An exit from the FA Trophy at the hands of Needham Market, a team two divisions below us in the football pyramid, had Yeovil Town supporters with their heads in their hands.

Couple this with the exit of Terry Skiverton, whose legendary status needs no further introduction, and the seemingly never-ending wait for a final answer over the club’s off-the-field situation, and you could be left asking – has it ever been this bad?

I’d offer up the suggestion it has and to be exact as to when it was – Tuesday, October 25, 1994.

Three days earlier Yeovil Town had gone out of the FA Cup in the fourth qualifying round at the hands of Walton & Hersham, the ninth consecutive game they had failed to pick up a win.

The infamous fixture which saw Yeovil Town dumped out of the FA Cup at Walton & Hersham. Picture courtesy of Tim Lancaster.

Their opponents that day were actually only a division below them, but such was the significance of the competition to the Glovers, it felt wounded.

Andy Wallace and Neil Cordice were on target that day but a 3-2 defeat saw them go out of the competition, and there were angry exchanges between manager Brian Hall and his players and travelling fans.

Then-chairman Bryan Moore, a former chairman of the Green & White Supporters’ Club and Yeovil Town to the core, described that day as “one of the worst days of my entire life.”

In the midweek fixture that followed, GM Vauxhall Conference relegation rivals Merthyr Tydfil beat Yeovil 3-1 and the atmosphere was beyond toxic.

Fans who had vented their anger at the Cup exit the weekend before gathered outside Huish Park calling for the dismissal of Hall, to the extent that mounted police were called in to disperse the crowd at around 11pm with Chairman Moore ‘speaking’ to them via a megaphone from the Board Room.

As the club’s history, Hendford to Huish Park, recalls: “A beleaguered board stated that they would happily hand over should a consortium with money come along.

“They could not afford to sack Brian Hall but conversely, they could ill afford to see the situation continue.

“There were soon a number of faces mentioned with regards to take over the running of the club, among them Brian Hillier, formerly in charge at Swindon Town.

“John Fry who was already on the board and had recently sold his business interests would be available almost full-time and (former chairman) Gerry Lock who had continued to follow the fortunes of his former club from afar had hot a consortium together who expressed an interest but nothing further was heard from them.

There were a couple of wins in the weeks which followed, but plenty of defeats including a 5-0 thrashing at Stevenage Borough with the history books reporting that ex-Tottenham player Graham Robertsran the show” for them.

Having been told his budget would be cut further, Hall lasted until the first week of 1995 when he was sacked and, after a few games with players Tiv Lowe and Paul Wilson in temporary charge, his replacement would be none other than Roberts, who also counted Chelsea, Rangers and (say it quietly) W*ymouth among his former clubs.

Off the pitch things were changing as well with John Fry coming in as Chief Executive and despite the fact relegation was almost a certainty, there was a sense of optimism about Huish Park not felt in years.

Roberts’ team took it to the final game of the season which ended in a 4-4 draw with Northwich Victoria when their fate was sealed.

But rather than spilling on to the pitch to get angry, Yeovil supporters chanted “we’ll support you ever more” and they did.

In 1997, Graham Roberts led Yeovil Town to promotion to the Conference after two seasons. Picture courtesy of Tim Lancaster.

Two seasons at their lowest ebb, the ICIS League, saw the Glovers challenging for promotion whilst off-the-pitch Fry and his fellow directors, notably Fred Lewis, got things back on to an even keel.

More than a quarter-of-a-century has passed since then, we’re a full-time team now, we’ve had 15 years as a Football League club, and the debts the club is saddled remain a millstone round the club’s neck which (for his many faults) John Fry would never have allowed to happen.

But, we’ve undoubtedly got a more competitive team that back in the mid-1990s, we just all hope that off-the-field there are people willing to put in the hours and the finance.

There’s some similarities between then and now but my point is, the darkest hour is often before the dawn.

As a wiser man than me once said – Keep the faith, bruvvers!


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