1937 to 1938

Match Reports by Peter Hall and Colin Gale

1937-1938

 

4/9/1937

There was a good turn out for Bath’s Final Rugby Trial, in which the Whites beat the Colours by 34 points to 3 points.

 

11/9/1937

v Llanelly, Home. Won 19-17. Team:- H T Buse, B V Robinson, G C Foster, R A Gerrard, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, J M Bowen, F A Unwin, R Beake, A Ash, K G Foss, W F Gay, L Phillips, S A Evans and A Francis. Referee C H Gadney (brother of the International) (London Society).

Flanked by the final stages of the City’s annual Croquet Tournament, Bath got off to a good start, scoring 2 goals, 2 tries and a penalty, to Llanelly’s 1 goal, 1 try and 3 penalties.

The large crowd roared an encouraging welcome as the teams took the field. It also signified their high expectations of a good season under Gerrard’s captaincy. The skipper lost no time in sending his left wing Bartlett away on a 40 yard run. Robinson was the next in the picture, but he knocked on with the line at his mercy. “This player soon made amends, however, going over in the fourth minute, after Harris had feinted and given him a perfect opening.” Llanelly’s Brown soon levelled with a penalty, only for Gerrard to step forward and nudge Bath ahead with a very nice goal. Then it was Brown again, to put the visitors on level terms. Robinson scored again in the 18th minute and this time Gerrard added the extras. Thus the game continued, with first one side and then the other gaining the ascendancy. For Llanelly, Morgan converted by Brown, a penalty by Brown. “Right on the interval Bath rose to the occasion and Harris opening-maker-in-chief, put the brilliant Robinson over for his third try, Gerrard kicking a great goal from the line.” (Half-time 16-14 to Bath)

The second half brought a try for E Evans when Buse, who had not had the best of games, failed to touch down. With time ebbing away, Bath made desperate attempts to save the game, and were richly rewarded when Robinson crossed over for his fourth try.

“One doubts if Bath ever started a season on a more glorious note.”

“High lights were Roy Harris, B V Robinson and Gerrard. Harris was the best outside on the field, a wizard as a maker of openings. His darts, fast and unexpected, nonplussed the opposition. He got the Welshmen on the wrong foot, hopelessly beaten. Happily, he found in Robinson a winger thoroughly responsive to his promptings. No threequarter ever ran more resolutely for the line. Twice opponents who attempted to stay his course were knocked out. Robinson was astonishingly quick at the uptake and amazingly determined in his running. His four tries will long be remembered in Bath Rugger history.”

 

18/9/1937

v Bedford, Away. Lost 3-14. Team:- L D Wardle, B V Robinson, G Foster, D McLennan, N Thomas, T R Harris (Capt.), J M Bowen, A Ash, R Beake, F A Unwin, D Wilson, K J Foss, L Phillips, A Francis and P Brown.

A solitary penalty by Bowen, five minutes from the start, was Bath’s offering to Bedford’s – goal, 2 tries and a penalty. Bath suffered the handicap of losing Donald McLennan in the first few minutes. Unwin suffered a hip injury and A Francis was relegated to the wing position suffering from concussion. Evidentially he remembered nothing of the game afterwards, only that our opponents were Bedford!

“Roy Harris, as skipper, worked himself to a standstill. I never saw a more whole-hearted player. Every ounce of life and strength he put into the game. A man never spared himself less. A success, too, was Mervyn Bowen. There is little doubting that he and Harris are a natty and nippy combination.”

Following this match, McLennan was advised to give up Rugby. It was his 4th shoulder dislocation and he was thinking of taking up refereeing.

 

25/9/1937

v London Welsh, Home. Lost 6-21. Team:- H T F Buse, B V Robinson, G Foster, R A Gerrard, L D Wardle, T Hicks, N Halse, A Ash, R Beake, F A Unwin, D Wilson, F J Grundy, L Phillips, P Brown and A Francis. Two penalties by Gerrard were the response to the Exciles’ goal, 4 tries and a drop goal.. Gerrard was in the wars early on, receiving what was somewhat euphemistically described as a ‘body knock’. (Nowadays – a punch!) Bath had been short of seven leading players at selection, and conceded eighteen points in the last half an hour. Three of the visitors’ tries resulted from interceptions. “…..the manner in which the opposition snapped up the ball in the loose and turned it to good purpose was an object lesson to Bath.”

 

2/10/1937

v Exeter. Away. Won 15-5. Team:- E Jenkins, B V Robinson, C R West, R A Gerrard, L D Wardle, T R Harris, J M Bowen, L Phillips, A Ash, F A Unwin, F J Foss, J Wood, A Francis, W F Gay and D Wilson.

Bath won by a penalty goal and tries by Gerrard, Francis, Robinson and Wilson to a goal by Exeter. The win was achieved despite Exeter’s dominance in scrums and line-outs.

Bath had the edge in the backs, where Harris dominated play, having a hand in all four tries, whilst Gerrard was devastating in defence. Harris was well served by scrum-half J M Bowen.

