1896 to 1897

Match Reports by Peter Hall and Colin Gale

1896-1897

 

26/9/1896

v Old Edwardians, Home. Won 11-0.Two of the three tries were scored by three-quarters. Additionally, Titch Fry twice came close to scoring. “His conduct was quite a revelation. He has increased his pace 20 per cent, and his straight cutting through runs were refreshing. When a man can do that sort of thing on the first time of asking, it is idle to talk of disinclination to play. Lack of sting or attacking power could not be applied to Fry’s performance on Saturday.”

MacTier’s return was a valuable gain.

 

3/10/1896

v Rosslyn Park, Home. Won 20-8. Team : M S Bigwood, W F Long, J MacTier, Titch Fry, J Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, G O Hyatt, B H Belson, E Billett, G Knight, J Ruddick, and F Derrick.

Tries by Fry, J Long and Soane (2)

 

10/10/1896

v Cheltenham, Away. Won 3-0. Team: M S Bigwood, W F Long, J MacTier, Gooding, J E Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, B H Belson, F Derrick, J Ruddick, G E Knight, A Billett and Timmins. Titch Fry was selected, but could not leave work in time for the 1.12 train.

The last encounter with Cheltenham involved a severe contretemps between Craddock and Belson. Before this match Craddock shook hands and apologised, and despite the usual biased support, the whole of the game was played in good spirit.

 

17/10/1896

v Penarth, Home. Lost 0-3. Team: M S Bigwood, W F Long, J MacTier, A E Fry, J Long, E H Seers, G G Vincent, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, F Derrick, G O Hyatt, H G Knight, J Ruddick, A Billett and B H Belson.

Alexander scored after an alleged forward pass, so Bath had to make the best of a bad job, and vow to defeat Penarth when next on their seashore. The gate was just £19 and £3 at the Stand.

 

19/10/1896

v Llanelly, Home. Lost 0-6. W F Long was unlucky not to be credited with a try. He actually got across the Llanelly rut, but the referee judged that he was held up. Nevertheless, both the Long brothers played well. It was the first Llanelly fixture, and the visitors moved on to beat Devonport Albion. Llanelly Committeeman Gavin Henry, described the game as ‘a near-squeak.’

 

“Welshmen, Welshmen, and still they come, and if Bath football goers cannot fathom the curious lingo which has mingled with the Queen’s English on the Recreation Grounds, they have had a fair insight into football as she is played in the Principality; while it is safe to say the Bath team bear bruises they will carry many a week as a result of the Welsh invasion.” (BATH CHRONICLE 22/10/1896)

 

A Welsh journal gave space to the following effusion:

“From there thy further journeyed,

And swallowed the Bath Bun;

The enemy they routed-

Right easily they won.

Their cheers could be heard clearly

From Bath unto the Alps.

As Llanellywards they journeyed,

With two new taken scalps.”

24/10/1896

v Neath, Home. Draw 0-0. Team: M S Bigwood, W F Long, J MacTier, A E Fry, J Long, E H Seers, G G Vincent, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, F Derrick, G O Hyatt, H G Knight, J Ruddick, A Billett and EW Clarke.

CHRONICLE COMMENT:

“There is not much to be said about Saturday’s match except that if football were always such an exhibition of mudlarking, it would pass out of favour and die of inanition.”

 

31/10/1896

v Stroud, Home. Won 3-0 : M S Bigwood, W F Long, J MacTier, A E Fry, J Long, E H Seers, G G Vincent, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, F Derrick, G O Hyatt, H G Knight, J Ruddick, A Billett and J B Timmins.

An exciting game in which Fry was the best three-quarter on the field, but: “……that clinking run of his which concluded the Stroud match, having terminated in a wrench of the leg, which necessitated the limb being placed in splints and an abstention from football sine die.”

Described as a ‘comfortable crowd,’ the gate money totalled £14.

CHRONICLE COMMENT

THE POOR REFEREE TAKES ANOTHER SLAMMING!

“One curious feature about the game was the remarkable inconsistency of the referee. I am never inclined to criticise factiously apparent shortcomings of the ‘odd man out,’ for it is a most difficult and thankless office, but when the gentleman who rules the procedure gives frequent penalty kicks because men don’t follow closely the ‘play of the ball’ at once regulation, he should adhere to his idea and not pull up the Bath forwards when they were carrying out the dictum he had laid down. Then it is certainly not following out the spirit of the game to whistle a man back for a ‘knock-on’ because he catches the ball in one hand and passes it into the other when taking a high pass. This is the same official who did not notice the forward pass in the Penarth match, and without wishing to be disrespectful there is no harm in saying that a little variation would be agreeable.”

