1938 to 1939

Match reports by Peter Hall and Colin Gale

1938-1939

 

3/9/1938

Good news in that W F Gay, the Bath policemen-forward was to restart playing. He had previously been first choice for Somerset and was a great clubman, willing to go on police duty overnight, and travel, without adequate sleep to play for Bath in the afternoon. He had assisted Pontypridd as a teenager, played for Glamorgan and later, Metropolitan Police.

 

7/9/1938

‘Mascot’ reported that 36 players had participated in the pre-season training. “It was no ‘milk and water’ affair. The players soon warmed up to it, and tackled with real zeal.”

First half selection:-

Colour:- West, Hendy, Merrett, Stock, Sharpe, Simpkins, Halse, Unwin, Beake, Ash, Wood, Phillips, Gay, Wells and Grundy.

Whites:- Cole, Foster, Bailey (Trojans), Hicks, Hazell, Gough, Mervyn Bowen, Wilton, Wilson, Buckley (Fylde), Book, Morley, Brown, Keir (Stowe) and Bryant.

 

10/9/1938

v Llanelly, Home. Lost 6-11. Team:- C R West, J S Bartlett, J O’B Power, J T Bailey, T Hicks, H L Weston (Penarth, Cardiff and Bristol), N Halse, F A Unwin, A Ash, J F Grundy, K J Foss, J S Wood, K Weiss, W F Gary and L Phillips. (1 goal, a penalty and a try, to two penalties by Foss for Bath.)

Llanelly were just too good for Bath. Their forwards uncompromising forwards held sway up front, and the game was played at a frantic pace. Individuals who might have neglected their training, were quickly exposed, and sadly overextended by the fast moving Welshmen. Bath failed to cross their opponents line, and it was obvious that the ‘Scarlets’ were ‘more together’ as a team. Harris was missed at outside-half, as the backs lacked his inspiration.

Hicks and Halse were young, but the pair might be persevered with.

 

15/9/1938

v Weston-super-Mare, Away. Lost 3-10. Team:- H L Weston, G Foster, J T Bailey, J O’B Power, J S Bartlett, T Hicks, N Halse, F A Unwin, A Ash, J S Grundy, K J Foss, J S Wood, K Weiss, W F Gay and L Phillips.

The seasiders scored in the first, hectic, ten minutes with unconverted tries by Collett and Griffin and a drop goal from White. Bath’s reply was a penalty goal by Weiss. “There was more ‘fire’ in the Bath forwards than was manifest in their opening venture; and no one shaped with more energy and resource than Gay.” Despite limited opportunities, Hicks and Halse struck up a useful understanding, which promised well for the future.

 

17/9/1939

v Bedford, Home. Drawn 0-0. Team:- H L Weston, W E Hancock, T Hicks, G Foster, J S Bartlett, C E Gough, N Halse, F A Unwin, P Brown, F J Grundy, K J Foss, J S Wood, K Weiss, W F Gay and L Phillips. J O’B Power had the unusual experience of playing for both Bath and Bedford within a week. Bill Hancock, prematurely retired at 29, was persuaded to fill the wing vacancy, when Bailey cried off. “There was plenty of hurly-burly – real endeavour without very much method- but never much lacking in interest for the onlookers.” Gay and Grundy figured well in the loose, and there were strong penetrative efforts by Rogers and Power for the visitors. Young Tommy Hicks rose to the occasion at centre, with a courageous performance. Wingers Bartlett and Hancock were largely ignored. Both sides kept plugging away, but the game ended in a somewhat tame draw. Bath had yet to cross an opponent’s line.

 

24/9/1938

v Devonport Services, Away. Lost 3-11. Team:- C P Morley, F Hayman, C R West, G C Foster, J Arnold, T Hicks, N Halse, F A Unwin, P Brown, A Ash, K J Foss, J F Grundy, W F Gay, L Phillips, K Weiss. Still without a win! Bath succeeded with a single penalty goal by Weiss, in response to a goal, a penalty and a try by the Services at their Portsmouth ground. It was as well to reflect that thus far, Bath had scored on just four occasions, so far, that season – four times – four penalties!

One of the Services tries was scored by a certain Sub Lieut. Le Fluffy!

Of Freddie Hayman, a : “…. mere stripling who will not be 16 till Oct. 22nd, but he has pluck, resource, and can kick a very nice touch………It was his first game for Bath. I predict it will not be his last.”

 

26/9/1938

Skipper Foss, was still enthusiastic at the season’s prospects, and looked forward to Bath playing at full strength. The recent replacements had shown great promise. It should be remembered that Freddie Hayman, on one wing, was only 15, and Jack Arnold, on the other, was also a youngster.

 

1/10/1938

v St Mary’s Hospital. Home, Won 12 – 8. Team:- C R West, A V Rogers (ex Leicester), R A Gerrard, T Hicks, B V Robinson, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, J Taylor, P Brown, K J Foss, F R Grundy, L Phillips, W F Gay and K Weiss. Attendance 3000.

