1956 – 1957
Training to start August 7th., and Trial match August 25th.
Tony Guest to be Vice Captain of 1st XV.
v Yeovil, Away, Won 18-3, Team:- D Curtis, D Ogden (England Schoolboys and Weston-s-Mare), P Fale, A Guest, J Dolman, A Francis, P Dart, W Law, G Clements, J Roberts, F Thomas, L Davis, M Smith, E Hopton, C Stewart. Bath’s form behind the scrum augured well for the season, but it was Yeovil who led 3-0 at the interval. Bath had been well served by their forwards, but Yeovil were also strong in that department. Their rushes were difficult to contain, and they frequently disrupted Bath’s back division. Bath had a fine new wing forward in Clifford Stewart, who showed great mobility and intelligent manoeuvring. However, the Bath half-back partnership did not work at all well, and Dart came under increasing pressure from the marauding wing forwards. Francis did not take his passes well, and the whole three-quarter line was slowed up in consequence, Guest and Fale had a difficult time, with the opposition continually ‘in their faces.’ Ogden and Dolman moved well when they eventually got possession.
Bath tries from Guest, Dolman and Ogden, with Curtis converting all three tries and landing a penalty.
v Old Cranleighans, Home, Won 10-3. D Curtis, D Ogden, P Fale, A Guest, R Bassett, G Strange, P Dart, W Law, G Clements, J Roberts, F Thomas, G Jones, M Smith, E Hopton, C Stewart. Bath were soon into the attack against the Old Boys; Peter Fale and Geoff Strange figured in setting up a try for Bassett, which Curtis converted. However, a succession of scrums and scrappy play threatened to spoil an otherwise attractive game. Committed tackling kept Bath at bay for long periods, but, they gained a throw-in right on the visitor’s line, and Smith had only to fall over and touch down. Again Curtis added the extras. Old Cranleighans replied with an unconverted try, but otherwise, Bath had them struggling to the end.
v Devonport Services, Home, Lost 6-14. D Curtis, D Ogden, F Harrison, A Guest, R Bassett, J Thomas, P Dart, W Law, G Clements, J Roberts, F Thomas, G Jones, E Hopton, B Peasley, J Vassiere. Frank Harrison’s first game. Bath started one short as Malcolm Smith was delayed getting to the ground. Jim Vaissiere came out of retirement to fill the wing-forward position. They actually ended with thirteen men on the field as injuries took their toll.
“The most obvious difference between the two sides was that when Bath began an attack their opponents were apt to suppress it, but when Devonport started one, they were given comparatively ample room in which to move.” Bath’s line was crossed 4 times, with one converted. In reply, Curtis kicked two splendid penalty goals.
v St Mary’s Hospital, Home, Won 8-3. P Hardy, D Ogden, P Fale, D Curtis, J Dolman, J Thomas, G Drewett, W Law, G Clements, J Roberts, F Thomas, G Jones, E Hopton, B Peasley, M Smith.
A change of fortune for Bath, as John Robert’s rejuvenated pack spearheaded a converted try and a penalty by half time. “Bath’s much improved efforts were justifiably rewarded after 20 minutes when outside half Thomas scored. The running was made on the left wing by Dolman who, after handing off his opposite number, passed inside. It was a poor pass, but Thomas was able to dribble over for the try which was converted by Curtis.” Curtis followed up with a penalty just before the interval.
A succession of penalties against Bath, eventually yielded an easy 3 points for Louis Cannel
v Harlequins, Away, Lost 3-17. P Hardy, J Dolman, P Fale, D Curtis, D Ogden, J Thomas, G Drewett, W Law, G Clements, J Roberts, F Thomas, G Jones, M Smith, E Hopton, B Peasley. Bath were all at sea in defence, against a very strong Quins side and found themselves 0-11 down by half-time. The final count was a goal, three tries and a drop goal to a penalty by Curtis. Bath had rallied somewhat in the second half, with brave work from the forwards, particularly Peasley, but the Harlequins’ talented backs were more than a match for the Bath outsides.
Bath were certainly experiencing mixed fortunes!
v Clifton, Away, Lost 9-12. P Hardy, J Dolman, P Fale, M McCarthy, K Miners, B Weston, M Payton, W Law, G Clements, J Roberts, P Hall, E Hopton, G Jones, R Buchanan, R Blackmore. Clifton’s Penny decided the issue with four successful penalties.
A very disappointing visit to Clifton’s Eastfield ground, for a game in which drab, unmethodical football dominated. Bath hastened their own downfall by keeping the ball amongst the forwards. When they tried to get the ball back, it exposed their major weakness of a slow heal. This left the half-backs constantly at a disadvantage against marauding wing forwards. “For unthinkable reasons the back row were deliberately keeping the ball in -while the threes and half backs waited in ideal attacking positions.
The only hope could have been to trap the opposition into an offside position and action which can only be strongly deprecated.”
