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Chapter 32. A constant fusillade


The negative side of Luton Town becoming professional was that every single amateur club raised their game against the Straw Plaiters. Formerly known as Hanover United, Polytechnic (Young Men’s Christian Institute) were a medium London team who raised their game against the “pro’s”.  Add in a wasteful Luton forward line and the result was arguably the clubs worst F.A. cup defeat. Unfortunately the new signing, centre forward Hugh Galbraith, was unable to play in the cup tie.  He did, however, make his debut against Millwall Athletic and received close attention from the Dockers.  

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

“Luton Town v Millwall Athletic.  This match was played on the Athletic Ground on Saturday.  The visitors are recognised as one of the strongest combinations in the South of England.  This led to a considerable amount of interest being taken in the encounter, more especially seeing that since the last contest between the teams, the locals have shown an undeniable improvement: Indeed, their advance has been marked in popular estimation that they were freely selected by the sporting press as likely to win this game.  The attendance was the largest of the season; those present must have numbered close upon 2,000.  The weather was fair, but extremely dull.  Although the start was made fairly punctually the concluding portion of the game was played in semi-darkness.  The home captain won the choice of positions and elected to defend the goal at the Dallow Lane end, but there was little advantage accruing from this, for there was no wind.  The teams ranged up as follows:- Millwall Athletic: Goal, O. Caygill; backs, W. Ingram and T. Willing; half-backs, H. Thompson, J. Harvey and J. Duke; forwards; T. McCulloch and E. Joura (right), J. Lindsay (centre); P. Banks and D. Danks (left).  Luton Town: Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and A. Hoy; half-backs, J.W. Julian (captain), A. H. Taylor and J. Wright; forwards, H. Galbraith (centre), W. Brown and F. Allen (right), G. Groom and H. Whitby (left).  The referee was Mr F.W. Hill, and the linesmen were Messrs F. Evans (Luton), and W. Henderson (Millwall).  The Millwall men at the outset played with one man short, but the missing member of the team appeared before the game had proceeded many minutes.  Immediately after the kick off, Galbraith, who made his first appearance in the Luton team as centre forward, obtained possession and he gave his opponents a a taste of his quality by transferring operations to the neighbourhood of the Millwall goal.  He quietly passed to Brown but that player shot over the cross-bar.  The “dockers” retaliated, the shot which finished up a run being sent in by their centre forward.  Galbraith again distinguished himself by making a brilliant dodging run, and some good combination between Julian and Taylor was thereafter noticeable.  Wright, after exhibiting good defence sent the ball straight into goal, but in a scrimmage he unfortunately went over the line.  The game had only been in progress five minutes when Brown called forth a tremendous cheer by securing the first point to the homesters, this being the result of some splendid combined play.  Sanders was pressed severely shortly afterwards, and conceded a corner, but this was ineffectual, and Burley thereafter saved by the rush from the right.  Galbraith and his companions kept up the pressure and at one time he made so determined an onslaught that the Millwallian backs only averted disaster at the expense of a corner.  A grand save by Caygill was followed by the awarding of free kicks against each side in turn.  After Brown had sent in a fairly good shot there was some very fierce play, and the visitors’ forwards frequently made themselves off-side, but they were on each occasion pulled up very abruptly by the referee.  Galbraith was playing in very pretty style, his dodging dribbles being greatly admired.  He had already created a highly favourable impression, Julian, when a corner for Luton had been made nugatory, sent in a very fine attempt, and Caygill only preserved  his charge by leaping up and steering the leather over the bar.  Luton kept up the attack and had the best of matters, but for some time they were unable to add to their total.  At length Sanders sent in a very strong shot, which Caygill failed to keep out, and a second notch was awarded to the “reds.”  Commendable efforts next had to be recorded to Julian, Galbraith, Brown and Allen, all of whom failed by the merest trifle to add to their side’s total.  At one time the Millwall men were almost entirely outplayed and for some minutes they were prevented from advancing over the half-way line.  The Town men on the contrary were frequently in the vicinity of their enemies’ fortress, and shot after shot was only repelled with difficulty by the latter’s custodian.  Caygill’s powers of defence were tested to the utmost and had he not been a worthy occupant of the post his charge would have fallen on several occasions.  The shooting at goal was not by any means confined to the home forwards, for at half-time imitated the example set him by Sanders, and sent in a beautiful shot.  Just before the half way stage was reached the East-enders displayed somewhat better style , their forwards exhibiting far more pleasing combination than hitherto, and the result was that Burley was troubled two or three times in rapid succession.  The locals, however, managed to prevent their opponents scoring, and so pluckily did they exert themselves that they came within an ace of bringing about a capture of Caygill’s citadel.  When the whistle blew the score was: Luton, two; Millwall, none.  With the result so much in favour of the homesters it was generally considered that they had an excellent chance of securing the ultimate victory.  But there were some present who remembered the frequent determined play of the “dockers” that they were not by any means so sanguine.  A curious change of tactics was made by the visitors in the second portion.  In the first they had given many opportunities to their centre forward, and thus Julian was afforded ample chance of exhibiting his prowess.  Now, however, it seemed to be understood that the dreaded Arsenal man was to be avoided as much as possible, and instead of keeping the play in the centre, every opening found to work the wings was taken advantage of.  The obvious result was to deprive Julian of any considerable scope of shining, and to throw the bulk of the half-back work upon Taylor and Wright.  Both acquitted themselves manfully, but towards the close Wright was somewhat badly kicked on the knee-cap and was obliged to leave the filed for a quarter of an hour before the finish.  Galbraith, too, was effectually prevented from distinguishing himself very highly, for no fewer than three of the Millwall men made it their sole duty to look after him.  It should be said that during the first few minutes after the resumption the Lutonians had much the best of the exchanges, and they should have scored once or twice after fierce attacks upon the uprights.  The game was not long progressed when some combined play amongst the visitors’ forwards ended in Danks scoring their first goal.  Galbraith narrowly missed just after falling down when in the Millwall goal.  The Millwall forwards forced a couple of corners and a minute later the scores became equalised.  After some scrambling play the visitors took the lead though not until after the adoption of some highly reprehensible practices.  Burley had tumbled down in front of his goal line and he was not only somewhat brutally kicked while the ball was in his possession, but even after it had gone through the posts he continued to be subjected to the most savage treatment.  This naturally incensed the spectators, who expressed their disproval in unmistakeable fashion.  The Millwallians played, it must be confessed, in somewhat rough fashion throughout the whole of the second period, and more than once the Luton players were badly fouled.  The former had made up their minds to win, no matter at what cost, and the tactics which they employed reminded the spectators not a little of the fierceness with which the Northern teams contended for victory.  The three points notched by the leaders were obtained within 20 minutes and were all secured through determined rushes which was next to impossible to stem.  The quieter play of the Lutonians did not lead to the desired result.  They experienced very hard luck several times, and near the close of play again ruled in their favour.  It is certain that had they resorted to the same means as appeared to guide their opponents they would have acquired an exceedingly easy victory.  As it was they contented themselves with playing a quite correct game, and the finish found them in a minority of one point, the scores being : Millwall three, Luton two.  Galbraith showed himself to be  a very valuable acquisition, and he was well supported by the right wing pair, whose efforts were highly approved by the onlookers.  Groom was very plucky but failed in front of the goal in unaccountable style, while H. Whitby’s marked mediocre display disgusted a great many.  Julian was well to the fore and received good aid from the remainder of the back division, Hoy on this occasion doing some very useful work.  On the other side the man who rendered himself prominent was Caygill.  It may be somewhat curious to single out a goalkeeper as most worthy of commendation, but this will give some indication of the play itself.  Time after time Caygill was called upon, and he invariably behaved in the best possible manner.  The backs were fairly strong, the half-backs exceedingly expert, and the combination among their forwards seemed to show that they had benefitted by the strong criticism recently passed upon them by the London papers.  To sum up it may said that the Londoners obtained a peculiarly lucky victory, and this was one of the occasions when the better side did not win.  