At last, the long awaited return of R A Gerrard!

Headline – “GERRY CONVERTS IT,

KICKS A PENALTY & A DROP

HIS LAST GOAL WINS

GAME JUST IN TIME

GAY SCORES FIRST TRY

“Football was to-day a joy and a pleasure after the tension of the past week. The players were smiling, happy and full of a new zeal.” The game opened with one of Robinson’s characteristic dashes and a forward ‘slog’ carried the ball over the line for Gay to touch down for Bath’s first try of the season. Gerrard converted handsomely. “Gerrard was often in the picture, strong and thrustful, giving that stiffening to the middle that Bath have missed in previous games.”

St. Mary’s rarely emerged from their own half as Bath exerted a strangle hold on their affairs. During this period Gerrard landed a superb penalty to give Bath a half time lead of 8-0.

In the second half, Bath remained in the ascendancy: “Some snappy ‘blind side’ work by Halse and Gerrard caught the eye. It was the prelude to another breezy aggressive movement by the home side.”

The students’ persistence was eventually rewarded by a goal and a try to level the game at 8-8 with eight minutes to go. Then Bath pulled the game out of the bag, as Gerrard settled the issue by dropping a beautiful goal: “Thus in a dramatic finish, Bath won their first game of the season and Gerrard signalised his return by scoring nine out of their twelve points.”

 

8/10/1938

v Llanelly, Away. Lost 0-14. Team:- C R West, G Foster, H L Weston, A V Rogers, B V Robinson, T Hicks, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, P Brown, K J Foss, J F Grundy, L Phillips,

B Wallace and K Weiss.

“Bath’s visits to Wales are like chasing a mirage – a quest for the unattainable.”

Amid constant drizzle: “The Welsh hills were grey and frowning, and the ground soft.”

Llanelly won at a canter, scoring a goal, 2 tries and a penalty, without reply. The Bath pack could not match the dazzling Welsh eight, who continually exposed their visitors’ deficiencies, and although the backs tackled valiantly, they “could not really get a real look-in.”

Bath’s best passage of play came in the second half, when Unwin almost got over in the corner.

 

15/10/1938

v Bristol, Home. Won 11-8 Team:- C R West, H L Weston, R A Gerrard, A V Rogers, B V Robinson, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, W F Gay, B Wallis and K Weiss. Attendance 5000+

Bath won by a goal, a try and a penalty to Bristol’s first half goal.

“The first thrill came in the thirteenth minute. It was a glorious passing movement, initiated by Harris, carried on by Gerrard, participated in by Rogers and spearheaded by Weston. It was real, snappy, forthright handling at top speed, and Rogers impressed me with his outstanding football ability.

Some of the forward hurly-burly must have pleased the crowd, for no quarter was given and none asked.” Harris then put the defence on the wrong foot and a short pass sent Rogers over at top speed for Gerrard to convert. Bristol replied in kind and the sides were level 5-5 at the interval.

Gerrard soon showed his unerring accuracy with a fine penalty. Then a great team effort: “Again there was a terrific onslaught on the Bristol line, and twice in succession the visitors just saved. Bath were right on top of their form this half.

The forwards were in rampageous mood and there was real penetration outside. Again and again they were right on the opposition line, being just thwarted in the nick of time.”

“Harris, who had captured all his old flair as a fly-half, was responsible for the opening with a beautiful dash that had a touch of genius about it. He passed out to Robinson, who-a ‘cert’ for a ten-yard dash, made no mistake about getting in in the corner. Gerrard was unable to convert, but made a splendid attempt.”

Bath Chronicle “At the top of their form” triumph over Bristol.

Billed as ‘GAME OF THE SEASON,

J G Coates comment “Halse and Harris, a match winner, were much better than Cole and Morris.”

“If it was not a brilliant game it was definitely a good one, bright and open, the best club match I have seen this season.”

 

22/10/1938

v Clifton. In winning 9 –8 Away. Team:- C R West, G Bailey (ex Fylde), A V Rogers, H L Weston, G C Foster, T Hicks, N Halse, F A Unwin, H Martindale (Cumberland), P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, A Ash, F S Grundy and K Weiss. Shorn of eight County players, Bath still managed to take Clifton’s home record, scoring three tries to Clifton’s goal and a try.

Clifton made a purposeful start, full of their characteristic vigour. Into the game and a foot-rush gave Bath a lot of trouble, resulting in Harvey ‘flopping’ over for Griffiths to add the extras. Bath countered with Weston touching down and getting knocked out in the process. Bath wound up the first half with a try by Bailey. (6-5)

Within a couple of minutes of the re-start, Weiss streaked away and gave a long pass out to Foster, for a third unconverted try. Clifton’s Bayley narrowed the gap, with a try midway between the corner flag and the posts. The match hinged on the conversion attempt, but Griffiths was unsuccessful. It was Bath’s first away victory of the season.

