For the following season summary, we are indebted to former Bath Club player, John Edwards. At one time he was regular contributor to the Match Programme. In later days he remained active in coaching, bringing his Dorset & Wilts side, Minety Rugby Football Club, through from 3rd to 1st Division.
Four games at the beginning of the season in ten days was a big task for Kevin Andrews Bath side.
Weston Super Mare didn’t present any great difficulties. Both sides were trying to come to terms with laws regarding direct kicking into touch, but Bath out paced the Weston side who were unable to employ their normal spoiling tactics, Weston had a new No 8 one Peter Larter who was a successful goal kicker. Bath won easily by
33-3 and John Stevens writing in the Bath Chronicle rightly noted, “…I must reserve my opinion until I see the outcome of a clash between two more evenly balanced sides.”
He didn’t have to wait too long. The next Bath game was away to Llanelly (with “y” not an “i” in those days). For Bath No 8 Tony Comer made his debut and among his half back opponents was one B. John! Llanelly with many internationals in their side ran out easy winners by 35-5 despite being 5-0 down early in the game. It was clear that Welsh rugby was much more three-quarter orientated, rather than the forward based English game. In fact this game gave the first clue to the resurgence of Welsh rugby that was just about beginning and was to go on and produce the Welsh teams of the Seventies.
Two days later Bath met the touring Waterloo side that included England No 8 Alan Ashcroft and Dick Greenwood, future England selector and father of Will Greenwood the Leicester and England centre. Bath reverted to type played 10 man rugby until they got in sight of the line and then let the backs have the ball, it worked they won by 14-3.
Bath’s next test was against the star-studded Leicester side at Welford Road. The result was a sound beating by 31-8 disappointing as Bath had won the fixture at home the year before by 11-0. Captain Kevin Andrews who before long was to find himself playing for Leicester scored one of the Bath tries.
An interesting fact about rugby in the sixties was the County Championship. It was the stepping-stone to the English national side and every player was keen to get into the county side so that the national selectors would see them. Bath had many players in the Somerset and Dorset & Wilts county side in those days almost as many county players as they had international players in the Nineties!
Bath were more than capable of beating sides like Weston Super Mare, Stroud and Clifton, but the stronger English clubs, those we now see as Premier league clubs, and the Welsh sides usually had the beating of Bath. Having said that there is always one game at which the form book can be thrown away, Bath love playing Bristol. In the sixties Bristol were very successful led by their extraordinary captain John Blake who would run the ball from anywhere. Any new players coming to the area always chose Bristol as their team and consequently they always had a few internationals and this season, Richard Sharpe was the Bristol outside half. The game on the 17th October was extraordinary, Bath coming off the back of a drubbing by Devonport Services, put their illustrious neighbours under immense pressure, it was very much the Bath pack against the Bristol backs. In the end despite being in the lead Bath lost by six points 22-16, and those playing to this day believe that Northamptonshire referee J.Cyril disallowed a perfectly good Bath try which would have certainly meant that they would have recorded their first victory since 1955! With ten minutes to go it would have put Bath in the lead but a converted try in the last minute meant the Bristol hoodoo continued.
Not only that but it seemed to get to Bath who from mid-October to the end of December won only three games out of eleven the wins were against Old Cranleighans, United Services Portsmouth and Old Blues but they did achieve two draws with Saracens and London Irish. All was not well at the Rec, Bath had the forwards to match most sides but were let down in the backs who were somewhat pedestrian despite the presence of Geoff. Frankcom and the young Brendan Perry. Bath try as they might could not work as a team, individually they were a match for most sides but it was the critical area of teamwork that let them down.
The beginning of the New Year did Bath no favours as they faced the redoubtable London Welsh on the Rec. The Exiles were at the top of their form, led by John Dawes who was later to go on to lead the Lions on that famous “99” tour of South Africa. Bath were simply outpaced, out thought and out played. They went down by 26-6 and were lucky to get the 6!
The next game was against Metropolitan Police on the Rec and Bath playing their “best rugby of the season” overcame their visitors by 17-13. A good win considering that the Police had already beaten London Welsh. The game was also notable for being skipper Kevin Andrews last game for Bath before he left for a new job in Burton on Trent and a long career with Leicester. The Bath team must have made a special effort for him because a nightmare few weeks were to follow!
The young doctors of St Mary’s Hospital started the rot. Newly appointed captain Gordon Margretts, the teacher from Kingswood school, had a big job to weld a group of individuals into a team. The trainee doctors made sure that didn’t happen, their captain and scrum half Trevor Wintle who was later to play for England led Bath a merry dance. Bath allowed an 8-3 lead to be turned over in the last minute and the students ran out winners by a point. From this date in late January Bath did not win a game until 1st April.
Northampton were next up and after both teams and a crowd of 2,500 had stood for a minute’s silent tribute to Sir Winston Churchill Northampton started the game with only fourteen players due to a dressing room injury to full back Roger Hosen. It made no difference to them, led by England prop Ron Jacobs and supported by fellow internationals in Dickie Jeeps, Andy Hancock, and Bob Taylor; they managed to score thirteen points before they had their full complement of players. Bath finished on the wrong side of a 37-point beating!
They had to travel again the following week to Rosslyn Park who were themselves having a bad run of five consecutive defeats so perhaps Bath had a chance. No, only a fine performance by the Bath back row of Martland, Woolford and Hall kept Bath in the game that they finally lost by 13pts to 6.
Bath had finished their travels and the following Saturday great rivals Gloucester were the visitors to the Rec. Yet again the close rivalry in the West Country served to raise Bath’s game and despite their recent reversals, and helped by injuries to two Gloucester players, full back Hawker and scrum half Booth, Bath went very close to winning. Nil, nil at half time Bath took the lead with a try by schoolboy wing John Monahan only to be overhauled by two Gloucester tries one converted. A last minute try by captain Gordon Margretts put Bath in with a chance of a draw but unfortunately full back Mobley was unable to add the extra points. A chance to halt the run of defeats had been lost.
The Gloucestershire theme continued on Saturday 20th February, with Bath off up the A46 to Cheltenham, surely a game there for the winning. There was some doubt about the game being played after a heavy fall of snow early in the morning, fortunately by the time Mr. Windridge blew his whistle it had gone. Bath wished that they could perform a similar miracle, but alas they were completely unable to raise their game and they allowed Cheltenham to dictate the terms and subsequently as John Stevens reported in the Bath Chronicle “Bath crash to dismal Cheltenham defeat.
If Bath could not defeat a modest team like Cheltenham then the chances of beating London side Wasps looked pretty remote and so it proved to be. Despite having home advantage Bath were undone by a hat trick of tries by international wing Andy Hurst. It was a case again of the Bath forwards just about holding their own but the backs having no answer to the pace and innovative play of the Wasps backs. The final score of 19-9 to Wasps could have been much more but for the efforts of the Bath forwards.
Bristol was due to be the next visitors to the Rec but heavy falls of snow caused the game to be cancelled.
Fortunately only one game was lost to the weather and the Rec welcomed the tribes of Welshmen as Swansea came to town. This turned out to be a better game for Bath despite the fact that they were five points down in five seconds, new scrum half Jim Galley must have wondered what was happening. Full back Balding delayed his clearing kick just too long, it was charged down by Swansea second row forward Willis who recovered well to score the try, duly converted Bath were five points in arrears. They then competed extremely well and managed to restrict the powerful Swansea side to 18 points whilst scoring 12 points themselves including tries by O’Mara and Hall.