With bat ball and bicycle – Highlights only – 

“The visitors, however, put in some rough play and managed to pile on three goals within twenty minutes, the last of these being secured only after as disgusting an exhibition of savagery as I have witnessed recently.  

The tactics of the “dockers” in the second period would have plainly indicated the spot from whence they hailed, for they were characterised by a fierce determination to win at any costs.  A desire to obtain a victory may be very laudable within reasonable limits, but to carry this feeling to such an extent as was apparent on Saturday does not commend itself to my judgment.  I would say, let our players win by fair means if they can, but if not do not let them resort to foul measures.  To judge by the demonstrations made by the spectators it seemed that this was also their feeling with regard to this matter.  

It is satisfactory to find that even the Athletics admitted that the home eleven should have won easily, but apart from this confession the fact was patent to all observers.  Occasionally the Londoners showed flashes of wonted brilliancy, but during the greater portion of the game the “reds” held the upper hand.”

“Galbraith is a decided acquisition and when he settles down will be certain to give universal satisfaction.  When he obtains possession there is little chance of depriving him, and his dribbling and passing are smart and accurate.  I confess to having been delighted with his initial performance, and trust that he will soon be helped by a competent set of forwards.  Galbraith’s style was too good to escape observation very long, and he was pounced upon by two or three men who gave him their undivided attention during the remainder of the play.  

Brown and Allen on the right were irreproachable, both assisting the centre man very materially.  We cannot spare either from the team just now.  Groom performed very creditably in the middle of the field, but was manifestly weak in front of goal.  H. Whitby was the worst of the forwards and his weakness was apparent to everybody.  If he does not improve he will share the same fate as his brother Frank, for I hear ominous remarks from the authorities of the club.  

I learn with very great pleasure that H.W. Oclee last year’s centre forward, is restored to health and will probably appear in the team to-morrow (Saturday) against Guy’s Hospital.  It is suggested by some of my friends that the forward rank should be reconstructed thus: Centre, Galbraith; left; Chesher and Allen; right, Brown and Oclee.  Since writing this I learn that the suggestion has been adopted.  

The prospects of the Town men qualifying for the final round of the division are generally considered to be very rosy, and I frankly admit being one of the sanguine spirits who anticipate success a week to-morrow. The Evening News announces that its football editor would not be surprised to see Luton become champions of the division, and indeed present appearances point in that direction.  Our players have a hard task in front of them, but if they play as they have done during the last two or three weeks I would not be afraid to match them against any team in the South not excepting even the Royal Arsenal.  My best wish is that they may repeat last season’s success.  