7/11/1896

v Taunton, Away. Won 11-5. C V Fox, from Prior Park, filled Fry’s place, but with a somewhat similar fate. After a promising game, he was carried off with a severe ankle sprain and : “a four-wheeler commissioned to take him to Prior Park.” B H Vincent made up the numbers, despite a doctor’s warning of possible heart-weakness. Tries by L J Fry and W F Long (2).

“Soane arranged for all his men to prepare for the game en route, and they stepped from the train in warpaint, thus being ready for the game before the home team had all arrived.”

 

 14/11/1896

v Old Edwardians, Away. Won 3-0. Selected Team: M S Bigwood, J Long, A.N.OTHER, J MacTier, W F Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, J B D’Aguilar, G O Hyatt, F Derrick, J Ruddick, A Billett, H G Knight and L J Fry.

A TOUCH AND GO AFFAIR!

W F Long just got in with his try, perilously close to touch-in-goal, but it had been a touch and go affair from the start of the day!

Middleton just ‘made it’ at Midland Park Station, jumping into the saloon as it pulled away. There followed a wearisome two and a half-hours train journey. To speed things up, ‘footer garb’ was donned en route, then nigh on an hour of tortuous journey by omnibus, through a seemingly endless succession of side and suburban streets.

The intrepid travellers ended up on a hill at the far side of Moseley for a final preparation at the former Spring Hill Congregational Theological College, now used as a chapel of rest.

“Having got ready for play, there was a dodging through brushwood and shrubberies before the field was reached. One prominent Bath player intimated it was his first and last appearance on this particular stage, there being too much cross-country business about it.”

The object of all this locomotion, was rather a mediocre game. However, after an hour’s bus journey back into Brum, the Old Boys right royally entertained the Bath travellers at the Colonnade Hotel.

 

21/11/1896

v Clifton, Away. Won 9-8. Team: M S Bigwood, W F Long, J MacTier, H Parker, J Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, F Derrick, J Ruddick, A Billett, H G Knight, L J Fry and C Williams. Bath were a trifle complacent about this match and slackened off perceptibly. Only MacTier and W F Long tackled with any sort of conviction. MacTier landed the deciding try.

 

28/11/1896

v Taunton, Home. Won 16-0. Team: M S Bigwood, A D Stiles, H Edwards, G Middleton, H Parker, E H Seers, A R Sheppard, F Derrick, G O Hyatt, H G Knight, J Ruddick, A Billett, L Fry, E W Clarke and C Williams.

Honours for victory rested with the forwards. Derrick, Knight and Williams were the keenest ‘followers-up’, but the whole eight played with dash and combination.

It was reported that the Recreation Ground Company were going to block ‘the cheap view’ of those who assemble on North Parade Bridge, by erecting a screen which will effectively hide the football area from that position.

Including the County game, Bath had 50 players at various venues on this Saturday

 

5/12/1896

v Gloucester, Home. Lost 0-14 Selected Team: M S Bigwood, H Parker, A.N.OTHER, G C Middleton, J Long, E H Seers, A E Sheppard, L J Fry, (Capt.), F Derrick, H G Knight, A Billett, J Ruddick, G O Hyatt, C Williams and T B Timmins. Two tries were gifted to the visitors – Bigwood with a fly-hack straight at the opposition, and Edwards allowing the ball to roll between his legs.

Gloucester had objected to referee Mr Read of Weston, on the grounds that he was a Somerset man.

 

12/12/1896

v Weston-super-Mare, Away. Drawn 3-3. Team: F C Morgan, W F Long, Norman Biggs*, G Middleton, J Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, J D’Aguilar, F Derrick, G O Hyatt, J Ruddick, L J Fry, A Billett and Timmins.

*The distinguished Cardiffian Norman Biggs was a late addition. He pulled the game out of the fire, just in time for Bath. It was his foray which took the ball to Weston’s line for Vincent to secure a try. W F Long sustained a severe shoulder injury.

 

24/12/1896

v Bridgwater, Home. Lost 3-6. Team: F C Morgan, N Biggs, A E Fry, J MacTier, J Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, G O Hyatt, A Billett, H G Knight, L J Fry, F Derrick and J Ruddick.

CHRONICLE REPORTS

“If many games were played under the conditions which marked the Bridgwater match, interest in football would speedily wane. To see thirty mud-painted items slipping and sliding about in a sea of slush is rather poor sport. When the visitors lined out the remarkable variety of their jerseys was noted. A few minutes later the slime had covered over these oddities, long before anyone could be certain what the Bridgwater colours are.”