Welshmen never come alone and the following game was at Newbridge who were defending an unbeaten home record stretching back some eighteen months. Here was a major challenge for Bath. A very heavy ground, which had been inundated with rain, did not allow either side to play expansive rugby but the conditions, if anything, favoured the Bath forwards and so it proved to be. A very dour game was dominated by rough and tough forward exchanges, Bath debutante full back Allen Gay was put under a great pressure but managed to hold on to the ball when ever Emlyn Williams the Newbridge captain aimed kicks down field. Newbridge perhaps were moral winners having scored two tries, which Bath matched with a well taken drop goal by scrum half, Galley and a penalty kicked out of the glutinous mud by lock (No 8) Tony Comer. No matter Bath’s run of losses was brought a close by a 6-6 draw.
It was service as normal on the Rec the following week when Richmond were the visitors. Bath competing well were putting Richmond under great pressure, until five minutes before half time Tom Martland the Bath flanker had to leave the field with a gashed head. Richmond scrum half, Steve Smith, seized the initiative taking full advantage of Martland’s misfortune, and engineered two converted tries worth ten points that effectively won the game for his side. As soon as Martland returned equality was regained and Bath scored 12 points through a Nick Bruford try and three Tony Comer penalties to finally go down by 26 points to 12.
There was at last a glimmer of hope for the Bath side; new captain Gordon Margretts having suffered a baptism of fire (eight losses and one draw) could see some hope. What’s more the next game was on April Fool’s Day and Margretts was able to welcome back Bath’s latest international Geoff Frankcom. Against Weston Super Mare Bath were able to record their first win since the 16th January! Two startling tries by Frankcom helped Bath overcome their local rivals by 21 points to 3.
There was no time to enjoy the victory as two days later Bath were on the road to Birmingham to play Moseley. A late start didn’t seem to affect Bath too badly and they soon took the lead through a try by Margretts converted by Comer that gave them a halftime lead. Unfortunately they had missed a number of opportunities that were to prove costly. Moseley, never a team to give up, added two tries one converted to their first half penalty goal to run out winners by 11 points to 5. Bath though on their way back from Birmingham did not have too much time to dwell on the defeat, as the next game on the Rec in two days time was the 145th meeting with local rivals Bristol.
A Monday evening kick off, 4000 people in the ground the scene was set for an epic encounter and that is just what happened. Bath had made a few changes, captain Margretts moved to the wing to make way for Frankcom and O’Mara in the centre, with Nick Bruford on the other wing. In the pack, Lancastrian Pete Jenkins came in at prop, whilst in the second row Clive Armstrong replaced Peter Heindorff, who had moved back to No 8. The changes worked. Bath was on top from the whistle and was unfortunate to go behind to a dubious Mike Ellery try after 20 minutes but their heads did not go down. An Armstrong penalty from 40 yards brought Bath level and Geoff Frankcom was soon snapping up a Bristol fumble and a kick ahead was finished in style by flanker Martland. Bath was never to be behind again. Further tries from Bruford (2) and Frankcom one converted by Martland was more than Bristol could cope with and for the first time in ten years Bath had beaten Bristol!
There wasn’t much time to enjoy the victory as three days later Taunton were the visitors to the Rec. The Bath team showed only one change from the side that beat Bristol with John Parsons replacing Peter Heindorff at No 8. Bath despite playing their fourth game in eight days was up to the task. Taunton was not able to get through the Bath defences and was outscored by two tries to one. For the first time since the end of September Bath had won consecutive games.
The following Saturday saw Exeter visit the Rec and here surely was an opportunity to win three games on the trot, and that is just what Bath did. Exeter had former England wing Martin Underwood in their side playing at stand off and unfortunately he dislocated a shoulder and had to leave the field. No substitutes were allowed of course so Exeter had to play the last 60 minutes of the game with only 14 men. They made a good fist of it though and Bath only won (11-3) by scoring eight points in the final minutes of the game as the Exeter side ran out a steam. Still nobody cared, as it was now three consecutive games won. Could they keep it up over the Easter period?
Traditional visitors on Maunday Thursday were Harlequins who stopped off at Bath on the way to Wales for their traditional Easter tour. Four year before the Quins had inflicted on Bath their worst home defeat scoring 62 points and Bath were determined that no such mishap would happen again. The Quins side was normally full of internationals and they arrived at Bath by train often straight from the office in the City, they were the original “city-slickers”, the 6:15 pm kick off had some players running down Manvers Street getting changed! I haven’t a record of who was playing for the London side all I know is that Bath held their own losing in the end by two tries to one in a final score of 9 points to 6 to the Quins.
Bath was a great place to visit in the days of the rugby tour and the next tourists to visit on Easter Saturday were Liverpool. In 1965 they were a side to be reckoned with and so it proved. Bath were never allowed to get going the Liverpool side clearly enjoying their holiday were soon six points up after only 10 minutes play. Bath had gone back to their old ways and was performing as individuals rather than a team. Liverpool meanwhile was quite the opposite and improves a 6-0 half time lead by adding a further 13 points and Bath’s only reply being tries by winger Russell and outside half Brendan Perry.
On Easter Monday yet another touring side were the visitors in the shape of an Old Boy’s side from London, Old Merchant Taylor’s (OMT’s). Bath with a side showing seven changes from Saturday most notable blind side flanker, Tom Martland, playing in the centre and schoolboy debutante Johannes Zuipa from Midsomer Norton taking his place. The changes worked as Bath ran out winners by 22 points to 8 outscoring the Old Boys by six tries to one and Martland and Zuipa retained their places for the Rag Doll game against Llanelly the following day.
Bath showed just four changes for the evening kick off game. Bath had lost quite heavily earlier in the season to by 32 points so certainly had something to prove and prove it they did. Not only did Bath record their first win against a Welsh side this season but it was their largest win against Llanelly for many years. The Bath forwards were dominant and just did not allow their opponents into the game and as a result the Bath back row were able to harry their opponents unmercifully. As a result Bath ran in three tries from captain and winger Gordon Margretts, centre Brendan O’Mara and prop Peter Parfitt making his 243rd appearance for the club. Remarkably there were also two drop goals by Brendan Perry from some 45 yards and Tom Martland from his new position at centre! A fine victory by 19-6 meant that the Rag Doll was back at the Rec in time for the centenary season and it finished Bath’s season at home on a high.
Two visits to the Midlands finished off the season. Bedford was the first destination and due to a number of circumstances the home side were only able to field six first team regulars so the game should have been an away banker for Bath. Not so! Bedford who had a strong club side in the mid sixties, their no 8 David Perry was captain of England where he was accompanied by the redoubtable Budge Rogers, and their reserve strength was more than a match for a Bath side who didn’t travel very well. The Bedford side including a 17-year-old number 8 soon had Bath on the back foot and managed to gain lead of six points by half time. It was no better in the second half Bath were not allowed into the game and Bedford ran out winners playing festival rugby by 19 points to 6.
The curtain was brought down on the season with a visit to Coundon Road. Coventry was a strong side with the likes of Peter Robbins, Phil Judd and Herbie Godwin internationals all in their side and it showed. Bath finished a season, which had not been one of their best with their worst defeat by 33 points to nil.
Perhaps it is best to pull a discrete veil over a season that had provided 15 wins out of 46 games. In the month of April Bath had played eleven games, seven on the bounce at home great value for the spectators but perhaps the players had a slightly different view. Talking of value for spectators a member in the West Stand was expected to stump up some 30 shillings for the season, or £1.50, and for some inexplicable reason Ladies only paid one guinea or £1.05 for the season – that really represents value!
v Weston-super-Mare, Home. Won 33-9. Team:- C Harvey, J Donovan (2T), G Frankcom (T), G Margretts (T), J Monahan (T), B Perry (T), J Millman, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, P Heindorff (P, 2C), K Andrews, T Martland (2T), L Jenkins (C), P Hall.
