Bath Chronicle 29/8/1936 carried an optimistic prospect for the coming games. Youngsters had been ‘blooded’ during the previous, formative season, and they should now prosper under the leadership of Norman Matthews. Gerrard was fighting fit again, and there was promise of good performances.
Three newcomers had shown interest:- Alan Griffiths, full-back from Cardiff and Penarth, I Williams, centre, from Swansea, and Eddie Bevan, an outside-half from Llanelly.
v Penzance, Home. Won 34-3. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, C R West, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, L Phillips, H Oak, A Ash, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews, A Francis.
Bath kicked-off with a fine victory, scoring 2 placed goals, one penalty goal and seven tries, to one try from the visitors. There was a strange irony, in that, despite a number of new faces at the trials – not a single new face was contained in the opening selection.
Tries were registered by Hancock (3), Moon (2), L G Matthews, Phillip, Francis and Foster. West and Buse converted one each, and Oak kicked a penalty goal. Perring scored for Penzance. With only two conversions following nine tries, this game highlighted the urgent need for a consistent kicker.
The Penzance team left Bath, by road at 10-30pm; they could not expect to be home much before 7a.m.
v Llanelly, Home. Lost 0-6. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, C R West, L D Wardle, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews, A Francis.
The Scarlets scored a penalty and a try, without reply. There had been teeming rain all the morning, which ceased about mid-day. The Recreation turf recovered remarkably quickly and a fast and intensive match ensued, in conditions more conducive to the nearby croquet! Llanelly’s Elvet Jones scored the try, after taking advantage of Bath’s aimless fly-kicking. He tried to repeat the effort a few minutes later, but this time Buse brought about his downfall. Norman Matthews narrowly missed with a try scoring opportunity, and the sides changed ends with Bath 0-3 in arrears. Immediately following the restart, West was caught offside, and S Williams kicked a magnificent penalty from the 10 yards line. Much of the game: “was a succession of scrums, robust, stubborn and unyielding.”
v Bedford, Home. Lost 10-11. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, C R West, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, K G Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews, L D Wardle.
Bath were piped at the post, the visitors outscoring their hosts by just one point. Bedford were on their second away trip, having previously beaten Leicester. Francis dropped out with an illness, and Lance Wardle took up an unfamiliar position in the back row. Bath tries from Moon and Hancock, with Foster, dropping a goal. Harris, a former KES pupil, had an outstanding game at outside-half.
Buse found some fine touches under pressure, but astonishingly, missed the easiest of conversion attempts – which would have won Bath the game.
v Devonport Services, Won 29-18. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, C R West, W E Hancock, T R Harris, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews, A Francis. Bath scored 4 goals, 2 tries and a penalty to the Services 1 goal, 1 try, a drop goal and a penalty goal. Bath tries from Foss, Harris, Moon, Bowen, Hancock and L Matthews. Conversions by Bowen 3, and Foss. Foss also kicked a penalty.
The Services were reportedly: “nonplussed by the excellence of the opposition…..”
“The scrummaging of the visitors was effective and sure, and the halves were a magnificent co-operative partnership. The backs ran straight and took their passes far better than they did a week ago.”
v Falmouth. Away. Won 6-3. Team:- R W James, L G Matthews, A E Merrett, C R West, C E Gough, P R Harris, T M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, R Beake and N W Matthews.
Bath beat Falmouth 6-3 on the second match of their Devon and Cornwall Tour, Bath providing the open play in an otherwise lack-lustre match. Scrum-half Bowen was continually harassed by G Harris, his Falmouth opposite number, and the service to our Roy Harris suffered accordingly. Nevertheless, he was the outstanding player behind the scrum and it was his genius that initiated a number of spectacular breaks. In the second half, forwards Norman Matthews, Foss, Wood, Brown and Moon acquitted themselves well. On the rare occasions that Leslie Matthews and Charlie Gough got the ball, they were fast and dangerous. Moon and West got the Bath tries in the second half.
Harris was again outstanding.
v Penzance. Away. Won 12-3. Team:- H Buse, W Hancock, D James, G Foster, L Matthews, C Gough, J Bowen, H Oak, A Ash, R Beake, P Brown, J Wood, K Foss, P Moon, R Wardle.
The tourists were again superior behind the scrum for their third win. Bath tries from Les Matthews (2), Moon (2). Hancock made a number of dazzling breaks; his last run took the length of the field, to send Moon over for his second try.