On Saturday the Morning Leaders said “Luton Town are a distinctly ambitious team.  Many of the men are professionals, though the majority of them belong to the town from which the club gets its name.  Those who wish to have the opportunity of seeing them to-day will require to make their way to Luton, where the home team, fresh from their victory over the Old Etonians, will try to take the Dockers’ number down.  The latter, however, are a very difficult team to beat on their own ground, and it will take Luton at their best to do the trick.”  On Monday the same paper remarked “ “There are not many clubs can go to Luton Town and return with a victory, but Millwall Athletic were fortunate enough to do this on Saturday.  It was not fortune, however, but good play which enabled them to win by three goals to two.  This result should give them some encouragement for the Cup-tie against Royal Arsenal next week.  Caygill played splendidly in goal for the winners, whilst Julian – the old Arsenal players – was the best man on the losing side.”  

I learn that negotiations have been conducted between the Town Club authorities and the Polytechnic with a view to getting the latter to visit Luton on Saturday week in order to contest the Cup tie, but the monetary inducement held out has failed to secure the acquiescence of our opponents.  The match will accordingly be played at Wimbledon, and I am told that the Midland Railway will probably run an excursion train.”   

Luton Reserves v Millwall Reserves.  Played at Millwall on Saturday and resulted in an easy win for the homesters by six goals to two.  The game was very roughly contested.  

INTERLUDE – DEATH OF A PUBLICAN. – On Wednesday Mr. Howkins, landlord of the Fox public-house, Dunstable-road, died of consumption [tuberculosis].  He had resided in the town for several years, and had gained a large circle of friends.”  

7th November 1892 committee meeting –

“team selected against Guy’s Hospital as follows

Goal, Burley; Saunders and Hoy, backs; Taylor, Julian and Wright, half backs; Cheshire and Allen, left wing; Galbraith, centre; Oclee and Brown, right wing. 

gate money for Saturday 5th £22 6s 1d, pavilion 6/6.

Expenses of reserves Millwall £2 15s 2d.

Expenses of Mr Hill to Burnley £1 15s 0d.  

“Resolved that Hon Sec write Polytechnic offering £15 to play the match at Luton”.  

10th Nov 1892 – Special committee meeting at Midland Hotel as all the meetings have been

“Hon Sec read a letter from Mr F Hastings of Polytechnic thanking us for our generous offer but declining the same, under these circumstances it was discussed as to the advisability of treating with the M.R. Company to run an excursion.  In the end it was resolved that Mr Shane together with Hon Sec wait upon Mr Green to arrange for one if possible to start not before noon, the club guaranteeing 200 subject to the usual percentage”

“Resolved that admission to Wednesday’s match with Norton College and Beds Teachers 3d”.  

Luton’s opponents in the F.A. Cup were preparing. From the in house publication “The Polytechnic Magazine” of The Polytechnic, Young Men’s Christian Institute, 309 Regent Street, London 16th November 1892

Talking about H. Barker who received a kick in the face “ hopes to play again on Saturday, when the team enter the third round of the English Cup; Luton Town are the opponents.  The Lutonians are a professional team, and a good game is sure to be witnessed at Merton Hall.  The admission to the game is 6d., but members will be able to purchase tickets for their friends at the bookstall, price 3d. Poly members and Day Schools boys free.  

The editorial says

“Next Saturday our fellows have a hard task in front of them in the third round of the English Cup, when they have to meet Luton Town at Merton Hall.  I trust each member of the team will do his level best to be fit for the event.  Luton Town are a professional team, and it will need all our energies to make a good display against the “pros”; still I have every confidence in our fellows rendering a good account of themselves.”

12th November 1892.  From the Luton Reporter of 19th November 1892.  

“Luton Town  v Guy’s Hospital.  Played in Luton on Saturday, in dull but fine weather.  It being estimated that about 1,000 were present.  The visitors had their best team and the Lutonians were very strongly represented, H.W. Oclee (last year’s centre forward) being given a place on the right wing after his recent severe illness.  H. Whitby was eliminated and the left wing pair were Chesher and Allen, the latter being transferred from the centre to make room for Galbraith.  The homesters won the toss, and a quarter of an hour late the teams ranged up as follows :- Luton Town: Goal, J. Burley; backs, A. Sanders and A. Hoy,; half-backs, J.W. Julian (captain), A.H. Taylor and J. Wright; forwards, H. Galbraith (centre), H.W. Oclee and W. Brown (right wing), F. Allen and W. Chesher (left wing) (forwards).  Guy’s Hospital: Goal, J. Lavere; backs, H.D. Packer and J. Evans; half-backs, H. Hewetson, H.C. Sharpe and W. Pool; forwards, E.S. Fitzhugh (centre), F.E. Walker and W.S. Mumford (right wing), G. Lawrence and W.E. Waymark (left wing).  The referee was Mr I. Smith and the linesmen Messrs F.W. Hill and W. Sturges-James.  Fitzhugh kicked off towards Dallow-lane, and not only did it at once become apparent that the ground was very slippery but that the homesters were undeniably stronger than the medicals.  The Lutonians started at a great pace, and when the game had been in progress only about a minute Sanders scored a magnificent goal with a shot from full back.  Two minutes later a second notch was obtained out of a scrimmage, and before ten minutes had expired from the start Oclee put the finishing touch on the third attempt.  Guy’s were undeterred by these reverses and struggled very hard, the result being that they ultimately enabled to baffle Burley and score.  The Luton forwards were playing in a very pretty style, and the left wing showed a vast improvement as compared with the previous week, Chesher being particularly cool and determined.  Galbraith put on a fourth, and before the interval Allen sent home a splendid pass by Brown.  Shot after shot was sent into the medical’s citadel, but they were all disposed of, and when the change of ends was made the Town men were leading by five to one.  A sixth point was obtained shortly after the restart, and the goals were piled on until the total had reached eight to one.  Guy’s then scored but the leaders retaliated, and although the Hospital men again beat Burley they were unable to effect and material change in the position, the final score reading Luton nine, Guy’s three.  The result was in great measure attributable to the plucky play of the home forwards.  Galbraith was greatly admired, and it is unfortunate for the Town authorities that they are prevented by the registration rule from requisitioning his services next Saturday against the Polytechnic in the Cup tie.  Oclee was particularly noticeable.  Julian’s half-back exhibition was very fine.  For the losers, Sharpe, who was injured a few minutes before the end, played a splendid game.  