An easy start for Bath, with both teams trying to adapt to the new Laws pertaining to off-side and direct kicking to touch. Clive Buckle dominated the scrums and skipper, Kevin Andrews provided a plentiful supply of line-out ball. The back row forwards were in fine fettle. Weston were “outpaced, out-shoved and out-thought.”
v Llanelly, Away, Lost 5-35. Team:- C Harvey, J Cousins, G Byas, G Margretts, J Monahan, B Perry, J Millman, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, P Heindorff, K Andrews, T Martland, A Comer and P Hall.
Llanelly:- R Clarke, R Morgan, J Butt, T Price, R Evans, B John, D Thomas, G Perrins, N Gale (Captain), B Gale, D Thomas, R Bourne, M Morgan, J Johns and J Leleu.
Bath scored their one well worked try in the first half. Margretts started by pouncing on a Llanelly fumble to send John Cousins away along the right wing. Cousins passed inside to Perry, who cross-kick was gathered by Kevin Andrews. He pressed on, and finally sent in Heindorff, for Smerdon to convert.
Apart from this brief moment of glory – it was all Llanelly. They provided a lesson in fluent open play, scoring 4 goals, 3 tries, a penalty and a drop goal. Bath appeared perplexed by the Scarlets’ speed and deceptive running epitomised by Morgan, Price, Evans and Barry John.
It was something of a precursor for great days of Welsh Rugby which were to follow.
Bath were shattered! Debut games for Comer and Byas.
Bath supporters were saddened to learn that hooker Pat Hill had decided to retire from Rugby. At this time, it was also learned that British Police prop, John West was going back to the Combe Down club. Neither were selected for the first two Bath games. Hill was a seasoned hooker, who had made something like 200 appearances for Bath and County. On his previous season’s form he was considered to be one of the top hookers in the country. He would now be contemplating playing ‘second fiddle’ to Clive Buckle, and coupled with business commitments, probably thought it was time to give up. “All concerned must consider that this was an unhappy end for a man whose rugby career probably gave Bath the best hooker they have ever had.”
West was also a significant loss; he had been with Bath for two seasons and had made a total of 36 1st XV appearances. In March 1964 he had lost his place to Bill Carling, stationed with the Welch Regiment in Wiltshire. Devon prop, Roger Smerdon, had also joined the Club, and his goal kicking ability, had also put him on a higher rung of selection consideration. Bath’s loss, was undoubtedly, Combe Down’s gain.
v Waterloo, Home, Won 14-3. Team:- C Harvey, R Farnham, G Byas, G Margretts (T), J Cousins, B Perry (T), J Millman, P Parfitt (T), C Buckle, R Smerdon (C), P Heindorff, K Andrews, T Martland, L Jenkins (P), P Hall.
After the Llanelly mauling, Bath tightened up their game, playing “sensible rather than spectacular football.” Fly half Brendan Perry kicked astutely – only handing on to his centres near the opposing line. All the forwards performed well within the game plan, and provided an adequate supply of the ball when in clearly advantageous positions. Margretts was very much the general in his centre berth, and his fifth minute try came with “a dazzling burst of acceleration.” Smerdon added the extras. Margretts also initiated the attacks which brought tries for Perry and Parfitt. Leighton Jenkins added a penalty late on.
v Leicester. Home. Lost 8-31. Team:- C Harvey, J Donovan, G Margretts, G Frankcom, J Cousins, B Perry, J Millman, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, P Heindorff, K Andrews, G Leyshon, L Jenkins, P Hall. Plus a PENALTY TRY.
Bath got off to an abysmal start, never recovering after Tigers’ opening penalty in the ninth minute. They were 0-18 down at half-time; they could do little right, and any developing attacks were easily repulsed. In contrast, Leicester looked dangerous whenever they had the ball – and that was most of the game! Despite never looking like scoring, Kevin Andrews did take advantage of an opportunity, when winger Bird failed to field a shallow kick, and Bath’s burly second row forward raced through for an unconverted try. Bath stood up to incessant pressure, but Donovan and Jenkins did figure in one spirited fight back. Cousins was then obstructed going for the line and a penalty try was awarded. Smerdon converted. Two further Leicester tries followed. Generally speaking, Bath looked ponderous, out of form, and out of luck.
v Stroud, Home. Won 18-11. Team:- R Brown, D Dolman, G Frankcom, G Byas, J Cousins, B Perry, C Shinner, R Smerdon, S Royal, D Robson, K Andrews, P Heindorff, R Hindsaw, L Jenkins, and P Hall.
County calls and injuries accounted for five of the missing first choice selections. In a robust game, the visitors pressed hard at forward. It required a lovely break by Frankcom, to send away John Cousins for the opening try, which Smerdon converted.. However, two Bath indiscretions allowed Hillier to establish a visitors’ lead of 6- 5 on half-time.
Bath came back into the game with splendid tries by David Dolman and Leighton Jenkins, the first from a break by Brendan Perry, and the second initiated by another electrifying run by Frankcom. Smerdon converted both. Stroud rallied and Venn scored when he fell on the ball from a charge down, and Hillier added the extras. Stroud stepped up the pressure and Bath were lucky to survive a sweeping movement, when ten of the visitors handled.
One last Bath effort brought just reward. Phil Hall had broken away smartly, but was dispossessed. Roger Smerdon was up in support and touched down for the final try.
Scrum-half, Shinner’s service had been somewhat erratic, but he had a generally satisfactory game. Hindshaw came through this baptism of fire with considerable credit.
v Ebbw Vale, Away. Lost 3-16. Team:- C Harvey, J Donovan, G Byas, G Margretts, J Cousins, G Frankcom, C Shinner, R Smerdon, C Buckle, P Parfitt, K Andrews, P Heindorff, G Leyshon, M Eley and P Hall. Early on, Bath lost the services of Geoff Frankcom, with a wrist injury. The anticipated tough struggle was therefore compounded by being a player short for the greater part of the game. There was an exchange of penalties to tie the score at half-time, Heindorff doing the Bath honours. Unfortunately, this was the end of Bath’s scoring contributors, as the ‘steelmen’ ratcheted up their 16 points. It had not been a good day, and the view from this particular high spot, was neither impressive nor inviting.
v St. Mary’s Hospital, Home. Won 11-8. Team:- R Brown, J Donovan, G Byas, G Margretts, J Cousins, B Perry, Chris Atchison (Avonvale), P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, P Heindorff, P Venn, R Hindshaw, L Jenkins and P Hall.
Bath snatched a hard earned victory in an incident packed game. The quick thinking and enthusiastic ‘medics’ occasionally rocked the Bath pack back on their heels. They were wining a good supply of ball in the line-out, and were quick to pounce on any loose ball. Their lively performance brought a try for prop Ken Heaton, which Thomas converted. Shortly after, he added a 40 yard penalty and Bath were beginning to struggle. They certainly had cause to be grateful to their new full-back, Bob Brown, who was outstanding in his first-half defensive work.
Good work by hooker, Buckle and prop Parfitt in the tight, allied to the skills of Jenkins, Hall and Heindorff in the loose, gradually brought Bath into the game. After a shaky start, debutante Chris Atchison, from Avonvale, struck up a useful partnership with Perry. Indeed, it was Perry who reduced the deficit with a neat blind-side try, and he continued to test St. Mary’s defence with some probing runs. However, centres Margretts and Byas were closely marked and could make little progress.
At last, a break-through as Perry hoisted an ‘up and under,’ to the right flank. Left winger John Cousins had come across, accepted the offer gratefully and touched down in the corner. Jenkins levelled with the conversion kick.
Leighton Jenkins finally settled the issue: “Three minutes from the end, amid groans, he missed a simple penalty for obstruction he would normally have kicked with his eyes shut, but soon afterwards he succeeded with a longer, more difficult goal after St. Mary’s had been caught off-side.”
v Clifton, Away. Won 33-3. Team:- G Mobley, J Cousins, G Frankcom(Capt.) (T, 3C), G Margretts (2T), J Donovan (T), B Perry (2T,DG), C Atchison, P Parfitt, C Buckle, D Robson, P Venn, Roy Hayes (ex Taunton), T Martland (T), R Woolford and P Hall (T).