“As the score shows, there was far more thrust about the backs, and they were fortunate to have an amplitude of the ball, the Bath pack having the ascendancy throughout.”
v Torquay Athletic, Home. Won 8-3. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, C R West, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, Rev. J Downard, P Moon, N W Matthews and A Francis. Torquay were without their ‘Welsh wizard’ W J Delahay for this match. Tries by Moon and Gerrard. Bowen converted one.
“The play was much of a muchness, veering first one way and then the other, with all too few flashes of open play and a great deal was ‘cabined and confined.” There was one spectacular movement when Harris picked up a loose ball and side-stepped his way through to pass on to Gerrard. Next, Leslie Matthews carried on a great race for the line, but just failed. From the resulting loose ball, Gerrard was again on hand to speed over.
“Bath launched further bouts of aggression, but the passing continued to be stereotyped and uncertain and in this way chances went begging.” At the finish, Bath found their best form, with Hancock and Harris in the van.
v Bristol, Away. Lost 3-6. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, R A Gerrard, C R West, W E Hancock, T R Harris, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and A Francis.
Encounter number 101, in perfect conditions, a big crowd, and two eager teams. However, the weather changed dramatically, with black, thunder-like clouds chasing off the early sunshine. Bath’s hoped for win, was chased away like the good weather.
Encouragingly, Bath had taken an early lead, when Murphy was adjudged off-side, and Gerrard landed a magnificent penalty, against the wind, from five yards inside the half-way line. Bristol were then: “bestirred to great endeavour,” and pressed strongly. From a quick heel, Barrington fed Baynam who cross-kicked for Woodward to score under the posts. Surprisingly, Patten missed an easy kick, but teams were now all square. The game lived up to its reputation for excitement and determined play, with Gerrard, Harris and Hancock stormed the home defence. It was “a hammer and tongs affair.” In the 14th minute of the second half, Bath had Gerrard off injured, and Bristol went through: “Morris snatched up a bouncing ball in his stride, forged ahead and passed to Lewis who sent Baynam away to score a glittering try. It was the movement of the afternoon and deserved to succeed.”
It was a first Bristol encounter for Bath’s half-back pairing, and they gave an uncharacteristically nervous performance. Harris fumbled on a number of occasions. Norman Matthews excelled as a leader and was an example of: “tireless energy and striving, and of constructive endeavour.”
Historically, Bristol had by far the better record. Since the first game in 1888, they had won 71 to Bath’s 17, the remaining 12 having been drawn. Bristol had amassed 881 points, to Bath’s 384. Rugby had closed down during the 1914-18 War, since then Bristol had won 25 of the 37 encounters. Bath had won 8 and 4 had been drawn. This was Norman Matthew’s 21st game against Bristol, and Hancock’s 19th. How greatly they would have relished a win! The last three encounters had resulted in draws.
“Rugby supporters in Bristol owe much to Bath. From 1865 to 1888 numbers of enthusiasts used to travel here to see Bath- not the simple journey it is today; and one Saturday evening in Sept., 1888, a few of them, while on the way home, decided to start a club of their own.”
A Bath side, skippered by Ralph Banks, visited Marlborough College wining by 8 points to 3.
News that F W Gay had just been transferred to Bath City Police from the ‘Met.’ At 21 years of age and weighing 14 stone 4 lbs., he was to prove to be a great asset to Bath rugby. He had previously appeared for Pontypridd, Glamorgan, Middlesex and the Police Union.
v Aldershot Services, Away. Won 18-3. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, C R West, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H oak, P Brown, J S Wood, K J Foss, P Moon, N W Matthews and A Francis.
Bath crossed the Services line 4 times, converting one and adding a drop goal. There was an early try for Francis: “Harris’s deceptive and unexpected dart through was, of course, the ground work of this score, which Francis’s opportunism was not slow to materialise.” Into the second half: “At the end of 12 minutes, from a five yards scrum, Davies sent Harris over for a try that was thoroughly deserved by the enterprising fly-half. To crown it effectively Foss took the kick with accuracy.” “Then in the 22nd minute of the half, came the try of the afternoon, a characteristic score by Hancock, who got quite an ovation for his effort. It was a delightful bit of passing that paved the way for him, Davies, Foster and West all having a share, and Hancock taking the ball at top speed, swerved inside of two or three opponents and dived over the line.” Almost immediately Hancock inspired another try of similar quality, sprinting up the middle of the field, with Davies in attendance, he initiated a great bout of passing, involving Davies, Foster and Leslie Matthews, allowing Foster to score one of the best tries seen on the ground for many a season!