 

29/10/1938

v Harlequins, Home. Lost 0-13 Team:- C R West, T Hicks, H L Weston, A V Rogers, B V Robinson, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, J Taylor, H Martindale, K J Foss, J S Wood, K Weiss, W F Gay and B Wallis.

A clear win for Quins by 2 goals and a penalty without reply. However, Bath did well in the opening stages, with Harris, Rogers and Robinson challenging their visitors’ line. Bath forwards were ‘on their mettle’ but lost control at vital moments. It was ten minutes from the end of the half before Harlequins got on the scoreboard. Chapman made no mistake with a penalty and in the second half tries flowed from Daly and Thompson, with Chapman converting both.

“The play was held up for a moment or two while an Alsatian strolled on to the field to take a look at the players. Apparently he did not think much ‘to it’ and quickly went back to the touchline. Perhaps he thought it was no fight for a dog!

There were, however, dog-fight moments between two sets of exuberant forwards who seemed to have read the text books alright that Rugby was never meant to be a parlour game.”

 

5/11/1938

v United Services, Away. Lost 5-16. Team:- C R West, G Foster, A V Rogers, R A Gerrard, C Morley, F Hicks, N Halse, F A Unwin, J Taylor, P Brown, H J Foss, J Powles, W F Gay, J Wallis and K Weiss.

Services crossed the Bath line 4 times, converting twice, while Bath could only manage one converted try. Bath enjoyed a fair share of possession and showed better combination than at any time during previous games. However: “Hicks was not connecting well with Halse and on one occasion Gerrard had to come to the rescue when a dropped pass spelled danger.”

For the Services, Lieut. Vavasour posed a constant threat and one of his sudden breakaways produced the first unconverted try and he also made the running to out manoeuvre Bath for further scores.

Bath reduced the arrears when Gay dribbled over for Gerrard to convert.

 

12/11/1938

v London Welsh, Away. Lost 6-15. Team:- C Morley, B V Robinson, J S White, C R West, T Hicks, J M Bowen, N Halse, J S Wood, K Weiss, D Campbell, J Powles, F A Unwin, P Brown, S A Evans and K J Foss. Five men were on County duty and as many again were absent for various reasons. This scratch Bath side lost by 2 tries to London Welsh’s goal, try, drop goal and penalty, after leading 6-0 at half time. London Welsh fielded a team which included five players with the name Davies. Spectator support was extremely poor, there being less than a 100 at the start. White and Powles bagged Bath’s tries. Bath sank badly behind after a praiseworthy start.

 

19/11/1938

v Gloucester, Away, Won 5-3. Team:- C R West, H L Weston, A V Rogers, R A Gerrard, B V Robinson, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, J Taylor, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, J Powles, W Gay and J Wallis.

It was reported that players and supporters played skittles before the game.

Chronicle: They were rewarded at last, and in the 25th minute (second half) Robinson burst away. He gave the ball to Harris in nearly a ‘scissors’ movement and Harris simply flew through the defence with the greatest of ease for a most spectacular try. The cheers were terrific. Gloucester are a good sporting lot. Gerrard rose to the occasion and kicked a perfect goal……This was Bath’s first victory at Kingsholme. It was no fluke. They played the better football, and their backs were far superior.” Gloucester scored a first half penalty.

 

26/11/1938

v Exeter, Home. Won 6-3. C R West, T Hicks, A V Rogers, R A Gerrard, B V Robinson, H L Weston, N Halse, F A Unwin, J Taylor, P Brown, K J Foss, J S Wood, J Powles, Eric Smith and K Weiss. “….Bath’s rather hackneyed transfers, with not much originality about them, were a useful pointer to the opposition. Exeter retaliated with no end of pluck and some resource, forcing Bath on to their own 25 yard line.” After much strenuous work by both packs, Gerrard opened the scoring with a penalty. Exeter soon levelled with an unconverted try. (Half-time 3-3)

The second half was a terrific struggle, as Bath found it difficult to break the home side’s defence. Halse’s punt ahead was intercepted and it took a grand piece of covering by Gerrard to avert a second Exeter try. There were several clever moves, which broke down at the vital moment.

Bath ‘saved their bacon’ in the dying seconds, when Weiss went over at a tremendous pace. Gerrard missed the conversion, but it was enough to win. (The try was later attributed to Norman ‘Curly’ Halse.)

 

3/12/1938

v London Scottish, Away. Lost 8-9. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, R A Gerrard, A V Rogers, H L Weston, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, D Powles, K J Foss, P Brown, W F Gay, D Wallis and E Smith.

Harris and Weston scored Bath tries, with Gerrrard converting the second try two minutes from the interval, for an 8-0 lead.

POOR PLAY

The second half saw Scottish take advantage of poor Bath play. Adair dived over from Bath’s weak lineout effort. Then Adair scored again when Weston was dispossessed on the Bath line. Finally: “Gerrard in retrieving the ball behind the line and attempting to kick to touch, saw the ball strike an opponent. Two players quickly pounced upon it and Buchanan was the scorer.”