Forwards, Foss, Gay and Francis were prominent in the loose.

 

9/10/1937

v Bristol, Away, Lost 3-15. Selected Team:- C R West, L B Wardle, R A Gerrard, J White, B V Robinson, T R Harris, J M Bowen, J S Wood, R Beake, F A Unwin, K V Foss, D R Butler, D Wilson, W J Gay and A P Francis.

Bristol amassed a goal, 2 tries and a drop goal, to an unconverted try by Francis.

“From a Bath point of view it was a depressing first half – 90 per cent Bristol, and the rest an ineffectual Bath.” Gerrard & Co. had little opportunity to mount an attack. Bath fared little better in the second half. It was an uphill struggle throughout. “Now and then they made incursions into the Bristol area, but they were fitful and unsustained.”

 

16/10/1937

v Aldershot Services, Away. Drawn 0-0. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, J White, G Foster, L D Wardle, T R Harris, N Halse, L Phillips, R Beake, F A Unwin, A Ash, K J Foss, A Francis, D Wilson and W F Gay. This was a tough proposition, with the services side containing a sprinkle of internationals. In the early stages, Bath did well to hold the heavier Services eight, only smart tackling by White, Foster and Harris kept the line intact. Harris figured in one of the game’s best passages of play, when he beat man after man into the Services 25, but White could not hold the final pass. Bath spent most of the game in their own half, with Harris progressing his side with well-judged touch finding kicks.

 

23/10/1937

v Clifton, Home. Won 12-11. Team:- H T F Buse, B V Robinson, C R West, G Foster, L D Wardle, J White, N Halse, A Ash, R Beake, J S Unwin, D Wilson, D R Butler, P Brown, A Francis and P Moon. The narrowest of wins by a penalty goal and 3 tries to Clifton’s 1 goal and 2 tries. Clifton’s second half rally was not enough to save the game. Bath’s Francis had scored a try after 10 minutes. King Edward’s schoolmaster White made two clever bursts, the second ending with a try after an excellent service from Halse. West scored after breaking through the Clifton defence, without a finger being laid on him. Buse landed a penalty goal after Clifton were caught offside.

 

30/10/1937

v Harlequins, Away. Lost 3-14. Team:- R A Gerrard, B V Robinson, J White, C R West, L D Wardle, T R Harris, N Halse, D G Butler, R Beake, F A Unwin, J S Wood, F J Foss, D Wilson, W F Gay and P Moon. The usual, ghost like echoes reverberated around half empty stands. The crowd, no more than a few score occupied the West Stand. A desultory array of reporters could be perceived, scribbling the afternoon away, high up in the East. Raised voices sounded thin and puny, like those of Lilliputians. From the Quins point of view: “A match might just as well be behind closed doors for all the vocal support they receive in such a vast stadium. A dozen Pressmen have a whole stand to themselves, and find Twickenham as great a solitude as the Mendips.”

Strangely, the initial applause was both loud and echoing: “It was a most talkative match and the voices of the players resounded as though played by microphone.” Bath were beaten in the tight and in the line-out. Gerrard did not figure with the three-quarters’ play and the whole game developed into an uphill battle. There was very little to stop Quin’s spate of scoring, and their final tally was a gaol, 2 tries and a penalty, to a penalty by Gerrard in the 16th minute of the second half.

 

6/11/1937

v United Services, Away. Won 17-3. Team:- R A Gerrard, B V Robinson, G Foster, C R West, L D Wardle, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, R Beake, S A Evans, J S Wood, K J Foss, P Moon, L Phillips, K Weiss. Bath were on top from the opening stages and Gerrard landed a penalty in the seventh minute. Services came near to scoring when O’Brien intercepted a Harris pass, but a brilliant tackle by Robinson averted a certain try. However, the home side was rewarded in the 16th minute, when the speedy Goldsworthy crossed in the corner. Thereafter scores followed from Wardle (unconverted try), Gerrard (penalty), and second half tries from Foster (converted Gerrard), and Moon.

 

13/11/1937

v Old Edwardians, Away. Lost 0-12. Team:- H T F Buse, A E Merrett, C R West, G Foster, L D Wardle, J White, N Halse, F A Unwin, A Ash, S A Evans, F J Grundy, K J Foss, P Moon, L Phillips and K Weiss. County calls and injuries resulted in a below strength side travelling to Birmingham. As usual, the Old Boys had a young and lively pack, which took a lot of holding. The O.E.’s Elgood scored a try five minutes from the interval. Three further tries followed in the second half, the last one being described as the “softest” try imaginable. Given that Bath had a weak team – it was nevertheless a very poor performance.

 

20/11/1937

v Gloucester, Home. Won 3-0. Team:- H T F Buse, J S Bartlett, J White, C R West, L D Wardle, T R Harris, J M Bowen, F A Unwin, A Ash, S A Evans, J S Wood, K J Foss, P Moon, L Phillips and K Weiss. “Gloucester, who were strong both fore and aft forced the pace from the start. Their forwards were exceedingly lively and their backs strong and fast.” “However, the home forwards were in fighting fettle and gave little away…….” In other words, all the ingredients of another intense local ‘Derby.’ Honours were just about even in the scrums, but Gloucester had the edge in the loose play and line-outs.