Bath were now in irresistible mood, and to top it all – Leslie Matthews dashed through centre field, and dropped a beautiful left-footed goal.
v Clifton, Away. Won 18-5. Team:- H T F Buse, A E Merrett, G Foster, C R West, Flying-Officer Robinson (R.A.F. and Durham County), L D Wardle, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, H Brown, L Phillips, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and A Francis.
There was no score in the first half, although Clifton’s Burrough had a good touch-line run, only for Buse to bundle him into touch. “The game later brightened up when Merrett, Wardle and Wood took part in a grand bit of passing, and Robinson missed a drop goal by a coat of paint.”
Norman Matthews opened Bath’s scoring, when following up smartly, he grabbed the ball from Burrough’s hands and ran on full 35 yards to score. His fellow players stood back in admiration. It was reported that Matthews was seen to blush at the volume of applause that he received! Foster added extras, with a fine conversion. Bath bestirred themselves further, and more spirited passing saw Robinson hurtle over at the corner flag. Further Bath tries followed from Phillips and Moon, with Foster converting both.
v Harlequins, Home. Won 6-5. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews,, G Foster, C R West, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, K Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and A Francis.
Harlequins scored a goal and led 5-0 at half time. It was an exceptionally well executed try: “The initial work was done in midfield, and the passing that followed was in true Harlequin style. Thompson, in the penultimate stage, took a pass from Robinson, gave him the ball again when he was clear and the left centre went in under the bar, Ronald having an easy and successful kick at goal to put the visitors five points up at the interval.” However, Bath picked up in the second spell and Foster, now the recognised kicker, reduced the arrears with a 30 yard penalty. The home side just managed to pull out the ‘little extra,’ and Harris clinched the game with a try in the closing minutes.
v United Services, Away. Drawn 0-0. Team:- H T F Buse, F/O Robinson, G Foster, C R West, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, J S Ward, K J Foss, P Moon, F W Gay and A Francis.
The traditional ship’s bell called the players to muster on a rain-swept field, and the combatants were soon squelching around in mud and water. “Bath forwards were magnificent, and Moon’s leadership, although quiet, was effective. They hammered away all the while at the big, burly opposition. F W Gay gave a promising first account of himself, packing in the middle of the back row.”
It was a terrific slog all through.
v Llanelly, Away. Lost 0-27. Team:- R Banks, F/O Robinson, R W James, C R West, W E Hancock, G Foster, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, J S Wood, P Brown, P Moon, A Francis and F W Gay.
County calls had deprived Bath of a third of their regular players. H T Buse was unable to make the trip, so veteran Ralph Banks deputised. Banks had first played for Bath in 1924. The team departed: “in a spirit of praiseworthy optimism.” Llanelly were sitting at the top of the unofficial Welsh Rugby championship table. It was hardly a day to arrive with a weakened team! The coveted rag doll mascot, decked in red, remained undisturbed on the Llanelly cross bar.
v Gloucester, Home. Won 11-5. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, F W Gay, H Oak, L Phillips, S Evans, K G Foss, P Moon, A Ash and A Francis.
The Mayor of Bath, Mr. W F Long kicked off. In his day, he was a prominent Bath and Somerset player, and after performing his civic duty, seemed reluctant to quit the field of play. Chairman Scott Reid, was perceived to have reminded him, that Bath were not permitted to play with sixteen men!
“The play was chiefly confined to the forwards, without much clean-cut purpose displayed by either set in the loose, but with any amount of spoiling.” F W Gay and Matthews were prominent in early forays, with the latter being a glutton for work in loose play. A grim forward struggled continued until the 25th minute, then F W Gay darted out from a line-out, combined with Moon, to send Leslie Matthews over in the corner. Gerrard kicked a fine conversion. “Then came further aggressiveness by Bath, Leslie Matthews cross-kicking from Buse’s pass. Bath’s back row trio, as well as Oak, ran up strongly, but an infringement saved the situation.
From a 5-yards scrum which followed in the 31st minute, Davies gave out the ball in masterly fashion. It swept along the line and Hancock’s superior speed took him in by the flag.”