Bath dominated at Clifton, totting up three goals, five tries, and a drop goal to a one penalty reply.
Newcomer, Atchison, made a number of darting runs. Clive Buckle won all but half a dozen of the set scrums – irrespective of who was putting in! Tom Martland and Phil Hall were at the peak of their form and both figured in the try scoring spree. Frankcom and Margretts were able to tease Clifton’s fragile defence at will.
v Aberavon, Home. Lost 3-28. Team:- R Brown, J Donovan, G Margretts, G Frankcom (Capt.) (T), J Cousins, B Perry, C Atchison, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, P Heindorff, P Venn, T Martland, R Woolford and P Hall.
Aberavon were a well organised team – Bath a collection of individuals. In the forwards, Buckle performed well, and Heindorff provided adequate line-out ball. However, the Bath backs were unable to penetrate the Wizard’s defence. The Bath back row worked hard enough, but forward support for the back division was lacking. Bath’s only try came from Frankcom’s individual effort.
“Moreover, they taught Bath a very severe lesson in the art of taking chances, with a concerted team effort whenever it was needed, rather than spasmodic individual attempts.” (John Stevens, BATH CHRONICLE)
v Devonport Services, Away. Lost 6-25. Team:- R Brown, J Cousins, B O’Mara, G Margretts, J Donovan, B Perry, C Atchison, P Parfitt, C Buckle, D Robson, P Heindorff (T), K Andrews, T Martland, L Jenkins (DG), and P Hall. Bath lost by 2 goals, 5 tries to 1 try and a drop goal.
The Services scored a simple try within five minutes of the start. Full-back Bob Brown sustained a nose injury, trying to prevent the score, and was carried off. Leighton Jenkins moved to back, so the already hard pressed forwards were one short. Further pressure from the Services brought four tries by half-time. In all, the Bath line was crossed seven times. Leighton Jenkins landed a magnificent drop goal twenty minutes from time, and Perry set up a try for Heindorff – but it was too little – too late.
v Bristol. Lost 16-22. Team:- R Brown (2C, P), J Cousins, T Martland, G Margretts, J Donovan, B Perry (DG), C Atchison, P Parfitt, C Buckle, D Robson, P Venn, K Andrews, R Woolford (T), P Heindorff, P Hall (T). Bath tries from Ray Woolford and Phil Hall. Drop goal Brendan Perry. Penalty goal and two conversion from Brown.
This was Richard Sharp’s first game for Bristol, but he did little to enliven a generally scrappy encounter. Bath were in the lead for a good part of the game, but their play became negative in the later stages. Centre Tom Martland and outside half Brendan Perry deserved better support. Bath could so easily have been the winners. Nearing the finish, John Cousins had galloped down the left wing and kicked ahead. Margretts and Martland raced for the ball and to all and sundry – Margretts appeared to have touched down. Referee J Cyril (Northants), adjudged otherwise. After this Bath became demoralised. Sharp worked ‘a scissors,’ to send in Blake, for White to convert.
Not a fair result – if you lived this side of Saltford!
v Old Cranleighhans, Home. Won 41-3. Team:- G Mobley (2p, 4C), A Pembrooke (T), G Margretts (T), G Byas (2T), J Donovan (2T), B Perry, C Atchison, R Smerdon (2T), E Patton, D Robson, K Andrews, P Heindorff, T Martland (T), R Woolford and P Hall.
Bath’s ‘wake-up’ call came when the old boys scored a try within five minutes. A succession of nine Bath tries was to follow, as Old Cranleighans were well and truly outclassed. An uneven contest, but it was none the less creditable, in view of the number of first choice absentees through County calls and injuries.
v Bridgwater, Away. Lost 14-22. Team:- R Brown (2P, C), J Donovan (T), G Margretts, G Byas, J Cousins (T), B Perry, C Atchison, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, K Andrews, P Heindorff, T Martland, R Woolford and P Hall.
Bath’s scoring was confined to the first half, and the visitors led 14-11 at the break. At the re-commencement, Bridgwater hammered at the Bath defence and were rewarded with two more tries, one converted. Bridgwater retained their unbeaten record, with Ball scoring 3 penalties, 2 tries and 2 conversions, i.e. all but 3 points of the homesters’ total tally. He was indeed – Man of the Match!
v Bridgend, Away. Lost 8-31. Team:- G Mobley, A Pembrooke, G Margretts, A Treloar, R Farnham, B Perry, A Atchison, P Parfitt, C Buckle, D Robson, K Andrews, R Hayes, R Woolford, P Venn and P Hall.
This was quite a challenge, as their hosts had experienced a run of 30 games without defeat. Bath trailed 8-10 at half time. Phil Hall had been the try scorer after good work by Margretts. Mobley converted and soon afterwards, added a fine 35 yard penalty goal. There was a glimmer of unexpected success. However, they did not reckon on the brilliance of Welsh International Keith Bradshaw. A pass from Margretts went astray: “Up swept Bradshaw to hack the ball past the advancing three-quarters and then sprint after it as if he was after an Olympic gold medal.
He beat fullback Gordon Mobley and set off with an amazing touchline dribble in which he repeatedly avoided defenders, with an ease which would have been a credit to Stanley Matthews.
He touched the ball with his hands for the first time after 80 breath-taking yards – to score a spectacular try which he also converted.
A fluke perhaps it was; but it was the last straw which broke the camel’s back. A gallant Bath side, carrying no fewer than eight reserves, had the wind completely taken out of its sails.
Their drive and cohesion deserted then and Bridgend, with greater all-round skill and speed, proceeded to hand out the hammering everyone had expected in the first place.”
v Neath, Home. Lost 11-32. Team:- R Brown (C,P), J Donovan (2T), G Margretts, G Byas, A Pembrooke, B Perry, C Atchison, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, K Andrews, P Heindorff, R Woolford, L Jenkins and P Hall.
“Although guaranteed a good share of possession by their pack, Bath’s threequarters inspired little confidence, timing passes poorly and seldom beating their men.” (BATH CHRONICLE)
Bath backs were unsettled throughout, largely due to the liveliness of the Neath back row.
Donovan’s first try is worthy of record: “Then, as if to make up for their poor showing so far, Perry produced a superb outside break which split the Welshmen’s defence. After Margretts had handled, Donovan battered his way up the touchline and ran round to touch down between the posts for Brown to convert. Neath were momentarily stunned, having thought Margrett’s final pass was forward.”
v Saracens, Home. Drawn 6-6. Team:- I Balding, J Donovan (T), B O’Mara, A Pembrooke, A Treloar, R Horrocks, J Millman, P Jenkins, E Patton, R Smerdon, K Andrews (T), P Heindorff, T Martland, L Jenkins and P Hall.
This was an improved team effort, yielding 2 tries to Saracens drop goal and penalty. Bath got off to a particularly bad start, as the visitors’ points were scored within the first 6 minutes. For the rest of the game it was catch up rugby. They were level by the 38th minute with a fine try by Kevin Andrews, but Balding missed the conversion from an easy position. Bath pressed on, and after a good run by Donovan, were level right on half time. However, Saracens survived repeated Bath attacks in the second half, in which Treloar, Heindorff and Millman were prominent.
v Pontypool, Away. Lost 13-30. Team:- R Brown (2C,P), J Donovan, G Margretts, B O’Mara, B Perry, I Balding, J Millman, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon (T), K Andrews, P Heindorff (T), T Martland, L Jenkins and P Hall.