OF HARRIS

Harris made a number of Characteristic dashes:

“What is the secret of his running? In the first place it is something quicker than the other fellow; in the second it is a combination of altered direction and altered pace. Anyhow, his effort, which was applauded by a crowd that had increased a good deal since a poor start, nearly brought a score.”

Into the second half with no score: Time was running out and Bath, amid considerable excitement, pressed with no end of vitality. Moon has certainly put some real ‘devil’ into the pack in the loose. Then with five minutes to go, Harris was a casualty – a leg injury apparently.

In the last minutes of the game Bartlett ran from half-way and scored the winning try.”

 

27/11/1937

v Exeter, Away. Lost 0-9. Team:- H T F Buse, A E Merrett, G Foster, C R West, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, J M Bowen, F A Unwin, A Ash, S A Evans, J S Wood, K J Foss, K Weiss, L Phillips, P Moon (Capt.) It was the first visit to Exeter for some years, and the home side won by 2 penalty goals and a try to nil. Harris figured early in enterprising play, but generally the game was an even affair governed by close marking. Both sides tended to make progress via the touch-line. Harris was carrying an injury during the latter part of the second half and the Bath side became particularly lacking in constructive play.

 

4/12/1937

v London Scottish, Home. Lost 0-14. Team:- C R West, J S Bartlett, G Foster, C A Wade, L D Wardle, T R Harris, J M Bowen, F A Unwin, I Lewis, S A Evans, J S Wood, K J Foss, K Weiss, L Phillips and D R Butler.

The Exciles crossed the Bath line 4 times and converted once. Bath’s young bloods had the chance of winning their spurs. It turned out to be a stirring battle amongst the forwards. In thoroughly wet conditions, the ball was as ‘elusive as an eel.’ “It was not a day for handling and feet were freely used.” It took 25 minutes for the Scottish to enter the home 25, and when they did – they scored. Lucas touched down wide out, following an interception. Bath failed to press home their advantage when Thom was off the field. The visitors actually started one short, as Wilton’s train was 20 minutes late. When the full complement were in position, Swanson scored for the Scots and Adair added a fine conversion. Next, Lucas went over practically unchallenged. (Half-time 0-11) The initiative stayed with the visitors: “In the last minute the ball was flicked from hand-to-hand across-field in front of Bath’s posts, and Swanson scored the Scot’s fourth try, in the corner, but Adair could not convert.”

 

11/12/1937

v Northampton, Away. Lost 0-11. Team:- H T F Buse, L D Wardle, G Foster, C A Wade, J S Bartlett, T Hicks, J M Bowen, F A Unwin, J S Grundy, S A Evans, J S Wood, K J Foss, L Phillips, D Wilson and K Weiss. Playwright, Arnold Ridley ran the line. A poor result at Franklin Gardens, where the Saints amassed eleven points without reply. They scored a goal, a try and a penalty. In frosty conditions, the support was poor. Perhaps Bath wondered if their journey was rally necessary, as they had travelled a tortuous route via London. Upon arrival – there was a hailstorm. “The ground was terribly heavy and pools of water stood in front of the stand.”

To compound their disenchantment, Northampton scored from the kick-off. Brookes broke through, but was tackled too late, allowing him to feed Tebbitt, who raced over unchallenged. The mud-lark continued as Northampton attacked afresh. “Bath forwards were ‘full of beans’ in the loose, even if they were beaten in the tight.” The Saints went further ahead when former Bristol forward Hurrell landed a penalty. Bath were in an uphill fight, contested chiefly in their own half.

Then to Bath’s abject misery, came Northampton’s ‘high-spot’ in the game: “The ball was kicked against Taylor, the full-back on the half-way line, and he zig-zagged through, beating half the Bath team to score between the posts.” Brookes converted. As far as Bath were concerned, the game was up – but that was only half time!

The rain had ceased by the re-start, but it had grown uncommonly dark. The midlanders maintained supremacy in the tight play, but Bath came more into the game about the field, employing some fine foot-rushes.

“It was a gruelling, rousing and inspiring game, and Bath put up quite a good, if losing, fight.”

17 year old Tom Hicks put up a plucky show in the fly-half position.

 

18/12/1937

v Old Edwardians (Birmingham) cancelled because of frost. They had already left Birmingham, and picked up the message at Cheltenham Spa.

 

27/12/1937

v Old Blues, Home. Won 16-3. Team:- R A Gerrard, L D Wardle, C R West, C A Wade, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, A Ash, R Beake, L Phillips, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, N W Matthews and K Weiss.

It was Bath’s first win since November 20th. R A Gerrard and Norman Matthews were popular additions to the selection and contributed significantly to Bath’s win. Gerrard had not been selected for Twickenham’s Final Trial, but on this form, there could not have been a better full-back in England.