Appropriately, Clifton were granted plenty of penalty opportunities, and Bath’s negative tactics brought the inevitable result. For Clifton, Penny landed four penalties. Miners scored two unconverted tries for Bath and Hardy a penalty.
v Llanelly, Home, Lost 9-17. D Curtis, M McCarthy, M Smith, K Miners, J R Dolman, B A G Weston, G Drewett, W Law, G Clements, J Roberts, E Hopton, A Meek, I Smart, G Jones, B Peasley.
Bath put on a good performance against a star-studded Llanelly side, finally capitulating by 1 goal, 2 tries and 2 penalties to their own 3 tries, scored by Miners (2) and Dolman.
Dolman scored a brilliant individual try, fending off his cover and racing away. As three players closed on him, he tapped the ball ahead, and won the final race for the line. The Bath threequarters were admirably served by Drewett. In a dramatic late revival, Miners scored two tries in rapid succession, but his great effort had come too late for Bath to make further impact.
v Ebbw Vale, Away, Lost 10-14. P Hardy, J Dolman, D Curtis, A Hanscombe (Wasps), M McCarthy, R Hambly, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts, A Meek, F Book, I Smart, A Hankins, B Peasley.
Some considered that the newly arranged XV did remarkably well in this difficult fixture. The final result suggests a respectable margin, but Bath were quite outplayed in the first half and changed over 0-11 down. In the second spell, Bath had a degree of success in closing the Welshmen down, but their opponents had possession for 80% of the play. Enterprising efforts by Peasley and Smart led to a try by Peasley, which Curtis converted. Next, Richards scored a further try for Ebbw Vale, but Bath had the last word, when Meek scored in the closing minutes, for Curtis to again add the extras.
v Bristol, Home, Lost 9-14, D Curtis, A Hanscombe, K Miners, D Silk, J Dolman, J Thomas, G Drewett, J Roberts, T Smith, J Wood, A Meek, F Thomas, I Smart, A Hankins, B Peasley. It was Tom Smith’s 240th game for Bath’s 1st XV.
Bristol shaded Bath by 6 points to 3 at the end of the first half: “Perseverance among the forwards led to a very fine try for Bath. Drewett got the ball away cleanly on the blind side, and Miners, travelling at great speed took the ball, dummying his way past Challis and went over.” Bristol finally amassed a drop goal, a goal and a penalty. Bath added to their early effort, with a penalty by Drewett and a brilliant try from Dennis Silk fifteen minutes into the second half. Bath lost Tom Smith with a head injury, which left them without a specialised hooker. Tom returned suitably stitched-up for the second half. A moment later, Bristol’s Eric Blackman resumed the field, after attention to a cut lip. There were good individual performances from Thomas and Drewett and Bristol had no answer to Dennis Silk’s tactics and bustling running, but Bristol had the best of the day.
v United Services, Away, Won 13-3. P Hardy, J Dolman, K Miners, D Curtis, M McCarthy, J Thomas, G Drewett, J Roberts, T Smith, J Wood, F Thomas, A Meek, I Smart, T Hankins, B Peasley.
Bath had a three point lead at the interval: “After 15 minutes an orthodox but nevertheless, well earned try gave Bath the lead. Drewett and Thomas got their line moving well. Miners in the middle drew his opposite man before giving a scoring pass to Dolman, the right winger, who beat a tackle by full-back Bell to go over in a corner.” Bath’s reorganised pack was proving to be a formidable force and the outsides began to work well together. Sharp play by Smart, Peasley and John Thomas, managed to keep Davidson out of the play. Second half tries followed from Miners and McCarthy were converted by Curtis. At last Davidson, shook off covering tackles to send in Downie, for Services’ consolation try.
v Saracens, Home, Won 11-3. P Hardy, F Harrison, J Dolman, P Stones (R.A.F. and Dorset & Wilts), J Rees, G Addenbrooke, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts, F Thomas, F Book, I Smart, T Hankins, B Peasley.
Visitors fielded six County players, including G M Elliott (Eastern Counties), Olympic Athlete and British Empire pole vault champion.
Also Cdr. Roy Titchen, the Royal Navy cap, who was to join Bath and later became a Bath District referee.
It was the Bath back division that impressed, with a competent exhibition of attacking rugby under difficult conditions. Harrison was back at wing after a long lay off, and his co-wing John Rees made his first appearance of the season. Near veteran, Guy Addenbrooke was at outside half and struck up a fine partnership with Gordon Drewett. John Dolman made the first break, beating two centre field defenders, and sending a well timed pass, for Harrison to score wide out. Next Rees and then Dolman, narrowly missed further scores. Despite the rain and puddles of water, the back division continued in dextrous fashion. Following a foray from Saracens, Phil Hardly was able to field and clear the ball with a well-executed touch kick. Bath continued with a series of defence-splitting moves, which Saracens just succeeded in stemming. Then Saracens secured from a line out, and Elliott was able to outstrip Bath’s defence for an unconverted try. Dolman then initiated a move, which drew the defence and sent new player, P Stones speeding to the posts. Hardy converted. Harrison got his second try late on.
v Cheltenham, Away, Drawn 5-5. I Smart, F Harrison, K Miners, J Dolman, J Rees, J Thomas, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts, F Book, F Thomas, A Meek, A Hankins, B Peasley. Cheltenham’s fiery forwards upset Bath waters!