 

“D’Aguilar is about to abandon study for the medical profession and proceed to Ceylon to engage in the tea planting industry. It is said that he will go in February or March. I hope his departure may be delayed until the footer season is over. MacTier will be leaving about the same time also for Ceylon, and Hyatt will make a third emigrant to the same island.”

 

26/12/1896

v Llandaff City, Home. Won 17-0. Team: F C Morgan, N Biggs, A E Fry, J MacTier, J Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, G O Hyatt, A Billett, H G Knight, L J Fry, F Derrick and J Ruddick.

Just as well this was an easy game, as restricted diet was not so imperative!

 

2/1/1897

v Bridgwater, Away. Won 10-3. Selected Team: F C Morgan, N Biggs, J MacTier, A E Fry, J Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, J B D’Aguilar, F Derrick *, J Ruddick, G O Hyatt, L J Fry, H G Knight and A Billett.

Billed as the Championship of Somerset, Bath scored all their points in the last ten minutes. Tries by “Titch” Fry and Welsh International Norman Biggs. F Derrick did not travel “owing to pressure on bank officials.” He replacement is not named.

9/1/1897

v Exeter, Home. Won 3-0. Team: F C Morgan, J Long, J MacTier, A E Fry, N Biggs, G G Vincent, E H Sears, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, F Derrick, H G Knight, L J Fry, A Billett, J Ruddick and C Williams.

Try by Norman Biggs. However, he was not available for the next two weeks as he was playing for Richmond. For Richmond’s important match with Moseley, he was to be joined by his brother Selwyn and also W J Hancock.

They seem to have been free to move around and guest for various clubs as thy pleased!

News received that Hyatt had moved abroad and MacTier and D’Aguilar were to follow. F C Morgan was contemplating a move to Mexico, in pursuance of his work for Stothert and Pitt.

 

16/1/1897

v Bridgwater Albion, Away. Lost 0-3. Team: F C Morgan, J Long, J MacTier, A E Fry, H Parker, G G Vincent, E H Sears, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, F Derrick, H G Knight, L J Fry, A Billett, T Ruddick and C Williams. The Bath pack were missing Derrick, and on a snow-caked heavy ground, performed poorly. Norman Biggs was sadly missed in the three-quarter line. Bath had kept Exeter at bay with sound defence. Then the Albion pack broke away and Biddiscombe dropped on the ball for the winning try.

 

 30/1/1897

v Weston-super-Mare, Away. Won 5-3. Team: F C Morgan, N Biggs, A E Fry, J MacTier, J Long, G G Vincent, E Sears, F Soane, J D’Aguilar, F Derrick, J Ruddick, C Williams, L J Fry, H G Knight and A Billett.

Bath won with a weakened team, but there was little glory in beating a team, containing only fourteen men for much of the second half. “……their full-back’s head proving softer than the knee of the opponent, with which it came in contact.”

6/2/1897

v Bristol. Match cancelled on account of floods.

 

10/2/1897

at Rectory Field Blackheath – Kent v Somerset.

Bath provided five men to the County team:- Norman Biggs and ‘Titch’ Fry were the right wing of the three-quarter line, Georgie Vincent, one of the halves, while Soane was accompanied in the pack by poor old D’Aggy. Froude Hancock then played his last game for Somerset, and the five others in the front rank were Percy Ebdon, F Sawtell (Newport), J Cornish (Cardiff), L C Powys (Yeovil), and J Bradshaw (Bridgwater). E Baker, of Bridgwater Albion, who next season joined the Northern Union, was Vincent’s partner; Forrest, then playing for Taunton, was the left wing, with C Sealey next to him.” Kent won 7-3.

 

13/2/1897

F C Morgan, J Long, F C Belson, A E Fry, H Parker, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, E W Clarke, F Ruddick, G Billett, H G Knight, J Ruddick, C Williams, T B Timmins.

Jim Long was played at centre and was constantly over-running the ball. However, all was forgiven when he produced a magnificent match-winning drop goal. The forwards were below par.

GREEDY

The match report mentions that Wellington three-quarter – Greedy: “stuck to the oval too long, instead of giving the ball to the right winger”

“Bath scored through a very brilliant movement. Soane moved away from a scrum in the centre at a rare pace, then he gave to Derrick, who passed to the left to Timmins, the old College boy racing into Wellington’s quarters where he gave to Vincent, the half scoring.” Bath continued to miss scoring chances, as Jim Long failed to take passes. This enabled Wellington to counter and Brown scored an unconverted try. Bath started the second half with renewed vigour. Jimmy Long, who had changed places with Parker, dropped a neat goal, putting Bath four points ahead. The homesters’ defence held out until the end.

