Football rewind - Offwell & Widworthy in the 1968/69 season - newsletters and all
PUBLISHED: 14:42 27 June 2020 | UPDATED: 14:45 27 June 2020
In the 1960s and 1970s one name was synonymous with Offwell Football and Cricket Clubs - Roy Land, writes Dick Sturch.
Roy was Offwell & Widworthy FC’s long serving secretary, Offwell CCs fixture secretary and a very crafty spin bowler.
All these roles he filled with an admirable enthusiasm. He produced a weekly newsletter for the football club which he edited and printed at his own expense of time and money.
Though, I am led to believe, the ‘duplicating machine’ at the old Honiton RDC offices, where Roy was employed, was of great assistance!
The first issue came out on September 28, 1968 which also coincided with my first season at the club after my move from Millwey Rise FC.
I still have many of those newsletters, and the following is Roy’ introduction to the very first one he produced.
“Supporters, occasionally, during the season, it is hoped to issue a short letter giving any news available regarding change of fixtures,league positions, injuries etc. In fact anything affecting the well-being of the club which both players and supporters may find of interest.
“In my own defence I would add that this is my first attempt at anything of this nature, which may explain any shortcomings.
“Suggestions regarding its presentation, or any news items are welcomed and indeed invited.”
We had defeated Uffculme 9-3 in the first match of the new season before consecutive games against Colyton and Farway were cancelled (for which we were given the points) so our league record read played one, won one and points, six (you were awarded two points for a win in those days!) On the day of that first newsletter, Offwell played at Dunkeswell in the 1st round of the Devon Junior Cup.
The team that day was: Bob Quick, John Stamp, Dave Batten, Trevor Pipe, Max Pipe, Dick Sturch, Ian Wicks, Don White, Jimmy Fowler, Ralph Langworthy and Maurice Dicks.
Long-serving captain Ted Beament had requested to stand down owing to him having a heavy cold.
One or two other items in the newsletter included our first ever application to play in the Morrison Bell Cup and Beer Albion, who played in Senior 1A were our 1st round opponents.
We were drawn at home in the Grandisson Cup to East Budleigh and away to Windsor Utd at Hamlyn Lane, Exeter, in the Football Express Cup.
Roy finished that very first newsletter with: “One small thing. First editions, especially of limited publication, often fetch large sums of money at auctions so don’t throw this one away. If you must, not on the field please!” - I still have my copy and await a bid!.
October’s first edition described our 3-1 home defeat to Dunkeswell the previous week as: “A shock and hopefully one that we will have learnt from.”
It seems we did for we then defeated Feniton 6-4 before seeing off Sidbury 4-2 and Uffculme, 5-4 before netting an 11-1 cup win at East Budleigh.
We then experienced an unexpected 2-1 defeat to close rivals Farway and the word ‘complacency’ was mentioned in Roy`s report.
One sad announcement in the final newsletter of October was the unexpected death of Wally Roome, Offwell`s treasurer and member of the selection committee of whom the newsletter reported: “Would be remembered as an outspoken critic ,but always a fervent supporter of the club.”
November’s content began with a report on our 2-1 defeat against Beer Albion in the Morrison Bell Cup and suggested: “That they and their supporters could do well to follow Offwell’s disciplined approach at accepting the match referee’s decisions!”
Other results included a 6-2 victory against Kentisbeare at the end of which, Jimmy Fowler was left with a dislocated shoulder, George Roche a dislocated jaw and Trevor Pike, a leg injury, and all were unavailable for the rest of the month. It was certainly always a hard game at Rectory Park!
This meant a very under-strength side played against bottom team Woodbury Salterton the following week and the 1-1 draw reflected this, a result that saw the team knocked off the top of the table.
The next match was at Lympstone where were really brought down to earth with a 5-2 defeat.
The report succinctly apportioned blame: “The forwards failed to score more goals and the defence let in too many!”
For the last match of November Gerald Copp replaced Bob Quick in goal and we wreaked revenge on Woodbury Salterton with every forward scoring in a 6-1 home win. At that stage of the season the leading scorers for Offwell read: Ralph Langworthy 23, Jimmy Fowler, 10 and Ted Beament, eight.
In December came the first newsletter with the adopted club badge being displayed on the front cover.