However, Bath’s first worthwhile three-quarter movement did produce a try by John Thomas, for Dolman to convert. Cheltenham continued to harass and Miners and Dolman found the covering defence a little too much for them. Then Cheltenham prop and captain Micol scored, following a charge down. Harvey goaled to level the score. Bath rallied towards the end: “Harrison fell only feet short, after Smart had come up to gather the outside-half’s cross-kick, which he followed up with a side-stepping solo run, only to be toppled over by an ankle touch.” Bath almost made it!
v Taunton, Home, Won 18-6. P Hardy, F Harrison , K Miners, J Dolman, J Rees, J Thomas, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts, F Book, F Thomas, I Smart, K Napier, B Peasley. Bath won by 4 tries and 2 penalty goals to 2 penalty goals. Try scorers were Harrison (2), Miners and Napier. Dolman kicked the penalties.
The Bath pack controlled most of the exchanges, and the backs were in form, with enterprising play. Much of the fluidity stemmed from a quick service from scrum-half Drewett, although movements were sometimes stultified by failure of Dolman and Miners to draw their men effectively.
v London Scottish, Away, Lost 8-22. P Hardy, F Harrison, I Smart, J Dolman, J Rees, J Thomas, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts, F Book, F Thomas, A Hankins, K Napier, B Peasley.
The Exciles included six Internationals, and Bath’s start was decidedly shaky. Scottish were eight points ahead within five minutes, but to Bath’s credit, they struck back with a snap drop goal by Gordon Drewett and a try from skipper, John Roberts, converted by Dolman. (8-8 at half-time)
London Scottish stepped up the pressure in the second half and their final tally was 2 penalty goals, 2 goals and 2 tries.
Played on the shared Richmond ground, the Richmond Athletic Group Secretary was none other than Group Captain E (Ned) G Northway, C.B.E., the former Bath Club centre/outside-half, and a regular player for Bath Cricket Club. He was a contemporary of the great S.G.U. Considine in the 1920’s.
News that Eddie Simpkins was in hospital and had undergone an operation. He was “as comfortable as can be expected.”
He had been hon. Sec. Of the Club for 36 years.
v Gloucester, Away, Lost 6-27. M T Bowen, F E D Harrison, T Stones, R Hambly, J Dolman, J H T Thomas, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J W P Roberts, F J Book, F J Thomas, I Smart, K Napier, B J Peasley.
Bath were no match for Gloucester’s confidence, variations in attack and speed. The visitors’ line was crossed 5 times, three were converted, with two penalties for good measure. “It was rather against the run of play that Bath should reply with an excellent try from a scrum wide out on the left, and 15 yards from the Gloucester line. Drewett fooled the opposition by throwing a pass behind to winger Dolman who, on being checked, passed inside to his blind-side wing forward, Smart, and he forced his way over. Dolman’s long kick was wide.” Drewett scored a penalty goal with the last kick of the game.
Still somewhat of a bogey ground. In the previous 30 games, Bath had only won twice, with two draws. The last away win being 1945-46 season when we won 13-11.
Good play by Avon’s Peter Heindorff made District Rugby headlines.
Playing at outside-half for Avon versus Cotham Park, on Monument Field, Peter commenced his performance with a penalty goal. Still taking centre stage, Heindorff later took the ball and four Cotham Park men over the line for a great try.
“Enough drama? Well, the game’s last kick was a penalty goal – for Pete.”
Would we see more of this promising young man?
It was but a start to an outstanding rugby career, spanning 358 games for Bath, Club Captaincy, County honours and International recognition for West Germany.
v Neath, Home, Lost, 6-12. P Hardy, F Harrison, J Rees, D Curtis, J Dolman, R Hambly, G Drewett, T Wood, T Smith, J W P Roberts, F Book, F Thomas, K Napier, D Naylor, I Smart.
David Naylor played his first game of the season.
Headline:- ‘Bath Finish Under Neath’
This was indeed the case. Conditions were all set for a miserable afternoon on the Rec. Incessant driving rain, had the pitch saturated with rising water. Bath were 9 points down at the interval and things looked as black as the Welshmen’s’ jerseys. Amid intermittent deluges, it was greatly to Bath’s and, particularly their pack’s credit, that Neath added only one try to their first half score, whereas Bath worked hard for a second half try by Dolman, and a last gasp pushover in the closing minutes.
I.J.T. in Football Herald and Chronicle 15th November 1956:
“Much as I welcome these players, I condemn any policy which forces Bath into such a position to select a large number of “guests” into the first XV because there are no pure Bath players of the necessary standard to fit the bill adequately.