Another poor performance against a Welsh side, once more highlighting a lack of team play and determination. Again, Bath got off to a bad start. In less than a minute, the Pontypool full back, Daniel, scored after a neat break by fly-half Benny Jones. Bath were reduced to a defensive role, as Clive Rowlands and Jones tested the Bath line. They were outplayed at forward, despite a spirited rally led by Smerdon and Martland, and were 0-14 down by half time. They revived briefly in the second half; Balding made a break, sending on Parfitt, who fed Heindorff, who crashed over for Brown to convert. Pontypool continued to improve on their score, but Bath had the last word, when Smerdon scored at the very end, for Brown to add the extras.
v United Services, Portsmouth, Home. Won 37-3. Team:- R Brown (P, 5C), J Donovan (T), A Treloar (T), B O’Mara (T), J Cousins (T), I Balding (2T), J Millman, R Smerdon (T), E Patton, P Jenkins, P Heindorff, K Andrews, T Martland, R Woolford and P Hall (T). Bath played an open game, with each threequarter scored 1 try and fly-half Balding 2 tries. From the start the Services were hustled off the ball, and in contrast to recent dreadful performances, a team effort was very evident. Phil Hall figured prominently in linking play.
v London Scottish, Away. Lost 3-15. Team:- I Balding, J Cousins, G Margretts, B O’Mara, J Donovan (T), B Perry, J Millman, F Williams, C Buckle, R Smerdon, P Heindorff, K Andrews, P Jenkins, R Woolford, and P Hall.
Bath went down at Richmond by 2 tries and 3 penalties to 1 try. The Exciles fielded eight Internationals, and were enjoying an outstanding season. Scott’s Cameron Boyle had a successful kicking afternoon, despite the heavy, greasy ball. The Bath eight performed heroically against a massive London Scottish pack, which included the mighty Mike Campbell-Lamerton.
Kevin Andrews kept his pack together, and gained a goodly share of line-out ball. Buckle, Smerdon, Jenkins and Hall were outstanding. In the backs, O’Mara, and Margretts tackled fearlessly, and John Donovan was rewarded with a late try. The Scottish scored two tries to Bath’s one, but Boyle’s kicking made for a wide margin.
v Gloucester, Away. Lost 3-13. Team:- R Mobley, A Treloar, B O’Mara, G Margretts, J Donovan (T), B Perry, J Millman, R Smerdon, C Buckle, P Parfitt, K P Andrews, P B H Heindorff, P Jenkins, T Martland and P Hall. Don Rutherford was in commanding form at full back, snuffing out any tentative Bath forays. Micky Booth linked well with his back row; this despite the fact that he was playing with odd sizes in boots. Evidently, one of his feet was swollen!
John Donovan added to his leading try tally, but there was little else to enthuse over, for the small crowd of faithful supporters who journeyed to Kingsholm. “There was to be no concerted Bath revival.”
v London Irish, Home. Drawn 9-9. Team:- I Balding (P), J Cousins, G Margretts, A Treloar, J Donovan (T), B Perry (T), J Millman, P Jenkins, C Buckle, P Parfitt, K Andrews, P Heindorff, T Martland, R Woolford and P Hall. “A remarkable second half fight-back earned Bath a creditable draw on the Recreation Ground on Saturday in a game which was as exciting as it was completely unpredictable.”
“Seldom, however, was there a game where the dominance changed hands quite so quickly and it is still a puzzle why the Irish let things slip so badly.” (JOHN STEVENS – BATH CHRONICLE)
In the first spell, the Irish kept Bath under constant pressure, and at half time, Bath were 3 tries down, to one Ian Balding penalty.
BATH REVIVE – WAS IT THE TEAM TALK OR THE LEMONS?
Into the second half – and a complete turn-about in more senses than one. The Bath pack dominated: Hooker, Clive Buckle quickly made up the early leeway in the scrums, skipper Kevin Andrews jumped well in the line-out, and Phil Hall, almost a lone forager in the first half, was joined more often by Peter Parfitt, Peter Jenkins and Tom Martland.” John Donovan was “inspirational,” sending in Brendan Perry after a typically bulldozing run. “And in the last quarter Donovan himself put Bath level with a glorious try, scored after he had been put away by Gordon Margretts and had sprinted 30 yards, beating full-back Mick Byrne in the process.”
It was a closely fought dual to the very end, with memorable contributions from Balding, Cousins and, again – that man Donovan.
v Old Blues, Home. Won 51-0. Team:- Balding, D Dolman, G Margretts, G Frankcom, J Donovan, B Perry, J Millman, D Robson, C Buckle, P Parfitt, K Andrews, C Armstrong , R Woolford, P Heindorff and P Hall. A Festive romp. Not so nice for the Old Blues! A feast of tries, but unfortunately, former sprint champion, John Cousins chipped a shoulder bone and would be out for some time. Amongst the tries were:- Balding, Dolman, Margretts, Frankcom (2), Donovan (3), Perry, Andrews, and P Hall (3). Conversions:- Balding 4, Armstrong 2.
Snow and ice intervened. Bath v Cheltenham cancelled
v Leicester, Away. Lost 8-11. Team:- M Rees, J Monahan, D Dolman, I Balding , J Donovan, B Perry, J Millman, P Jenkins, C Buckle, P Parfitt, K Andrews, C Armstrong (C), T Martland, P Heindorff and P Hall (T). Lost by 1 goal and 2 tries to 1goal and 1 try.
The victor was in doubt until the end. Twice Bath pulled back after conceding scores. Leicester mounted the early attacks, but good work by Balding and Parfitt saved situations. Bath’s mobile back-row forwards did much to disrupt the Leicester play, and the home side resorted to defensive kicking at almost every opportunity. Tigers were the first to score, when scrum-half Allen broke away and kicked ahead. Amid general confusion, Tom got the touchdown, which was not converted. Balding, playing well at centre, levelled after racing through to charge down Chilton’s attempted clearance kick.
Leicester came back very strongly after the restart with a try by Raine, converted by Chilton.
Next, Hall took advantage of defensive slowness and scored a well earned try, which Armstrong converted. Parity was short lived, as Chilton ‘made the extra man,’ giving Bussey an easy run in.
Unfortunately time ran out for Bath, after Perry had produced two dazzling breaks, and Dolman had missed with a last minute drop goal attempt.
v R.A.F., Home. Lost 3-6. Team:- M Rees, P Wakefield, A Treloar, D Dolman, A Russell, I Balding, C Atchison, R Smerdon, C Buckle, P Parfitt, K Andrews, C Armstrong, P Jenkins, P Heindorff and P Hall. Bath deserved a draw – at the very least. Allen Treloar, and Bath were left to reflect on a drop goal that never was, or rather, a drop goal that was – but was not allowed. The competing players saw it, the crowd saw it – but the Referee did not. He was reported to be ‘unsighted.’ Whether the crowd concluded from this, that he was near sighted or short sighted or possibly – partially sighted, if he did not see the ball sail between the posts – he could not award a drop goal. In the best Bath tradition (at that time), the decision was accepted without protest. Phil Hall scored Bath’s try.
v London Welsh, Home. Lost 6-26. Team:- M Rees, J Monahan, D Dolman, G Margretts, J Donovan (T), I Balding, J Millman, P Jenkins, C Buckle, P Parfitt, K Andrews, C Armstrong (P), T Martland, P Heindorff and P Hall.
Bath were well and truly outplayed, the Exciles providing an object lesson in passing and running. With some delightful, flowing movements, they crossed the Bath line 6 times. John Donovan again managed a try and Armstrong kicked a penalty. Balding and Margretts were solid in defence and Hall strove manfully to give assistance. Tom Martland initiated breaks from the scrum, but his efforts were often wasted by subsequent poor handling. For London Welsh, international – John Dawes was in control. His fellow backs were faster, fitter – and in a different class.
v Metropolitan Police, Home. Won 17-13. Team:- C Harvey, J Monahan, A Treloar, B O’Mara, J Donovan, I Balding, J Millman, P Jenkins, C Buckle, R Smerdon , K Andrews, R Marson, T Martland, P Heindorff and P Hall. Referee John Wride (ex Bath and Walcot player)
This was undoubtedly, one of Bath’s better games, and an outstanding one for Ian Balding playing at fly-half.
