City’s second season opened on 18thSeptember 1909 with an FA Cup Preliminary Round tie at home to Tufnell Park that was won courtesy of a Leslie Hosier goal. All of the first eight games of the campaign were cup ties with success and failure being experienced in equal measure in both the FA Cup and Amateur Cup, a longer run was enjoyed in the Herts Charity Cup.

The FA Cup run ended in the 1stRound Qualifying when Barnet, following a draw at the Park, won a Thursday afternoon replay at Underhill. During the first meeting George Webb gained the dubious distinction of being the first St. Albans City player to be dismissed since the formation of the club, Barnet’s Gallienne was also sent off.

Two days after the Barnet replay City began their bid for the Amateur Cup with Tommy Walker scoring three times during a 5-2 win over Hertford Town at Hertingfordbury Park. Tufnell Park returned to Clarence Park in the 2ndQualifying Round and soundly beat the Citizens 4-1. With winter fast approaching, the game being played on 23rdOctober, the council took steps to make viewing football at Clarence Park more enjoyable by providing ‘foot-racks’ for spectators.

Local interest in the national competitions may have come to an end but, after a replay at Salmon Meadow, City removed Apsley from the Herts Charity Cup and followed that with victory over Ware at The Thrifts, London Road, Ware. The Spartan League season finally got underway on 6thNovember, with a 7-1 thrashing of Newportonians at Lea Bridge Road, Leyton, Tommy Knott scored a hat trick.

George Butcher was the next City player to score at will by knocking in four during a 10-0 Herts Charity Cup win over Welwyn at Clarence Park. The cup ties were good publicity for the club but the financial gain was small. 

Large crowds, small rewards

The attendance for the FA Cup Preliminary Round tie with Tufnell Park included 750 paying adults and 158 boys. The total receipts amounted to £10 19s. 1d. and, after paying expenses, City’s share was a mere 15s. 5d. Tufnell Park took £5 5s. 9d. of the gate money, including the railway fares of their team. City had turned down an offer by the North London club to switch the Amateur Cup tie from home soil to their Caledonian Park home; at £7 10s the offer had been quite tempting.

The visit of Barnet Alston for the drawn FA Cup encounter on 2ndOctober attracted the largest attendance thus far to Clarence Park with 1,276 spectators paying a total £19 10s 8d. Bizarrely, St Albans financial gain from the replay at Barnet was greater than for the home games with either Barnet or Tufnell Park although the attendance for the Thursday replay (3.30pm) was lower than for the home games.

The home Herts Charity Cup tie against Apsley brought in gate receipts of £9 13s 4d (597 adults, 184 boys), of this £4 7s went to Hertfordshire charities.

The final two rounds of the Charity Cup were held over until the New Year and Harpenden provided little opposition in the semi-final as City sauntered to a 4-0 win at the end of January. The amount handed to the Charities Fund was £5 4s 6d. The final, against Barnet Alston, was due to be staged at Underhill but due to a flooded pitch the game was switched to Clarence Park.

A new record attendance was set with 2,200 spectators witnessing a memorable encounter that City won with goals from Willy Hughes and George Butcher. The takings, £33 2s were a record for the Charity Cup and after expenses of £7 2s, £26 went into the Charity Fund. Due to the large crowd and takings the Herts FA presented gold medals to the winners and silver ones to the runners up.

George Butcher joins West Ham United

The cup final was Butcher’s 31stand last game for the City; during his final 11 games the 19-year-old had scored 17 times for his hometown club. Earlier in the month, on 2ndMarch, Butcher had made his debut for West Ham United against Watford in Division One of the Southern League; a crowd of 1,000 saw the game at Cassio Road that Watford won 2-1 with George netting for the Londoners. He signed professional forms shortly after and scored 24 times in 114 games for West Ham before joining Luton Town in January 1921. After five years with Luton he returned to Clarence Park to assist with the coaching.

Butcher had the distinction of being the first player to move from St Albans City to the ranks of the professionals but life was not all a bed of roses for him. In January 1912 hewas summoned to appear at St Albans Sessions, for discharging a stone from a catapult on 10thJanuary. P C Ward stated that he saw the defendant with some other lads in Sandridge Road on the day in question, and saw him shoot a stone at a bird in the hedge, from a catapult. There were a good many people about, including children. 

Superintendent Hassle explained that the defendant was a professional footballer and as he was playing for West Ham that day, he was unable to attend the court. 

Mr H.J. Toulmin: ‘Did he hit the bird?’ P.C. Ward: ‘No, sir.’ The Chairman (Alderman H.P. Smith): ‘It is a dangerous practice. He will be fined 2s.’

County League Champions

The 1909-10 campaign was to be the second and final season in which St. Albans City competed in two leagues and, more significantly, it was the first in which the club won silverware. The Herts County League Western Division was defended successfully but this time the Saints went a step further and clinched the title outright with play-off victories over Hitchin Town, 3-0 at Top Field, and Ware, 7-0 at Clarence Park, with Webb Richardson and William Hughes each bagging a hat trick.

City’s County League form had been irrepressible throughout the season. Although just eleven of the scheduled fourteen games were played – three matches became ‘four pointers’ – City were victorious in ten of them with a 12-1 rout of Boxmoor being the highpoint. Boxmoor were probably grateful that the match was one of the ‘four pointers’ after seeing Willy and Frank Hughes score three apiece while Tommy Knott helped himself to four goals. Boxmoor’s goal came from the penalty spot. Boxmoor had been due to visit Clarence Park for the return fixture on the morning of Boxing Day but scratched at late notice, for which the FA ordered them to pay St Albans £1 10s compensation.

