. Thring (captain), G.H. Small, E. Gilder, W.E. Gilder, H. Wilkinson, F.Farr, C.W. Beresford, J.W. Thurnham, R. Crawley, J. Healing and J.D. Hawksley, with Brown.
The hon. Secretary of the County Club (Mr L.C.R. Thring) writes to me that he fears the Luton contingent is too small, it being the busiest time of the straw trade. This, says Mr Thring, is very unfortunate, but of course, we would not have chosen the date had this been pointed out to us. At the committee meeting held at Luton, at which this date was fixed, no Luton member attended. Mr Thring also tells me that subscriptions are coming in very well, and that large numbers of new members have joined the club.”
There was also a column entitled;
“THE SEASON’S RESULTS IN LUTON
Now that the season has closed it is possible to take a retrospect of the results in Luton, and lovers athletics cannot fail to be satisfied with what they see. The winter game is gradually but surely taking hold on the popular favour, indications of this fact being presented in the increased “gates” at the better-class matches and by small clubs springing up in all directions. Never until this season has there been so much football played in the town, and as an instance of the widespread interest which has now taken in the game it may be mentioned that on one Saturday during the winter, six distinct matches were taking place. The results of the more important clubs are given below.
The season has been one of the most successful which the club has ever had. Not only has the calibre of the clubs antagonised been considerably better than in the past, but the “reds” have covered themselves with glory. In the English Cup they achieved the distinction of being one of the ten clubs which fought their way through the qualifying competition, successfully beating Swindon Town (4-3), Windsor Phoenix (3-0), Bedminster (4-1), and Clifton (3-0). In the Kettering Cup they entered the semi-final, and were only beaten by Grantham Rovers, who secured the cup in the end from Kettering and thereby won it outright. The Town men also secured the right to enter the penultimate stage of the Luton Cup, and were eventually eliminated by 1st Scots Guards. They subsequently revenged themselves to some extent upon the last-named team by obtaining a brilliant victory over them on Easter Monday. The first-eleven record is a good one, while of several reserve team matches which were played not one was lost. The first team played 32 matches , of which 21 were won, nine lost, and two drawn. The details are:-
The club has played 43 matches, of which it has won 26, lost 13 and drawn 5. 172 goals were scored for and 73 against. Results:
This club concluded a successful season. It has made more progress this year than in any previous period. At the commencement of the season it was noticed that the officials had a good card, and the players rendered a very good account of themselves. Among the clubs which have they have beaten are Luton Montrose, Luton Bury Park, St. Albans, Stanville, Dunstable Grammar School, Hatfield and Bedford Swifts. The club has carried on well, and has a small balance in hand. The results of the matches are :- Played 18; won 12; drawn 2; lost 4. Goals scored – for, 86; against, 33.
Matches played, 24; won, 10; lost 8; drawn 6. Results:-
THE KETTERING CUP. Grantham Rovers and Kettering again met in the final of this cup on Saturday in the presence of 4,000 spectators. A month ago the clubs made a tie of it of one goal each, but on this occasion Grantham were able to come off victorious, and as they have now won it three years in succession, the cup become the absolute property of the Rovers. Play was rather fast at the beginning, but, owing to the warm weather, this was not kept up for long. Pulling, for Grantham, scored in the first half, and during the remainder of the game no other point was registered. Dr. Dryland, the president of the cup committee, afterwards presented the cup to Broadbent, the Grantham captain. The teams were as follows:- Grantham: Goal, G. Broadbent; backs, Tucker and Brittain; half-backs, Fisher, Hollingworth and Archer; forwards, Southwell and Pulling (right), Flinders (centre), McIvey and Chamberlain (left). Kettering: Goal, Lilley; backs, McBurnie and Davies; half-backs, Panter, Mableson and Peters; forwards, Dixon and Freeman (left), Evans (centre), Draper and Starr (right).”
Interlude – One of the Straw Plaiters old rivals were in trouble. Friday, August 27th 1897. Lincolnshire Echo –
“It has been finally decided that the Grantham Rovers Football Club shall be disbanded for the ensuing season. Having the incubus of a debt amounting to £140, and lacking supporters, the Committee cannot see their way clear to continue the organisation, and the guarantee of the overdraft at the bank have also come to the conclusion that the wisest course is to “throw up the sponge.”
The three valuable cups in the possession of the club will be sold, and the proceeds go towards paying the debt, while in the autumn a smoking concert will be given, the expenses of which Capt. Russell, president of the club, has promised to bear, to provide funds for the further satisfaction of the creditors.
25th April 1892 committee meeting – Letter received from Mr A.C. Ganson of London Caledonians, his offer of a match with the A team be declined.
27th April 1892 committee meeting –
“Gate money for Sat 23rd £21 14s 7d, Pavilion 6/9. The annual general meeting be held on Monday 16th May. J.C. Lomax Esq be asked to preside and in the event his not being able to come, A. Carruthers Esq be asked to fill the post of Chairman.
“It was resolved that all nominations for the committee be sent in to Hon Sec not later than Wednesday May 11th, all persons proposing any one for committee being expected first to ascertain whether the person he wishes to propose is wiling to stand”.
The proposed tea be held at the Cowper Arms, Cheapside on Saturday April 30th at 5.30 PM. Also that the arrangements for an entertainment after tea be left in the hands of Messrs Hughes, Shane and Saunders”.
There was a report on a very significant presentation under the heading “Luton Town Football Club”in the Luton Reporter of the 7th May 1892. .