 

10/12/1938

v Northampton, Away, Lost 3-15. Team:- C P Morley, B V Robinson, H L Weston, J Thompson, T Hicks, A E Merrett, N Halse, F A Unwin, J Taylor, J S Wood, K J Foss, G W A Keir, W F Gay, J Book and E Smith. Gerrard, Rogers and Harris were on County duty.

A first half penalty goal by Foss was all Bath could muster against a powerful Northampton side, who ran in three tries and added two penalties. Bath had only the briefest of leads, as a penalty by Brookes levelled the scores after just 8 minutes play. The Saints took their lead when Palmer was allowed to cross over unchallenged. In the second half Powell powered over, with Bath’s Thompson hanging on to his legs and Longland kicked a penalty. “Bath took risks on their own line instead of touching down. One such hazard led to a try in the thirty-third minute, Fallowfield going over from a line-out”

BAD BLOOD?

‘Our Special Correspondent’ in The Times reported: “Northampton beat Bath at Northampton in a game that brought no credit either to Northampton or to Bath. It was as unpleasant a game to watch as it must have been to play in, and at the end of it one was left only with a feeling of dismay that so flagrant an exhibition of hot tempers and bad manners had been permitted to drag itself out for 70 uncomfortable minutes.”

The writer adjudged both sides as equally guilty: “Neither team was free from blame and one frequently saw both sides employing methods of play which they could only have felt heartily ashamed. Men were deliberately tripped by an outstretched foot, they were pushed over when the ball was yards away from them, and fists and feet were flying in the loose scrummages and in the lines-out.”

 

PENT UP ENERGY?

The vehement nature of the report raised some eyebrows, as the participants and club officials saw nothing untoward in the game. They sat down to tea together and made plans for the next fixture. Bath Club Honorary Secretary, Eddie Simpkins saw nothing in the game worthy of such complaint. As for the Chronicle’s regular correspondent: “I am no believer in ceremonial, or ‘by-your-leave Rugby’ and remembering the atrocious conditions there was nothing worse than a little pent-up energy which the ardent fan likes to see and the old Rugger player used to love to take part in.”

 

17/12/1938

v Bridgend, Home. Drawn 0-0. Team:- C R West, J S Bartlett, H L Weston, V Rogers, B V Robinson, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, J Taylor, J S Wood, K J Foss, P Brown, W F Gay, D Wallis and E Smith.

SLIP-SLOP!

It was a ‘heavy going’ day, unusually cheerless with a cold wind and steady drizzle precipitating from leaden skies. With Christmas shopping in full swing, attendance was the lowest of the season. “Bridgend were in storming mood, relying on their forwards, who slithered through the mud with the ball at their feet in determined fashion.

The early stages favoured the Welshmen, whose tearaway tactics seemed to nonplus the opposition. Bath used the drier part of the ground for a bright bit of passing following a quick heel, but Weston was collared.” “There was ‘one for the river’ from Robinson” (The match ball kicked into the Avon)

“It was a hammer-and-tongs battle, in which Bath held their own far better towards the interval in some stirring mid-field play, in which there was little scope allowed by either side for thrustful intentions.”

“The pace never wavered, even if the standard of the play ‘flopped.’ Often it was a hectic scramble.”

 

Christmas Fixtures v Old Blues and v Weston-super-Mare both cancelled as ground unfit.

 

27/12/1938

v Exeter, Away. Lost 8-16. Team:- C P Morley, T Hicks, J Thompson, A E Merrett, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, G Keir, G Taylor, A Ash, K J Foss, G Powles, L Phillips, S Doidge, and D Robinson (Combe Down)

Exeter deserved this win. They were stronger outside the scrum, where Madge, the County out-half, was particularly effective. Hicks got both tries for Bath, with Foss converting one.

 

31/12/1938

v Old Edwardians (Birmingham) Won 8 – 0. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, T Hicks, S Bailey, J S Bartlett, A E Merrett, J Candy, P Brown, G Taylor, A Ash, K J Foss, G Powles, W F Gay, G Keir and K Weiss.

A side considerably weakened with absence of County players, but interestingly a Bath Old Edwardian – Roy Candy acquitted himself well at scrum half. Bailey, the Bathwick born Navy, Somerset and Devonport Services centre was home on leave and played his first game that season. Both he and Candy provided the Bath tries and Weiss converted after Candy’s effort.

As usual, the game was played in a sporting spirit and enjoyed by the crowd, despite a 36 minute delayed start. The report contrasted this enjoyable encounter with some of the less enjoyable, sometimes, Welsh games: “The spirit of combat rises and you badly want to win. In the games with the Old Boys’ sides, the score is of far less importance. You feel the word ‘game’ is being used in its best meaning.” The visitors were obliged to change on the train.