The club is banking a lot of faith – and has done so for some time – on the fact that next week Dennis Silk will become available, and more recently that his fellow master at Marlborough and England International Ian Beer will also. It’s a thoroughly bad way to earn genuine local support and in producing XV’s for future seasons.”
News that Roy Farnham and Geoff Hancock were playing well for Avonvale.
v Exeter. Thick fog enveloped the West Country. The Exeter team became fogbound at Taunton, and phoned to say they were turning back.
v Old Blues, Home, Won 20-3. I Balding, J Dolman, K Miners, D Curtis , M McCarthy, B A G Weston, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts (Capt.), F Book, F J Thomas, A Meek, G Jones, R Berry.
It was Marlborough College Full-back Ian Balding’s first game. The Old Blues were the Old Boys of Christ’s Hospital School and were, as always, welcome sporting visitors over the holiday period. This time they were overcome by tries from Miners, Curtis, McCarthy, Wood, and Roberts, with Curtis converting one and dropping a goal.
v London Irish, Home, lost 6-10. D Curtis, J Dolman, D R W Silk, K Miners, M McCarthy, R Collins, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts (Capt.), J Book, F J Thomas, D Naylor, A Meek, R Berry.
The Exciles dominated the first half, establishing a two goals cushion. In the second half: “Silk initiated a great comeback, when he passed the ball to speedy Miners. Miners gave it to John Dolman, whose burst of speed carried him over. Silk failed to convert but these were three heartening points.
Dolman was worrying the Irishmen, and he again crossed over after a delightful dribble from round the 25 yard line.” “Bath were putting every once of energy into their attacking football. For Bath, Dennis Silk beat two or three visiting defenders before the ball ran loose.” Silk’s contribution was immense, but despite heroic effort, Irish inspiration – rather than Irish luck, carried the day.
v Leicester, Home, Drawn 3-3. D Curtis, J Dolman, R Collins, B Weston, K Miners, J Thomas, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts (Capt.), F Book, G Jones, I Smart, K Napier, J Donovan. John Donovan’s first game. Bath were without, injured, Ian Beer and Dennis Silk, but staged a fine performance to tame a good Tigers’ side on the Rec. There was no score at half time despite some enterprising play on both sides. The Drewett-Thomas partnership showed some good touches, although Drewett had some difficulty in timing his pass for Thomas to take on the burst. This last mentioned made one superb break, covering 50 yards before he was finally hauled to the ground.
A couple of minutes into the second spell, Leicester took the lead, when second row Ford, crashed over the line. This roused Bath to greater efforts, and after a period of prolonged scrummaging, they were rewarded with a penalty, and Curtis made no mistake from in front of the posts.
As time ran out, Dolman enjoyed a strong break along the left wing, but unfortunately, lost his footing on the heavy ground. Late production of a white ball, did not improve handling ability and a draw was the inevitable, and perhaps, fitting result.
v London Welsh, Home, Drawn 0-0. I Balding, J Dolman, D R W Silk, K Miners, F Harrison, D Curtis, G Drewett, J Wood, T Smith, J W P Roberts (Capt.), F Book, I Beer, D Naylor, I Smart. Ian Beer’s first game. (He was destined to become the R.F.U. President )
There was no lack of effort as both sides participated in rousing forward exchanges. Bath were well served by Dennis Silk alongside fellow centre Ken Miners. Ian Balding had a fine game at full-back, frequently switching defence into attack. For the Welsh, John Leleu, was a constant thorn in Bath’s flesh at wing forward. In fact, both sets of back row forwards, remained in control, constantly snuffing out moves initiated in their opponents’ back divisions. Harrison had a fine game on the wing and was only kept in bounds by masterful covering. Several penalties were missed by both sides, and yet another draw seemed an appropriate outcome.
v Cardiff, Home, Lost 16-21. I Balding, J Dolman, D R W Silk, D L Curtis, F E D Harrison, T Stones, G H Drewett, J C W Woods, G H Clements, J W P Roberts (Capt.), F J Thomas, F J Book, I D S Beer, D G Naylor, I Smart.
Bath last defeated Cardiff ten years previously – January 18th 1947 at the Rec.
Cardiff included three Welsh internationals and several Trialists, and Bath did very well to lead by two goals to a goal and a penalty at half-time. As has so often been the case, the talented visitors turned in a superb second half performance, finally running off winners by 3 goals, a try and a penalty, to Bath’s 2 goals, a try and a penalty. Cardiff’s comparatively slow start, may be explained by their late arrival, after missing their train connection at Bristol.