“The termination of a highly successful season was signalled on Saturday by the holding of a tea meeting at the Cowper Arms coffee tavern at which a goodly number of members attended. An excellent repast was provided by Mr S. Heath. At the after meeting the Secretary of the Club (Mr I. Smith) occupied the chair. At the outset it was decided, on the suggestion of Mr Smith, that a wreath should be sent from the members as a token of respect to the late Mr J. Long. Mr Smith thereafter proceeded with the most interesting portion of the evening’s programme – the making of a presentation to Mr G. Deacon, who has recently retired from his place in the team after a lengthened connection with the game. Mr Smith observed that they had met to do honour to one of their oldest players, who from increasing years could no longer do justice to himself by continuing in the ranks. The members of the team were very sorry to lose such an old friend, but at the same time they fully appreciated his motive for retiring. They were amongst the first to acknowledge that a man could not go on playing football for ever and that with increasing years both head and feet lost their cunning. They trusted that when the time came for the other members of the eleven to retire they might have as good a send-off as “Chubby” was having now. Mr Smith subsequently said that to enlarge on the doings of Mr Deacon would simply to give the history of Luton football. Many would remember his play on the left wing in the Wanderers’ ranks with Mr C. Lomax. He joined the Town Club at its formation and the “little un,” as Captain Taylor called him, now considered it time to retire in favour of a younger man. He had on behalf of the members to present £8 17s 1d., the amount received up to date, and he hoped that amounts still to come in would bring up the total to £10. In conclusion the secretary trusted that Mr Deacon might continue to be associated with local football in some capacity. Mr Deacon, who was warmly applauded said he was very much obliged to them for the honour they had shown him and those gentlemen who had subscribed to the testimonial. He received it with the best of thanks. What he had done in the football field he had always enjoyed, and he was only sorry that he had to retire. He thought, however, that in Mr R. Brown they had a young player who would make as good a man as he (the speaker) had been in the past. He again expressed his acknowledgements of the kind feeling which had prompted the gift. The remainder of the evening was given up to the musical selections and recitations. Songs were given by Messrs Heath, A. Sanders, Underwood and other members of the company, and a very pleasant time was passed. Mr S. Baker presided at the pianoforte in very efficient style.”
With Bat, Ball and bicycle commented as follows:
“The close of the season was marked in a very pleasant fashion by members of the Football Club, a number of who took tea together. A convivial gathering followed, when the chief business was the presentation of a testimonial to Deacon. This plucky little player has now definitely abandoned the “reds,” and it was very fitting that he should receive a tangible recognition of his undoubted merit. The presentation was made in grateful terms by Mr Smith, and all who are acquainted with the recipient will endorse the high encomiums which were passed upon him. He has been connected with Luton football for many years and now only retires because he recognises that he has passed his zenith and is descending into “the sere and yellow leaf.”
Deacon’s recognition of the kindness of his friends was couched in homely phraseology, but it had the right ring about it, and I sympathised very heartily with him in his reluctance to resign his place in the eleven. He feels, however, that the keenness of his regret is to some extent removed by the reflection that his successor has the makings of a competent player. I entirely coincide with this view and hope that the good opinion which I have formed of Brown’s capabilities will be borne out by his play in another season. Deacon has always received a good word in this column and i join with others of his admirers in the wish that he may be long spared to assist in advancing the game locally.
The death of Mr John Long, one of the first committee members was announced.
“The funeral took place at the General Cemetery on Wednesday afternoon of Mr John Long, builder, who died on the previous Thursday after a short illness. Among those who were present were the Mayor (Alderman Oakley) and several other members of the Liberal Club, which which the deceased had been connected since its foundation and of which he was one of the committee of management. His fellow members testified their respect for him by sending a beautiful floral wreath to be placed upon his grave. Mr Long was a keen cricketer, still retaining his youthful fondness for the game although he had reached middle life. He also took great interest in football, and wreaths were sent by the Cricket and Football Clubs, to both of which he belonged. Another was placed on the coffin by Mr C. Lomax, president of the Football Club, who came down from London to attend the funeral. The service was conducted by the Rev. J. Smith, of the High Town Primitive Methodist Chapel.”
The Luton Reporter of 14th May 1892 announced that the finances of the Athletic Club were in a very bad state. Last year’s bad weather on Whit Monday and a counter attraction in August resulted in heavy losses. This year it was hoped that “with a fine day on Whit Monday the authorities will be able to improve their position considerably. The usual sports are to be supplemented by a military tournament and this is certain to prove a great attraction.
The editorial went on to announce that
“the annual meeting of subscribers to the Charity Cup is to be held in the Council Chamber on Tuesday night at 8, when the Mayor is to preside. New officers will be elected. The Town Club annual meeting is fixed for the following Monday (May 16).
By the way, the authorities of the Charity Cup competition have met and wound up their accounts for the season. These are of a very satisfactory nature, the surplus being such that it was possible to vote £26 4s to each of the three institutions to be benefitted. The gentlemen who have worked hard during the season are deserving of hearty thanks and congratulations upon the successful result achieved.”
From the Luton Reporter of 14th May 1892.
“LUTON FOOTBALL CHARITY CUP
The annual meeting of the subscribers to the Luton Charity Cup took place in the Council Chamber at the Town Hall on Tuesday night, when the mayor (Alderman Oakley)occupied the chair and there was a fair attendance.