 

7/1/1939

v Richmond, Away. Drawn 3-3. Selected team:- C R West, B V Robinson, H L Weston, A V Rogers, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, J Taylor, G Keir, K J Foss, G Powles, W F Gay, E Smith and B Wallis. Forward Bryan Wallis demonstrated his keenness for the game, by travelling from Dublin, where he was on R.A.F. leave. It was fitting that his enthusiasm was rewarded with a game, as at 8a.m. Richmond had telephoned Bath to report that the ground was ‘as hard as nails.’ Nevertheless, the team assembled at Paddington – Wallis from Dublin, and three airmen from Salisbury Plain. Taylor missed his train from Bristol – and Weston left his boots on the train! Counter attractions at Twickenham, meant that the Richmond stands were nearly empty. It was Arnold Ridley’s birthday. S G U Considine took over Ridley’s usual roll as touch judge.

As to the game, Bath had little time to settle – Yandall scored for Richmond after 9 minutes. “Just before the interval Harris put in a lovely run, forging a grand opening, and had only to pass out to Rogers, who streaked over in magnificent fashion.”

“There was plenty of New Year enthusiasm and determination, but not much constructive skill. A muddy ball and greasy ball were handicaps.”

 

14/1/1939

v Northampton, Home. Won 6 – 3. Team: P Morley, B V Robinson, A V Rogers, H L Weston, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, N Halse, G Powles, W F Gay, G Keir, E Smith, F A Unwin, G Taylor, J S Wood, K J Foss.

Bath gained sweet revenge over the Saints in an intense battle midst a very muddy Recreation Ground. Frost was rapidly thawing out and the surface cut up into a morass. Players were increasingly wary of wallowing in the renowned bad patch in front of the stand.

“For it was a good, hard sporting affair, which even the weather could not overshadow.”

Nevertheless, the visitors demonstrated a certain ‘nippiness’ about the field. They were soon to be troubled: “by a Bath foot-slog, in which the three police members of the pack were well to the fore.”

Then, in the thirteenth minute, a high spot as Harris broke away: “in one of his bewitching runs, which left the Saints in obvious doubt. His pass to Rogers was perfect and Rogers, one of the fastest men in the side, was moving at top pace when he received it. Running up to the 25, he flung out a lovely pass to Robinson, who skated him to run round and ground the ball behind the posts.”

Northampton lost Brookes just before half-time, but the fourteen stuck to their guns. As heavy rain worsened the conditions, Bath increased forward pressure with a fine foot rush and determined play by Gay, Foss, Taylor and Smith. Then Harris provided the final pass for Rogers to speed over for a second try. Mid-way through the second half, the valiant Brookes returned: “On such an afternoon most players, after such an injury would have preferred the luxury of a bath to facing the mud and cold rain a second time.” “Two steaming packs fought a grand battle.”

 

28/1/1939

v Moseley. Away. Drawn 8 – 8. Team :- C R West, B V Robinson, T Hicks, J S White, J S Bartlett, J Arnold, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, S Foster, K J Foss, G Powles, W Gay, L Humphries, E Smith. First, Members had to bring their own shovels to clear 3” of snow which had fallen overnight. Players slipped and slithered their way through an entertaining match. It was a first appearance for S Foster. “He was a credit to Bath Junior football.” Bath were under strength and conditions were bad under foot. Curly Halse had not wanted the game played, but in the event – he had a very good game and scored a well deserved try. Jack Arnold scored a try in the second half, and White converted for a well earned draw.

 

4/2/1939

v Neath. Home. Drawn 9 – 9. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, J S White, H L Weston, T Hicks, J Arnold, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, L Phillips, K J Foss, D Powles, K Weiss, B Wallis and E Smith.

A splendid performance against Wales’ best, with six Bath players on County duty, and Neath at full strength. Bath countered Neath’s three tries with 2 tries and a penalty goal.

Chronicle: “ The Bath forwards warmed up to it and the two Bristol policemen boxers, Taylor and Powles, were always in the thick of the exciting mauls.” “There was scarcely ever a lull; the pace was a ‘cracker’ ,most of the time and the going was very heavy, the turf cutting more than one would have expected.”

Tries by Halse and Robinson and a penalty from Foss, had Bath leading Neath 9-6 with about eight minutes to go. Then Neath’s W T Jones, their most dangerous back, raced over for his second try, to level the score. The fight for mastery continued to the end, but Bath did well to hang on for a draw. Previous Neath tries from McCarley and W T Jones.

 

11/2/1939

v Bedford Away, Lost 0–3. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, H L Weston, R A Gerrard, J S Bartlett, J Arnold, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, G Keir, K J Foss, D Powles, W F Gay, B Wallis, E Smith. “A big crowd tried to work up an interest, but it took a bit of doing.”

Bedford kept their home record “by the skin of their teeth.” Nevertheless, Bedford generally ‘called the tune,’ and called it strongly at times. Only brilliant Bath tackling kept them out. Jack Arnold was clever and resourceful in his play. After a number of failed attempts, back row forward Irens, finally lifted a penalty kick over the bar.

Chronicle: “on arrival at Paddington the Bath players found mounted and foot police combing out the trains bringing passengers from Ireland for the International match and at St. Pancras the Bath ‘skip’- the basket containing their kit- was very closely scrutinised!”