F C Belson made a welcome return to Bath rugby, albeit on the wing. He made several good runs, but would be better suited back in the pack.

 

20/2/1897

v Stroud, Away. Bath Lost 0-3. Team: F C Morgan, Osman, Chambers, H Edwards, J Long, Vincent, Bain, F Soane, J B S D’Aguilar, F Derrick, H G Knight, T B Timmins, F C Belson, J Ruddick and A Billett. “Bath were compelled to take a weak team to Stroud, and their supporters were the reverse of sanguine as to the result.”

“Had Mr. Bowen, of Cardiff, been in a position to see what really happened Bath probably would have won, for Long landed the leather behind the Stroud sticks after as pretty a move as anyone could wish to have seen. Bain got from the scrum, sent to Vincent: George let off Timmins, who transferred to Soane, the captain broke through Gould and Chambers, after drawing the wing man to him by feigning to pass, and when about a few yards from the full back, sent a beautiful transfer to Jim Long on his left. It was fully a yard to the rear, but the referee, who was a long way behind on the other side of the field, whistled ‘forward’ after Jimmy had planted the ball in the best possible position.

‘Twas rough luck with a vengeance.”

25/2/1897

v Keble College, Home. Won 19-14. Team: F G Morgan, N Biggs, S Biggs, D H Bain, J Long, G G Vincent, A E Sheppard, F Soane, J D’Aguilar, F C Belson, F Derrick, A Billett, H G Knight, J Ruddick, and T B Timmins. Selwyn Biggs made himself available on the Friday night, and very few were aware he was on the ground until he lined up to play. However, the brothers worked together brilliantly and were the main architects of Baths win against the Oxonians.

27/2/1897

v Neath, Away. Lost 0-10. Selected Team: : F G Morgan, N Biggs, A E Fry, D H Bain, J Long, G G Vincent, A E Sheppard, F Soane *, J D’Aguilar *, F C Belson, F Derrick, A Billett, H G Knight, J Ruddick, and T B Timmins. * Neither Soane or D’Aguilar played, but replacements not recorded.

Bath were severely beaten up-front. A Neath critic commented: “The game between Neath and Bath proved to be exceptionally interesting. The Bath team, although not regarded by Welsh clubs as a really first-class organisation, has turned out some rare good men.”

 

D’AGUILAR’S SEND –OFF

“Good old D’Aggy’ had a hearty send-off, and he thoroughly deserved it. If ever there was an instance of the courage of a lion being blended with the gentleness of a woman it is exemplified in the old Hermitage boy. The tea plantation for which he is making tracks is in Dickoya. MacTier, who was to have accompanied him, has left his bed, but is still exceedingly weak.”

 

6/3/1897

v Weston-s-Mare. Won 24-3. Third encounter at the Recreation Ground on Saturday. (1st match a draw 1try each, 2nd match Bath won by a goal to a try) Norman Biggs did not turn up, playing for Richmond against Guys Hospital. Bath team: F C Morgan, W F Long, A E Fry, A Osman, J Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, F Derrick, F C Belson, H G Knight, A Billett, J Ruddick, T B Timmins and G Ruddick.

Jimmy Long was gifted with a try, fielding a cross-kick by Osman. Fry added an easy conversion. The seasiders’ spirited attacks were rewarded with a try for Harraway, which was not improved upon. Derrick and Vincent scored a try between them and another from Long after a clever run from Vincent. Bath led 11-3 at half time.

In the second spell Bath came close to scoring after two brilliant bursts upfield. At last, smart dribbling resulted in Vincent scoring, then Derrick footed in again for a try which Fry converted. “The crowd were in a joyous mood, and their jubilation was increased by another try directly after.” “Soane burst away from a line out, and the captain kicking hard, Derrick followed up and beating the Weston custodian, scored again. Fry once more did the needful, bringing up the home side’s score to 24 points.”