Skipper Kevin Andrews was presented with a silver tankard to commemorate his last game for Bath, before moving away on a career promotion. That weekend he was also presented with the gift of a daughter!
The Bath pack had a splendid game, with notable performances by Hall and Martland in back row action, and Richard Marson and Andrews in the line-out. John Donovan added his ‘usual’ to the try scoring efforts of Balding, K Andrews and Martland. Roger Smerdon converted one and kicked a penalty.
Notwithstanding it being a ‘bone of contention’ in local circles, Bath Committee decided to continue fielding an ‘A’ XV.
v St. Mary’s Hospital, Away. Lost 8-9. Team:- C Harvey, J Monahan, A Treloar, G Margretts (Capt.), B O’Mara (T), I Balding, J Millman, R Smerdon, C Buckle, P Parfitt, P Heindorff (P,C), R Marson, T Martland, R Woolford, P Hall.
A disappointing loss for new captain Gordon Margretts, and a disastrous run of losses was to follow. His side let chances go to waste in the first half, and the forwards could not keep up the pace in the second. Exceptional individual effort by Phil Hall, Tom Martland and Peter Parfitt was not enough to allow Bath to dictate terms, and the young Hospital side snatched victory with two scores in the last ten minutes.
v Northampton, Away. Lost 0-37. Team:- C D S Harvey, J Donovan, G Margretts, A Treloar, J Monahan, I A Balding, J Millman, P J K Parfitt, C Buckle, P S Jenkins, J B Farrer, P Venn, T D Martland, R Woolford and P Hall. The attendant crowd of 2500 observed a minute’s silence in honour of the late Sir Winston Churchill. Bath might have hoped the interval would be longer, as they seemed ill prepared for the onslaught that followed. Despite being a man short at the start, the Saints waded in with tries by Dickie Jeeps, Roger Taylor and Savage, two converted by Page. By half time they were 21 points down, after tries by Page and Jeeps, one converted. “Northampton’s speed and experience were proving altogether too much for the visitors, who, however, continued to fight, with great spirit. They were seeing little of the ball, and were unable to cover in time to check Northampton’s repeated attacks.” Northampton scored 9 tries, 5 converted. After a delay of 25 minutes, Gerry Allen had filled Hosen’s full-back spot. Roger had been kicked on the calf during the pre-match warm-up.
v Rosslyn Park, Away. Lost 6-13. Team:-C D S Harvey, J Donovan, A Treloar, G Margretts, J Monahan (T), I A Balding, J Millman, R G Smerdon, C Buckle, P S Jenkins, P B H Heindorff (P), R B Marson, T D Martland, R Woolford and P Hall.
Bath defence was “all at sea” at Roehampton, and the visitors found England international winger John Ransom, too hot to handle. His first half try, converted by Grace, was countered with a Heindorff penalty. (3-5 at half-time) In the second half, Rosslyn Park were ten points up, following a converted try by Hoole and another fine effort from Ransom. Finally, Margretts broke away, handled to Balding, then on to Treloar, who sent in John Monahan in the corner. It was an entertaining game, but Bath remained, stuck in a bad patch – with Gloucester to follow!
v Gloucester, Home. Lost 6-8. Team:- G Mobley, N Bruford, A Treloar, J Margretts (T), J Monahan (T), I Balding, J Millman, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, P Heindorff, R Marson, T Martland, P Winchcombe and P Hall. There was no score at half-time, but with two men off injured, things looked black for Gloucester. However, they were soon restored to full strength and staged a magnificent come back for a narrow victory. Monahan opened the try score when he outstripped the cover defence. Then Foice put Gloucester level, Teague missing the conversion. However, he was successful when scrum-half Groves scrambled over. (3-8). “Bath swarmed back into the attack, and after a smart effort by Hall, Balding was almost over between the posts.
The Bath pressure did not go unrewarded, for following another line-out success, Balding kicked ahead diagonally to the right.
The defence managed to hold the flying Bruford, but Margretts nipped up to score. Mobley could not convert so Gloucester still led by two points.” (BATH CHRONICLE)
v Cheltenham, Away. Lost 0-14. Team:- I Balding, N Bruford, G Margretts, A Treloar, J Monahan, B Perry, J Millman, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, R Marson, P Heindorff, T Martland, P Winchcombe and P Hall.
Aptly described as a dismal defeat, Bath had no reply to Cheltenham’s 1 goal, 1 try, a penalty goal and a drop goal. Balding was noticed for his clearances under pressure, and there were forays by Perry, Margretts and Martland. Unfortunately, Hall was off with a mouth injury, for the whole of the second half, and Bath showed little cohesion. Perry, largely neglected to employ the tactical kick-ahead, and consequently, Bath were seldom within striking distance.
v Wasps, Home. Lost 9-19. Team:- I Balding, N Bruford, G Margretts, B O’Mara, J Monahan, B Perry (T), J Millman, R Smerdon (2P), C Buckle, P Jenkins, R Marson, R Hayes, A Comer, P Winchcombe and T Martland.
Bath were outplayed by a back division, inspired by international Andy Hurst, who scored a hat-trick of tries. Smerdon reduced the deficit with two penalties for Bath, but it was Perry’s try which caught the eye: “Perry began and ended the move. He picked up a loose ball on his own 25 and raced upfield to link up with Martland. The wing forward, on the left touch-line, cross kicked on being hemmed in, and, though O’Mara could not gather, the fly half was there to put the finishing touches to a splendid move.”
v Bristol cancelled – Snow.
v Swansea, Home. Lost 12-18. Team:- I Balding, N Bruford, G Margretts, B O’Mara (T), J Monahan, B Perry, J Galley, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon (P), P Heindorff, R Marson, T Martland, A Comer (P) and P Hall (T).
Swansea started with a sensational try within five seconds of the kick-off. Balding was slow to gather, and Willis raced through to touch down the loose ball. Ferguson converted.
Jim Galley, on his debut game, was worrying the Swansea defence, which finally led to O’Mara dribbling over from a visitor’s stray pass. Then Weaver completed the first half try scoring, after some Balding and Galley hesitation. Again, Ferguson converted. (H.T. 3-10)
In the second half, Smerdon improved matters with a penalty and Hall bagged an unconverted try. They were further rewarded with a 40 yard penalty from Tony Comer, but Swansea had crossed their line four times and converted three. Nevertheless, it had been a good fight back, considering the dreadful start!
Jim Galley had emerged from Bristol Cathedral School, where former Bristol Club scrum-half, Eric Blackman was a teacher. No doubt, Galley would prove to be in the same mould. Clive Buckle was also an Old Cathedralian, while Roger Smerdon was Galley’s former vice-captain at St. Luke’s College.
Popular United skipper, Paul Venn was returning to Plymouth, and rather than cause team disruption, had sportingly agreed to travel up for the remainder of the season.
Ian Balding was to depart, to take up his race-horse training duties upon the arrival of the ‘flat season.’
Enter – Allen Gay from Walcot, brother to David, and son of ex- Police Sergeant Bill Gay, who was a regular wing forward in the late 1930’s. Bill was elected Club Captain for the 1939-40 season, but unfortunately the Second World War intervened, and he was called to essential duties.