Gloucester responded with a converted try by Bayliss to reduce Bath’s margin to 3 points. Amid mounting excitement, Gloucester came very close to another try, but was forced into touch by Buse.
Then Bath’s Foster scored a sensational try, after obtaining possession some 50 yards out. There were loud cheers and much waving of hats and sticks.
v Leicester, Away. Lost 0-11. Team:- H T F Buse, R W James, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, J M Bowen, A Ash, H Oak, S A Evans, J S Wood, K G Foss, P Moon, F W Gay and A Francis.
Bath came adrift at Leicester to the tune of two drop goals and a try without reply. They found it difficult to penetrate a sound defence, whilst Leicester opened up the game with several good handling movements. There were some promising individual efforts. Noticeably, an effort by F W Gay, who beat half a dozen men before being pulled down. However, Bath did not capitalise on their improvement at the end of the first half. They spent most of the second spell defending with intense vigour. Buse was conspicuous under heavy pressure.
v London Scottish, Away. Won 8-3. Team:- R W James, F/O B V Robinson, G Foster, R A Gerrard, L D Wardle, T R Harris, H Davies, F A Unwin, H Oak, N W Matthews, J S Wood, K J Foss, P Moon, A Francis and F W Gay.
The Scots were the first to score, when Druitt landed a penalty from near the half-way line. “A grand attempt to burst through the ruck came from Gerrard. He beat half-a-dozen men before he was brought down in a double tackle. Previously he had thrust the opposition aside and bewildered them by a clever change of direction.” Bath battled on in great style, with the forwards endeavouring to gain territory, with the ball at their feet. Then Harris had a brilliant thirty yard run through the middle. More pressure and the ball travelled to Foster, who was tackled as he received. The ball went loose and Gerrard was in to pick up and dive over the line. The front of posts, conversion kick was missed, but Bath were now on level terms.
Later Bath’s ‘crown of glory’ came when Gerrard received just inside the Scottish half and ran on in great style. When challenged, he fed out to Robinson, who went through to score one of the best tries of the season – ” a real picture book affair.” Gerrard added the extras.
game versus Northampton cancelled as the Franklin Gardens turf was too frosted.
v Devonport Services, Home. Won 16-3. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, F/O Robinson, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, N W Matthews, J S Wood, K J Foss, P Moon, F W Gay, A Francis. It was a day for rousing rugby, and the crowd were not disappointed.
“Bath secured from a line-out, beating the redoubtable Webb, and the ball swept along the line in first-rate style. Leslie Matthews cross-kicked with the back row foragers streaking for possession, but that prince of full-backs, Knapman, picked up behind the posts and relieved his side with an effective touch kick. But Bath were not to be denied.” They were soon five points up when Gerrard carried straight at Knapman, and gave a perfectly times pass to Leslie Matthews, who grounded behind the goal. Gerrard added the extras with ease. Then there were cries of: “Watch Knapman!” as the wily full-back attempted a forty yard drop goal. Next, a swift pass from Davies, sent away Gerrard, and Foster, and Leslie Matthews exhibited slick handling, the last named streaking over for the next try. Bath’s exhibition back-play, left the opposition standing. It was arguably the best handling of the season. Services came back with a brilliant try from Hurden, then it was Bath again: ” There was a scrum round the 10-yards line, Davies got the ball, pretended to pass but didn’t, and sent Foster away in the end. Foster and Leslie Matthews went away and Davies came up to take the final pass to sail over amid cheers for the admirably engineered try, nearer the posts than the corner flag, Gerrard duly supplying the extras.” Flying Office Robinson was able to bullock over, despite Knapman clinging on to his heels. Gerrard missed the conversion attempt from wide out.
v Old Blues, Home. Won 35-0. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, R W James, T R Harris, N Halse, A Ash, H Oak, P Brown, J S Wood, K J Foss, A Francis, N W Matthews and P Moon. Bath crossed the old Blues try line 9 times, converting 4, without reply from the Old Boys. It was Norman Halse’s debut appearance, elevated from the Colts XV. He was destined to become a Club stalwart, long standing Committee man and Club President.