 

8/3/1897

v Llwynypia. On Recreation Ground. Lost 5-37. Team: J Godwin, W F Long, A E Fry, D H W Bain, J Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane(Capt), F Derrick, F C Belson, J Ruddick, G Ruddick, A Billett, H G Knight and J B Timmins. On the eve of this game Llwynypia had played 26 matches, Won 25, Lost none and drawn with Mountain Ash. 455 Points For, with 36 Against. The Biggs brothers promised to play……………

“Hopes of the Brothers Biggs assisting Bath proved delusive for neither put in an appearance. A great misfortune befel the home team, Morgan the full back, being made unable to play. His employers Messrs Stothert and Pitt, kindly allowed him off for the match, but between twelve and one o’clock he got a finger crushed in a steam hammer at the works, which rendered playing out of the question.”

CHRONICLE COMMENT

“If all South Wales clubs were the same quality as Llwynypia the threatened discontinuance of games with English teams would not cause many tears in Bath. In fact it would be rather a welcome release, for we do not want our incapacity thrown into such strong relief as it was on Monday when the wily Welshmen were making rings round the Bathonians. But as far as our experience goes it points to the conclusion that the Rhondda Valley invincibles are several streets ahead of other combinations in the Principality against whom Bath has been pitted.”

 

J Evans, the Welsh forward was injured.

“It appears he fell awkwardly on an opponent’s boot and injured his ribs.” (A touch of ‘Litotes’ – possibly!)

 

13/3/1897

v Exeter, Away. Lost 5-23. Team from:- N Biggs, J Long, W F Long, S Biggs, G G Vincent,

Lewis Fry, F C Belson, H G Knight, A Billett, T B Timmins, and G Ruddick. In fact, there were cry-offs from Morgan, ’Tich’ Fry, Soane, Derrick and J Ruddick. In substitution, it is known that MacTier (after long illness), and E S Ford. (Younger brother of A W and A D Ford) played

Though most absences were genuine, the same reluctance to commit to ‘out games’ was creeping back, and Bath’s performance was suffering accordingly. Belson scored Bath’s try which was converted. Exeter’s final tally was 2

goals, a drop goal and 3 tries. H G Knight sustained an injury that was to keep him out of the Bristol game.

 

20/3/1897

v Bristol, Played at the County Ground. Won 3-0. Team: F C Morgan, Norman Biggs, Tich Fry, J MacTier, W F Long, G G Vincent, E H Seers, T B Timmins, J Ruddick and G Ruddick. A Billett, F Soane, F C Belson, F Derrick and Charlie Williams. Attendance 4000.

The fixture list provided for this to be the return fixture, “but owing to a superfluity of water the game at Bath remains to be played.”

Norman Biggs was conspicuous in defence and attack, ably supported by Vincent: “The next scrum was in dangerous proximity to the Bath posts and some exciting play in the loose followed, but Vincent succeeded in averting the danger, and very shortly after Bath had rushed the spheroid to half way.” “…..there was some pretty passing in which all the Bristol line participated, and which drew forth unanimous applause. This brought play in the larger city’s favour….” More Bristol pressure then: “Here a free came to the welcome relief of Bath and there was a pause while the referee did up his shoe lace.” Bristol had Bath “fairly penned,” but there was another pause when Bristol’s F C Newton took a blow to the head, which laid him out for a while. There was no score at the interval.

Norman Biggs was prominent in Bath forays then: “Bath shewed some good combination which culminated in Joe Long obtaining possession nearer his touch line. With a combined run and dribble he was able just to get in in the corner, Smithson failing to stop him. It was the merest shave and the referee had to visit the spot, but his verdict was favourable to Bath, who thus gained the first try. The kick was, of course, practically impossible, and the ex-Cardiffian’s kick went somewhere in the middle of the field.”

It was Bath’s the first ‘Derby’ win in about fourteen encounters, although the season’s records to date, were remarkable in similarity:-

Played     Won      Lost      Drawn      For      Against

Bath           26          15            9              2         177        155

Bristol       23           15            7              1         164        116

 

The win was ample reward, after many weeks of enforced idleness. Success was largely attributed to the splendid footwork and staying power of the Bath forwards. Bristol centres were slow off the mark and the wing men played a muddled game.

“The pace set was terrific throughout, so much so indeed that individual rather than combined effort was the order of the day.”

 

25/3/1897

v Clifton, Home. Won 13-10. Team: F C Morgan, W F Long, J MacTier, J Long, N Biggs, E H Seers, G G Vincent, F Soane (Capt), F C Belson, J Ruddick, A Billett, L J Fry, C Williams, S Duck and T B Timmins.