The MAYOR at the outset observed that the absence of some members betokened that they were satisfied with the manner in which the competition had been conducted. The results of last season’s contest had been satisfactory, and he hoped that as time went on improvement would take place. The balance sheet, which was presented by the honorary secretary (Mr G.R. Worboys) showed that the receipts had amounted to £157 18s 10d., including £12 for entries and £144 5s 10d. from “gates.” On the other side of the account the most important items were £14 8s., for railway fares, £14 15s 6d for printing and stationery and £15 for medals. It was shown that £26 4s. each had been sent to the Cottage Hospital, the Children’s Home, and the Friendly Societies’ Institute. Mr Worboys, in reply to Mr I. Smith, explained why no sum had been added to the reserve fund. He said that last year £15 was set apart to form the nucleus of a reserve fund, and as the cup had changed hands this year it was not deemed necessary to add to it. Mr Smith expressed satisfaction at the reply, and proposed that the balance-sheet be passed. Mr E. BROWNING seconded, and this was agreed to. Mr WORBOYS next reported that this season there were 32 entries, these including some of the best Southern clubs, last year’s number being 20. They were sorry that the amount available for the charities were not larger, but they had heavier expenses this year. The number of committee meetings had been 21 and these had been well attended. There had been one or two little hitches during the competition. The chief of these was with Kettering, which was referred to the Association on account of the referee being mobbed. They were backed up by the association, the whole team being suspended for the first fortnight of next season and a protest lodged by them being sent back to the local committee, with the result that it was not sustained. Last year the money taken at the gates was £107; this year it amounted to £144. He concluded by reading letters from the secretaries of the three charities in acknowledgement of the contributions. It having been decided to send copies of the letters to the Evening News for publication, the election of office-bearers was proceeded with. The Mayor was appointed president, Messrs A, Carruthers and F. Beecroft were re-elected vice-presidents, and Mr G. Ordish, treasurer. Mr G.R. Worboys was nominated for the office of secretary, but he said he had decided for one or two reasons which he could not explain not to accept the office for another year. Mr H. BEECROFT said Mr Worboys had done the work splendidly, and all he wanted to make him perfect was to take the office one or two more years. He was one of the hardest working secretaries they had ever had. On the proposition of Mr C. PLUMMER, Mr G. Barford was appointed to fill the vacancy. The committee was appointed by ballot as follows, there having been 12 nominations: Messrs C. Plummer (17), G. Squires (17), G. Worboys (17), A.E. Booth (17), G. Browning (15), C. Dillingham (15), G. Fryson (15), J. Squires (14), and H. Beecroft (13). Mr H. BEECROFT thereafter proposed a vote of thanks to the retiring secretary, remarking that he had done his work well. Mr W.H. McNAMARA seconded, and alluded to the unvarying courtesy with which Mr Worboys had discharged the duties falling to him. The motion having been carried, Mr WORBOYS briefly replied. The committe had, he said, helping in every way, and he had simply done what he undertook to do. He would have liked to save a little more in the expense, but was unable to do so. He intimated that he would render to his successor all the assistance in his power. It was intimated that next season’s dates were suggested as follows: Semi-finals, February 18 and March 11; final April 8. A vote of thanks to the Mayor concluded the proceedings.
With bat, Ball and Bicycle praised Grantham Rovers on their success as a professional club. Having won the Kettering Cup they “hold a creditable position in the Midland League and next year are to launch out still further.”
The column also carried a reminder of the Luton Town Football Club AGM “when we shall possibly hear something regarding the suggested reorganisation of the team. It s anticipated that there will be a large attendance of members.”
The Luton Reporter of the 21st May 1892 covered the Annual General meeting.
“Luton Town Football Club
A Successful season
The annual meeting of members of the Luton Town Football Club took place in the Corn Exchange on Monday night, when there was a crowded attendance. Mr G. Fryson was voted to the chair in the unavoidable absence of the President of the Club (Mr J.C. Lomax).
Finance – the year’s work
The minutes of the last meeting having been read, the balance-sheet for the year was presented. It showed that the receipts (including a balance from last year of £38 18s 8d) had amounted to £362 6s 9d, made up as follows; Gate takings, £214 10s 11d; patron’s tickets £24 6s; members’ tickets, £43 2s; hire of meadow, £10 2s; cup receipts (half gate) £31 7s 2d. The total receipts last year amounted to £203, so there was an increase in that direction of £150. On the expenditure side of this year’s account the following items appeared: Hire of ground, £27 10s; ground repairs etc, £32 11s 2d; subscription to cup competitions , £2 5s 7d; insurance of team, £11 6s 8d; printing and postage, £29 3s 3d; rooms (hire), £3 9s 9d; players’ payment and lost time, £52 18s; team’s out expenses, £38 0s 2d; team’s visiting expenses £141 12s 11d; donation to the Secretary, £5. There was a balance in hand of £15 9s 3d., so that there had been an actual loss of £23 odd on the season.