With Bat, ball and bicycle – Highlights only. 

“My remarks regarding H. Whitby seem to have confirmed the opinion of the rulers of the Club, for he was left out of the eleven last Saturday, and he is not likely to make his appearance again for some time.  It seems to me that the committee have at length found a good forward line.  I regret that Galbraith’s absence on Saturday will lead to another rearrangement, but when the eventful day has been passed we are pretty certain to find the forwards settling down well in their places.  

By the way, what are our chances for Saturday against the Polytechnic in the English Cup? I am sorry that our players have to go away from home, but if they maintain last week’s style I do not seriously fear for them, for their opponents have not done great things.  There is considerable uncertainty apparent in the minds of the cognoscenti on the matter.  One week the Evening News thinks it not improbable that Luton may walk through the division, and the next they advise our men not to be too confident.  En passant I would mention the wonderful popularity of the “pink ‘un” in Luton.  It is a striking fact – and one which affords food for reflection – that nearly 600 copies per week are disposed of.  To return to my text, I would quote the opinion of the Morning Leader, which says : “The straw-plaiters are pretty confident of winning their cup-tie against the Polytechnic next week.  Let them not be too confident.”  I would advise them, on the contrary, to set out with all the confidence can muster, for therein lies their strength.  Even the Globe is forced to the somewhat tardy admission that ours is “an improving team.”  Improving?  I should think it is, and if we continue to make the rapid advances of the last couple of years we shall inevitably have the cup at Luton in the future.”

“I am asked to say that the half-time score at Wimbledon will be telegraphed to the Luton ground on Saturday.  The Luton forwards will be F. Allen (centre), F.K. Whitby, W. Brown (right), W. Chesher and J. Watkins (left).  Excursions are being run on both lines of railway.”  

The reserves beat Norton College.  Luton Montrose drew in the Kettering Charity Cup.  

14th Nov 1892 committee meeting –

Team selected against Norton College.  

Cup Team as follows;

Burley, goal; Saunders and Hoy, Backs; Wright, Julian, Taylor, half backs; Cheshire and Watkins, left wing; Allen, centre; Whitby and Brown, right wing.  Resolved that Messrs Deacon, Galbraith and Wright accompany the team”.  

Gate money for Wed 9th £2 5s 2d and for Sat 12th £10 0s 11d, pavilion 3/5.  

Expenses of reserves regarding King’s Cross £2 4s 10 1/2d.  

“Resolved that charges for admission to Ashton Grammar School be 3d and Scots Guards 6d”.  

“Hon Sec stated that a deputation from the Luton Charity Cup Competition had waited upon him and thought that £12 would be quite sufficient charge for the 3 charity matches.  After discussion it was unanimously decided to abide by the former decision viz. £15 for the 3 matches and that Hon Sec write to them to that effect”.  

“Mr Shane on behalf of the sub committee appointed to wait upon the M.R. Company with respect to an excursion, stated that the company required a guarantee of 200 at 2/6 with no commission to the club.  It was therefore decided to have nothing to do with it, as in all probability the authorities would run one on their own accord”.  

19th November 1892.  From the Luton Reporter of the 26th November 1892.  


On Saturday last the ties in the third round of the English Cup competition were decided, and by far the most interesting of them as far as this locality was concerned was the encounter between Luton Town and the Polytechnic.  Both teams had done well in the earlier stages, for while Luton beat the Old Etonians in the second round, their adversaries had extinguished the chances of the Swifts.  The prospects of the game had been freely speculated upon, and the general opinion seemed to be that Luton ought to win if they maintained their recent admirable form.  Efforts had been made to induce the Polytechnic, who had obtained choice of grounds, to journey to Luton, but they overtures were refused and the “reds” accordingly had to travel to Merton Hall, Wimbledon.  The team set out on the 10.43 train on the Midland Railway and were accompanied by a good number of admirers, and excursions on both lines were freely patronised.  On reaching the scene of the encounter it became apparent that the odds were against the Lutonians.  They are used to playing on a hard, dry ground, and at Wimbledon they were sent upon a filed which was in an extremely bad state, almost ankle deep in mud.  There were no goal-nets, and the touch line was so badly defended that the ropes which were used to keep back the onlookers were frequently found to be over the line.  There was not by any means a large attendance, the most of those present hailing from Luton, and the weather was of a dull and dispiriting nature.  