The ‘lavender and black’ men put up a good fight and there were some anxious moments which preceded the ‘time’ whistle. Soane scored from a line out, and Norman Biggs was able to convert after a “no charge” was ordered. (1 goal each at half-time) Soon after the restart, Norman Biggs scored, after receiving from Vincent. The Clifton improved their position with a converted try. “Excitement ran high for time was becoming limited. Bath kept up a persistent attack on the visitors’ lines, and at last Biggs, following up a kick cleverly, scored and goaled, thus putting Bath three points ahead, and by this margin, they won an exciting match.”

 

27/3/1897

v Bridgwater, Home. Won 6-0. Team:- T Godwin, W F Long, J MacTier, A E Fry, N Biggs, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, L Fry, T B Timmins, G Ruddick, C Williams, S Duck, W Watts and A Taylor.

Bath tries came as Taylor touched down smartly, after Godwin’s failed drop goal attempt. “After the restart a splendid exhibition of pace by Biggs was seen. He intercepted a pass near the Bath 25 line and raced clear until he had only the visitors’ custodian to clear. He neatly avoided Hill, but in tricking naturally lost ground and Sealy, who with Merry, was in hot pursuit, pulled him down a yard from the Albion line, but Vincent was in attendance and carried the leather over amid deafening cheers.”

CHRONICLE COMMENT: “It is a moot point whether the first try awarded to Bath should have been awarded. Evidently the Albions did not think so ,judging by their ejaculations and gestures. Of course, if a Bridgwater man touched the ball before Taylor dropped on it that would have put him ‘on side,’ and a try was perfectly genuine. Not being near enough to see whether that happened or not, I was glad that any doubt on the issue of the game was set at rest by the magnificent run on the part of Norman Biggs.”

“He has done some smart things for Bath, but that was the finest we have been shown, and it rendered memorable an otherwise dreary match.”

 

31/3/1897

v Bristol, Home (Re-arranged date after previous cancellation). Drawn 8-8. Team: F C Morgan, N Biggs, A E Fry, J MacTier, W F Long, G G Vincent, S Biggs, F Soane, F Belson, A Billett, J Ruddick, G Ruddick, T B Timmins, C Williams and L J Fry.

Crowds of Bristolians arrived by train, and while the spectators were waiting the Post Office Band played a selection of lively airs. There was a splendid company present, about 5000 surrounding the arena. The Abbey carillon was still playing the five o’clock tune when the teams lined up.

Bath’s try came when Belson backed up and dribbled the ball over the line, when the Bristol ‘custodian’ failed to gather. Norman Biggs converted.

It was a fast and exciting game, when …..”Norman Biggs, failing to hold the ball three or four Bristolians rushed the leather on; Vincent, Biggs and Morgan endeavoured to fall on the leather, but failed and R Hussey dropped on the ball just over the line and scored. Fenner gaoled.” In the second half –

“An accident to a player’s nether garments caused further delay. A likely attack by Bath was rendered fruitless by the ball going in touch in goal, as Long looked bound to score a try. The drop out left operations in the middle, and here Selwyn, moving off prettily, threw wide to his brother, who caught the ball prettily, but was held before he could make any progress. Bath pressed, and Norman Biggs tried to land a penalty goal from the Bristol 25 line, but the ball went to the right. Long, following up, was believed to have scored a try by dropping on the ball when Fenner had failed to touch it down, and tremendous cheers arose, but the referee decided it was a save. The homesters kept up a constant attack, but could not score, though Bristol were forced to concede three minors, and ‘no side’ was signalled the RESULT-A DRAW (EIGHT POINTS EACH)”

 

3/4/1897

v Penarth, Away. Lost 0-25. Team: F C Morgan, J Long, J MacTier, F Soane, A J Taylor,

G G Vincent, E H Seers, T B Timmins, L J Fry, G Ruddick, Noke, G M Knight, Berggren, Puddy and Wetten..

A SELECTION FIASCO, with played culled from the ‘A’s , Extras and locals.

 

CHRONICLE COMMENT

“To footballers over there it is inconceivable that a club would travel with such a miscellaneous assortment that constituted Bath’s first team at Penarth. All I can say is that if such fifteens have to be taken away 25 points defeats are fully deserved.”

Half the regular backs cried off, and five first team forwards. The pack replacements were salvaged from the Extras and the Argyle club. From Bath’s point of view, the game was as bad as the weather – and that was awful!

 

10/4/1897

v Cheltenham, Home. Won 11-0. Team: F G Morgan, W F Long, J MacTier, A E Fry, Jim Long,, G G Vincent, E H Seers, F Soane, J Ruddick, F C Belson, G Ruddick, L J Fry, H G Knight, Billett and C Williams.

Tries by MacTier, W F Long and G Ruddick. Tich Fry conversion.

