1948 – 1949: PART ONE OF THREE – THE 1948/49 SEASON BEGINS
The 1948/49 season marked Yeovil Town’s silver jubilee as a professional club. Manager Alec Stock had been busy in the close season recruiting the likes of right-half Arthur Keeton from Torquay United, centre-half Les Blizzard from Bournemouth, right-winger Billy Hamilton from Chester, centre-forward Eric Bryant from Mansfield Town, inside-left Ray Wright from Exeter City and left-winger Jack Hargreaves (the former Bristol City player) from Reading.
With nine points gained from the first five matches in the Southern League, the campaign started encouragingly. Even so, few could have dreamed of the universal acclaim that was to come the Club’s way later in the season during a sensational run in the F.A. Cup.
The F.A. Cup run started on 13th November, when Yeovil Town travelled to Newport to play Lovell’s Athletic. Yeovil were trailing 2-0 at half-time, but a Lovell’s defender then tried to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper from fifteen yards out only to mis-kick it, fiercely, the ball zipping into the roof of the net; a fine, unstoppable shot! Yeovil went on to win 3-2, but most of the 1,200 in the crowd went home feeling that little more would be heard of Yeovil in the F.A. Cup that season on the form shown that day.
In the First Round Proper, Yeovil were drawn at home to Romford from the Isthmian League. Romford had won through from the Preliminary Round of the competition and had defeated Gillingham in the previous round. In fact, they came to Yeovil having won all their last ten games and brought 1,500 supporters to help swell the ‘gate’ to 8,638. Goals from Bryant, Hamilton and Hargreaves put Yeovil well ahead at half-time; Bryant scored again ten minutes from the end to complete the rout.
In the Second Round, Yeovil Town were drawn away to old rivals Weymouth (then in the Western League) in an all-ticket match which drew just under 12,000 spectators who paid 1/- to stand on the terraces. A special train to Weymouth was arranged at a fare of 3/9d. When the draw was announced, Alec Stock must have known something, for he said: “We are convinced this is ‘Our Year’ as far as the Cup is concerned”.
On the day, Yeovil proved far superior to Weymouth and again won 4-0. Bryant scored twice before half-time, with wingers Hamilton and Hargreaves scoring in the second half.
Yeovil Town had once again reached the Third Round, this time to be drawn at home to Bury from the Second Division. The match was played on 8th January, 1949, and attracted a crowd of 13,315 with the eyes of the nation watching the last Non-league side left in the competition. The cameras of Gaumont British News were also at the ground.
The game itself was exciting, but the issue was never in doubt. Bury were a curious mixture of nerves and complacency, with Yeovil physically and mentally tough. Yeovil took the lead in the seventh minute through a Hargreaves header and Massart replied for Bury after nineteen minutes. Then, just before half-time, Wright put Yeovil in front again. Hamilton got Yeovil’s third midway through the second half to put the issue beyond doubt.
The celebrations started immediately and the crowd did not even begin to move away until an hour later, after Alec Stock had spoken to them over the loudspeakers. He thanked them for the wonderful support … and only then did they begin to drift away. Besides, it was opening time!