I was confused by this programme at first. I thought it was a friendly against Bristol Rovers in advance of our Southern League programme starting the following week. But, no, it's a league game against Bristol Rovers reserves. The centenary history records that Torquay won 2-1.
Our third season in the Southern League. After finishing 6th and 4th we were to slip to 15th. Bridgend Town, our next opponents, were one of ten Welsh clubs we faced that season.
An optimistic message, nonetheless, about having a team "sound in defence and showing promise of a brilliant attack". Note too that a sympathetic crowd "on the bank" is a great help to the players.
Words also from the "Supporters' League" - neither an association nor club - and mention of the United Hall. Was this at the ground? Meanwhile they're looking for another three hundred feet of timber for another terrace. I wonder how long we continued with the terminology "the bank"?
There's a reference in Kick-off's "Football Chat" to a Bristol Rovers player who the previous season had "frequently played for the chiefs". This, of course, is one way of referring to the first team and - according to the man behind the Exeter Chiefs - this explains why they are so called. Asked about the club's name in this Sunday's Western Morning News Tony Rowe (of SW Telecoms) says:
"I happened to be talking to one of the old players. He suggested we call the club the Chiefs. He said there had always been a tradition in the Westcountry of calling the first 15 Chiefs and the second 15 United. It may have been an old navy slang for ‘bosses’. We did our research and we started calling ourselves what we had in fact always been known as. We are the first 15. We are the Chiefs. Someone gave me an old match programme from 1904 and the first team was known as the Chiefs then. It is historically correct. All we’ve done is some branding around it. The supporters did the rest. The tomahawks and drums, the fans did that, but it’s great."
It's a revealing article in several respects. I guess it's become apparent the Chiefs are gobbling up the local "bluechip" sponsorship. Rowe hints at this when he says "when I was building my own business I was trying to engage the business community. Their sports are golf and rugby." Well, not exclusively. But we get the drift. He talks of investing £10 million into the facilities at Sandy Park: "the core business is events and conferencing. What money the business generates goes into the club. Not the other way round."
Words also from the "Supporters' League" - neither an association nor club - We used this term right up to the war then called it the supporters club directly after. Heres a members card from our first season in the football league...
It’s lovely to see these artefacts from the inter-war years. I’m not sure if they are family heirlooms but I’ve seen little like this before relating to that period.
The business of having “Torquay United in the blood” (or not) is an fascinating one anyway. My family had no connection with South Devon before the late 1940s. My father was interested in football so watched matches at Plainmoor reasonably regularly during the 1950s and 1960s. I’d call him an observer rather than a dyed-in-the-wool supporter. The support for the club was really only me and me only. It must be quite different to come from a line of supporters stretching all the way back to, say, the 1920s. Is there anybody, for instance, reading this who is related to the officials named on that supporters’ league membership card?
The rules of the league are simple enough; just the nine stipulations. No players on the committee but those serving must be (or prepared to be) shareholders. That may suggest shares were relatively easy to acquire although we have no idea of their cost or whether a prospective purchaser needed to be “approved” by the club’s directors. So was the acquisition of shares an easy process? Or one that effectively limited who could serve on the league committee?
A nice clear-cut objective certainly: to raise funds for TUAFC.
I smiled when I saw how the results for 1927/28 had only been completed up until the start of December. Most people seem to give up around then. I know I did whenever I bothered to record the season's results.
One final word about the use of the word “league”. I guess it was all the rage around then: League of Nations; League Against Cruel Sports; League Against Imperialism; League Against War and Fascism. I can imagine several fellow posters being members of some of these bodies. Alpine Joe would have needed to wait longer. The League of Empire Loyalists didn’t emerge until the 1950s.
Which big club came in late and turned Ted's head? The answer is the mighty Taunton United - new to the Southern League.
Ninety years later Taunton Town have just beaten Bridgwater to go top of their section of the Southern League. No signings from Chelsea, Bristol City, Sheffield United or Torquay United. There's Ben Mammola from Willand Rovers; Ben Carter from Buckland Athletic; Simon Ingram from Wellington; Steve Murray from Street....