This is probably one of the more difficult pieces of prose I have had to write for Vital. Most of you dear readers will fall into two categories. The first, and vast majority, won`t know nor care of my feelings for Yeovil Town. The second, a motley few, know that I don`t like them very much. So this will be an exercise in restraint. You can admire me later, if I can make it through.
There are signs of life in Yeovil dating back to the Palaeolithic era and as anyone who has had to make the Godforsaken journey to the backward town will know, you pass Stonehenge on your way. It became a small Roman town during their occupation and takes its current name from the River Yeo.
In modern times the town is popular among railway anoraks, famed for its’ manufacture of gloves and plays an important part in the defence industry. The football club was formed three years after the Wanderers in 1890. As might be expected of the deviants of the Somerset town they played football one week and then rugby the next.
The football team became known as Yeovil Casuals before merging with works team Petters United to become Yeovil and Petters United in 1914. Thankfully the footballing Gods ensured that the Glovers were promoted to the Southern League in 1922, just two years after the teams had left en masse to form the Third Division of the Football League.
On the resumption of football after World War II the club dropped the Petters United part of their name and added the word “Town” instead in an attempt to feign respectability. They went on to make a record number of applications to join the Football League – 28 – and all of them failed. I am not smiling, honest.
Yeovil is the kind of place where new born children scream in despair and try and escape back into their mother`s womb. William Dampier was born in the nearby village of East Coker yet was so desperate to escape that he set sail on the high seas and became the first man to circumnavigate the world three times.
Singer-songwriter PJ Harvey comes from the town and wrote a song called “Happy and Bleeding” which tells you all you need to know. Cricketer Ian Botham also let himself down by playing for both Somerset CCC and Yeovil Town. No wonder he needed to blaze up the odd doobie to try and forget the horror of it all. The only famous fan I can find is former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown.
There is an illustrious list of players who have enjoyed the highs of playing for the Chairboys and suffered the ignominy of wearing that putrid green kit. They include Alex McCarthy, Ben Roberts, Stephen Henderson; Rob Kiernan, Luke Oliver, Terry Skiverton, Glyn Creaser; Andy Turner, Keiran Murtagh, Kevin Betsy, Scott Davies, Steve Thompson, Tommy Doherty; Adrian Caceres, Charlie Griffin, Dean Bowditch, Guy Whittingham, Mark West, Miguel De Souza, Matt Harrold, Simon Church and Scott Rendell.
For almost a century our footballing existence was pure and we had been kept away from the horrors of deepest, darkest Somerset. The Glovers were relegated from the Gola League (now Conference Premier) in 1985 and we took their place. That was the first time they had suffered relegation in their history. Twelve months later and it was our turn and the 1986/87 season saw both sides collide in a battle for the Isthmian League title.
Both clubs were head and shoulders above the rest of the league in terms of size, crowds, finances and players. The first clash came at their old Huish ground in September 1986 and over 3,000 were in attendance. The build-up to the game didn`t help. Popular Captain Kevin “Elvis” Collins announced he was emigrating to Australia after almost two years at the club.
The Chairboys had just suffered their first league defeat of the season, losing 2-1 to Farnborough Town at Loakes Park. Manager Alan Gane said before the game: ‘The stakes are high with Football League status well within both clubs’ reach. It should be a good game.’ Yet bizarrely Gane didn`t take the team that day as he was away on a business trip in Holland.
Assistant manager John Reardon was also unable to travel, leaving coach Richard Teale to take charge. The omens weren`t good and the Glovers broke the deadlock inside two minutes. The weasely Alan Pardew (yes, the very same) hit a free-kick that deflected into the path of Phil James and he fired past goalkeeper Gary Lester.
Wycombe needed a hero and fortunately they had one. Within six minutes they had drawn level when Jason Seacole fed the ball into Noel Ashford and he turned on a sixpence before slamming the ball past goalkeeper Dave Walter and into the net to send the away fans delirious.
Just as it looked like the game was heading for a 1-1 draw, Tom Ritchie`s corner was met by Pardew and his shot beat Lester and found the net via the post. Bryon Walton almost snatched a late equaliser when his header was pushed away by Walter but the hosts hung on to claim the three points and knock the Wanderers off the top of the table.
The game was played in a hostile atmosphere and trouble was only averted by a large police presence. The two sides met four times in both league and cup that season and the Glovers claimed a 100% record. However, good triumphed over evil and manager Gerry Gow`s resignation in January sent Yeovil into a tailspin from which they were unable to recover.
Wanderers meanwhile went on to smash records, collecting 101 points and scoring 103 goals in winning 32 of their 42 league games. It meant an immediate return to the Conference and we`ve never looked back since. Sadly Yeovil won the Isthmian League title themselves the following season and acquaintances were renewed for the opening game of 1988/89.
Another 3,000+ crowd at The Huish witnessed a 1-1 draw with Mark West notching for the Blues. It will be a game remembered for the debut of a certain Dave Carroll. We would spend the next five years competing at the same level and the similarities between the two clubs would continue. In 1990 both moved from their much loved but antiquainted sloping grounds into new stadiums on the edge of town.
The Wanderers first trip to the new Huish Park came on a wet and windy afternoon between Christmas and New Year. A 2-2 was scraped with Brian McDermott (Yes, the very same) both scoring and missing a penalty for the home side. The following season saw a lamentable 1-0 loss and the worst defeat of our glorious double winning 1992-93 season came at Huish Park.
On another wet and windy evening in March the hosts romped to a 3-0 victory and the only saving grace was midfielder Simon Stapleton nutting their Neanderthal centre-back Mark Shail. He got sent-off but at least it was worth getting suspended for. There were also three trips in the Bob Lord Trophy in four seasons, the last of which saw us claim our one and only victory there, Keith Scott scoring the only goal in a 1-0 win.
Whilst we went onto further glory in the Football League the Glovers suffered another relegation back to the Isthmian League, spending two years there before returning. They finally reached the Football League in 2003, a dark day for the sport. Our relegation in 2004 meant the two clubs would meet again for the first time in over a dozen years.
That clash came in April 2005 when Clint Easton`s excellent free-kick was cancelled almost immediately by Lee Johnson`s 30-yarder and the game ended all-square at 1-1. Frankly the last meeting on Boxing Day 2009 was such a disgrace that I would prefer to spend my time repeatedly punching myself in the face.
It did mark the debut of Kadeem Harris, creating a then-record for the youngest player to appear for us in the Football League. In retrospect it seems a bit cruel and I am surprised no-one called the RSPCC. We should be protecting our children from the abomination of Yeovil.
So there you have it – eight previous league meetings in the incest fields and not one victory. Just three draws and five defeats. Add cup ties into the mix and it`s just the one win in eleven visits. It`s a pig of a record and it needs sorting. A 6-0 thrashing of the swines would go some way to rectifying the suffering of all those travelling Chairboys tomorrow. Yet you know just like Marion Crane that you really ought not to pull that shower curtain.
I failed didn`t I?
“All that`s left are memories”
Acknowledgements: The essential Chairboys on the Net was cherry-picked for research as was Ciderspace, the excellent and independent Yeovil Town website. Be warned though, it contains the kind of upsetting scenes of the like more commonly associated with some dodgy fetish website.