After some delay, occasioned by the late arrival of the referee (Mr. Wilson), the teams ranged up in the following order:- Polytechnic: Goal, H. Hooper; backs, T. Wilkinson and G.A. Parker; half-backs, G.W. Turk, C.H. Cruikshank and W. Potter; forwards, H. Boswara and J. Burton (right), E.J. Beach (centre), Frank Hastings and H. Barker (left).  Luton Town: Goal, J. Burley; backs A. Sanders and J. Hoy; half-backs, J. Wright, J.W. Julian and A.H. Taylor; forwards, W. Brown and F.K. Whitby, F. Whitby (centre), J. Watkins and W. Chesher (left).  Julian won the toss and Beach kicked off a quarter of an hour after the advertised time.  The homesters went off with a great rush, and considering the heavy state of the ground play during the early portion of the match was very fast.  A foul against Taylor about 20 yards from goal threatened danger to the Luton fortress, but the ball was headed over the line, and the “Polys.” as they are termed by their followers, similarly disposed of the leather a minute later.  Some pretty style was exhibited by the Londoners’ left wing, and the Lutonians, who had been shaping far from well, put in some good work, and from a splendid shot at goal a “corner” was obtained.  This was ineffectual, and although the visitors obtained several minor advantages and attacked their opponents’ fortress very strenuously they were unable to beat Hooper.  Some excellent efforts by Taylor and Chesher were followed by a “corner” for Luton, and Watkins shot over the bar.  Burton and Beach distinguished themselves for their side, but they could not get near Burley’s citadel, the latter being given off-side on one occasion when he seemed certain to score.  The “reds” made a very determined attack, and attempts were made by Watkins and Brown to get the leather between the posts, the scrimmage finishing up by the first named again shooting over the cross-bar.  Sanders had been showing splendid style, and Whitby was somewhat better than usual.  For a time the game was of a give and take character, but the visitors seemed to be the stronger team, and they experienced very hard luck on several occasions.  Hoy relieved very finely when Beach had got through, and the Polytechnic left wing men were subsequently forced to kick over the Luton goal-line.  Brown forced a “corner” for his side, but a chance of scoring was absolutely thrown away on the right wing.  Some grand play by Julian enabled the Luton men to make another attack, but Parker came to the rescue and transferred the scene of operations to the middle of the field.  Shortly afterwards a great misfortune happened to the Lutonians through a mistake by Wright.  The latter had kicked the ball to Sanders, who had apparently a better chance of getting it clear away, but he did not kick it far enough and Boswara at once pounced upon it.  A fine run up the line was finished up by a great centre to Beach, who promptly sent the ball between the uprights and thus registered the first point in the game for the Polytechnic.  This success was enthusiastically cheered by the supporters of the home side, and the onlookers from Luton looked correspondingly glum.  The Town representatives did not allow the reverse to distract from their efforts.  They kept up a fierce attack and shot after shot was sent in, Chesher and Brown missing by the merest trifle.  In less than five minutes Julian centred well, and Watkins equalised with a screw shot during the scrimmage which ensued.  During the next few minutes the visitors had by far the best of matters, and though the homesters got away at times they were very hotly pressed.  Watkins again sent the leather skimming over the bar instead of through, and after fouls had been awarded against either side, Burley was afforded an opportunity of acquitting himself satisfactorily, which he did.  After a hot scrimmage in front of the Town goal the London men again obtained the lead, Boswara being responsible for the notch.  The ball thereafter went through the Luton posts after a free-kick for “hands,” but as nobody had touched it except the player who took the kick no score was allowed.  Despite several plucky attempts the straw-plaiters were prevented from equalising before half-time, and when the referee’s whistle announced that the first portion of the game had been completed the score stood as follows: Polytechnic, two; Luton, one.  Early in the second period Taylor evoked loud applause by making several splendid kicks in rapid succession and his successful tackling was the means of enabling his side to force a “corner.”  Give and take play was the order for the next few minutes, and then after some fine play by Hoy, Watkins was afforded a further opportunity of scoring.  This This was, however, not taken advantage of.  Luton redoubled their exertions, and Julian, Taylor, and Hoy were particularly conspicuous.  Time after time they experienced the most pronounced hard luck, and it was not until the game had been in progress for nearly half an hour that an alteration in the score was effected.  From a pass from the opposite wing F. Whitby scored in good style amid tremendous cheering from the Luton section of the spectators.  Following up this success the “reds” obtained a “corner,” and subsequently strained every nerve to secure the advantage.  Shot after shot was sent in, only to be disposed of by Hooper in the most wonderful manner, and despite their most determined onslaughts the visitors were unable to add to their total.  Burley relieved when things looked dangerous for his side, and then Brown kicked the ball right across the mouth of the Polytechnic goal.  The same player made a very bad miss when Julian had sent in a fine attempt, and it was only this execrably bad shooting that prevented the Town men from obtaining the lead.  When only a few minutes remained in which to play the Polytechnic left wing obtained possession and Boswara finished up well by centreing to to Beach.  That player shot and Burley failed failing to dispose of the ball properly Burton had no difficulty in scoring.  Just on the call of time Hastings put on another goal, and thus the Polytechnic won by four goals to two.  It only remains to offer some remarks on the defeat.  In the first place it must be distinctly averred that the winners were not by any means the better team, not did they have at all the best of the game.  Time after time the Lutonians penned them in and it was only the poor shooting powers of the forwards that prevented the “reds” total being very much larger.  The homesters broke through the visitor’s defence on very few occasions, and so weak was the resistance that Burley offered that they scored whenever the forwards had got past the backs.  It was generally agreed that the display of the Luton keeper was the worst form shown on their ground.  Taylor was, perhaps, the hardest working member of the losing team.  Julian was scarcely so much in evidence as usual, and Wright was a trifle off colour after making his mistake.  Allen was seen to advantage in the centre, but the right wing pair were scarcely a success.  Chesher was very capable on the left, but Watkins missed several easy chances.  For the winners the forwards were very conspicuous, while Parker and the goalkeeper showed best style amongst the others.  When the game had concluded a protest was lodged with the referee on the ground that the goal-posts were too high, and it was found on a measurement being made that they were 3 1/2 inches too long.  This, however, was not proceeded with, and consequently it did not come before the Association at their meeting on Wednesday.  The linesmen were: Messrs Sid Pakes (Luton) and F. Nicholls.”