Another Chronicle article: “Bedford is a tiring journey, and it is one that the Bath Executive are thinking of cutting out as a measure of economy.”

 

18/2/1939

v Gloucester. Home. Won 6 – 5. Team:- C R West, , T Hicks, J S White, H L Weston, B V Robinson, T R Harris, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, L Phillips, D Powles, K Foss, K Weiss, E Smith, B Wallis. This was Bath’s second victory over local rivals. Neither side was at full strength.

Chronicle comment: “……Harris shone more in defence than attack, and he was brilliant in the way he got back and closed the gaps. All, in fact, tackled magnificently, particularly Robinson, and a word of praise must be given to Hicks for the grand courage he displayed. West came out of a trying ordeal at full back with plenty of credit.” ” Bath’s forwards, notably Wallis, Weiss and Smith were early in the van of a tremendous dribble which led to a penalty kick for the home side for Gloucester not playing the ball. Foss took the kick-a most difficult one, a wide-out, long distance affair which seemed almost impossible of achievement, but with a Herculean kick, he lifted the ball and it just dropped over the bar amid deafening cheers. Thus, five minutes from the restart Bath were one point up.” Weiss got the earlier try for Bath.

 

25/2/1939

v Moseley Home. Drawn 0 – 0. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, J S White, H L Weston, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, J M Bowen, F A Unwin, G Taylor, L Phillips, K J Foss, D Powles, W F Gay, E Smith and K Weiss. J M Bowen displaced Halse at scrum-half.

“There was a big slump in the gate in consequence of the continuous drizzle, which cut down the attendance on the popular side to very meagre proportions.”

“There was no gainsaying the aggressive spirit of the visitors and Bath in the first half seemed sometimes bewildered in coping with it.” There was one ‘purple passage’ of play involving Harris: “He covered more than half the field, running magnificently and punting ahead when challenged near the line. Twice, as a result, the Moseley line was in danger, an infringement finally saving it.”

“A pointless affray in mud, rain and wind.” White went off with a dislocated shoulder and Weiss was brought out of the forwards to play at centre. The honours were extraordinary even and the score reflected the closeness, if not the intensity of the encounter.

 

4/3/1939

v Bristol Away. Lost 0 – 8. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, T Hicks, H L Weston, J S Bartlett, T R Harris, J M Bowen, F A Unwin, G Taylor, J S Wood, K J Foss, G Powles, W F Gay, B Wallis, E Smith. Bristol scored a first half try and added a goal after the interval. Bath were a man short for 63 minutes after injury to Wood, and were unable to reply in kind.

Chronicle: ”Thunder and lightening provided another weather vagary in this second half.

The play was often as dull as the sky. It was mighty hard, with fiery mauls, kicks to touch and nearly always a battle between two big strenuous, resolute packs.”

“Bath were forced to battle uphill and they fought nobly. The seven forwards were a terrific handful in the loose. They held the Bristolians in check and kept them, with one brief interval, in their own half. Every man seemed to have the idea that he must do Wood’s job as well as his own.” Bath’s tackling was superb. Foss, Powles, Gay and Wallis were always in the thick of the fray. However, their valiant fight was not enough, and Bristol crossed the Bath line on two occasions, converting once.

 

11/3/1939

v Leicester, Away. Lost 3-17. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, T Hicks, H L Weston, J S Bartlett, A E Merrett, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, L Phillips, K J Foss, D Powles, P Morley, B Wallis and E Smith. Bath went down to a goal, 3 tries and a penalty goal to a solitary first half penalty

by Foss. Bath were without Gerrard, Rogers, Harris, Wood and Gay, whilst the Tigers were ‘on top of the world,’ and had all their talented players arrayed. Unusually, Leicester turned out in navy blue jerseys.

In the early stages, the Bath halves and centres were combining well, but the ball rarely got to the wingmen. Hicks made one smart move, as he cut through the centre ‘ in grand fashion.’ “

The play could not be termed brilliant, for both sides showed a distinct lack of finesse.”

Peter Morley, the United full-back, had the unusual experience of packing down in the second row with Powles. Leicester were able to field a far the better side, and a high points margin was inevitable.

 

18/3/1939

v Devonport Services, Home, Won 3-0: Team:- C R West, T Hicks, A V Rogers, H L Weston, B V Robinson, Halse, Merrett, Unwin, Taylor, Phillips, Foss, Powles, Gay, Smith, Wallis.

A welcome win, cheered up dull skies and lowered temperature – albeit by just three points.

“There was plenty of determined effort about the home side, especially in the forwards, and if their play was not always constructive, it certainly lacked nothing in resolution.” Foss kicked a sweet penalty in the thirteenth minute. From the moment he made contact with the ball, it was obvious it would sail between the posts in beautiful fashion. Perhaps it seemed strange to eulogise about a kick – but this is how games were won and lost.

No further tries ensued in an afternoon: “sparingly punctuated with scoring possibilities….”