The HON. SECRETARY (Mr Isaac Smith) next read an exhaustive report on the year’s doings. He said they would see that the officials had gone in rather heavily, but seeing they had a rather substantial balance they felt justified in launching out a bit. At a meeting composed of officers and players it was decided to pay all first team men a small sum weekly, all out expenses and also lost time for long journeys. That that was carried out was the item of £52 18s was ample testimony. This payment of players not only helped to keep the team together, but also ensured punctuality, and he thought that it was the main cause of our success. That they were successful the results would show. They played 32 matches, won 21, lost 9, drew 2: goals scored for numbered 99, goals against 54. Among other teams they beat Woodville, Edmonton, and City Ramblers twice each; Swindon, Old St. Mark’s, Windsor Phoenix, Bedminster, Clifton, St. Luke’s, St. Mark’s College, St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, Tottenham Hotspurs and lastly the 1st Scots Guards. Their losses were against such teams as West Bromwich, West Herts., Middlesboro’, Grantham Rovers, 1st Scots Guards, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and Millwall Athletic. Added to this they must not forget that the honour of clearing the division in the English Cup contest rested with them. Gentlemen said the speaker, I think such a record is a grand one. Turning to the balance-sheet, Mr Smith said that the patrons’ tickets showed a slight increase, and members’ tickets in slight decrease. The great advance had been in takings at the gate, and for the future they must look more and more, he thought, to the “gates” for funds; in fact, he thought they had better dispense with all members’ tickets. If this was done it would save the annoyance of members being requested to pay admission to see such teams as even the “Wolves” or the “Throstles”. The cup receipts were more loss than gain, inasmuch as the outlay involved was greater than the gain. The visiting teams’ expenses seemed a large amount, but when they remembered that West Bromwich, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Swindon, Windsor Phoenix and Middlesboro’ took £76 they would see partly where the money went. The payment of their own players was also a considerable addition to the expense. Postage and printing were fairly large; stamps alone cost nearly £6, which would give some idea of the amount of correspondence. To insure the team cost double what they paid last year. Although they lost £23 on the season he was pleased to say they still had a balance to carry forward of £15. To carry on the work they had had 43 committee meetings, the attendance being: Bennett 43, Smith and Woodbridge 42, Wheeler 41, Evans and W. Smith 40, Wilkins 39, Hinson and Jacquest 38, Pitkin 37, Hughes 33, Scott 32, Pakes 31, John Long 17 (21 weeks unwell) and Webdale 3. When they remembered that added to this every man took his turn at the gate about once a month and between times acted as referee or linesman, he honestly thought that a little more consideration and very much less censure would be more becoming on the part of members who had the enjoyment without the worry, trouble, and labour (applause). For the future, said Mr Smith, we must have quite as good a working staff as the last, some of the matches requiring management being Royal Arsenal and 2nd Scots Guards (the Army Cup holders) two each, Notts. Forest, Derby County, Uxbridge, Polytechnic, Guy’s, St. Bart’s, and St. Mary’s Hospitals, one each, all to be played at Luton, and home and home with West Herts. Millwall Athletic, Wolverton, City Ramblers, Woodville and Old St. Mark’s. In addition to this 15 reserve matches have been arranged and we have also several first-eleven dates left open, when we hope to get one or more Northern clubs to visit us.
THE CHAIRMAN said he felt he was speaking the sentiments of the whole meeting when he said that the report was perfectly satisfactory in every way. He had been very much struck with the teams that Luton suffered defeat from and felt sure that five or six years ago the team would only have been too pleased to accept defeat from them. For it was an honour to have such clubs playing on the Luton ground.
The balance-sheet having been passed,
MR F. EVANS, one of the auditors, was invited to make a report. He said that, considering the expenses, the committee had come out with a balance quite as good as they could expect. With regard to the accounts, he was sure that no on who had no audited them could have any idea of the amount of work that the Secretary had to do. They found in the journal alone 16 pages of accounts, besides others. Lately they had heard a great deal of grumbling about the committee, but he was sure if some of the grumblers had any idea of the work they would put the boot on the other leg and there would not be so much fault-finding (applause, and a voice: “Never mind; it’s only gas-bag.”) Whatever the committee had done had been done in the interests of football, and he hoped that the new committee would do better.
THE SUBSCRIPTION QUESTION
THE CHAIRMAN, introducing the question of the amount to be contributed by members, said some sort of dissatisfaction had been levelled at the retiring committee. Of course nobody had any reflection to throw on the committee with regard to the work that had been done, but still there were murmurs of some kind. This, he thought, would be a good opportunity for anyone who wished the method of conducting the business altered to express his views.
MR EVANS said it was not quite so quite so much a matter of the expression of dissatisfaction, but the blackguardly language that some of them had had to put up with. He thought that ought to be stopped (applause).
THE SECRETARY said he had received a notice from the Association stating most distinctly that clubs allowing betting or low or blackguardly language on their ground would be liable to a suspension. Of course they could not stop a man swearing. He had no objection to hearing a man swear if he thought it would do him good, but there was a time when he should not, and he thought that ought to be when he was on the football field (applause).
MR T.N. HUGHES thought the imputation ought not to be saddled on the members of the Club. I think, said the speaker, that the majority of it comes from those half-breed football enthusiasts who pay 2d at half-time rather than pay 3d at the beginning of the match (hear, hear, and applause).
THE SECRETARY, in reply to questions as to the course of procedure which was proposed in regard to voting for the committee, said of course those who voted must have been members last year. If they decided to have members’ tickets those who voted that night should be members. They must either increase subscription to at least 5s or they must pay. He mentioned several of the most prominent teams who were to visit visit Luton next season and said they were paying these large sums.
MR J. BENNETT said there had been a great misunderstanding about a charge being made for cup ties. They were compelled to do so, and before they fixed a price for tickets they must give members clearly to understand that they would have to pay for cup-ties whether they took tickets or not. They were compelled by the associations to make a charge.
MR ROGERS inquired what was to happen next year if they decided to do without members’ tickets?
THE SECRETARY said they must either greatly increase the subscription or all pay at the gates and do without tickets.