With Bat, ball and bicycle – Highlights only.  Onlooker tried hard to explain why the reds had lost.  

“At the very outset let me say that the better team did not win.  This is not my unsupported opinion  – though if it were it should still be expressed  – but the conviction of most of those who lined the ropes.  It was freely admitted by those who favoured the Polytechnic that the Lutonians displayed far better all round style and should have won very easily.  The great weakness on Saturday was to be found in the goalkeeper, whose failures most distinctly lost the match.  The winners broke through very seldom: so seldom indeed, that I should not be far wrong if I said that every time they passed the backs they succeeded in scoring.  Here is what I overheard from a stranger: “if the Luton men want to win they must get another goalkeeper; you might as well put a stick between the posts as that man.”  Comment from me is needless.  

Then the state of the ground was very much against the Town representatives, and I am sure they will agree with me in wishing that it may never be our lot to visit the ground again.  Not only was the turf in a terribly bad condition, but there was absolutely no accommodation for the spectators, and as far as I could see the game might almost as well have been played on a ploughed field.  It may be urged that this cut both ways.  Undoubtedly, but it it must be borne in mind that the Lutonians are used to playing on a decently dry ground at home, and that they would consequently be considerably handicapped.  

Even this explanation does not go far enough.  There is another which to my mind seems much more conclusive, and it is that the Luton forwards did not avail themselves of the numerous chances which were presented to them of scoring.  The grand half-back play led to their being well fed, and at times a constant fusillade was kept up on the Polytechnic’s goal.  The ball would not go through, but Hooper must have had an anxious time for he repeatedly had to fist or throw the leather out.  Watkins was one of the worst offenders; he persistently kicked over the bar, and more than half-a-dozen grand opportunities were in this was allowed to pass.  

Allen was extremely plucky, and Chesher was as cool and clever as ever, but the right wing men did not shape particularly well.  Whitby exhibited more pluck than usual, but he was far from perfect, and Brown seemed to be prevented by the heaviness of the ground from putting into practice that trickiness with which he so often delights us at home.  Julian was, of course, well to the fore, but on this occasion his efforts were surpassed by those of Taylor, who was in marvellously good form.  The backs showed fine style, Hoy being in particularly admirable fettle.  It is a distinct pity that the match was lost, for outsiders will necessarily think that the better team won.  I would like, however, to get the winners on a dry ground, and we should then “see what we should see.”  

Luton reserves beat the Beds Teachers association at home.  

Luton Montrose thrashed Hitchin 7 2.  

We have an opportunity to read a report from the opposition.  From the in house publication “The Polytechnic Magazine” of The Polytechnic, Young Men’s Christian Institute, 309 Regent Street, London 23rd November 1892