There was a procession of tries from Harris, James (2), Brown, Foster, Moon, Gerrard (2) and Foss. Gerrard converted four of them. Buse was more than once, up with the three-quarters, and one of his incursions led directly to the try by Foss. It was something of a precursor of modern day full back involvement.
v Bridgend, Home. Lost 3-5. Team:- H T F Bush, R W James, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, C E Gough, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, K J Foss, N W Matthews, A Francis, F W Gay and P Brown. Bath forced the pace and a Bridgend scrum infringement yielded a penalty for Gerrard within very few minutes of the start. However, Bridgend survived a number of Bath raids, and finally turned the tables with a breakaway try by Pugh, which Glan James converted. This late try certainly upset the Bath apple-cart; it was their first home defeat since the middle of September.
“Bath, it must be admitted, defeated themselves. They never adapted themselves to the mud like the visitors did. Spectators shouted for ‘Feet, Bath!’ but they were too desultory in their use, and left it to others, who, seeing that handling was a questionable mode of progression, rarely forgot to put the ball down and kick. The more they resorted to this dangerous method the more they improved; the backs joined in; the man booting ahead was always well supported; there was pace in their attacks; and Bath found them increasingly difficult to check.”
“Bath often seemed in two minds whether to use their hands or feet, and often did neither well.”
v Richmond, Away. Drawn 6-6. Team:- R W James, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, L Phillips, N W Matthews, S A Evans, D Wilson, K J Foss, A Francis, F W Gay and K Weiss. Honours were even at two tries all. Bath scorers were Davies and Foster. Bath had fought strongly in the second half, with a magnificent performance at forward. Davies’s try was memorable. It followed a touch-line race by Hancock, which left the defence scattered and helpless. Davies was on hand to take the inside pass to go crashing over. Leslie Matthews and Weiss combined to set up the try for Foster. Both of Gerrard’s conversion attempts were well taken, but just off target.
v Northampton, Home. Won 15-0. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies,, L G Phillips, H Oak, F W Gay, J S Wood, K G Foss, N W Matthews, A Francis and P Moon.
Bath were back on track with a fine win by a goal, 2 tries and a drop goal, without reply from the Saints. Internationals Weston, Longland and Dicks were missing from the visitors’ line up. After a prolonged period of pressure, Gerrard succeeded with a well taken drop goal from 25 yards out. “Gerrard further opened the way by his strong and astute running, Foster took his pass in his stride, and L G Matthews, who covered 20 yards, showed that there is no more dangerous winger in the county.” The second half brought tries for Moon, converted by Gerrard, and again Leslie Matthews in the corner.
v Cardiff, Away. Lost 0-3. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, L Phillips, H Oak, N W Matthews, F A Unwin, K G Foss, P Moon, F
W Gay and A Francis.
The famous Arms Park was almost empty, as thousands of the faithful were at Twickenham for the England v Wales game. The loudest voices were the pack leaders, as their continuous goading reverberated around near empty stands.
“There was more wind than was good for Rugby and the ground was sodden and very heavy, not at all likely to help towards open play.”
Cardiff’s early passing attempts were short-lived, as Bath tackled unfalteringly. The battle was generally confined to the packs and degenerated into a close gruelling affair. Play was neither inspiring, nor spectacular. “Open it up a bit Cardiff!” pleaded a solitary voice in the stand.
Cardiff dominated in the set pieces, so little was seen of Gerrard or Harris. The unflinching forward battle continued into the second half. Cardiff had the heavier eight, but Bath were not inferior in pluck and doggedness. In the last five minutes, Buse made to kick off his own line, but was robbed of the ball, and Spence flopped on it for the solitary, but winning try.
It was Bath’s first trip to Cardiff for eight years.
Norman Matthews probably shed a silent tear, at the arena that so nearly brought him International recognition.
“Worse forwards have assisted England since then.”
v Moseley, Away. Drawn 0-0. Team:- H T F Buse, W E Hancock, L D Wardle, G Foster, F/O Robinson, R A Gerrard, H Davies, F A Unwin, A Ash, L Phillips, N W Matthews, K J Foss, P Moon, F W Gay and A Francis.