MR ROGERS asked if they did not have members’ tickets were the half-guinea subscribers to vote in the committee and rule the Club? If so, where was the working man’s chance? He asked that because it had been rumoured in the room that working men were not wanted (cries of dissent and applause).
MR W. E. GILDER proposed that tickets should be abandoned altogether, and that rich and poor should alike pay.
THE CHAIRMAN said in the election of committee and officers for the ensuing year only subscribers for last year would be allowed to vote. The suggestion that a few half guinea subscribers should rule the roost was fraught with great danger, and he did not think anybody would wish such a thing to take place. As the Secretary had said a 2s 6d subscription was not sufficient to carry on the Club.
MR W. CARTER said last year the ticket holders who attended all matches paid 5s 7d and non-ticket holders 7s 8d. If they raised the subscription and counted cup-ties the payment of a ticket holder would come to about 7s 6d.
MR ARNOLD did not agree with Mr Gilder’s proposition. He believed in having tickets and having members connected with the Club, but he certainly did not see how the Club was to be carried on satisfactorily with 2s 6d tickets. They were all, he believed interested in having good football in Luton, and if they did they must pay for it. If they looked at the balance-sheet they would find that the ticket money was a very small item compared with “rates.” If they doubled the amount it would be a very good nucleus to fall back upon, but it was the takings at the gate that they would have to depend upon. He concluded by proposing that the price for members’ tickets should be 5s.
MR EVANS seconded.
Mr Gilder’s resolution not having been seconded it fell to the ground.
MR W. D. HAMBLING thought that such a ticket as was referred to should admit to all matches. He mentioned cases in which gentlemen who had taken tickets and only attended two or three times during the season at good matches had found that they had to pay, and were consequently dissatisfied. He supported the proposition to fix the fee at 5s.
THE CHAIRMAN suggested that cup matches must be exempted.
MR HAMBLING said half or two-thirds of the season was taken up by cup matches.
THE CHAIRMAN: But you can’t alter the rules of the associations.
THE SECRETARY afterwards said they had no choice in the matter of cup-ties.
MR G. R. WORBOYS observed that the Association compelled them to make a charge for all cup matches.
A further question as to the voting for committee having been answered, the motion proposed by Mr Arnold was put and carried.
ELECTION OF OFFICE-BEARERS
MR ROGERS, before the election of officers was proceeded with, asked whether there was a resolution on the books stating that the nominations for committee should close on the previous Thursday? If not, he said, he would propose that they should take nominations now.
It was explained that the notice was passed by the committee with a view to saving time.
THE SECRETARY said he received about 30 nominations, and 16 gentlemen still stood for election to the 13 seats.
While voting papers were being handed round Mr J.C. Lomax was re-appointed President, Mr Flower, M.P., vice-president, and Mr F. Evans was elected Treasurer.
THE CHAIRMAN next said he thought it needed no words of his to commend the Secretary who had acted for the last six years. He could assure them that there was a stupendous amount of work connected with an office of the kind; only an enthusiast would carry it on for more than one year, so he would leave them to imagine what was to be said of a man who took it for six years.
MR G. BARFORD seconded.
MR SMITH, who was enthusiastically cheered, said he thought it was time he had a change (“NO” and “Stick to it.”) It was bad enough to have the work without the blackguardism. He wanted somebody to take the office. He had done the work to the best of his ability, and last year he got more kicks than ha’pance. The speaker afterwards said there was too much work for the money (laughter). It occupied about one day a week all the time the football season was on, and he had had enough.
The resolution was put and carried with applause.
MR SMITH said that in spite of the vote he would not do the work at the price; there was nothing more certain than that.
Mr W. Wheeler was re-appointed assistant secretary.
THE CHAIRMAN impressed upon the gentlemen nominated to serve upon the committee the importance of working. The honour, he remarked, was great, but the work was much more.
MR HAMBLING, before the vote was taken, opposed the idea of the Club engaging in the Charity Cup contests, observing that they had to consider the advancement of football and the bettering of the team. He was not opposed to helping charities in Luton, but he did not think the Club could afford to help charities. When they obtained a better position and became a greater power it would be time to enter such cups.
The voting thereafter took place and the result of the ballot was as follows: Messrs T.N. Hughes 129, H. Shane 105, W.D. Hambling 103, H. Wilkins 102, F. Pitkin 98, H. Fryer 86, A. Austin 82, F.W. Hill 82, J.H. Hackett 80, G. Hinson 76, E.A. Barford 76, S. Pakes 74, W. Samwells 57 (elected), W. Carter 54, T. Andrews 46, A. Underwood 37.
GIFT TO THE SECRETARY
MR HAMBLING proposed that £10 10s should be awarded to the Secretary as a recognition of his services last season. He looked upon the Club as a district club, he said, and everybody looked to Luton now that it had got its name up. He thought that they ought to keep the name up.
MR J. SQUIRES seconded.
THE SECRETARY intimated that he would be perfectly satisfied with five guineas.
That amount was accordingly voted.
Votes of thanks to the officers and to the Chairman concluded the proceedings.”
Minute book entry –
16th May 1892 Annual General Meeting at the Corn Exchange, Mr G. Tyson in the chair through the absence of the chairman.
“minutes of last annual general meeting read and confirmed after which The Hon sec read the balance sheet..” The rest of the page has been left blank.
It continues on the next page
“The next business was the settlement of tickets for membership. A lot of discussion ensued as to whether tickets should be issued or not but at length Mr Gilder proposed that no tickets be issued at all and all pay at gate, this found no seconder and consequently fell through. Mr Arnold proposed that subscription should be 5/- for all matches excluding cup ties, this was seconded by Mr Hambling and carried unanimously.