“If fulfilment did not always follow endeavour, there was always the desire to play open Rugby, even if it did not as often succeed.”

 

23/3/1939

v Weston-super-Mare, Home, Lost 3-7. Team:- C R West, J S Bartlett, H Weston, A V Rogers, B V Robinson, A Merrett, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, B Wallis, D Powles, K J Foss, E Smith, W F Gay, L Phillips.

“Kick, kick, kick – that was the impression left in my mind of the Bath and Weston-super-Mare match at the Recreation Ground on Thursday evening I fact, kicks won and lost the game. Weston landed two and Bath put over only one; and hence Bath lost, the score being a dropped goal and a penalty to a penalty goal.” Bath were well beaten in the scrums and performed poorly in the lines-out. “But in the loose the Bath pack shone. They were responsible for some grand work, and two foot rushes in particular nearly carried the day.”

 

25/3/1939

v Bridgend, lost 5-16. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, R Greig, T Hicks, J S Bartlett, H L Weston, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Keir, B Wallis, K J Foss, D Powles, W F Gay, L Phillips and E Smith.

“Bath were in South Wales today – ‘home of lost hopes’ so far as the visitors were concerned.”

Bridgend won by a drop goal, 2 penalty goals and 2 tries to Bath’s converted try. Bath arrived very late on a cold cheerless day. It was the host club’s poorest attendance of the season. “A trying wind was not calculated to help the quality of football and the ground was heavy.” Bath did manage a good first-half try. Following a clean heel, Weston carved out a glorious opening. He passed to Smith, who was able to run unhampered for the 20 or so yards to the posts. Foss converted with ease.

With the intervention of War, Bath did not play Bridgend again until 31st March 1956.

 

1/4/1939

v London Scottish, Home. Lost 7-15. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, A V Rogers, T Hicks, J S Bartlett, H L Weston, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, B Wallis, K J Foss, D Powles, W F Gay, E Smith and L Phillips. Bath lost by a gaol, 2 tries and a drop goal to a penalty and a drop goal. A splendidly fine afternoon for rugby and the date worried nobody. Hicks came in at centre for Greig.

Dunn put Bath in arrears with a smartly taken drop goal within a few minutes of the start. Wallace added an unconverted try and the Exciles led 7-0 at the change around.

In the second spell, Foss narrowed the gap with an easy penalty goal. Bath were doing all the attacking, and only poor finishing denied them, until West dropped a brilliant goal from the ten yard line. This signalled a Scottish revival and Ogilvy got over for Adair to add extras, and Melville got clear for the visitors’ third try. All three of the Scots’ tries were scored by forwards.

 

8/4/1939

v Sale. Home. Lost 6 – 12. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, T Hicks, J Arnold, F Hayman, A E Merrett, N Halse, P Brown, G Taylor, B Wallis, D Powles, K J Foss, E Smith, K Weiss, L Phillips.

“Bath were unlucky to lose. They had fully as much of the play as Sale, and were not really worsted in any department of the team, despite the fact that there were three youngsters in the back division”.

These however, rose to the occasion, especially Hayman, winger, who is not yet sixteen. He shaped like a great player in the making.”

“Bath were beaten by superior kicking.”

Chronicle: ”During the break in the musical programme before the start, there was a National Service appeal on the amplifier for recruits for the various local Services-stressed by the speaker as ‘something you could do at once”

“At football matches all over the country requests are being made to permit these broadcasts.”

Bath’s try was scored by West and Weiss got a penalty.

 

10/4/1939

v Old Merchant Taylors, Home. Lost 3-7. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, G Grieg, T Hicks, F Hayman, A E Merrett, N Halse, D Bishop, G Taylor, B Wallis, K J Foss, D Powles, K Weiss, L Phillips, and E Smith. Bath were said to be still bemoaning their loss against Sale and the game again highlighted the need for a reliable kicker. Allied to this, Gerrard, Rogers, Weston and Harris were all missing from the backs, and Wood, Unwin and Gay from the pack. It was a debut appearance for Bishop in the pack.

Bath were unlucky when Merrett made a clean break, drew the defence, but with the line at his mercy, Grieg could not hold the final pass. This was a shame, because Grieg was very effective for the rest of the game. Weiss kicked a penalty.

 

11/4/1939

v Leicester (home) Lost 3 – 28. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, J Arnold, G Greig, F Hayman, L D Wardle, R Candy, R Ascott, G Taylor, B Wallis, K J Foss, D Powles, A Bishop, L Phillips, E Smith.

A weakened Bath team were no match for Leicester. Lance Wardle had previously announced his retirement, but was persuaded to turn out. It was a debut appearance for R Ascott, nephew of the great player of yesteryear. Bath’s only counter to a Tiger’s onslaught was a super try by Hayman: “On the half-way line Wardle gave Hayman, who was by the touch-line, a short pass and he ran ‘like a deer,’ to put the ball down for a try which the crowd cheered lustily. Foss can kick the most difficult of goals, but this, a comparatively easy one, he missed.” Leicester’s final tally was 3 gaols, 3 tries and a drop goal. Bath had lost all their Easter games, and this was the heaviest defeat of the season.