“At the interval Bath led 8-0, thanks to tries by Wade and Wardle, one of which Gerrard converted. Harris paved the way for both tries, and Moon had a leading part in the first. Wade certainly took his chance nicely and it was a clever bit of following-up that enabled Wardle to get over.

In the second half Gerrard kicked a penalty goal, and then young Halse supplied Moon with a pass near the posts to enable the latter to add to the score. Harris kicked the goal. Right on the end Hobden scored an unconverted try for the Old Blues, which formed a very fitting climax to a plucky if unavailing show.”

 

1/1/1938

v Richmond, Home. Lost 3-8.Team :- H T F Buse, L D Wardle, C R West, G Foster, J S Bartlett, C R West, C A Wade, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, S A Evans, R Beake, A Ash, K J Foss, N W Matthews, P Moon, L Phillips and K Weiss. Spectators were please to see Norman Matthews back in the 1st XV ranks.

The visitors pressed hard from the start, which produced a spectacular try by Johnston in the ninth minute, for Beazley to convert. The Londoners’ form and fitness was evident and soon produced a second try, scored by centre, Wreford. Their forwards were impressive in the tight and were tearaways in the loose. Matthews and Moon stood up to them pluckily. Harris and Bartlett featured in impressive forays, but the Richmond defence was holding firm. However, it was Bartlett who won a kick and chase to touch down for Bath’s try towards the end of the first half. In the second half, Bath had few chances to close the five point gap. Foster’s late penalty attempt went sadly awry.

 

“I doubt if one in a hundred people who witnessed the Bath and Richmond match recognised the player who turned out for the visitors five minutes from the start. Richmond were a player short, one of the forwards, and were lucky to find a substitute on the field. This was none other than Bert Dolman* , the Avon full-back, who has assisted Bath on several occasions. It was the first time he had ever played in the pack.

Dolman went to the Henry Hall Dance at Bristol and did not get home till 4a.m.; he had a heavy lunch and went down to be a mere watcher at the Bath match. But the visitors were only 14 and George Gray prevailed upon him to turn out. He did so, played well, enjoyed it, and earned the gratitude of Richmond. But as I say, few people knew who he was.”

(Bert Dolman*{First Hon. Secretary of Bath Old Players’ Association} – son of Dick Dolman, and father of David Dolman [Bath, Somerset and Western Counties 1967])

 

8/1/1938

v Northampton, Home. Won 11-0. Team:- R A Gerrard, L D Wardle, C R West, C A Wade, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, A Ash, W S Bryant, F A Unwin, K J Foss, J S Wood, N W Matthews, L Phillips and K Weiss.

Bath put on a really good show – the better the opposition, the better they played. The three-quarters were in good form, ably backed up by lively forwards. The heavy Northampton pack had the edge in the scrums, but there was a distinct improvement in line-out work and their loose play was of high order. Weiss and Phillips were particularly adept at following up and keeping their eye on the ball. Bartlett profited by a steady flow of ball to the wing position.

“Gerrard was kicking most efficiently and was an impregnable last line of defence.” Foss scored Bath’s first try from a line out, when he caught the ball and “flopped” over. In the second half, Harris, Wade and Gerrard all played their part in an excellent try by Wardle, but the kick failed.

Bartlett was over two minutes later: “Somewhere in the Bath half Harris, Gerrard and Wade paved the way for Bartlett getting into his stride on the half-way line. He shook off two opponents, then a third, cutting in to ground the ball behind the posts. It was a lovely well-judged run, the sort of play passage that keeps the game full of interest and vitality. A great player, Bartlett, who should see far more of the ball than he does. Gerrard, with his third kick of the afternoon, furnished the two extra points to give Bath a clear lead of 11 pts.”

 

15/1/1938

v Cardiff, Home. Lost 5-10. Selected team:- C R West, L D Wardle, G Foster, C A Wade, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, A Ash, W S Bryant, F A Unwin, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, L Phillips and K Weiss. Cardiff had provided five players for the Wales v England game this day and Bath’s Gerrard was an England Reserve. Cardiff scored a drop goal and two tries to Bath’s converted try. Davies scored Cardiff’s first try after 13 minutes.

“One man who seemed to enjoy himself most thoroughly was Foss. Wherever the play was thickest he was sure to be there, and one admired, too, the pluck and resource of Halse.”

Cardiff played a typically aggressive game, particularly at forward and Bath did well to contain them. West was an admirable “rush-stopper.” Good handling by Wade, Foster and Wardle resulted in the last named gaining a try and with Harris’s conversion, Bath took a first half lead. (5-3)

Into the second spell and Bath did well in the early stages, but did not capitalise on their chances.

By contrast, Cardiff settled the issue when Thomas scored an unconverted try, Tipple adding a drop goal in the dying seconds.

Bath’s work in the loose had been “beyond praise,” and they matched Cardiff in the “foot slogs.” However, it was the Cardiff forwards who had the greatest bearing on the game.