The game was described as ‘unquestionably flat. The Mayor kicked off, but: “Not even the civic toe could succeed in infusing much life into the game……..”

Gate proceeds of £21 donated to Bath’s Royal United Hospital.

 

15/4/1897

Bath Lost by 1 try (3 pts) to Barbarians 1 goal and 1 try (8pts)

Bath: F G Morgan, J Long, A E Fry, J MacTier, Norman H Biggs, Selwyn Biggs, G G Vincent, F Soane (Capt.), F C Belson, J Ruddick, G Ruddick, A W Billett, H Knight, T B Timmins, and C Williams.

Barbarians:- *F H R Alderson (Durham)(Capt.), E F Fookes, P Wetham (Blackheath), A G Murrell (Lennox), G H Harvey (Blackheath), H N Coltart (United Hospitals), C Wells (Harlequins), ), * W E Tucker (Kent), P C Tarbutt (Blackheath), H B Murdoch (Middlesex), H M Cruddas (Harlequins), *H W Finlinson (Blackheath) A F C Luxmore (Kent), *F M Stout (Gloucester), and S Reynolds (Richmond). (*Donotes Internationals).

Soane scored Bath’s try. Barbarians:- Stout (converted by Alderson), and Coltart.

 

“The Barbarians on Thursday for the third successive season favoured Bath by making this a halting-place on their Easter tour, and the smart teams they invariably bring has made them the fixture among the most interesting which appears on the Bath card. Last year’s memorable draw against the powerful team the tourists brought will not need to be recalled. On that occasion Norman Biggs was among the opponents of Bath and made a sensational run, which will not soon be forgotten, but to-day he turned out for Bath, who were immeasurably strengthened by the appearance of Selwyn Biggs, the well known Welsh International half. This was quite necessary, for in the visiting team there was not a man who has not a reputation while the team included no less than four Internationals. Among them was to have been Fookes, the eminent Yorkshire three-quarter, but for some unexplained cause he did not turn up and a substitute had to be found in Whittington, of Avon Vale. Joe Long was missing from the Bath main line owing to absence abroad, and his place was filled by his brother.”

“Bath started with the sun in their eyes, and play raged round the centre for some time. A mark aided the tourists, and Fry failed to hold, but the ball rolled on to the foot of Norman, who superbly kicked into touch. Repeating this performance a moment later, Bath got into their opponents’ 25, but from thence Wetham broke away and got clear off. Norman Biggs, however, pressed him, and Whittington knocked on, to the relief of Bath. Vincent broke away finely, but his pass out was mulled by Billett, and with some touch finders the Barbarians worked to the Bath quarter, where Alderson, the old English captain, further improved on the advantage. Norman Biggs saved grandly with half-a-dozen men around him when a score looked inevitable, and, a moment later Bath touched down just in time to avoid Whittington’s scoring. The visitors had the wind in their favour, and the advantage was shown once by a kick from the Bath 25, which was blown beyond Norman Biggs, and that player being much pressed had to kick into touch near the corner flag. Norman’s defensive work was the mainstay of the Bath team, and as the result of one of his fine kicks, the Barbarians had to touch down. MacTier made a clever run, and there was again scrumming on the visitors’ lines, but nothing resulted. There was plenty of long kicking but Morgan operated to good effect. The Barbarians had a spell of attacking, but Vincent with a useful dribble transferred play. Some splendid passing was seen from an opening made by Selwyn Biggs, and Long with assistance worked down on his wing and a Bathonian touched down in the corner, but the referee ruled that the visitors had previously saved. The Barbarians then had a spell of attacking, and after having been called back once Stout scored in the corner.

With a magnificent kick the try was converted. Selwyn Biggs taking a pass finely made a grand run for Bath but was collared in the 25. MacTier took a huge punt which unfortunately went too far and Alderson saved, amid some absurd signs of dissent. MacTier amid cheers touched down but the ball was recalled, and at half-time the visitors led by a goal to 0.