Whilst the Herts County League Western Division was won at a canter with a goals record of 40-7, it was in the Spartan League that City really found their shooting boots. St. Albans romped home in their opening nine ‘B’ Division matches scoring 59 times with four hat tricks and a dozen doubles being notched by the rampant City attack. Seven times in those nine games City found the back of the net on seven or more occasions, and had Charlie Patrick not missed two penalties during the 8-0 win over Hitchin Town in December then the club would have gone into double figures in three different competitions during the season. Another fixture played during December lacked a touch of seasonal goodwill when visitors Luton Clarence had five players dismissed during their 7-1 defeat at Clarence Park; all five went for different offences after the scoring had been completed.

Five Luton Clarence players dismissed

A joint commission of the Herts and Beds Football Associations’ met at Dear’s Temperance Hotel, St Albans, on 20thJanuary to discuss the unusual match in which five players from one team were sent off yet not a single player from the home side had been so much as cautioned. The commission believed that there had been provocation on the part of one, maybe two, St Albans players but referee J.J.P. Cole of Hitchin had seen only the actions of the visitors. Two of the five Luton Clarence players were suspended for 21 days, one for seven days and two players were cautioned. No action was taken against St Albans.

Despite fielding the same XI that had completed the County League season with a 6-0 win over Rickmansworth four days earlier, the club marked the first anniversary of its formation, 13thApril, with a 2-0 defeat to London Caledonians at Highlands in the final Spartan League fixture. City failed to return to winning ways for the Spartan League play-off match at home to the 2ndColdstream Guards on 30thApril and went down 1-0 to the ‘A’ Division champions. Any disappointment with this result was quickly washed away as the club held its Annual Dinner Dance later that evening at the White Hart Hotel.

The 1909-10 season was significant for a number of City players with one player, Willy Hughes, setting a record that has survived right through to today. Between 4thDecember and 19thMarch, St. Albans played 14 games and Hughes scored in every single one of them, in all he netted 26 times during that remarkable run which included two hat tricks and one five goal haul. By the close of the season he had scored 31 times in 23 league games, his record in all competitions was an outstanding 35 goals in just 26 games. Both goal scoring records survived until the arrival of Wilfred Minter in the 1920s.

Tommy Knott was also no slouch with a goal-a-game record from his 24 games, and Butcher achieved the same record from his 19 appearances. At the opposite end of the pitch, goalkeeper Herbert ‘Micker’ Smith kept a clean sheet in 18 of City’s 35 matches. Tommy Walker, Charlie Patrick and ‘Micker’ were the first players to be ever present for the club during all the league games for one season while Walker and Smith extended that record to include cup ties.

Aggregate attendances for the season rose to 26,836 with the highest being the excellent 2,200 that attended the Herts Charity Cup final with Barnet Alston. 

Fred Fayers - City’s First England International

Frederick Leonard Fayers (known as Fred ‘Tiny’ Fayers) gained the greatest honour possible for an amateur when selected nine times for the Amateur England international side. One of his England appearances was recorded during his time as a St. Albans City player, this in spite of him making just two appearances for the Saints. Fayers, although signed to Watford and having already played four times for them that season, signed County League forms for St. Albans on 18thSeptember and made his debut a week later during a 2-2 draw with Apsley. Thirteen days later he played for the England Amateur side at Hull during a 7-0 thrashing of Sweden and was listed as a St. Albans City player. Fayers’ one other game for the Saints was the away 7-0 Spartan League win over 3rdGrenadiers that was played at Clarence Park.

George Webb had the humiliation of his dismissal wiped away on 10thJanuary when he was selected to play for the Southern Counties during a 4-1 win over London at Stamford Bridge. The game was widely billed as an Amateur International trial match and although Webb did not get an Amateur England cap, he did sign professional forms with Luton Town on 23rdJuly.

However, Ivan Sharpe, who made a couple of appearances for the City during 1908-09, did play for England Amateurs in Denmark during May 1910. He was amongst the party gathered for a trip that was organised by the Saints founder George Wagstaffe Simmons, who was on the Football Association’s International Selection Committee. The tour was a solemn affair following the death of King Edward VII after the first match, a planned second game was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.

Final Standings 1909-10

    P W D L F A Pts
1 ST ALBANS CITY 10 9 0 1 59 7 18
2 Luton Clarence 10 7 0 3 37 14 14
3 3rd Grenadier Guards 10 6 0 4 21 26 12
4 East Ham 10 4 0 6 15 32 8
5 Hitchin Town 10 3 0 7 12 29 6
6 Newportonians 10 1 0 9 8 44 2
    P W D L F A Pts
1 ST ALBANS CITY 14 12 1 1 39 8 25
2 Leavesden Asylum 14 7 5 2 34 12 19
3 Harpenden Town 14 9 1 4 35 25 19
4 Apsley 14 5 3 6 24 21 13
5 Rickmansworth 14 5 1 8 26 39 11
6 Hemel Hempstead 14 3 4 7 12 18 10
7 Sunnyside 14 2 4 8 18 29 8
8 Boxmoor 14 2 3 9 9 45 7