Poly beat Luton Town four goals to two.  The 19th November should, henceforth, be a red-letter day in the annals of Poly football, for no such play as marked Saturday’s match, no such a gathering of spectators, and no such scenes of unbounded delight and enthusiasm, have ever been witnessed as the occasion that called forth the Poly triumph over “The Reds.”  I wonder how many of the spectators, when watching our fellows “making rings” round Luton in the last few minutes, realised what an immense step we have made from the time when every season was ushered in with whisperings of the prowess of the new team, only to find in a few brief weeks that our hopes were doomed again.  Well, “patience, and shuffle the cards,” says the Spanish proverb – and truly enough, for the fickle jade has dealt us a strong hand at last; how strong, indeed, we have yet to learn; but most certainly it one which will carry our colours to the fore many times this season.  One of the most pleasant features of our series of successes is to see so many of our tried hands, men who have stuck well to the old club, showing so prominently today.  Not a fellow in the club is anything but delighted to see Bill Potter doing such yeoman service, not one who did not feel proud of Gap, when his show at Kensal Rise made one think of A.M. Walters at times.  I have only to mention Turk, Boswara, Hastings and the evergreen Charlie Stanning to remind my readers of many another fight long since over.  The game of Saturday last was a somewhat curious one by reason of so much of the play taking place within dangerous distance of the respective goals, not very much of the play occurred in mid-field, and, in consequence, it was most exciting to witness.  Luton during the first quarter of an hour pressed at a tremendous pace, and looking, time after time, as if they must score, but Hooper was vigilant, and Wilkinson – who has come on at a terrific rate, playing better every Saturday – by a splendid series of kicks and tackling averted much of the danger.  Gap and Potter were also always on the premises, and worried the Luton forwards, so that when they shot, the ball either went wide or far over the bar.  The visiting team gained several corners in quick succession, one of which was well cleared by George Turk, who, by the way, did not open in his best form, but woke up to some tune later, and another dangerously placed corner was well headed out by Barker.  Gradually pressure was reduced, and our fellows began to break away.  Hastings had several chances, but did not middle soon enough to give Beach a chance; a fine run by harry Boswara’s also ended in a rather tame kick, but our mistakes ended her, and soon every man was on his mettle.  A fine piece of combined work by Barton and “Bos” ended in a centre, which enabled Beach to score a goal for us amidst tremendous plaudits from the crowd.  From the kick-off, Luton at once pressed, and both Whitley and Watkins were within an ace of scoring on several occasions.  At last fortune smiled upon the visitors, for, Hooper slipping in endeavouring to reach a ball, enabled Watkins to bring the score level.  A spell of equal play then ensued, in which Julian, Hay, Parker, Wilkinson, and Turk were conspicuous, and then Potter, getting possession, sent in a fine shot, which was headed through by Barton.  Stung by this reverse, the Luton men attacked in force, and sent shot after shot in quick succession.  But Hooper was always equal to saving his charge, although one shot struck the post and rebounded back, after looking every inch a certainty.  Poly, through a run by Barker and Hastings, were soon on the spot again, and aided by a corner and a free-kick near goal, which Parker put through without touching anybody, showed they still meant business.  The whistle soon after sounded half-time, leading the home team leading to two to one.  The second half opened much like the first, Luton piling it on tremendously at first, whilst our rear division, especially Wilkinson, rendered all their efforts nugatory.  Several times Boswara broke away, and once got the ball right down and centred splendidly.  None of our men, however, were up, and the ball was returned into the home quarters.  A grand pass by Julian gave Whitley an opening, but he shot over the bar; soon after, though, the same player beat Hooper, and brought the scores level.  Excitement now ran at fever heat round the ground, and the players, excited by the cries of the spectators, put forward every nerve.  Again and again Potter, Turk, Wilkinson and Gap stopped men just as they looked dangerous, and as often did the Luton backs and Julian repel the vigorous onslaughts of the Bos, Beach and Burton.  At length Potter gained possession and sent the ball well into the mouth of the goal.  It was headed well through by Burton, and again we were leading.  The visitors rallied again, but our men’s staying powers, which have so often stood them in good stead this season, once more assisted them.  In the last few minutes of the game they attacked all along the line, and Hasting getting on one of Boswara’s centres, put the issue beyond doubt but scoring a fourth goal.  Soon after, the whistle sounded, and this magnificent struggle ended in victory for the Poly by 4 goals to 2.  For Luton the best play was shown by both backs the old Arsenal man, Julian, and the two left wing forwards.  Of our men, the two best displays were those of Boswara and Wilkinson.  Gap, Beach, Potter and Burton played a consistently fine game throughout.  Turk and Barker played at times with great brilliancy, but Turk scarcely shone as well as he did against the Swifts.  Hooper in goal was cooler than the coolest cucumber, and Frank Hastings played a useful game.  His judgment was at times faulty, and he hardly makes the most of the speed he undoubtedly possesses.  Crookshank also did much useful work, especially during the most trying portion of the second half, when Luton tried so hard to gain a lead.  The teams were – Poly – H. Hooper (goal), G.A. Parker, T. Wilkinson (backs), G.W. Turk, C.H. Crookshank and W. Potter (half-backs), H. Boswara, J. Burton (left), E.J. Beach (centre), H. Barker and F. Hastings (right).  Luton:- J. Burley (goal), A. Hay, A, Sanders (backs), A.H. Taylor, J.W. Julian and J. Wright (halves), W. Cheshire, J. Watkins. F. Allen, F. Whitney, W. Brown, forwards”.  

From the in house publication “The Polytechnic Magazine” of The Polytechnic, Young Men’s Christian Institute, 309 Regent Street, London 5th April 1893

Balance sheet season 1892-93. 

Gate money

8th October Paddington £1 3s 5d.

22nd October Paddington £1

12th November Kensal Rise Swifts 10s 9d.

19th November Luton Town £6 15s

10th December Oval Casuals £11 7s


The referee cost 5s.  

Luton Town share of the gate 36s 6d.  

Protest for Tottenham Hotspur 10s.  

Posting bill 6s

From the in house publication “The Polytechnic Magazine” of The Polytechnic, Young Men’s Christian Institute, 309 Regent Street, London 6th December 1893

“The first team was one to be proud of, having a record not having been held by our premier team for years – Luton, Swifts, Royal Arsenal and 1st Coldstream Guards were all met and defeated by us, and even the Casuals thought so highly of us that they brought a team to the Oval stronger than any they could produce during the rest of the season.”  

21st Nov 1892 committee meeting –

Teams selected against Grove Park and Scots Guards.  The Guards team is as follows Read, goal; Saunders and Hoy, backs; Wright, Julian and Taylor, half backs; Cheshire and Allen, left; Galbraith, centre; Watkins and Brown, right. 

Gate money for Wed 16th 13/5.  Sat 19th £2 9s 9d.  

Expenses of match v Polytechnic £5 5s 8d.  

“Resolved that Mr Tearle be allowed to sell Julian’s portrait on the ground”

“That Messrs Cheshire and Allen be allowed to sign at once”.  

Something is amiss here – Poly say our share of the gate was 36s 6d. but Luton say they only received 5s 4 1/2d from the Polytechnic as their share of the gate.  There are letters (see Chapter 33) between the two clubs but the actual details are missing.  If we beleive Luton then it seems the club made a loss of over £5 on the game.  This brings back memories of the Chatham away game in the F.A. cup in 1887.  The crowd was 5,000 but it was played in a public park so no admission could be charged.  The expenses Luton incurred were therefore not paid and the AGM revealed a loss on the season – that’s how fragile football was.  