Cardiff’s goal was quickly countered by a brilliant try from Bath’s right-winger, Harrison. Curtis started the move, which was carried on by Silk, Ian Smart gathered the loose ball and produced a perfect cross-kick, which enabled Harrison to take at top speed. He kicked past two defenders and raced on to touch down between the posts. Curtis added the extras. Priday was having a good day with ‘the boot,’ and added a penalty to his earlier conversion. Bath’s second try came from an overhead pass to Dolman, and the hefty winger was able to outstrip a confused Cardiff defensive line, for Curtis to again major. (Half-time 10-8)
Cardiff came back in the second spell, crossing the Bath line three more times, converting twice. Curtis reduced the mounting arrears with a 45 yard penalty, and right on time Dennis Silk scored an unconverted try to narrow the gap to just 5 points. In the final minutes, Bath had the misfortune to loose Gordon Drewett with a serious leg injury.
v St Mary’s Hospital, Away, Lost 3-14. I A Balding, J R Dolman, T Stones, D Curtis, M McCarthy, R Farnham, G Sidoli, W Law, T Smith, J Roberts (Capt.), L Davis, F Thomas, D Naylor, A Hankins, K O’Shaughnessy. Roy Farnham’s first game.
A weak Bath side were swamped at Teddington, going down to a goal, two tries and penalty to a late try by Hankins. Sidoli and Farnham worked well in partnership, but Bath’s pack wilted visibly, against the heavier St Mary’s eight. Bath centres, Dolman and Curtis, were similarly outplayed by St. Mary’s Stephenson and Simmons.
It was a meritorious win for the Londoners, for once, playing without the services of Louis Cannell.
v Northampton, Home, Lost 0-3. I A Balding, J R Dolman, D L Curtis, D R W Silk, F E D Harrison, T Stones, P Dart, J C W Wood, T H W Smith, J W Roberts (Capt.), F J Thomas, F J Book, I D S Beer, D G Naylor, I Smart.
Northampton fielded seven internationals, and Bath were on the back foot after just 90 seconds. A home player was adjudged to be off-side, and Roger Hosen produced one of his masterful 40 yard kicks for a 3-0 lead, which put the visitors ahead through to the final whistle. Dolman was particularly unlucky to be called back for a forward pass, after streaking over at the corner flag. Curtis and Silk narrowly missed with penalty goal attempts, and there was a fine run from Ian Smart, after Ian Balding had come into the line. “The game ended with Bath well on top and, on this afternoon’s play, they did not deserve to lose.”
Northampton:- J G G Hetherington, F D Sykes, R Hosen, J Butterfield, J P Hyde, R R Winn, R E G Jeeps, C R Jacobs, K Davies, P Haddon, P J Taylor, A Canham, A R Turnell, D Coley and D F White (Capt.)
v Gloucester, Home, Won 11-0. I Balding, T Stones, D Silk, G Addenbrooke, J Dolman, D Curtis, P Dart, J Wood, T Smith, J W P Roberts (Capt.), F Thomas, F Book, I Beer, D Naylor, I Smart.
A flooded River Avon entailed a switch to the Lambridge Ground, where Bath chalked up an excellent victory amid mud and water in abundance. “Just before the interval, John Roberts scored a well-merited try through the strength of a determined and superbly fit pack.” Again: “Early in the second half full-back Ingram was caught in possession about 10 yards from his line, and Roberts picked up a loose ball and dived over. Silk converted from an acute angle.
Bath’s clear superiority was again rewarded when, on the left wing, Curtis landed a superbly directed drop goal following a quick heel.”
v Bridgend, Away, Lost 0-5. I Balding, F Harrison, K O’Shaughnessy, G Addenbrooke, J Dolman, D Curtis, P Dart, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts (Capt.), F Thomas, F Book, J Donovan, G Jones, I Smart. Bath started well enough, but Balding’s clearance kick was charged down, giving an easy try to winger Butler. Hodgson converted. “Bridgend’s tough forward tactics kept the Bath pack subdued.” “….neither Addenbrooke or O’Shaughnessy could produce the speed nor thrust to break a fast covering Bridgend defence.”
“Bath know from long experience that playing a Welsh club in Wales is a far more exacting task than playing that same side in the comparative solitude of an English ground.
The reason? Something – an Englishman fails to understand it, or at any rate grasp its significance – called fervour.”
v Wasps, Home, Won 3-0. I Balding, F Harrison, D R Silk, D Curtis, J Dolman, T Stones, P Dart, J Wood, T Smith, J Roberts (Capt.), F Thomas, F Book, A Hankins (T), I D S Beer, I Smart.
“Although forced to defend stubbornly, and at times, desperately, almost throughout the first half, Bath led Wasps by three points at the interval…..” Heavy morning rain had dampened hopes of an open game, and it was largely left to the packs to battle it out. Notwithstanding this, Bath had to be constantly on the look out for rapid forward movement from the mighty J E Woodward, playing at centre. Bath’s try followed a determined run by Ian Beer, who beat two men and passed to Hankins for the touch down.
“At the opening of the second half a sharp shower made the pitch almost a complete quagmire and it became more than ever a forward pattern of play. Tough exchanges took place, chiefly in midfield, and Silk directed one or two moves which could have led to Bath scores. However, the nearest Bath got a further success at this stage was when Dolman was chased for 30 yards by Woodward.
Dolman faltered as he neared the line, and the Wasps’ captain was there to save his side.”