The selection of officers was next procedure with the following result.
President J.C. Lomax Esq
Vice Cyril Flower Esq M.P.
Treasurer F. Evans Esq
Hon Sec Mr I. Smith
Assistant Mr W.G. Wheeler
Messrs Hughes 129
Unsuccessful W. Carter 54, J. Andrews 46, A. Underwood 37”.
5 Guineas was awarded to the Hon sec Mr Smith for his services.
From Bat, Ball and Bicycle.
“There was a very large attendance at the Town Football Club’s annual meeting on Monday night, and if any evidence was needed that football is advancing in popularity in this part of the country it is to be had not only in the largeness of the numbers, but in the intelligent interest which was taken in the various matters brought up for discussion. There was at times a suspicion of rising against “the powers that be,” but altogether the proceedings were characterised by unanimity and a pronounced desire to advance the interests of football.
The rapid strides which the organisation has made recently are abundantly shown by the largely-increased sum which the authorities are able to boast of having received during the season. Of a total of £362 no less than £214 was taken at the gate, and this proves conclusively that the public appreciated the enterprise of the officials in engaging better teams than had previously appeared on their ground. The largest item on the other side was £144 odd for the expenses of visiting teams, but this was satisfactorily explained.
That the balance of £38 with which the season commenced was reduced to £15 is, perhaps, a matter for regret, but it was through no mismanagement. The West Bromwich match was spoiled by the bad weather, and other fixtures were rendered by the same cause less profitable than they otherwise would have been. The amount paid to the “professionals,” as some of the sporting papers delight in misnaming our players, reached only £52, and I agree with Mr Smith that it was money well spent, for games were started with commendable promptitude on most occasions. Altogether, the managers of the Club are entitled to feel satisfied with the season’s results.
The programme for next season was unfolded, and it proved to include many good things. We are to receive visits from a couple of the famous League teams (and possibly more of fixtures can be arranged), while the Royal Arsenal – perhaps the most formidable combination in the South – are also to appear on the Luton ground. Other teams of good standing will be met, and altogether next year promises to bring the Town men into even greater prominence than ever.
Of course all these attractive fixtures involve increased expenditure, and in order to some extent to meet the risk incurred the authorities suggested that the charge for members’ tickets should be increased from 2/6., or that they should be abolished altogether. A lengthy discussion ended in the gathering taking what seems to me to be the right view – to assist the officials by raising the fee to 5s. It was made very clear, however, that this increase would entitle members to witness all games except cup-ties.
With regard to cup-ties I must confess to having sympathised with the remarks of the speaker who deprecated the Club engaging in these contests. The English Cup competition may, perhaps, be excepted, for the sake of the honour which may be won and the advancement in football circles which it brings, but I am strongly of the opinion that it is well-nigh useless for the “reds” to enter the Kettering and Luton contests, for the receipts are scarcely worth playing for. Unless a system of qualifying rounds is fixed next season by these authorities I would advise the committee to leave the cups severely alone, for neither pleasure nor profit can accrue from meeting teams like the Terriers and Montrose.
The question of the re-constitution of the team will possibly come to the front at an early meeting of the committee, for on the executive as newly arranges appear the names of three or four “Reformers,” as they are termed. Whatever is done I trust that the actions will be well considered, so that heart-burning may be avoided as far as possible.
Perhaps the pleasantest feature of the evening’s meeting was the decision to present a cheque for five guineas to Mr Isaac Smith as a token of appreciation. My frankly avowed sentiments have not, I am aware, always been acceptable to the officials, but I very heartily appreciate the value of the work which they have performed, and of the workers none has been more persistent in his efforts than Mr Smith. It is idle to dilate upon what must be apparent to all observers, and I will content myself with congratulating the recipient and expressing the wish for continued success in the future.
INTERLUDE – J.B. Challen scored a century for Wellingborough Grammar school against Leicestershire.
23rd May 1892 committee meeting –
“Resolved that chairman be elected at each meeting. Midland Hotel continue to be club’s head quarters.
“that in the event of the Cricket or Athletic clubs requiring the use of the hut a charge of 2/6 per day be made and that Hon sec instructs some one to paint the same”.
“It was resolved that Messrs Hambling, Pitkin, Austin, Hughes and Hackett form a sub committee to draft a set of rules for the club, also
that committee meet players on Monday when 5/- per week be offered to them for season 92 and 93 and it was resolved that committee meet at 7.30 Monday 30th meet players at 8 o’clock”.
From the Luton Reporter of 28th May 1892, With Bat, Ball and Bicycle.
“By the way the statement of accounts of the Kettering cup competition has been forwarded to me by the courteous secretary (Mr Favell). It shows receipts (including a balance of £61 17s 6 1/2d from last year) of £381 12s 9d., £309 15s 2 1/2d of which was from “gates.” After payment of the somewhat heavy expenses it was found possible to hand over £80 each to the Northampton Infirmary and the Kettering Dispensary, and to retain a balance of £29 1s 7 1/2 d.
The amounts voted to the charities by the Kettering authorities are as follows: 1889, £25; 1890, £70; 1891, £100; 1892, £160, a total of £355.
The “gates” showed that the Luton and Grantham match produced £49 3s 1d., City Ramblers v Kettering, £15 19s 11d., Grantham v Kettering, £124 0s 1 1/2d., and £130 12s 1 d (the re-played final).