It was a wet and windy afternoon and high kicks lost accuracy: “One ball soared over the stand into the Avon, there to float away and be lost on the fast-flowing stream. It was a new ball too.”

 

22/1/1938

v Moseley, Home. Won 8-3. Team:- R A Gerrard, J S Bartlett, C R West, C Wade, L D Wardle, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, W Bryant, A Ash, J S Wood, K Foss, P Moon, L Phillips and K Weiss. Moseley’s first half try came in the tenth minute, but it was not enough to stave off Bath’s second half revival. Bartlett was very close when he made a dive for the line following a miss-kick. From the ensuing scrum, the ball was swiftly moved to Wardle. When his way was barred, he was able to off-load to West who went over in the corner. “In a stirring few minutes Bath had their opponents pinned right down on their line, and their insistence was such that in the 25th minute of the second half Halse, who had just returned limping from the touch-line, after attention, slipped over by the posts through a gap that he seemed to forge from nowhere. Gerrard with an easy kick added the extra points.”

 

29/1/1938

v Llanelly, Away, Lost 0-9. Team:- R A Gerrard, J Hazell, B V Robinson, C R West, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, A Ash, R Beake, F A Unwin, F J Foss, J F Grundy, P Moon, L Phillips, K Weiss. (Half-time 0-0)

Gerrard played a grand game at full-back and saved an almost certain first half try, calling a ‘mark’ from D L Tomas’s kick ahead. The home pack were certainly a ‘handful’ in the loose. “Bath tackled lustily, and the opposition passing was never allowed to progress far.” “When the home side pressed anew Harris stemmed a hot rush and Halse grassed Treharne as he was dashing along the wing.”

Llanelly’s I Williams scored a try within five minutes of the re-start and in the fourteenth minute, scrum half D L Thomas scored the second try following a five yards scrum. I Jones landed a penalty in the 20th minute. The game then lost some of it’s fire as the outcome seemed settled. Nevertheless, Bath kept plugging away and Harris had one last spectacular run, only to be downed just short of the line.

Foss had an outstanding game and was always in the thick of the fray.

Gerrard assessed Llanelly as the best of the Welsh teams, but felt that Bath had done remarkably well, enjoying the “real good clean football.”

 

WELL DONE REF!

The referee, Mr. F G Phillips of Pontardulais had an excellent match, which moved Bath Committee man, Mr. F C Wills to go straight to the post-match dressing room to congratulate him on his handling of affairs. Mr. Phillips was very appreciative and said that Bath were the first English side to thank him on the conduct of a game. In direct contrast, there was growing dissatisfaction at the general standard of play, and falling off of support for many of the Bath games.

 

5/2/1938

v Devonport Services, Home. Won 6-0. Selected team:- R A Gerrard, B V Robinson, C R West, C A Wade, L D Wardle, N Halse, J White, A Ash, D Beake, F A Unwin, J S Grundy, K Foss, L Phillips, P Moon and K Weiss.

The Services outside-half was Able Seaman Joe Bailey, a former Bath player, born in Hampton Row, Bath and educated at Bathwick School. His speciality was the short punt ahead, where he usually re-covered his own ball. It was doubly unfortunate that the he should be injured in this particular game.

Gerrard kicked a penalty, and later burst into centre field, sending Wardle in for a great try. Nevertheless, a somewhat fortunate win.

S.O.S. at Services game.

There were a number of player injuries and the ambulance men were kept busy to the very end. Soon after Bath’s Robinson had been removed, there was a final S.O.S. for attention from the popular side – this time a spectator had fainted! Whether this was from the excitement of a win, is not recorded.

 

12/2/1938

v Bedford, Home. Won 3-0. Selected team:- C R West, B V Robinson, G Foster, J S Bartlett, L D Wardle, T R Harris, N Halse, J S Grundy, A Ash, F A Unwin, J S Wood, K J Foss, P Moon, L Phillips and K Weiss.

As if to add fuel to recent criticisms of rugby on the Rec., this was a dull game in dull, “half-hurricane” conditions. Bath’s first half penalty was the only score. At least this incident did carry a degree of suspense and excitement. Following a ‘foot-up’ infringement, Harris was called up to take the kick from outside the Bedford 25. Harris duly heeled in soil and placed the ball on his little mud pile, lined himself up with the posts – and the ball blew over! Doubtless, midst relative silence (after all – it was a Bath crowd), he repeated the process: “But at last, taking his kick, he landed a cleverly-judged goal, to give Bath the lead in the 18th minute.”

“Thrills there were few.”

 

19/2/1938

v Gloucester, Away. Lost 0-10. Selected team:- C R West, B V Robinson, J S White, L D Wardle, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, J F Grundy, H A Wilton, F A Unwin, H J Foss, J S Wood, L Phillips, P Moon and K Weiss.