Silk continued to feature in much of the play, and although it was a team effort, he was largely responsible for final victory: “Three times in quick succession Woodward attempted to burst through midfield – and three times he was brought crashing into the mud by Silk.” Beer had another outstanding game.
v Bristol, Away, Lost 0-6. I Balding, F Harrison, D Silk, D Curtis, J Dolman, B Weston, P Dart, J Wood, G Clements, J Roberts, F Thomas, F Book, I Beer, D Naylor, J Donovan.
John Donovan stood in the unaccustomed position of wing forward
England full back Bob Challis landed two 45 yard penalties, awarded by referee R J Searle within a minute of each other. Dramatically, Bath were 6 points down, only to be followed by another set-back.
It was but a few moments later, that they lost the services of skipper, John Roberts, with damaged ribs.
The game featured some vigorous forward play in which Bristol were generally in control. However, Bath’s Beer and Naylor put in outstanding performances.
The Memorial Ground had rarely been ‘a happy hunting ground.’ Nevertheless, Bath refused to give up and Dennis Silk was easily the best three-quarter on view: “Using a powerful hand-off and battling run with devastating effect, he opened up great gaps in the Bristol mid-field defence to give Dolman three strong runs. In one he got to within a yard of the line before Challis hurled him into touch.
Silk, who remained a constant menace to Bristol, then saw a great attempt at a drop goal fall just wide, and Harrison on the other wing, made two characteristic bursts, from good cross-field movements.”
“The forward superiority could only be Bristol’s, but Bath’s seven man pack fought desperately hard….”
v Swansea, Home, Drawn 3-3. I Balding, M McCarthy, D R W Silk, K O’Shaughnessy, K Dolman, J A Stones, P Dart, J C W Wood, T H Smith, W Law, F J Thomas, F J Book, I D S Beer, D G Naylor, J Tomlinson. Bath and Swansea had to ‘tough it out’ in the mud, and Bath’s Silk, landed an early penalty, later matched by Swansea, for a well deserved draw. Bath were not lacking in the loose, and one huge heave led by newcomer Jim Tomlinson, sent the visitors back some 10 yards, with Bath gaining possession from a loose maul.
“Silk, brilliantly supported by Beer as an extra threequarter, was playing a truly captain’s game for Bath, and towards the end of the game Swansea were having very much more difficulty in holding the Bath line.”
v Exeter, Home, Won 21-5. I Balding, M McCarthy, D R Silk, D Curtis, F Harrison, T Stones, P Dart, W Law, D Stent, J Roberts, F Book, F Thomas, I D S Beer, D Naylor, and J Tomlinson.
Skipper, John Robert’s 302nd game for Bath, having returned from injury which forced him to leave the field at Bristol. John started with the Club on 11th December 1948 versus South Wales Police. The only other from that game, who was still playing – Tom Smith, his fellow front-row man.
Tries by Harrison, McCarthy, Silk and Beer, with Silk converting one and kicking a penalty and 2 conversions by Curtis. Bath gave a confident performance, particularly amongst the three-quarters. Stones, Silk, Curtis and Beer showed frequently in open play. Stones was in devastating form at outside-half. This excellent game was watched by fewer than 1000 spectators.
v Llanelly, Away, Lost 3-6. I Balding, M McCarthy, K O’Shaughnessy, J Dolman, F Harrison, P Fale, P Dart, J Roberts, G Stent, W Law, F Thomas, F Book, B Peasley, K Napier, J Tomlinson.
Llanelly included seven current Internationals, including Onllwyn Brace, and the famed Carwyn James half-back pairing. Bath fielded a weakened side, but surprised their hosts with a first minute penalty, kicked by John Dolman. Bath continued to fight doggedly, and Llanelly were unable to improve on their two first half tries. Conditions were against open play, and the game was largely dictated by the spoiling of the back row forwards. At this, Peasley, Napier and Tomlinson were particularly successful. It was a good effort by Bath, as Llanelly’s outsides had the edge in speed and guile. If anything, they tended to over elaborate.
“McCarthy was injured, and when play resumed, Bath almost scored. Roberts broke away, passed to Tomlinson, who, however, was brought down just short of the line by Terry Davies
Towards the end, Terry Davies, for Llanelly and Dolman, for Bath, missed penalties.”
v Moseley, Away, Lost 6-23. D Curtis, F Harrison, P Fale, D Silk , J Dolman, T Stones, P Dart, W Law, G Stent, J Roberts, F Thomas, F Book, I Beer, B Peasley, J Tomlinson.
The midlanders certainly had the edge over Bath, their dominant performance amassing 4 tries, one converted and an additional bonus of three drop goals. Bath looked sadly out of touch and were 14 points down at the interval. For Bath, Silk scored an unconverted try and Curtis dropped a goal from some 35 yards.
v Weston Super Mare, Home, Won 14-3. I Balding, F Harrison, D Curtis, D Silk, T Stones, B Weston, P Dart, W Law, G Stent, J Roberts, F Thomas, F Book, I Beer, B Peasley, R Blackmore.