By comparison the Luton Cup promises well, for whereas the second season of the Kettering Cup yielded £70 for the charities the Lutonians were able to hand over £78 12s. Of course the “gates” at Kettering swamp the Luton total, but it must not be forgotten that the Northants. people are singularly fortunate in re-played final ties.
INTERLUDE – From With Bat, ball and bicycle;
“It will scarcely be credited that a football team exclusively composed of Lutonians exists in India, yet a letter from Rawal Pindi informs me that such is the fact. A member of the Royal Horse Artillery stationed there writes to his relatives in Luton as follows: “I must tell you that there are a good many Luton fellows at this station, so many that we have got a Luton team of football out here. We have played five matches and won four of them and we made a draw of the other, so you can see by this that we have got a very good team.”
30th May 1892 committee meeting –
“The meeting was called to meet the players in order to find how many were willing to play during next season subject to their being chosen by the committee”.
“At 8 PM the committee met the following players, Messrs Hoy, Burley, Saunders, Paul, Wright, Taylor, Whitby, Whitby, Oclee, Brown:
The chairman explained the terms which the committee felt justified in offering to them for next season viz. same as last year only 5/- instead of 2/6.
Mr H. Paul said they must not think of him for next season but eventually he promised to lay the matter before his friends and let the Hon Sec know within 7 days.
After the chairman had answered several questions put by Captain Taylor and Mr Wright the players retired to consult one another on the matter. On their return Mr Taylor intimated to the committee that all the players present were willing to play next season on the terms offered provided they were selected by the Committee.
This part of the business being completed discussion was invited with the following gentlemen about picking a reserve team. Messrs Hoy, Tearl, Biggs, Fox, Warren, Allen, Arnold, Wood, King, Hurcumb, Colling and Groom. The matter was thoroughly gone into but some of the players thought the better plan would be to consult one another at their leisure and meet the committee on Thursday night at 8.30. This was unanimously agreed to.
It was proposed by Mr Hughes seconded by Mr Pakes that the players sign the forms by June 14th. The players then left the meeting and it was resolved that the meeting be adjourned to Thursday at 7.45 and meet the reserve men at 8.30. It was resolved that the selection of 1st eleven be left over until Thursday June 2nd.
2nd June 1892 committee meeting –
“At 8.30 PM a deputation from the Montrose Club waited upon the committee and handed in a letter the purpose of which was they declined to play for the town as the Town reserves. The Chairman thanked the deputation for considering the matter and the gentlemen withdrew.
Following a deputation from St. Matthews also waited upon the committee with respect as to playing as the reserve team. A letter handed in by the sec had been discussed when it was generally thought that the team mentioned therein would not be strong enough to meet such teams as we had to face.
It was therefore decided that the chairman thanks the deputation for their attendance informing them at the same time the committee had further resolved to further consider the matter and on a decision being arrived at the Hon sec would communicate with their Hon sec.
It was proposed by Mr Samwells, seconded by Mr Austin and carried that Messrs Hughes and Pitkin with the Hon Sec wait upon the Terriers in order to secure them if possible as our reserves. The matter being left entirely in the hands , one stipulation that they are not to enter the Luton Charity Cup Competition”.
Resolved that Hon sec send an advertisement to Athletic News advertising for players with a view to finding out a few good men and an off chance of securing one that might possibly coach the team.
“Proposed by Mr Pakes, seconded by Mr Samwells and carried that are willing be allowed to sign at once Messrs Duncan and Brown included.” Not sure what this means.
INTERLUDE – from the Luton Reporter of 4th June 1892.
“It seems there are no fewer than 600 houses in Luton unnumbered. This argues great carelessness on the part of the occupiers and their landlords. A very little expense would have the thing put right, and an enormous amount of inconvenience would be saved.”
From the 4th June 1892 With Bat, ball and bicycle.
“I hear that the “reformers” on the Town Football Club committee have already made their presence apparent, and it is satisfactory to know that some desirable alterations have been made. It will not be betraying confidence to state that it has been decided to abstain from the Kettering Cup contest next season, and that the team will only enter the Luton Cup if a qualifying competition is instituted. I am glad that my advice has thus far been adopted, for the authorities will, I am confident, find it a great deal more to their advantage to play ordinary fixtures with a “gate” attached than to engage in mediocre contest with minor clubs in cup rounds.
The it is proposed to increase the payment made to the players, and here again I coincide with the committee, for the miserable pittance which was paid last season and which necessitated registration of the men as professionals was scarcely worth troubling about. A capable centre forward is to be obtained who will act as “coach’ to the team, and it is hoped that the club will under these conditions make further advances in excellence and achieve a yet higher place in public estimation than was gained last year.
A conference of players and members of the committee took place on Monday when the proposals of the executive were submitted. A lengthy discussion ensued and after private deliberations the members of the old team (with the exception of Chesher, who was not present) agreed to accept the committee’s terms and to place themselves unreservedly in the hands of the authorities with a view to the reconstitution of the eleven. It was anticipated that there would be considerable opposition to proposals to reorganise and it is pleasing to know that this was not the case, for the players themselves would only be the losers by abstention.
I learn that the Luton Cup executive have resolved to institute a qualifying series next season. the numbers of clubs to be exempted from the preliminary rounds will, of course, depend upon the number of entries, but they will not be allowed to exceed eight. The authorities have acted wisely, I think, for they will by this means retain some influential teams who would otherwise have been missing.”
INTERLUDE – the debt of the Athletic Club was virtually wiped out by the £100 raised at their Whit Monday meeting which cunningly included a very attractive military parade.