Gloucester were well supported and a crowd of between 6000 to 8000 came to watch this local derby. The sun was shining, but there was a biting wind, to make handling difficult. Things were evenly balanced throughout the first half, with neither side shaping up for a score. At the turn around, Bath failed to profit from the wind advantage and Gloucester ran in two tries, which were both converted.

 

26/2/1938

v Moseley, Away. Lost 3-9. Team:- C R West, J S Bartlett, L D Wardle, J S White, B V Robinson, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, H A Wilton, A Ash, K J Foss, J C Wood, P Moon, L Phillips and K Weiss. Moseley scored a penalty and 2 tries to an unconverted try by Bath’s Roy Harris.

He at least, was back to his old form, making the most of the limited opportunities presented to him.

The teams re-started in drenching rain and there were a number of fierce forays as the ball was kept at the feet.

“A period of Mid-field play was a tussle-nothing more- and it was hard, sporting, good humoured, as is always expected at Moseley.”

 

5/3/1938

v Bristol, Home. Won 8-0. Selected team:- C R West, B V Robinson, J White, L D Wardle, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, H Oak, A Ash, F Unwin, K J Foss, J Wood, K Weiss, L Phillips, P Moon and P Brown. The recently retired, Harry Oak, was brought back into the pack for this ‘Game of the Season.’ Bath had last defeated Bristol at Bath, exactly six years previously. (11-6)

The great crowd basked in brilliant sunshine. Many lined up behind the southern goal area. (A rare sight in those days). No wind to speak of: “There was not even a zephyr to stir the club flag.”

Bath showed improved form, the players rising splendidly to this Derby challenge. Bristol were unfortunate to sustain an injury to Redwood. Harry Oak showed that he had lost none of his hooking skills. On being pressed to play again, he had declared that he could not attend away matches, but it was hoped that he would continue to make himself available as often as possible.

“The unusual weather had a secondary effect, making it a sweating affair for the players. It was a cat-and-mouse encounter in the early stages, and bold strokes were conspicuous by their absence. It was gruelling, of course, with plenty of full-fledged tackles.”

Then came deafening cheers in the 13th minute. “….the ball swept along the Bath three-quarter line to Bartlett, who beat his man in a flash, passed inside to Wardle, who strided through the gap to run round and score beneath the posts” Harris converted.

In the second half, Bartlett had a magnificent touchline run, staving off two tackles, before being nudged into touch.

“Bath’s lucky star was in the ascendancy. In an afternoon of the worst penalty kicking I have seen for a long while, it was left to Harris, in the ninth minute of the second half, to show how it is done.”

There was no resting upon laurels and the Bath players played ‘flat out’ ’till the end.

It was a Halcyon Day for Bath Rugby: “……they wiped out the memory of indifferent performances this season, touched heights almost unsuspected, and made the opposition look very unimpressive.”

 

12/3/1938

v Neath, Home, Lost 6-14. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, G Foster, L D Wardle, J Hazell, T R Harris, N Halse, H Oak, P Brown, F Unwin, K J Foss, J S Wood, K Weiss, L Phillips, and P Moon.

“Bath played ‘be-Neath’ themselves.”

Bath were well beaten by a fine Welsh side. Neath scored a goal, 2 tries and a penalty to Bath’s try and a penalty. Bath actually led when B V Robinson “streaked over wide out to run round behind the posts for a grand try.” Harris missed an easy kick at goal. Neath drew level in the thirteenth minute when W E Jones landed a penalty. Following uncharacteristic defensive blundering by Bath, Levi Davies crossed for a try; Walters followed up with another Neath try just two minutes later. (3-9)

After reaching the heights at Bristol – Bath were now on a bad patch!

Neath played on with renewed inspiration and Bath yielded a converted try to W E Jones just on half-time. (3-14)

“Bath continued more aggressive, without being very convincing.” Further pressure and Neath’s Challinor was penalised for off-side and the referee “stepped out the requisite number of paces beyond which opposing players should not stand.” Harris did the necessary.

“Bath put further pep into their play with some rousing bursts, but, for all that, finish seemed lacking in the teeth of sterling defence.”

 

19/3/1938

v Leicester, Away. Lost 3-20. Team:- C R West, G Foster, L D Wardle, J White, J S Bartlett, N Halse, T R Harris, P Brown, R Beake, F A Unwin, J S Wood, K Foss, K Weiss, M Bryant and A Ash. The team departed at 8-30 a.m. from Green Park, Bath L.M.S. station for a 3pm kick off.

This was a disappointing result, but Bath did not perform so badly as the score appeared to indicate. They elected to play with the blustery wind in the first half, and penned the Tigers to a small lead. Bath’s tackling subsided when White was injured, and Leicester piled on the points in the last quarter.

The final count was a goal and 5 tries to Leicester and a single try to Bath. Brown, White, Foss were prominent in some forward rushes. “Shortly before half-time the visitors’ determination brought its reward. In mid-field Harris carved out a brilliant opening and sent White away. The centre, travelling at high speed, eluded three defenders and touched down between the posts and the touch-line.