Bath’s Curtis kicked Bath into the lead, when the visitors were adjudged to be off-side. Later, Harrison outpaced his opposite number for a good try. They continued to throw the ball about and a brilliant zig-zagging run saw, Dennis Silk slice through the Weston defence without a finger being laid on him. Curtis converted.
“The Bath forwards who had been rather slow generally, livened up towards the end of the game and from some good work by Book gathered and passed on to Blackmore who touched down for a good try. Curtis’s kick was just wide.”
v Devonport Services, Away, Lost 3-8. I Balding, F Harrison, D Silk, K O’Shaughnessy. T Stones, B Weston, P Dart, W Law, T Smith, J Roberts, F Thomas, F Book, I Beer, R Blackmore, B Peasley. Bath failed to take advantage of their opportunities and only John Robert’s penalty as reward for their strenuous afternoon’s rugby. Uncharacteristically, Dennis Silk failed with four attempts. Services held the initiative through the liveliness of their forwards, a good half-back combination, and better co-ordination in the backs. In contrast, Bath’s heeling was sluggish and the back line suffered from inconsistency in Dart’s passing from the base of the scrum. Beer was unlucky near the very end. In diving for the line, he touched the corner flag.
It was the first time that Devonport Services achieved ‘a double’ over the Bath club.
Silk was again, the strongest runner on the field, but, in the absence of effective support, make little progress. Lock forward Tom Jones, scored both of the home side’s tries, with Morgan converting.
v Bridgwater, Home, Drawn 3-3. I Balding, T Stones, D Curtis (1pg), R Collins, J Dolman, B Weston, P Dart, W law, T Smith, J Roberts, F Thomas, G Jones, R Blackmore, K Napier, B Peasley.
Bath Chronicle Headline:- DRAW JUST VERDICT IN BATH GAME OF LOOSE MAULS.
It was all rather negative stuff, and one verdict was that: “Neither side deserved to win a game like that.” Conditions were ideal: “In fact it was fair to expect a lot more entertainment than either side ever looked like giving.” Some of the forward performances were worthy of note, with John Roberts and Bill Law covering a great deal of ground; Frank Thomas was a “Titan” in the second row and Robin Blackmore, at lock, was always in the action. Notwithstanding this, Bath’s performance as a unit was a poor one. Winger Dolman had one great 50 yard dash, after being put away by Collins.
In summary: “Barratt kicked Bridgwater’s penalty after seven minutes, and Curtis replied for Bath three minutes later.”
v Newbridge, Away, Won 6-3. I Balding, J Dolman, D Silk, R Collins, T Stones, B Weston, P Dart, T Smith, D Bogie, J Roberts, W Law, F Thomas, R Blackmore, G Jones, B Peasley.
EVERYTHING WENT RIGHT – FOR 40 MINUTES!
“The first and second halves were as strikingly dissimilar as chord and discord, and it was very much to the credit of the lively Bath side that they dominated when the good rugby was being played.”
“The visiting pack moved quickly in the loose, it heeled rapidly in the tight-and used its power as a sole means to provide the most threatening, smoothest working Bath back division of the season with the opportunities which were there for the taking.
Dart gave a long, accurate service, Weston took it cleanly, moved easily and combined effectively with both Collins and Silk, whose high kicks were more trouble to the Newbridge defence than his strong, orthodox running.” Weston’s first half try certainly looked like a precursor of a sizeable scoring spree. The lead was further augmented when Collins kicked a penalty after some enterprising play.
“Then came the second half-and with it a change of initiative.” Bath were shoved back into their own 25 for long periods. Newbridge forced the pace – their forwards dominated. The Bath backs failed to penetrate, and were reduced to making some desperate clearances under pressure. Roy Davies kicked a penalty for the home side and looked like catching up, but Bath held on and were finally able to savour a rare Welsh victory, in a game of changing fortunes.
v Harlequins, Home, Won 6-0. I Balding, J Dolman, T Stones, D Silk, G Addenbrooke, B Weston, P Dart, T Smith, W Law, J Roberts, F Thomas, F Book, I Beer, R Blackmore, B Peasley.
BATH CHRONICLE:- “It Was Bath’s Finest Hour – A Win Against Quins”
There were certainly signs of improved form at the Newbridge game. Next, Bath exceeded expectations with one of their finest performances against the talented Harlequins side containing four internationals.
At the end of the game, an ecstatic crowd formed a 40 yard tunnel to applaud their heroes all the way to the dressing rooms.
“The back row covering was superb, the tackling of Weston and Stones was ruthlessly sure. In fact, it would be invidious to go on in such terms, so complete were Bath as a side, even during the fleeting periods when Harlequins got on top and the crowd whispered, ‘This is it.”
Dart scored the first try, after grabbing the ball from a five yard’s scrummage. He pounded through a morass of breaking forwards for a superb try.
Bath’s second had the ingredients of a story to be told to one’s children and grandchildren: “So it was that the final minute was entered with Dart about to put the ball into a tight scrummage, five yards from the Quins line.