9th June 1892 committee meeting –
“Letter received from Mr H. Paul expressing regret at being obliged to abandon game entirely and wishing the club success”.
Terriers agree to become Town reserves providing they 1. play their team as a whole. 2. they should have power to arrange matches on vacant dates, play them on their own ground. the club to let it to them at a reduced rate or take half gate and 3. that the club insure them against accident.
Town pointed out that if they play games as Terriers then the insurance would not cover them. It was agreed that Terriers would become the Town’s reserve team.
20th June 1892 committee meeting –
“Letters were received from the following gentlemen in answer to the advertisement
J. Swinton (Liverpool) Situation at 25/- Football 10/- to 15/-
R. Gray (Doncaster) No terms stated
R. Kirk (Burnley) No terms stated
D. Kennedy (Newcastle) Situation 36/- Football 15/-
E.C. Marshall (Bootle) No terms stated
J. Garland (Durham) No terms stated
J.W. Julian (Royal Arsenal) No terms stated
J. Parkinson (London) No terms stated
P. McGregor (Alexandria) Situation at 25/- Football 20/-
W.C. Chalmers Situation as Carpenter Football 30/-
The committee went through the above and narrowed them down to the following, J. Swinton, D. Kennedy, J.W. Julian, P. McGregor. It was then proposed by Mr Smith sec by Mr Pitkin and carried that D. Kennedy’s name be struck out. After which it was resolved that Hon Sec write the remaining also that Hon Sec write to
Forbes of Blackburn Rovers for the character of McGregor, also for his capabilities as a player.
to J.W. Julian for his terms
Also Hon Sec see Mr Hoy in reference to signing for next season.
The next meeting be called by postcard”.
I take “situation” to mean the wages of their current job and “football” to mean the wages they seek from the club.
INTERLUDE – 26th June 1892 Luton Reporter.
“HOBB’S TRIP.- As our readers have already been informed, Hobb’s Welsh trip is to take place somewhat earlier than was originally announced in consequence of the General Election. The excursion will leave Luton on Tuesday next, the 28th, and will return with the 14 days passengers on Monday, 11th July. As the election for this division cannot possibly take place before then, those who intend to take advantage of the trip, will be home in ample time to register their votes.”
26th June 1892 Luton Reporter. With bat, ball and bicycle.
“The committee of the Town Football Club have still under consideration the question of the reconstitution of the team, and I am informed that the negotiations which are proceeding will probably result in a good player being accrued either at centre half-back or centre forward.”
I hear that the Grantham Rovers, who have gone for professionalism, have a deficit of £115. This is not relished at Grantham.”
27th June 1892 committee meeting –
“Letters received from J. Forbes of Blackburn Rovers , J. Withington of Millwall Athletic and J. Sowby Gainsboro Charity Cup and Wigmore Sheffield.
Resolved that Messrs McGregor and Swinton’s application be not entertained.
Resolved “That the terms offered J.W. Julian of Royal Arsenal be accepted and that Mr Pitkin with the Hon Sec be empowered to draw up and sign agreement on behalf of the club.
Also Hon sec write to Mr Withington of Millwall Athletic asking for terms”.
“resolved that Hon Sec write Mr Irons calling upon him to cease the posting of bills on the pay box at the entrance to the ground”.
Note – Mr Irons is the Town crier.
2nd July 1892 Luton Reporter.
“Luton Football Club. The question of engaging outside professional aid was discussed by the committee of this club at their last meeting, and they have decided to engage Julian, one of the best known of the Royal Arsenal players. He is to play at centre half-back in place of Paul, who has intimated that he will not assist the club again. The question of engaging a centre forward was left over, it being felt that a too lavish expenditure would be unwise.”
Interlude – 2nd July 1892 – the voting in the General Election for the luton constituency was Flower 5,296. Duke 4,277. Liberal majority 1,019.
30th July 1892 Luton Reporter. Health of the Borough.
“In the past quarter there were 241 births and 159 deaths were registered in Luton, which is equal to annual rates of 31.7 and 21.1 per 1000 respectively. The deaths were chiefly due to :- Measles, 14; diphtheria and croup, 9; bronchitis, pleurisy and pneumonia, 17; heart disease, 13; cancer, 5; nervous system, paralysis, fits, 15.”
“The infant mortality was at the rate of 161.8 per 1,000 birth.”
30th July 1892. With bat, ball and bicycle.
“According to the present outlook there are troublous times before the Chatham Football Club, one of the best in the South. Strong opposition at the annual meeting against the way in which the club had been managed appears to have been raised the ire of the guarantors, and they have, it is alleged, taken such steps as will give them full control over the club, and debar the subscribers from having any voice in the management of affairs. Next season there are to be no subscribers’ tickets. Instead season tickets will be issued, which will entitle holders to admission to the ground, but will not give them the privilege of being able to vote at any meeting. General meetings are also, it is understood, to be done away with, and no balance-sheet to be published. It is proposed by many who are interested in the matter to form a new club with a team of professionals.”
10th August 1892 committee meeting –
“Hon sec explained that the rent of ground in future would have to be £25 for the season and find our own ground man”.
“resolved that the printing of the fixture card be proceeded with at once leaving out the list of patrons”
“the rule committee would meet during the week and have a draft of rules ready by Monday 21st”.
“Resolved that Hon Sec offer the Bury Park Football Club £3 0s 0d for their caps, shirts and goals”
“J. Simpkins take the position of centre forward with the first team”.
Ground man be left in the hands of the Hon Sec.”