The goal-kick seemed to be a snip, but Harris was short.”

Leicester had their scoring spree, and come the finish, Bath were a well-beaten side.

 

26/3/1938

v Bridgend, Home. Won 5-3. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, G Foster, R A Gerrard, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, A Ash, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, K Weiss, J S Grundy, P Moon. Bath were extremely pleased to welcome Gerrard back following injury in Ireland. He had been out since February 5th. A drop in temperature was reflected in a substantial dropping off in attendance numbers. Bridgend scored a first half try when: “Williams, their scrum-half, intercepted a pass by Halse and raced over with ridiculous ease.”

“The second half opened in dramatic fashion, for, inside three minutes, Bath had the lead. It was one of those sudden changes in fortune which a piece of really good play will often bring. Harris made the preliminary ground, with one of his corkscrew dashes. True he was caught by the heel and upset, but Bath were put into a position from which Halse, using his judgement well, put the watch-winning Bartlett in possession, and an opening quickly presented itself.

Bartlett finally passed inside to Grundy, who bundled over near the posts, for Gerrard to convert.”

 

2/4/1938

v London Scottish, Away. Lost 0-5. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, L D Wardle, R A Gerrard, G Foster, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, P Brown, R Beake, D Campbell, J F Grundy, K J Foss, P Moon, K Weiss. A second half converted try secured victory for the Exciles.

Bath fought valiantly to the end. In the latter stages, a leg injury obliged Gerrard to remove to the nearby Richmond Royal Hospital. By fortunate coincidence, Queen Mary was visiting in order to open a new wing. Possibly, some compensation for the loss – the teams had watched the Boat Race.

The game was headlined as ‘DULL GAME IN HIGH WIND.

Bath were reinforced by the return of Gerrard, but Bartlett, Oak and Wood dropped out for various reasons.

Campbell came in for his first senior game of the season. His contemporaries recall that this was the player who handed out pickled onions to everyone on away trips!

“Play was stern, but colourless, and hardly such as to rivet the attention. One’s eyes wandered occasionally to the undulating stretch of grassland of Richmond Park.”

The ‘Royal goings-on’ at the adjacent hospital were another distraction that helped to fill up the afternoon. “I heard it described as the dullest rugby of the season.” “In the sixth minute something happened. It came in the shape of a score by the Scots. Robbie cut out the opening, Lucas carried on and Mackellar ran over near the posts for Adair to add the extras.”

 

7/4/1938

An extra game against Weston-super-Mare at Bath, which was not included in the statistics. It was a return fixture, in appreciation of Bath playing previously at Weston for their Charter Day. Admission was 6d to “all parts” and all paid.

Team:- C R West, T Hicks, W Baker, L D Wardle, G Foster, T R Harris, N Halse, P Brown, H Oak, F A Unwin, K J Foss, J S Wood, P Moon, K Weiss and F S Grundy.

Bath won by a placed goal and a penalty to a try. (8-3) Bath included a fine replacement centre in W Baker of Bristol University and Newport. He gave a dazzling performance in front of some 3000 supporters who turned up for this Thursday game. Wardle scored Bath’s try which was converted by Harris. Collett replied for the Seasiders, but it was not converted. Harris landed a penalty for off-side.

“C R West deserves a paragraph himself. His wonderfully long and judicial touch-finding was one of the delights of the crowd. I have seen some full-back play on the Rec., but never better in this department. He came in for some robust usage in this hurly-burly game, in which hard knocks were given and taken in the right spirit, but he was unflinching, and I reckon we can count the full-back position as settled for several seasons to come.”

Youngsters Norman Halse and Tom Hicks impressed: They will both tackle anything, Halse has real possibilities, coached carefully. I wonder who is responsible for doing that? Hicks I like immensely. He looks a player with a future.”

 

9/4/1938

v Devonport Services, Away. Won 6-0. Team:- C R West, T Hicks, G Foster, L D Wardle, J Hazell, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, R Beake, P Brown, J Grundy, A Ash, D Campbell, P Moon and K Weiss.

There was no score at half time. In the second spell Harris was prominent with strategic kicks to touch and the forwards were pressing strongly. “In the brightest passage of the match Bath proved irresistible and scored six points in the space of a couple of minutes. Their first try occurred in the 20th minute, when following quick heeling, Halse whipped the ball out to Harris, who, running across the field and giving a classic dummy en route, covered 35 yards at top speed to score about five yards out from the corner flag. It was one of Harris’s best and most characteristic efforts of the season and nobody could lay a hand on him. “Two minutes later there was a magnificent bout of passing and Wardle gave a perfect pass to Foster, who raced over in the corner for another glorious try.” Neither try was converted.

 

14/4/1938

v Bridgend, Away, Lost 10-17. Team: W Morley (Avon), T Hicks, W H Baker, G Foster, J Arnold, R Harris, N Halse, P Brown, R Beake, F Unwin, K Foss, J Book, H Davies, R Wilton and Les Phillips. Bath fielded nine reserves and did exceptionally well, when one considers that Bridgend were 17 points up shortly after the interval. Bath rallied magnificently “with a swift and smashing 10.”