There was welcome news, that winger John Edwards, formerly St. Lukes College, was returning to the area, and hoped to play next season. Edwards, a teacher, was hoping to get a position in the Bath area.
v Newbridge, Away. Drawn 6-6-. Team:- A Gay, N Bruford, B O’Mara, G Margretts, J Monahan, B Perry, J Galley (DG), P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon, P Heindorff, R Marson, T Martland, A Comer (P) and P Hall.
It was Phil Hall’s 150th game for the Bath 1st XV.
“Bath put up a great fight against Newbridge who have not been beaten at home since October, 1963, and at half-time were drawing in a rugged dour encounter in the mud after both sides had missed possible scoring opportunities.” (BATH CHRONICLE) A debut game for full-back Allen Gay, who performed creditably in testing, wet and windy conditions. He even managed a fine touchline run, in combination with Perry. Newbridge scored two tries, but Bath kept up a constant pressure and came close to crossing on a number of occasions. The scoring was left to Galley who snapped a neat drop goal, and Tony Comer with a penalty to tie the game. It was a creditable performance against a successful Welsh side.
v Richmond, Home. Lost 12-26. Team:-A Gay, N Bruford (T), G Margretts, B O’Mara, J Monahan, B Perry, J Galley, P Parfitt, C Buckle, P Jenkins, P Heindorff, R Marson, T Martland, A Comer (3P’s), P Hall.
Just over five minutes into this game, and Martland was off for head injury repairs. During this short period, the visitors took advantage of defensive gaps, and added two converted tries to their early penalty goal. (0-13) Bath’s fortunes revived somewhat, aided by three penalty goals from Comer and Nick Bruford’s try, but they could not pick up from their early set-back. Richmond ran in three more tries, converting two. Buckle, Marson and Heindorff, battled well throughout.
v Weston-super-Mare, Away. Won 21-3. Team:- A Gay, J Monahan, G Margretts, G Frankcom (2T), A Russell, B Perry, J Galley, D Robson, C Buckle, P Parfitt, C Armstrong (C,P), J Parsons, T Martland (T), P Heindorff (T,2C’s), P Hall. Referee Mike Titcombe (Glos.)
A welcome re-appearance for newly capped, Geoff Frankcom, with a personal contribution of two tries, and an involvement – in most of the action, and all but three of Bath’s points. His acceleration and well timed passing played a major part in Bath’s return to winning ways. Perry gained in confidence, linking well, and relishing his reunion with his illustrious inside centre.
v Moseley, Away. Lost 5-11. Team:- A Gay, A Russell, G Margretts (T), P Jones, J Monahan, B Perry, J Galley, R Smerdon, C Buckle, P Parfitt, P Heindorff, R Marson, T Martland, A Comer (C) and P Hall.
Margretts scored 20 minutes into the game, and Comer converted. Bath forwards dominated most of the first half, but a number of scoring chances were missed. Just on half time Moseley narrowed the gap with an easy penalty. Bath lost Comer with a suspected chipped anklebone. In this second spell, the visitors revived, scored two tries, converting one of them.
v Bristol, Home. Won 17-12. Team:- A Gay, Margretts, O’Mara, Frankcom, N Bruford, Perry, Galley, P Parfitt, Buckle, Smerdon, C Armstrong, Marson, Martland, Heindorff, and P Hall. (Evening match, re-arranged from original March date) Bristol included John Blake (Try) at centre, Richard Sharp at outside-half, John Pullin at hooker and the lofty Dave Watt in the second row.
It was Bath’s first win over Bristol rivals since 16th October 1954 when they won 5-3. During that period, Bristol had been top dogs at 20 encounters. Bath certainly pulled out all the stops, bearing in mind their indifferent performances, and lying last but three in the BBC rugby merit table.
“For, in 80 action-packed, tingling minutes and watched by a crowd of about 4000, they proceeded to outplay their old rivals in the finer points of the game. Only some majestic kicking by Richard Sharp kept the visitors within striking distance at all.
Bath, more imaginative outside the scrum, utterly dominant in the back row, were the undoubtedly masters, a fact which becomes more emphatic when one considers they scored four tries to Bristol’s one.” (JOHN STEVENS – BATH CHRONICLE)
It was a long awaited team triumph in sharp contrast to a run of recent disasters.
“Geoff Frankcom who was celebrating his birthday, played a vital part in the victory perhaps, but he was for once, only an integral part of a fighting effort from everyone, from hooker Clive Buckle to full-back Allen Gay. The forwards were in tremendous form and undoubtedly laid the foundations for success by their first-class backing up.
In the set scrums John Pullin did gain Bristol an edge, winning the loose head 6-3, yet so tigerishly did Bath struggle for the ball in the loose, that extra possession did Bristol little good.
Props Peter Parfitt and Peter Jenkins, worked their hearts out and their locks, Richard Marson and Clive Armstrong jumped and scrummaged as if their very lives depended on it.” (JOHN STEVENS)
In addition to a general all-round improvement, Geoff Frankcom, Jim Galley and Brendan Perry had outstanding games. Bath epitomised strength through team-work.
Bath tries:- Frankcom, Bruford (2), and Martland. Armstrong kicked a penalty and Martland one conversion.
A Bath XV 3, Bath Combination 6. Walcot’s flanker, Bill Lye scored a try and a penalty, for the Combination’s first win over the senior side for many years. Bath included six of their first choice players, and Martland got Bath’s try.
v Taunton, Home. Won. 11-6. Team:- A Gay, G Margretts, B O’Mara, G Frankcom, N Bruford, B Perry, J Galley, P Parfitt, C Buckle, P Jenkins, C Armstrong, R Marson, T Martland, J Parsons and P Hall. Referee:- John Wride (Somerset)
Bath continued their winning run, with Frankcom the inspiration. It was nevertheless, a hard earned victory. In all probability, Bath were still suffering from the trauma of the Bristol derby match. It was difficult to equate inept individual performances, with the heroics of the previous week.
“Last night they just couldn’t click and spluttered their way through 80 anxious minutes like a car with a blown gasket.”
Bath had started brightly enough, with Tom Martland’s try and conversion, after just 5 minutes play.
Thereafter, Bath were disjointed in all aspects of play. “The visitors heeled more cleanly, worked better in the lines-out and produced almost all the fire in loose play…..” Clive Armstrong increased Bath’s lead with a penalty, when Taunton exceeded Bath’s two man line-out. “The only time anything went right was just after half-time when following a heel against the head by Clive Buckle, Brendan O’Mara pinpointed a diagonal punt to the corner flag to enable Bruford to score an almost identical try to the one against Bristol” Taunton’s reply was a well-taken drop goal by James and a try to Bull.
v Exeter, Home. Won 11-3. Team:- A Gay, G Margretts, B O’Mara (T), P Jones, J Monahan, B Perry (T), J Galley, P Parfitt, C Buckle, P Jenkins, J Parsons, T Martland, P Heindorff (C), P Hall (T). Exeter lost former international Martin Underwood after 15 minutes. Brendan Perry dropped a goal from 35 yards. Despite being a man short, the Exeter pack of 7 outperformed the Bath 8 for much of the second half. “Time was running out, but Bath suddenly produced a breathtaking move, in which Martland, Parfitt, Hall and Heindorff played a vital part before O’Mara completed with a superb try, which Heindorff could not convert.
Less than a minute later Bath scored again. Exeter tapped a ball back carelessly, from a line-out inside their 25, and Hall dribbled through to score, this time Heindorff converting.” (BATH CHRONICLE)
v Harlequins, Home. Lost 6-9. Team:- A Gay, A Russell, B O’Mara, G Margretts, N Bruford, B Perry, J Galley, P Parfitt, C Buckle, D Robson, C Armstrong, R B Marson, T D Martland, P Heindorff, and P Hall.