26th November 1892.  From the Luton Reporter of the 3rd December 1892.  

“Luton Town v 2nd Scots Guards.  On Saturday one of the most interesting matches of the season was down for decision, the visitors being the holders of the Army Cup.  Rain fell heavily at the time announced for the start, and the drenching showers continued with more or less intensity during the whole afternoon.  This not only made the ground slippery and heavy, but it was more important to the executive in another means, for it adversely affected the “gate.”  Despite the uncongenial surroundings, however, a very large crowd gathered, and at one period it was estimated that very nearly 1,000 were present.  These were called upon to exercise the virtue of patience for about an hour, for the non-arrival of the Guards owing to missing a train led to a delay to this extent.  The soldiers were ready to start when they did reach the ground, and no time was lost in starting operations.  The elevens were ranged up in the following order:- Goal, F. Woods; backs, Corpl. Berwin and Pte. Beckett; half-backs, Morley, Stirling and McEwan; forwards, Corpl. Fry and Drummer Noble (right, McNeil (centre), Fraser and Hyslop (left).  Luton Town: Goal, T. Read; backs, A. Sanders and A. Hoy; half-backs, J.W. Julian (captain), A.H. Taylor and J. Wright; forwards, F. Allen and W. Chesher (left), H. Galbraith (centre), J. Watkins and W. Brown (right).  As will be seen Burley had been replaced by Read in goal, and F. Whitby was again shut out from the team.  Luton lost the toss and kicked off against the wind.  The Guards obtained possession, but did not keep the ball long, and in less than a minute from the start, Chesher finished up a fine run by the home forwards by scoring a magnificent goal – the shot being a terrifically fast, low one.  The leaders forced a “corner,” and the hosts thereafter broke through but failed to score.  The “reds” again swarmed to the attack and a grand shot by Galbraith was sent along the line by Woods, a “corner” resulting.  Read saved very cleverly shortly afterwards, though at the expense of a”corner.”  The Lutonians kept up the bombardment of Wood’s fortress, and it was only the extreme smartness of that player which preserved his charge intact.  Watkins troubled him considerably on one occasion, but he managed in some mysterious way to keep the ball out.  The custodian at the other end was next visited, and he gave another taste of his quality.  During the next few minutes the play was of a give and take character, and each side missed capital openings.  At length the soldiers came up with a grand rush and managed to get the leather through, thus equalising the scores.  The Guards thereafter had somewhat the best of matters and should have scored, but the hopes of the homesters were roused shortly before half-time, when Chesher scored another fine goal.  When the interval arrived Luton lead by two goals to one.  The Scots went off at a great pace in the second period, but their fiercest rushes were stemmed and the Luton men more than held their own.  Sanders and Wright played finely, the latter putting in some remarkably effective kicks.  During the remaining portion of the game the Lutonians had considerably the best of matters, and at one point Galbraith scored a third goal.  The total should have been increased, but the slippery condition of the ground goes a long way towards explaining the failure.  When the end came the homesters had won a splendidly fought contest by three goals to one.  Referee: Mr F.W. Hill; linesmen, Mr Wilkins (Luton) and Quarter-Master Sergeant Murray (Scots Guards).  

With bat, ball and bicycle.  Highlights only –

“When the time arrived for the match with the Scots Guards last Saturday the weather was of the worst possible kind and – what was worse – the soldiers had not arrived.  Those in charge of the pavilion had a busy time, for large numbers flocked thither “just to get out of the rain” and when the hour had passed when operations were announced to commence visions of demands for the return of the entrance money began to rise before the eyes of the authorities.  These were dispelled in a very pleasant fashion, for the Scots presently loomed in sight.  In order that no more time should be lost they had donned their football attire on the journey, and when the spectators discovered this they saluted the visitors with a hearty and sympathetic round of applause.  Fine, athletic looking fellows were the Guards, and when the teams ranged up it was thought by many that the locals were in for a severe thrashing.”

“The most puzzling task is to reconcile the brilliancy of Saturday’s display with the milk and water show of the previous week.  Judging by the recent performances it seems to me that the latest form was the truest index to the Lutonians’ powers.  The presence of Galbraith in the centre is undoubtedly a source of great strength, for not only does he play a sterling game individually but he puts heart into his comrades.  The forward string had once more been rearranged, F. Whitby being again shunned, and the change worked well.  All the forwards showed good style, and amongst the others Wright was most noticeable, his kicking being extremely fine.  Julian and Taylor were in fine fettle and the backs exerted themselves strenuously.  Read did well in goal, but he did not have much to do, and we waited in vain for a repetition of the magnificent performance which he gave against Grantham Rovers some years ago.  

“To-morrow (Saturday) the Lutonians journey to Watford to meet West Herts in their return match.  I learn that the Watfordians are preparing to give our champions “What for,” but judging by the result of the game earlier in the season I think they will have their work cut out.  

By the way, Mr A. Tearle, of Barber’s-lane, has published a very neat card bearing a well executed portrait of Julian and the injunction “Play up Luton.”  Footballers should patronise local talent and procure a copy.  

In local games the Inkerman Conquerors played the Park Square Rovers on Wednesday.  The Conquerors won ten nil.  In another game on the Monday at the Montrose Ground, Mr T. Bartlett’s Employees lost eight two to Mr G. Fyson’s Employees.