A pointless fixture at Birmingham, which was not reached until 3pm. A motor-coach rushed them to the ground. “The weather was dull and murky, and the pitch a morass.” The ground and ball conditions were all against open play. Moseley pressed on with a mixture of kicking and close footwork. Bath remained strong in defence and countered every foray with skill and resource. Buse twice came to the rescue after determined ‘foot-slogs.’ There was a bright handling movement in the second half, when the ball passed from Wardle, Gerrard and Foster to Hancock. Unfortunately he knocked on with the line at his mercy. Then it was Gerrard’s turn to get away, but Moseley’s Perry crashed him to the ground. A draw was a fitting result.
v Bedford, Away. Lost 0-11. Team:- H T F Buse, W E Hancock, R A Gerrard, G Foster, F/O Robinson, T R Harris, H Davies, F A Unwin, A Ash, H Oak, J S Wood, L Phillips, K J Foss, F W Gay and A Francis. Bedford scored a goal, a try and a penalty goal without reply. They were in good form and had recently chalked up home and away wins against Leicester. The Bath team looked tired after the long journey. Much of the early play was midfield, with honours even. Bedford’s Cook scored a penalty after 22 minutes, followed by second half tries by Lyttle, converted by Cook, and Marsh (an Olympic runner). Bath fell away as their play was reduced to defence.
v Gloucester, Away. Lost 3-7. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, W E Hancock, F/O Robinson, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, N W Matthews, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, L Phillips and A Francis. Gloucester scored a drop goal and a try, to Bath’s penalty by Foster.
The attendance was somewhere in excess of 5000, with a goodly number of Bath supporters making themselves heard amidst the Gloucester faithful. Moon ‘shone’ in stout-hearted footwork and Buse was sound in defence. Gloucester had the better possession, but preferred to advance their cause along the touch-line, rather than utilise the back division. Bath’s incursions into the home half were few and far between, although Harris did figure in a particularly effective foray.
Bath were at full stretch to the end; Matthews finally sent Hancock away, but a knock-on deprived the visitors of further score.
v Bristol, Home. Lost 5-6. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, F W Gay, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and A Francis. Attendance 5500.
Bristol worked another double, although it was mighty close. An unconverted try in the dying minutes was enough to pip Bath by a single point after another epic struggle. Bristol had rung the changes with strategic kicking alternating with strong forward rushes. Buse and Harris defended strongly, and this last named sustained an injury, which left him limping for some while. Eventually, he was obliged to ‘retire’ to the left-wing position, while Foster filled in at outside-half.
“Thrills were few; there was too much kicking for that, and the marking was deadly close. There was little in it, the wind giving Bristol the advantage.” Bath were 0-3 down at the interval (try Baynham in 28th minute), and significantly, Harris was still carrying an injury. Eventually Harris returned to his fly-half post and managed one characteristic break, beating three opponents before being hauled down: The ball went loose and finally Foster carried on. He made a glittering run down the right wing. He is one of the cleverest runners in the side and he at length cross-kicked. There was a terrific race for the ball, and two opponents seemed better placed to win the touchdown, but Moon, one of the best forwards on the ground on the day’s play, overhauled them to score a memorable try.” Gerrard converted to put Bath in the lead. Shortly afterwards Matthews and Francis were injured and Francis took no further part in the game. Five minutes from the end, Claridge, chased in vain by Gerrard, went over in the corner.
Bath pressed in the closing minutes, but were unable to break the Bristol defence.
v Blackheath, Home. Won 6-5. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, W E Hancock, F/O B V Robinson, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, L Phillips, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and A Francis.
First half tries by Foster and Francis were enough to secure a narrow win over ‘The Club.’
Blackheath made one significant change – E G Haydon, a former Bath stalwart in place of L S Bailey.
The visitors set out to play open Rugby from the start: “No dull Rugger exponents these, but players with a desire to enjoy the game and give enjoyment. They whipped the ball along the line with gay abandon, and one movement in which the ball passed from left to right, Robinson, a popular figure operating on the wing, brought down Brandram in a beautiful tackle.”
Bath played in a similar spirit, but could not match the visitors’ fluent play.
“Harris and Robinson tried to exploit the ‘blind’ side in the Blackheath 25, but the Flying Officer ran into ‘stormy weather.”
“Bath were going great guns at this stage, but one was sorry to see Harris kick so often. He had a better striking machine behind him, which needed plenty of exercise.”
Blackheath then pulled back with a well deserved try by Cridlan, converted by Martin. The narrowed gap put new life into both sides, and they going ‘hammer on tongs’ until the end.
v Torquay Athletic, Away. Won 14-4. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, P Gay, D Wilson, K J Foss, A Francis, F A Unwin, and P Moon. Referee:- Mr. R Newcombe of Exeter.
