Prior to the start of the 1887-88 season St. Albans held its AGM at the Crystal Palace on 5th September and declared a loss of £17 18s 4d. Despite running at an increasing loss, the club invested £40 during the close season on levelling the playing surface and improving the drainage at the Holywell Hill Meadow.
The 1887-88 season saw the Saints back in Herts County Cup action with the club being handed another away tie, this time they were due to visit Hertford at Balls Park on Saturday, 5th November. The number of entrants for the County Cup rose by one to twelve with the competition split into two groups of six in Eastern and Western Divisions. The county town side proved no match for the visitors who progressed to a meeting with holders Hoddesdon by virtue of a 7-1 thrashing that included five goals for Herbert Webdale.
Cup holders thrashed but make successful appeal to Herts F.A.
The visit of a Hoddesdon side that was revered throughout Hertfordshire was expected to provide a true test of just how well the St. Albans club was progressing. That is not quite how the afternoon panned out as, in appalling conditions of rain and snow on 11th February, the Saints slaughtered their guests by the not too inconsiderable margin of 8-0. Unfortunately for the home side though the tie was far from over even at the final whistle. Hoddesdon lodged an appeal with the county association claiming that the pitch at the Holywell Hill Meadow, at 105 yards, was five yards shorter than required by competition rules. Furthermore, Hoddesdon filed a second complaint that Sandford Moore, scorer of five of the St. Albans goals, was ineligible as he was a pupil of St. George’s School in Harpenden and was still resident in that town, thus rendering him ineligible to play for St. Albans in the County Cup on the grounds of living outside the specified distance from the football ground. He had had a residence in St. Albans since the previous July, comfortably outside the six-month residency rule.
That the Hertfordshire F.A. ruled that pitches for their competition be no shorter than 110 yards was at odds with the Laws of The Game issued by the Football Association, these deemed pitches should be no shorter than 100 yards.
The claim against Moore was bizarre and the Herts Advertiser was most indignant that the centre-forward had been slighted. The newspaper had praised him in their editorial following his five goals and damned Hoddesdon’s claim. “Technically, Hoddesdon are right in protesting; morally they are decidedly wrong, as having been defeated by 8 goals to nil, the endeavour to make St. Albans play again has the appearance of revenge, instead of the desire to further the true interests of the game,” stated the newspaper in its edition published on 25th February.
Regardless of St. Albans’ defence, Hoddesdon’s appeal was upheld at a hearing in London on 15th February and the tie was ordered to be replayed at Watford Rovers’ Rose & Crown ground on 3rd March, furthermore, Moore was banned from the game. During the hearing Hoddesdon confirmed that they had known before the game that the pitch at Holywell Hill was shorter than the requirement for County Cup matches, which begs the question of why did the game go head in the first place?
Minus their main goal threat St. Albans crashed to a 7-2 defeat. Still the wrangling was not over as St. Albans launched an appeal of their own stating that the goalposts were shorter than required and that Hoddesdon fielded three ineligible players. The appeal was rejected. Hoddesdon may not have fielded any ineligible players but they were without two of their most prominent players for the initial meeting whilst county striker H.C. Newbury strangely played under the assumed of H.C.A. Christian. Playing under his birth name for the replay Newbury scored four times with his brother, G.R., scoring twice.
Hoddesdon defeated Watford Rovers 4-3 in the final, ten of the Watford XI played at least one game for St. Albans.
For Moore, who spent seven seasons with the Saints, the first Hoddesdon match should have been a crowning moment in his season. A future captain of the club he was a prolific goalscorer and a member of the County side. During a 17-1 hammering of Olympians on 2nd April he helped himself to the second highest known tally by an individual in one match for the original St. Albans club, eight goals. Olympians defender Johnson gave the Saints a helping hand that day with a brace of own goals. Moore was not the only representative from St. George’s School, Harpenden, to play against Olympians as he was joined that day by C.W. Bennett. Herbert Webdale and Moore were just two of five players to score five times in a match that season as James Dickson, Arthur T.B. Dunn and Luton’s John Charles Lomax also got in on the act.
Moore had made his St. Albans debut earlier in the season when scoring the deciding goal in a friendly against Hemel Hempstead at Holywell Hill. He played ten times in his first season with the Saints and scored a known 24 goals. The actual figure is likely to be quite a few higher for one of his ten games includes a 15-0 win over Watford Church Institute for which the scorer of only one goal, Moore, is known.
He was born in Lyme Regis in 1860 and died in Ealing in March 1948.
Wagstaffe Simmons makes debut for St. Albans
On 31st March the Saints defeated local club Verulam 3-1, included in the visitor’s line-up was George Wagstaffe Simmons. By this time Wagstaffe Simmons had already played for the St. Albans Reserves during a 3-1 win at Hatfield on 14th January. The future founder of St. Albans City, Wagstaffe Simmons - brother-in-law of the one-time St. Albans goalkeeper captain and Jack Dickerson – went on to become an administrator of the highest order within the F.A. who also officiated at the highest level and, in addition to his long run as secretary to the Hertfordshire F.A., became vice-chairman at Tottenham Hotspur.