That month saw a 4-4 draw at St Lukes College before a 6-0 home win over previously unbeaten Broadhembury.
It appears team selection was proving difficult as it was reported: “The selection committee took over one and a half hours to agree the final team.”
Players were also encouraged to attend keep fit classes after Christmas with the newsletter reading: “The extra fitness and sharpening of reflexes could be the difference needed to turn dreams of Cups and Championships into reality.”
The first newsletter in January 1969, described a narrow 3-2 loss at Tipton St John. Offwell came away from the game feeling a ‘little miffed’ at having two goals disallowed.
The only other game played in this month was away to Windsor Utd where, on a ‘glue pot’ of a pitch, Offwell won 4-1.
It was also reported: “Due to the large number of games being postponed because of the adverse weather conditions the following six games have been re-arranged.”
On the first day of February, Offwell gained revenge with a 3-1 home win against Tipton St John which put them back on top of the table
This was followed by home success over Lympstone before a 4-4 draw with a Sidbury side that were awarded a hotly disputed penalty in the dying minutes by referee Mike Marsh. In defence of the referees decision, Roy wrote in a subsequent newsletter: “The game was very well handled by referee Marsh apart from that controversial decision which, unfortunately, resulted in the equaliser being scored. The whole incident seemed full of ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’, but so is life.”
March began with what the newsletter described as : “The most disappointing display of the season”.
That single line referred to a shock 4-1 home defeat against St Lukes College. Offwell then beat Newton St Cyres 6-2 to reach the semi-finals of the Football Express Cup and a match against Willand Rovers.
This was followed by home league victories against Kentisbeare and Colyton. The month ended with a 4-1 victory at Feniton in the Golesworthy Cup.
The newsletter was rather scathing of the press report whose headline claimed ‘Unlucky Feniton’.
The first games in April were over the Easter weekend and reported in the Newsletter as: “A great double attraction!”
Saturday’s game was an FE Cup semi-final at Windsor in which Offwell were beaten 3-2. Top goal scorer Ralph Langworthy was unavailable and Roy’s post match report proclaimed: “His [Langworthy] presence could well have changed the outcome of this game.”
Monday’s game against ‘Retrievers’, a touring side from Bristol, was described as: “Providing some entertaining football played, unlike some ‘friendly’ matches I have seen, in a most amicable spirit.”
The proceeds of the match were donated to Les White, a former player who had recently broken his leg playing for Farway against Lympstone.
Two further games the following weekend saw Offwell produce a great result on Saturday beating League leaders Woodbury 1-0 at home with Langworthy getting the vital goal.
Sunday’s Golesworthy Cup game against Uffculme was described as: “A nail-biting affair.”
The match went into extra-time where goals from Don White and Ian Wicks saw Offwell into a semi-final meeting with Colyton.
Roy’s report added: “Sunday’s game signalled a notable achievement. It was Max Pipe’s 150th consecutive appearance in league and cup games for the club. In all that time I have never yet seen him not give of his best until the final whistle. On behalf of us all Max a big thank you.”
Fixtures were now piling up with a Grandisson Cup quarter-final against Willand on April 19 followed, three days later with a visit to Woodbury before, two days later, the semi-final against Colyton.
There was a plea from Roy in the newsletter, “I would appeal to all players to try and keep their overtime for other evenings. This year we seem to have our best chance ever of winning a cup. Something for which we have all waited a very long time for.”
Unfortunately my copies of the newsletters for May 1969 have been lost, but Offwell did not reach a cup final and finished third in the league behind Lympstone and Woodbury.
As for the season’s goal scoring; Ralph Langworthy topped the charts with 37 and his exploits were followed by, Jimmy Fowler (17), Ted Beament (12) and Dick Sturch (10).
As for that season’s cup final outcomes; Lympstone beat Colyton 1-0 to lift the Golesworthy Cup; Exmouth beat Devon Valley Mill 4-0 to lift the Grandisson Cup and Centre United beat Exeter Greyhound 2-0 to lift the FE Cup.
It was good to revisit Roy’s newsletters and recall the memories they evoke of those long ago years.
He continued printing them for several seasons so perhaps I’ll return to them again one day. Roy was one of life’s gentlemen and it was a pleasure to share his company.
If you’d like to share a football memory with Dick Sturch he can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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