Bath won by a goal, 2 tries and a penalty, to Torquay’s drop goal.
Bath took a strong selection, but in the absence of Norman Matthews, Gerrard skippered the side.
“Good work by Moon and Foss broke up one dangerous attack, but Torquay were not to be denied, and for some time the visitors were hard pressed.” Following a sharp rain shower, the pitch was beginning to cut up into large patches of mud, much of which adhered to the players. Following an indifferent period of play, Harris inspired a move which caught the opposition on the hop. He gained ground and passed back to his scrum-half Davies, who dived over with Loosemore hanging on to him. Gerrard missed the kick from an awkward angle. Shortly afterwards, both Harris and Hancock came very close to further scoring. Then, from a scrum on Bath’s 25, Scourfield put Torquay ahead with a smartly taken drop goal. Torquay led 4-3 at the interval. Into the second spell, and following a line-out offence, Gerrard kicked a penalty from 40 yards out. Next, smart handling in the backs resulted in Gerrard sending Hancock over for a second try, which Gerrard converted. “Moon was the last scorer for Bath. Crowd thought he was offside and booed when the referee awarded a score. There were demonstrations against the referee when the teams left the field.”
There were repercussions to follow this game, with a move to break off relations with Torquay Athletic. In fact, the Committee effectively shut the door on any sort of rapprochement, by immediately seeking replacement fixtures for 1937-1938 and 1938-1939 seasons.
Bath Chronicle’s ‘ THE CAPTAIN’: “One can sympathise with the Torquay officials and committee. Some clubs are ‘blessed’ with a few objectionable supporters. Bath have a handful of folk whose comments at times would be better left unsaid. It is a fact that each club must be responsible for its own crowd, or who else is going to be if it is not? Only in a happy atmosphere can Rugby prosper. That is why it is better the games between the two clubs should be dropped for a bit.”
v Sale, Home. Won 11-3. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, F/O B V Robinson, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, F W Gay, K J Foss, D Wilson, P Moon, N W Matthews, A Francis. Bath won by a goal and 2 tries to a penalty goal.
“The game was bright without being a classic exhibition, though there was no lack of exciting passages,……” Gay provided the first try, when he fielded a rebound off an opposing player. Gerrard kicked a fine conversion to put Bath 5-0 ahead. Sale responded with a penalty goal when Moon was caught offside. Tries followed in quick succession from Foster and Robinson. Harris featured in some dazzling play in the second half, and a late Sale revival, was stemmed by Bath’s resolute defence.
v Old Merchant Taylors, Home. Won 11-0. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, F A Unwin, K J Foss, P Brown, P Moon, N W Matthews, and A Francis. Bath won by a goal and two tries to nil.
Play was lively from the start, Bath missing a 1st minute try by the vagaries of a bouncing ball. Several players were up as it crossed the line, but it bounced the wrong way and O.M.T.’s were able to touch down. Foster secured the first try in the 25th minute and Gerrard cleverly converted. “There were plenty of interesting passages to thrill the crowded popular side, who were basking in the sunshine.” Bath’s most spectacular try came right on the interval, when Harris broke from his own half, gave to Hancock, who ran some considerable distance up to the opposing full-back. Gerrard accepted a rather awkward pass and grounded the ball, just as his feet were grabbed by one of his three pursuers. The Bath backs figured in further resolute raids, but were just kept out. Ten minutes from the end, a fine round of passing, and Foster kicked diagonally towards the corner. Away flashed Leslie Matthews to take it in his stride for a finely executed try.
v Leicester, Home. Won 17-13.Team:- H T F Buse, F/O B V Robinson, G Foster, R A Gerrard, W E Hancock, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, F A Unwin, K J Foss, D Wilson, P Moon, F W Gay and A Francis. There was great pre-match excitement, with the announcement that the famed Prince Obolensky would be included in the Leicester side.
Bath staged a rather unique win by a goal and 3 drop goals to 2 goals and a try.
Obolensky was soon in the picture, covering 25 yards before Buse managed to push him into touch.