Bath heeled, the ball went right to Silk. The big centre hesitated as if steadying himself for a drop kick-and then he made for the corner flag-sped through a gap in the Harlequins’ defence for a try which clinched the game.”
v London Hospitals, Home, Won 11-8. I Balding, J Dolman, D Silk, T Stones, G Addenbrooke, B A G Weston, G Sidoli, W Law, T H Smith, J W P Roberts, F J Thomas, F Book, I D S Beer, R G Blackmore, B J Peasley.
Bath led after 5 minutes, when Silk scored a cracking try; he made his way through the visitors’ defence with consummate ease. Although not moving at any great pace, his side-stepping movements had defenders grasping at air. John Roberts converted from in front of the posts. Hospitals replied with a goal and a try. (5-8 at half-time) Bath levelled soon after the restart, when Blackmore was credited with a push over try. Silk was again on the scoreboard with a 40 yard penalty – the last kick of the match.
v OMT’s, Home, Won 20-9. B Richards, T Stones, K O’Shaughnessy, G Addenbrooke, J Dolman, B Weston, P Dart, W Law, T Smith, J Roberts, G Jones, F Book, D Naylor, R Blackmore, B Peasley. Although one of the stronger Old Boys sides, O.M.T.’s, though starting well, were soundly beaten as Bath maintained their late season form.
Bath found themselves six points down two minutes from the start. The O.M.T.’s commenced with a first minute penalty and a second minute try! By the interval, Bath had levelled and went on to win by a goal and three tries and two penalty goals to two tries and a penalty. Bath tries by Stones (2) and Dolman (2), with Roberts converting one and kicking two penalties. John Dolman could not have played better in a Bath jersey. Aided and abetted by Guy Addenbrooke, beside him: “- he ran hard and with more heart than I have ever seen.”
Friday 26th April 1957
Bath Old Players’ Association XV v Bath Referees’ Society XV on the Rec. for the final night of the Seven-a-Side tournament. There were some disgruntled rugby supporters at the Sevens. The admission price had gone up from 6d to 1/-. The reason given was that the Bath Club had insured all competing sides.
Bath Old Players:- Ralph Banks, C R West, Jack Arnold, Joe Bailey, Charlie Bowell, Charlie Gough, N (Curly) Halse, Jim Vaissiere, Norman Matthews, Austin Higgins, George Brown, W (Bill) Barrow. Reserves:- Tommy Hicks and R (Bob) Ball.
Bath Referees:- Moores, Williams, Hurford, Collins, Jackson, Burt, Simpkins, Capper, Cridge, Evans, Warsop, Gardner, Lewis (T), Davies. Reserves:- Howard, Hayter, Coles and Morrison.
v Bedford, Away, Lost 8-9. I Balding, J Dolman, B Richards, D Curtis, D Ogden, B Weston, P Dart, W Law, D Bogie, J Roberts, F Thomas, F Book, I Beer, D Naylor, B Peasley. Bath sent a weakened team, but it was, nevertheless a surprising loss, as Bedford had been having an indifferent season. Bath were ahead at half-time. Curtis had run strongly to make a hole in the Bedford defence, allowing winger Dolman to cross over. Curtis added the extras. With the imminent end of season, Bath were in the mood to throw the ball around, but this abandon was part of their undoing, as Bedford ran in 3 tries. Despite late attempts to win back the initiative, Curtis’s excellent drop goal, only served to reduce the margin to a disappointing one point loss.
v Old Merchant Taylors was long serving prop Tom Smith’s last game. Full 1st XV record:
v Bedford, Away. Lost. A drab climax to the season, beaten by one of Bath’s weakest opponents.
DENNIS SILK WAS NAMED BATH PLAYER OF THE YEAR.
Both he and Ian Beer were former Cambridge University captains and did much to bolster up Bath’s results in the second half of the season.
CHRONICLE SEASON-END COMMENT: “……..Bath’s performance looked very early season-strong, but unskilful forward, slow and without much punch or much wisdom among the backs. That is hard-but true!”
“…….The pack started the season badly, did magnificently in the mud, after the hatchet changes in October-then fell away again on several occasions when the firm footing demanded a little more than graft and guts.”
Bath’s strength developed in the back row, with strong attack and defence upon the arrival of Ian Beer at blind-side. Other assets were the performances of Bryan Peasley, Jim Tomlinson, who made an early impression as a forward and Ian Smart who was consistently on top form.
Top appearances: J Roberts 38, John Dolman 35, Frank Thomas 34, Fred Book 27, Dave Curtis 26, Tom Smith 25, Bob Peasley 22, J Woods and W Law 20, P Dart 19, I Balding 18, T Stones, F Harrison, I Smart and G Drewett 17, D Silk 16 and Ian Beer 14.
58players were utilised for 1st XV.
Dave Curtis topped the points. In his 26 matches, he scored 76 points – 34 conversions, 27 penalties, 1 try and 12 drop goals. John Dolman was the top try scorer with 10 in 35 matches, followed by Frank Harrison with 9 in 17 appearances.