 

LEICESTER SEVERELY CRITICISE BATH

Extract from Leicester Sports Final 15th April 1939:-

“The Tigers’ frolic in the sunshine on Tuesday wound up the Easter tour very pleasantly for them, but it must have been all very humiliating for the home side and their supporters. For the second year in succession, Leicester’s biggest victory of the season was scored at Bath, and while I wish to detract nothing from the merit of their commanding show this week, it is evident that this fixture has lost the major quality, which is that of keen well-matched rivalry.

From the standpoint of the Tigers’ players who have battled through two strenuous matches in three days, the weakness of the opposition at Bath is not unwelcome, but the game is not helped by such one-sided encounters.

With reasonably good kicking, the Leicester total would have been nearer 40 points, which would have revealed more adequately the farcical character of the proceedings. It is a great pity that a match between clubs with such traditions, could not be arranged for a time more suitable for the regular members of the Bath side.

Several inexperienced youngsters and a fly-half who was turning out for the first time this season – LD Wardle – had to deputise for those who could only assist the club on Saturday and Monday.

I realise that this seems more like a lament of a Bath supporter than a Leicester view, for the home club are the losers in every sense, but there is another point to be borne in mind.

The more imposing the Leicester score, the more carefully is it pointed out that they were not up against a side representing the true strength of Bath.”

The reporter continued: “If one Bath official had had his way, there would have been no score at half time.

He came to the stand at that stage and asserted indignantly that when Squibbs dropped his goal the ball had passed under, and not over, the bar, while before both Downes and Anthony touched down for their tries there had been infringements.

I wonder if he noted, in the second half, how young Hayman, the Bath left wing, stepped outside the touch line when he gathered a pass which led to his spectacular home ‘try’?”

 

15/4/1939

v Neath, Away. Lost 3 –20. Team:- C R West, B V Robinson, H Weston, T Hicks, J Arnold, A Merrett, N Halse, F A Unwin, G Taylor, B Wallis, K J Foss, D Powles, K Weiss, E Smith and L Phillips.

A sad end to a poor season. At no time did Bath get a grip on the game. Jack Arnold touched down for Bath’s one and only score. Although Bath struggled manfully, their weakened team was no match for the Welsh ‘All Blacks.’ Full-backs, C R West for Bath, and D G Davies for Neath, both played outstanding games. Full marks to Bath for their tackling.

Chronicle: “The kick-off timed for 3.30 p.m., was an hour late, Bath not reaching Neath until just before four o’clock. They were greeted by a depressing drizzle, and it was patent from the start that the going would be difficult.

When Bath got to the gates they saw a hundred or more people waiting outside. They were not going to deposit their money at the turnstiles until they were sure that the opposition had arrived!”

Tommy Hicks recalled: “That game at Neath when through no fault of our own, the train arrived an hour late. We were booed from the station to the ground, on the ground, and off the ground. About the only time I have ever felt scared of a rugby crowd. It was a good job we lost!”

 

Scorers:-

Tries:

B V ROBINSON 3 E SMITH 1, A V ROGERS 3 G T BAILEY 1, K WEISS 2 J BAILEY 1, W J GAY 2 G FOSTER 1 ,H WESTON 2 J S WHITE 1, T R HARRIS 2 D POWLES 1, T HICKS 2 R CANDY 1 J ARNOLD 2 F HAYMAN 1 N HALSE 2

TOP SCORER was K J Foss (Captain) 34 points.

K Weiss runner up 20 points.

GOALS: R A Gerrard (5), K J Foss (2), K Weiss and J S White (1 each).

Drop Goals: R A Gerrard and C R West (1 each).

Penalty Goals: K J Foss (10), R A Gerrard (3), K Weiss (3).

 

The Roll Call

Full-backs:- C R West 28, P Morley 5, H Weston 2.

Threequarters:- B V Robinson 28, T Hicks 21, H Weston 19, J S Bartlett 16, A V Rogers 13, R A Gerrard 7, G Foster and J S White 6, F Hayman and J Arnold 4, G T Bailey and Greig 3, J Power, C R West and J Thompson 2, W E Hancock, P Morley, A Merrett and S Bailey once each.

Halves:- N Halse 31, T R Harris 12, A E Merrett 8, T Hicks 5, H Weston 4, J M Bowen and J Arnold 3, R Candy 2, C E Gough and L D Wardle once each.

Forwards:- K J Foss 35, F A Unwin 29, G Taylor 27, D Powles 24, W J Gay 23, E Smith and B Wallis 21, L Phillips 19, K Weiss 18, P Brown 14, J S Wood 13, J Grundy and G W A Keir 7, A Ash 6, F Bishop 3, H Martingdale and R Ascott 2, S A Evans, D Campbell, J Book, P Doidge, J Robinson, S Foster, R Humphries, P Morley and S Thomas once each.

 

This page was added on 27/05/2014.

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