Leicester maintained their early edge and Bruce-Lockhart touched down after six minutes. York added the extras. Thomas and Obolensky featured in another drive, but Hancock’s strong tackle saved the day. The tide began to turn in the 17th minute, when Harris dropped a grand gaol to put Bath one point ahead at the interval. Two minutes after the restart, smart following up by Gay, led to a chase alongside Obolensky. On this occasion – Gay won to the touchdown and Gerrard converted. Again, the International winger got away and this time it was Gerrard who got him by the legs. Fifteen minutes into the half and Obolensky was off again. Buse was caught out of position and Hancock missed his man. Gerrard raced to cover, but the Russian Prince was clear away for an outstanding try. Seven minutes later, it was Foster’s turn to drop a goal, which put Bath five points ahead. Leicester reacted strongly and a ‘corkscrew’ run by Squibbs was rewarded with a try, which York converted. (13-13)
“A minute later, with Bath hot in the attack again, Foster dropped the third magnificent goal of the afternoon to put Bath once more nicely ahead.”
(Three drops in one match was not a Club record. That honour belonged to Harry Vowles, who landed four in one historic afternoon against Llanelly.)
v London Scottish, Home. Lost 0-9. Team:- H T F Buse, L G Matthews, G Foster, W E Hancock, F/O B V Robinson, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, D Wilson, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and A Francis. The Exciles included Scottish International forwards Horsburgh and Thom.
Bath showed plenty of enterprise, but fell short with the finishing touches. Much of the innovation stemmed from outside-half Harris, and Matthews, Francis and Robinson all contributed to good effect. Matthews was unlucky not to be sent clear on two occasions. “The pace was fast, the game strenuous, and more than one player was soon mopping his feverish brow!” There was no score at half-time.
Eight minutes into the second half, Buse misfielded and Dunn crossed for a try, which Law converted.
Bath roused themselves amid loud exhortations from the crowd. However, the Scots matched the home side’s enthusiasm, and Thom dealt the final blow with a last minute drop goal.
“Last matches seem fateful and fatal. (Bath Chronicle “The Captain”) He felt that Bath had been worn out by their Easter exertions, whereas London Scottish had not had a game for three weeks.
“Over-much Rugby took its toll.”
v Neath, Away. Lost 6-26. Team:- F G H Dolman (Avon), L G Matthews, G Foster, F/O B V Robinson, N Thomas, T R Harris, H Davies, A Ash, H Oak, F A Unwin, K G Foss, S A Evans, F W Gay, N W Matthews and A Francis.
“Bath without Gerrard and other leading players, were not disgraced by their defeat at Neath 26-6. Their defence was exceptionally good, and Dolman, at full-back, and the centres, Foster and Robinson, put in some great kicking and tackling.”
“Harris, who, notwithstanding a limited share of the ball, stood out in brilliance. He was the best man on the field.” “Two of Harris’s runs were amazing. He made the opening for both the tries scored by Foster, who now incidentally is joint top scorer of tries with Moon, each having 10.”
v Bridgend. Away, Lost 3-29. Team: H Dolman, N Thomas, G Foster, W E Hancock, Flying Officer B V Robinson, T R Harris, H Davies, F A Unwin, H Oak, S A Evans, D Wilson, L Phillips, N W Matthews, A Francis and F W Gay.
Bridgend were just too good for a Bath side beset with injuries and other cry-offs. However, Thomas and Harris put up a stout defence and Dolman distinguished himself in the way in which he smothered many of Bridgend’s forward rushes. Harry Davies broke away for Bath’s solitary try.
“Staleness was written all over the play of the visitors, and it is a very good thing that the season is over. It outstayed its welcome a little too long, the players never getting over the extremely hard and successful Easter programme.”
Full Back – H T F Buse 27; R W James 3; H Dolman 2; R Banks 1.
Threequarters – G C Foster 29; W E Hancock 25; L G Matthews 23; R A Gerrard 16; B V Robinson 14; C R West 11; R W James 5; L Wardle, A E Merrett and N Thomas 2; C E Gough 1. Total 132.
Halves – T R Harris 27; H Davies 25; J M Bowen 7; C E Gough 3; L D Wardle 2; G C Foster and N Halse 1. Total 66.
Forwards – H Oak 31; K J Foss and P Francis 30; P Moon and A Ash 28; N W Matthews 25; J S Wood 22; W F Gay 18; L Phillips 16; P Brown 10; F A Unwin 9; D Wilson 6; S A Evans 5; L D Wardle and R Beake 2; K Weiss, and Rev J Downard 1. Total 264.
A total of 34 players appeared for the 1st XV. Caps were awarded to T R Harris, B V Robinson and W F Gay.