This was an evening kick-off, with Quins moving on to complete their Easter Tour in Wales. Reportedly, they started to change in the train and finished it off along Manvers Street! Nevertheless, they were fit enough and good enough to beat a strong Bath side by three tries, to one try and a penalty. Bath: “….fought a brave but unavailing rearguard action….”
Following a tense game, the Quin’s winning try came just two minutes from the end.
Bath matched the visitors at forward, with former Quins player Richard Marson outstanding in the line-out and loose. Up front, there were impressive performances from Clive Armstrong, Heindorff, Martland and Hall. Brendan O’Mara was the pick of the Bath backs.
Bath had taken the lead when Armstrong landed a 35 yard penalty after 48 gruelling minutes. It was well into the second half, when the home defences crumbled and Quins scored two quick tries to pull ahead. Next O’Mara hacked on from a poor pass by Lewis, and beat the Harlequin’s defence to the touchdown. (6-6)
“Bath sensed victory… but it was not to be. Two minutes from time Lewis atoned for his error with a splendid, searing midfield break, which brought a try to centre Bob Lloyd.”
v Liverpool, Home. Lost 6-19. Team:- A Gay, A Russell (T), B O’Mara, G Margretts, J Monahan, B Perry (T), J Galley, P Parfitt, C Buckle, D Robson, C Armstrong, P Heindorff, T Martland, P Winchcombe and P Hall. Bath conceded a try and a penalty in the first 10 minutes, and lacked inspiration against a moderate Liverpool side. In the second half, Martland broke away from the home 25 and racing to half-way, punted ahead for Russell to touch down. Near the end, Perry scored between the posts, but the conversion was missed.
In the following Monday’s Chronicle, Bath were described as “lifeless and off-form.” The long-suffering fans had witnessed: “ … the full range of their variable, unpredictable performances…”
“Their lethargic, uninspired forwards were badly beaten and their backs so closely marked that they were unable to move with any confidence.”
v Old Merchant Taylors, Home. Won 22-8. Team:- C Harvey, J Cousins (2T), T Martland, G Margretts (2C), J Monahan, B Perry (T), J Millman (T), P Parfitt, C Buckle, D Robson, J Parsons (2T), P Heindorff, Johannes Ziupa (Midsomer Norton G.S.), P Winchcombe, and P Hall.
Moseley fly-half, Peter Kitchen sought to take advantage of a blustery wind. However, his first effort was a high punt, which blew back over his threequarters. It gifted a grateful John Cousin a try within five minutes! Kitchen was more successful with his later efforts, in combination with a good supply of line-out ball. Chris Harvey fumbled and Moseley’s Cameron scored for Urmston to convert. Bath forwards improved and Martland, playing at centre, combined well with Perry. Tries followed from Parsons, converted Margretts, Millman, Parsons again and Perry – converted by Margretts and finally Cousins for Bath’s 6th try on an industrious afternoon. Heindorff led a fiery forward display and wing-forward Zuipa had a fine debut game.
v Llanelly. Home. Won 19-6. Team:- A Gay, G Margretts (T,C), T Martland (DG), B O’Mara (T), J Monahan, B Perry (DG,C), J Millman, P Parfitt (T), C Buckle, D Robson, J Parsons,R Marson, J Ziupa, P Heindorff and P Hall.
As the score suggests, Bath finished their home games on a high note. It was their first win against a Welsh club that season and best win against a marginally weakened Llanelly side. Bath ran in 3 tries, two converted, and Perry and Martland dropped goals, against Llanelly’s single try and a penalty goal. “It took one back a long time to see the home eight simply battering the opposition into submission with a fiery display which would have accounted for most teams.
Not only did Clive Buckle, splendidly propped by Dave Robson and Peter Parfitt, gain a definite hooking edge, but the great efforts of Richard Marson and John Parsons in the line-out completely blotted out Llanelly.
And in the loose, Bath were in a class by themselves with No.8 Peter Heindorff playing a really storming game and wing forwards Phil Hall and John Ziupa constantly harrying their opponents into mistakes.” (JOHN STEVENS – BATH CHRONICLE) Near the end, Peter Parfitt was off with a shoulder injury. Immediately upon his return, he : “used his power in the line-out to bulldoze through for the final try which Perry converted.” O’Mara and Margretts had got the earlier tries.
This traditional ‘Rag Doll’ game was marred by some unnecessary niggles and led to threats of a possible “Ban Bath” stemming from the West Wales Club. A Sunday Mirror comment reported on the collapse of Gwyn Williams on his way home. Allegedly, prop forward Cedric Jones suffered a kick on the forehead, Mike Thomas was taken from the field and David Bowen finished with a thick ear. Welsh centre Ken Jones said: “Even the toughest games between keen Welsh rivals are like Sunday School outings compared with the Bath match.” Bath Secretary, Jack Simpkins described Llanelly’s complaint as: “a lot of nonsense.” This was apparently borne out by the referee Jack Luscom, who was surprised at the threat to discontinue fixtures.
v Bedford, Away. Lost 6-19. Team:- A Gay, J Cousins, G Margretts, T Martland, J Monahan, B Perry (T), J Millman, P Parfitt, C Buckle, R Smerdon (P), J Parsons, R Marson, P Winchcombe, P Heindorff and P Hall.
Set against two recent successes, this was an astonishing game to lose. Bedford, a normally strong side, were decimated with injuries, and fielded a makeshift selection containing only six first team regulars; two of those regulars were internationals Geoff Frankcom (of Bath) and Budge Rogers. Additionally, two schoolboys turned out, and a full-back who had not played since September. Bedford were 6-0 up at half-time.
Perry appeared to be pre-occupied with succeeding with a drop goal. He narrowly missed from 40 yards and tried again. In checking his run for a drop, he was getting caught by the ‘in-form’ Rogers. Cousins made two valiant efforts to score, but was bundled into touch just short of the line. Perry had an off day with the boot generally, missing a front of posts conversion from his own splendid try. Smerdon was awry with three penalties, but had one success just after Perry’s try. Bath did well in the scrums, but were frequently frustrated by Bedford’s makeshift back row. At the end, Bedford’s Lord burst through to send Frankcom in under the Bath posts. Lord added the extras. Bath’s line had been crossed four times by a largely scratch team.
v Coventry, Away. Lost 0-33. Team:- A Gay, J Monahan, B O’Mara, G Margretts, J Cousins, B Perry, J Millman, P Parfitt, C Buckle, D Robson, P Heindorff, J Parsons, T Martland, P Winchcombe and P Hall.
Bath’s heavy defeat at Coundon Road was only shaded by the 0-37 loss at Northampton in January. Coventry scored a thumping 6 goals and a try to no reply from Bath. Bath had a wealth of experienced players, in O’Mara (163 games), Parfitt (245), Heindorff (110) and Phil Hall (162), but they could not match the skills of Herbie Godwin, Peter Robins and Phil Judd et al.
TOP POINTS SCORERS:-
Donovan 54 Perry 47 Smerdon 44 Brown 40
53 players were utilised.
MOST APPEARANCES by P R Hall 45
C Buckle 42 P Heindorff 41 G Margretts 40 P Parfitt 38 T Martland 37 B Perry 36
Try scorers: Donovan 18, Hall and Perry 11, Margretts 9, Frankcom and Martland 8, Cousins 7, O’Mara 6, Balding and Smerdon 5, Andrews, Bruford, and Heindorff 4, Monahan 3, Byas, Dolman, Parfitt and Parsons 2, L H Jenkins, Millman, Pembroke, Russell, Treloar and Woolford 1.
In 46 matches 690 points were scored Against Bath, made up of :-
141 tries, 75 conversions, 34 penalties, 5 drop goals.
Bath scored 563 points, made up of:-
117 tries, 49 conversions, 31 penalties, 7 drop goals
Bath Lost 60.9% of their total matches, or thinking positive – Won 32.6% of their total matches!