Baker and Harris got the tries and Harris converted two. Baker was very unfortunate in not scoring another. Harris was again in fine form. “All the deputies deserved the fullest praise.”

Morley did exceptionally well under pressure; Hicks was the pluckiest of tacklers; Baker was “a star turn.” “Book, Harry Davies and Phillips were always in the fray.”

 

16/4/1938

v Headingley, Home. Lost 0-12. Selected team:- C R West, T Hicks, G Foster, L D Wardle, J B V Robinson, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, R Beake, P Brown, L Phillips, A Ash, P Moon, D Campbell and D Wilson. Prior to the game, the Fire Brigade were called upon to pump thousands of gallons on the parched Rec. surface.

The Bath line was crossed no less than four times, in a poor start to the Easter programme. Headingley were an ‘in form’ side and Bath fought hard to contain them, retaliating with determination and no little skill. However, as the game developed, there was an incisiveness about the Yorkshire club’s play which Bath could not match. They had the happy knack of taking advantage of the smallest of Bath mistakes and turning situations to their maximum advantage. They were slick handlers and fast runners.

 

18/4/1938

v Old Merchant Taylors, Home. Lost 0-16. Team:- C R West, T Hicks, L D Wardle, G Foster, J Hazell, T R Harris, N Halse, P Brown, R Beake, F A Unwin, L Phillips, J Book, D Wilson, A Ash and K Weiss.

Taking O.M.T.’s and Headingley together, Bath’s line had been crossed seven times, without Bath securing a single point. Injuries, holidays and work commitments had drastically reduced player availability. Added to this, too much rugby had made some of the players stale in their play. In contrast, the visitors were ‘on tour’ and they sparkled accordingly. Tom Hicks was the pick of the Bath three-quarters and West was, as usual, a tower of strength. Unwin put together some constructive play but Bath, generally, played second fiddle.

 

19/4/1938

v Leicester, Home, Lost 0-27. Team:- C R West, L W Matthews, G Foster, J Hodder, T Hicks, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, G G Gregory, R Beake, H Davis, A Ash, L Phillips, D Wilson and K Weiss. The aggregate crept up to 55 points without reply as Leicester chalked up 3 goals, 2 tries and 2 penalties.

There were a number of injury and non-availability problems.

Les Matthews had been playing for Avonvale, but was called up for this game. G G Gregory of England, Blackheath and Bristol, played at hooker. Hodder had a debut game at centre. Incidentally, there were strong rumours that, on medical advice, R A Gerrard would be forced to end his playing days. Thankfully, he did return to the game – until War was to intervene.

“The play was exciting enough and there were a few bright passages, but on the whole, it suggested a wearisome Easter programme for both sides and the end of the season.” “The few Leicester supporters were in high glee, and struck a note of variety by ringing various toned bells in the stand.”

“Leicester fully exploited Bath’s weakness, both fore and aft.”

It is probable that everyone at Bath heaved a sigh of relief at the conclusion of this uneven encounter – not the least, the leg-weary players. 0-55 in three games was an unenviable end to a season in which the points Against, far exceeded the points For.

 

THE SCORERS

Tries:- L Wardle and B V Robinson 6, A Francis, J S Bartlett and T R Harris 3, C R West, J S White, G C Foster and P Moon 2, and one each for R A Gerrard, D Wilson, C A Wade, K Foss, N Halse, J F Grundy and H W Baker.

Goals:- R A Gerrard and T R Harris 5 each.

Penalty Gaols:– R A Gerrard 10, T R Harris 3, H Buse 1.

R A Gerrard therefore lead the list with 5 goals, 10 penalties and a try = 43 points.

 

THE ROLL CALL

Full Backs (6):- C R West 16, H T Buse 8, R A Gerrard 7, and L Wardle, E Jenkins and C P Morley once each.

Three-quarters (17):- L Wardle 27, G C Foster 22, B V Robinson 19, J S Bartlett 17, C R West 13, J S White 8, C A Wade 7, R A Gerrard 6, T Hicks 5, J Hazell 4, A E Merrett 2, and J McLennan, N Thomas, W H M Baker, J Arnold, J Hodder and L W Matthews once each.

Half-backs (5):- T R Harris 29, N Halse 26, J M Bowen 8, J S White 3 and T Hicks 2.

Forwards (24):- F A Unwin 32, K J Foss 28, L Phillips 27, K Weiss 24, A Ash 23, P Moon 20, R Beake and J S Wood 19, P Brown 12, D Wilson11, J F Gundy 10, F A Evans 8, P Francis 7, W F Gay 5, D R Butler and W Bryant 4, N W Matthews, H A Wilton and D Campbell 3, H Oak, J Book and H Davies 2, G G Gregory and I Lewis 1 each.

 

The 7th April game v Weston-super-Mare was not included in these figures.

 

 

This page was added on 22/05/2014.

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