Including the disputed games with Hoddesdon, St. Albans played twenty-eight First team matches during the season, the Reserves are known to have played at least nine games.
A week before the Hoddesdon re-match, the following letter appeared in the Hertfordshire Standard (25th February, 1888), its authenticity may be questionable but it makes for amusing reading:
A ST. ALBANS YOUNG LADY AT THE FOOTBALL MATCH
Dear Mr Editor,
My brother Charlie wrote and asked me to go and see the “Grand Football Match” the other day. He said it was a Cup Tie and St. Albans would be sure to lose but he would like me to tell him who played best. I was to be there with my little sister Sarah at three-twenty sharp, and so I went down Holywell-hill about half-past three, and was there in good time for a front seat. At least there wasn’t a seat, or a grand stand or anything of that sort, but there were a lot of people inside the ropes, and a little man blew a whistle and some of them pulled off their topcoats and all the rest got behind the ropes.
I asked a little boy and he told me one side wanted to get the ball between the posts one end and the other wanted it the other end. They were dressed in all sorts of colours and I don’t know however they knew who was who, but they did somehow for they began to run the ball about, only it jumped so they couldn’t get hold of it. There were lots of accidents, and they ran to and fro in such a hurry they couldn’t stop themselves and so tumbled over one another. One podgy little man was very greedy and tried to keep the ball all to himself and get it to his end but the boy between the posts had chapped hands and had to wear gloves and when he got it, it hurt him and he got cross and threw it away as far as he could.
But it kept coming back, sometimes hitting on the head a funny little man called “Hod,” who jumped about a great deal and got his face so dirty he couldn’t see where he was, and the people had to tell him where to go and what to do. And there was a boy called “Dicky” who kicked it to “Bert,” and he didn’t do it right, so he sent it back to him and made him do it again better. And there was a long-legged man they called “Slight,” but I didn’t hear his real name, and he kept sliding his leg out in front of the men and they tumbled over; and a man called “Luton” kicked ever so high but it didn’t seem to go anywhere near the poles, and another man wasn’t very well and they called him “Ailing,” but he was all right except that he seemed to run in one direction and kick in another, and I was so puzzled with it all that when I saw them get angry and throw the ball at one another I thought it was time to go. And so I went home and told Charlie that “Hoddesdon” did just as they liked and nearly always had the ball at their end, and of course they won: and Charlie got so angry that he wrote me a postcard with one word on it, “Stupid.” Goodbye Mr Editor.
From your constant reader
P.S. – My little sister says that someone told a girl she knew St. Albans had won because it was a wet day, but I can’t understand this.”
1887-88 Season Line-ups
|EW Arnold||11||T Long||6|
|Cecil Hugh Aylen||15||1||E Mantle||4||1|
|EH Aylen||1||H Mardall||1||1|
|Charles William Bennett||1||A Martin||2|
|AK Bower||1||J Mayfield||7|
|F Butler||3||Jos Mayfield||2|
|G Chennells||2||Alf Miskin||3||1|
|HO Chatterton||1||H Miskin||1|
|R Cook||1||Walter W Miskin||6||1|
|JR Cornah||1||Sandford Ffolliatt Pierpoint Moore||10||24|
|James William Dickson||22||22||LB Myers||2|
|RH Disbrowe||1||1||L Narburgh||1|
|H Dudley||2||Horace Paul||24||3|
|Arthur TB Dunn||3||9||Charles Henry Peacock||1|
|H Ellery||1||L Philbrick||4||2|
|JJ Everett||5||FE Reynolds||1|
|RE Faning||4||1||JE Reynolds||1|
|H Francis||14||9||J Richardson||2||3|
|Fred Gentle||1||William Nichols Roe||4|
|H Gentle||12||ER Ross||1||1|
|H Goodwin||1||GR Rowe||1|
|GN Grimwood||2||W Alec Sargent||2|
|GA Grimwood||1||E Satchell||1|
|RJ Hancock||1||E Selby||2|
|F Hill||1||W Sharp||1|
|G Hill||2||WG Slight||13||1|
|George Humphrey||22||Sidney Margetts Stanley||4||2|
|EJ Johnson||4||F Warren||6|
|T Johnson||1||George Waterman||2||1|
|F Johnstone||5||Herbert C Webdale||20||11|
|Basil H Joy||1||Charles Plumpton Wilson||2|
|WT Lancashire||1||Own Goals||2|
|J Lloyd||3||Unknown Scorers||22|
|David Alexander Napier Lomax||1||1|
|Ernest Herbert Lomax||3|
|John Charles Lomax||4||6|