Bath had the wind in their favour in the second half, and at once rushed the ball under the Barbarians’ post. From a scrum here Wells was adjudged off-side. The kick was simple, but Norman sent too low, and following on the drop-out the Barbarians pressed, and one of their number touched down, but the knock-on was not to be questioned. The Barbarians continued to hold their own till Jim Long put in a beautiful kick. They were soon back again, however, till the Biggses broke away together, but the ball unfortunately went into touch. Morgan was laid out for a few minutes, but was able to resume, and then Selwyn found touch advantageously, but the ball was soon back. Belson was responsible for dribbling the ball into the opposing 25, and Bath had an excellent lot of piercing, and nothing could be done and positions were reversed till Soane splendidly averted the danger. Following up some useful work by Belson, Long made a splendidly dodgy run, but from a long kick the Barbarians again attacked. The Bath forwards were playing a very slow game, and once they nearly let the visitors in. These were not to be denied, however, and not long after, as a result of some fine passing Wells scored in the corner. The kick was even more difficult than the first, but Alderson only just failed. Jim Long got away grandly and would have assuredly have got in but he was overtaken by a man from the rear he did not see coming. As it was he rolled over the rut, but there was no scoring. Bath had an exciting spell of attacking and were well rewarded when Soane, doing a little winging, just got over the line having received from a scrum. Norman’’ kick failed. Bath continued to hold the upper hand almost till the end but there was no more scoring, and the Barbarians were left winners by eight points to three.”

 

17/4/1897

v Gloucester, Away. Lost 0-27. (3 goals and 4 tries to nil)Team: W Bruton, J Long, A E Fry, C Cummings, A Taylor, E H Seers, F S Reeves, F Soane, G Ruddick, H G Knight, C Williams, T B Timmins, F Noke, J Wetten and Wheeler.

In a game played in pelting rain throughout, a very weak Bath side was overrun by Gloucester. Again, there was a reluctance to travel. Messrs. Taylor, Noke, Wetten, Bruton and Wheeler deserved special thanks for stepping up from the ‘A’s at short notice. The home side had outstanding performers in the brothers P.W. and F M Stout.

 

19/4/1897

v Newton Abbot, Home. Won 14-0. J Godwin, J Long, A E Fry, F C Belson, H Parker, F S Reeves, E H Seers, F Soane, L Fry, C Williams, T Timmins, G Ruddick, A Billett, H Knight and F Noke.

Tich Fry landed a penalty goal in the first half. After the restart, and a number of near misses: ”Play was on the Bath 25 when the halves started passing and gave to Belson. He sent to Fry, and ‘Tich’ showing some of his old form sprinted half the length of the field giving to Long on the Newton 25 mark, and the wing man raced round behind the sticks, a fine effort being rewarded by a goal.” Parker and Knight got the other tries.

 

So ended a season, just on the right side in terms of points ‘For and Against.’

The team was disrupted by the injuries to W F Long (shoulder), and “Titch” Fry, and again – the difficulty in getting players to the ‘out matches.’ J B S D’Aguilar departed for Ceylon, with G G Vincent taking over Vice Captaincy upon his departure. Norman and Selwyn Gibbs contributed greatly to the Club’s fortunes in their several games.

 

1896-97 PLAYER APPEARANCES:-

Backs: F G Morgan 15, M S Bigwood 14, J Godwin 4, A Osman and C Gamble 1 each.

Three-Quarters: J Long 25, J MacTier 24, A E Fry 21, W F Long 20, H Parker 12, N Biggs 14, G C Middleton 5, E F Gooding, A D Stiles, H Edwards, D H W Bain 3, F Soane, A Osman, F C Belson, A J Taylor 2 each, C V Fox, E S Ford and A E Sheppard 1 each.

Half-Backs: G G Vincent 27, E H Seers 24, A E Sheppard 5, Selwyn Biggs 4, F S Reeves 2, D W H Bain 1.

Forwards: J Ruddick, A Billett, H G Knight 29, F Soane 28, T B Timmins 24, F Derrick 22, C Williams 20, J B S D’Aguilar 19, L J Fry 16, G Ruddick, G O Hyatt 14, F C Belson 10, B H Belson, S Duck 5, F H Noke 3, A J Taylor, W Puddy 2, E W Clarke, H Howard, F Knight, A E Wetten, H S Sparks, W Berrgren and W Watts one each.

 

Tries by: W F Long, F Derrick 8, Norman Biggs 6, A E Fry, J Long, J MacTier 5, F Soane, G G Vincent 4, F C Belson 3, Selwyn Biggs, H G Knight, H Parker 2, G Ruddick, A J Taylor, A D Stiles, L J Fry, A E Sheppard, J B S D’Aguilar, and B H Belson 1 each. Total 61 tries.

 

Goals kicked by Norman Biggs and A E Fry 7, M S Bigwood, G C Middleton, J Long 2, J B S D’Aguilar 1. Total 21 goals.

J Long dropped one goal, and kicked one penalty goal. A E Fry kicked one penalty goal.

 

 

This page was added on 27/04/2014.

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