The life and times of Yarmouth Town FC
PUBLISHED: 09:53 04 January 2012 | UPDATED: 10:10 05 January 2012
1897: Great Yarmouth Town Football Club was born at a meeting in the Town Hall on July 20, 1897 with all but one of the playing members having previously belonged to the two strongest teams in the borough at that time, Great Yarmouth Fearnoughts and Great Yarmouth Royal Artillery.
The new Town club won the Norfolk Senior Cup in its very first season defeating Lynn Town in a replayed final. The club has won the cup 12 times and been runners-up on another 14 occasions. In the early years gates of 5000 for the local derby with deadly rivals Gorleston were common.
1929-30: The Senior Cup was retained thanks to a 2-1 win over Gorleston at The Nest, Norwich City’s old ground, in front of a massive crowd numbering 10,267, the largest single crowd ever to have watched the Bloaters perform, either before or since.
1931-32 was described at the AGM as the club’s “worst ever” – the club won nothing and had debts totalling £250, a princely sum in those days. The economic depression was taking its toll.
1934-35: Yarmouth’s last season in the Norfolk & Suffolk League saw them finish fourth behind Gorleston, Lowestoft and Norwich City A.
1935: August 31, 1935, the first day of the new Eastern Counties League, saw Yarmouth defeated 3-5 by the Amateur Cup holders of Harwich & Parkeston. The club had employed the services of JS Macconochie, the former Everton captain as a paid “trainer-coach” and he instituted a new training regime – three nights a week. The Bloaters finished fourth that season; however, the effort had proved expensive and economies had to be made, including the non-retention of Mr Macconochie.
1936-37: The season was a disaster, culminating in an 11-0 defeat by bogey team Harwich and a run of 11 games without a win to conclude the campaign. Norwich City was attracting support away from local football. The opinion was expressed that Yarmouth “had now missed the professional boat”. For the first time ever there were not enough nominees to fill the vacant committee places at the AGM.
1946: After the war, Great Yarmouth Town FC enjoyed a period of ascendency and increasing success. Semi-professionalism was taken on board, at first under the leadership of former Tottenham and Arsenal player Cliff Fairchild and then, most notably, with former Chelsea, Southampton, Bolton Wanderers and Norwich City star Jack Bradley. The Bloaters celebrated their jubilee year (1947-48) by reaching the first round proper of the FA Cup for the first time, though losing 1-4 to the outstanding non-league team Shrewsbury Town.
1953-54: Under Jack Bradley the Bloaters defeated Football League side Crystal Palace 1-0 in the FA Cup 1st Round proper before a Wellesley crowd of 8944, with the goal being scored by Derrick Rackham in the sixth minute. Attendances reached their peak that season 1953-54 with an average of 2352. The big-spending days were numbered and the late fifties saw the club in financial crisis. There was much speculation about an amalgamation with Gorleston, who were themselves forced to drop out of the ECL for financial reasons. Yarmouth dispensed with professional players and reverted to total amateur status, a move which resulted in the club finishing bottom of the ECL in 1958-59 but which also turned a £1400 deficit into a £300 surplus the following year.
The club’s finances made significant improvement over the next few years and saw a return to paid players. Season 1964-65 saw the club employ seven professionals.
1968-69: Wily Scot Jimmy Moran, formerly of Leicester City, Northampton Town and Norwich City, took over team affairs that summer, having been a player the previous season, and led the club to its only ECL championship.
After he returned to Lowestoft, the club appointed 33-year-old ex-Canary Bill Punton, into the hot-seat.
Punton dispensed with the services of professionals and concentrated on unearthing good local amateurs. He twice guided the team to runners-up spot before leaving for Diss Town in 1990. He took Yarmouth to the semi-finals of the FA Vase in 1982-83, the first ECL team to get that far. The home leg was watched by 4552 but a 1-1 draw enabled eventual winners VS Rugby to go to Wembley on a 3-2 aggregate.
1998-99: Paul Tong (a former Norwich City keeper and one-time assistant to Punton at Yarmouth and Diss) took the team to ECL third spot despite limited resources.
2011-12: Club chairman Colin Jones took over in July after Stephen Brierley stood down. Jones, who used to run a sports consultancy business before deciding to devote his efforts to the club full time, said the club could not be so reliant on an individual for funding and needed to “strive to be self-sufficient and not to spend more than it earns – it really isn’t rocket science.”
Paul Tong, who had begun a second managerial stint with the club in 2008, resigned in September, saying: “There have been a few decisions that have compromised my position.”
Ex-Gorleston assistant manager Mike Derbyshire was appointed in September and saw the playing budget axed within weeks. He resigned after a defeat at Newmarket but reconsidered after a club committee majority backed him to carry on. In December the club was unable to muster enough players for a game at Wisbech. In December Jones warned the club was “slowly dying” and announced a New Year EGM.