Sports historian Kerry Miller looks at the local scene in the summer of 1912 in the town of Bridgwater.

BY July 1912 Bridgwater AFC had somehow continued, albeit with very little in the way of support during a season where they clinched the Division 2 title of the Weston & District League to gain promotion once more.

A 4-2 win over Glastonbury works side Baileys did the trick and set them up for the championship game with Clevedon Reserves.

It was lost, but runners-up medals were awarded at a special general meeting at the Crown Inn, where the equally important reading of the balance sheet took precedence.

For the following season the Robins would be back in the top division, which they had struggled in before, while the reserves would be in Division 2.

They would be joined in the top flight by Old Morganians, who had taken over the Chilton Road sports ground and who would shine, albeit briefly, before the Great War.

The summer saw the usual hectic bout of cricket matches, and in July the town team welcomed Glastonbury CC, who arrived with 10 men plus an umpire with his own coat who showed “an unswerving loyalty to his team throughout”, including giving a number of lbw decisions, including Sammy Woods, to his own captain bowling around the wicket, and Bridgwater were all out in 70 balls.

Both rugby clubs geared up for the new season with optimism and Albion embarked on a mission, as they had been invited to play a game in Paris against Stade Francais.

The squad left Bath railway station at 5.19am and it was a race to get the international train from Victoria at 8.45am.

After refreshments at Westbury they joined the Weymouth express but didn’t arrive in London until 8.35am, so on the agent’s advice changed their arrangements and travelled to Charing Cross and on to Dover at 11am.

From there it was a streamer crossing to Calais, which was not without incident as more than one player was struck by the ‘mal de mer’, some being less than impressed by the French coffee in the buffet.

Reaching Calais at 1am they arrived in Paris at 6am and walked to their HQ, the Hotel Chariot d’or for a well-earned sleep.

They were then treated to a grand auto car ride for around seven miles to the ground at St Auteuil, past the Louvre and Notre Dame, to the club’s magnificent ground which housed a large and fashionable crowd.

As suspected the home club eased past the Albion by four goals and four tries to one try, but it was irrelevant as there was more entente cordiale after the match, followed by sight-seeing and a visit to Chantilly racecourse, the Montmartre and the Champs Elysee.

An exhausted party arrived back in London on the Tuesday morning to be greeted with the reality of a work day and a match in Torquay on the following Saturday.

The soccer season in Bridgwater was predictably dominated by the emerging Old Morganians, who had the pick of a number of well-connected men and current masters, and they reached the Churchill Cup Final in March.

There they defeated Weston Institute, who were going for a hat-trick of wins themselves.

A large crowd pitched up at the Albion rugby ground to see Herbert Smith and John Edgar star in the 3-0 win and clinch the handsome cup, while Bridgwater St Johns FC won Weston Division 3 undefeated, clinched with a 2-0 win over Weston Rovers.

As was becoming a recurring theme, Bridgwater AFC were bottom of Division 1 yet again, with Old Morganians top, but they were to have a say in the title race.

The final league game in April saw Glastonbury visit needing to win to be champions, with Old Morganians waiting and hoping to see their close neighbours do them a favour.

The game was staged at Albion’s Taunton Road ground and was drawn 2-2, meaning another game a week later.

Gales and rainstorms battered the town but a good crowd huddled in the grandstand to watch Glastonbury win with the last kick following a goalkeeping error.

It seemed not to matter as the old boys had just missed out on a double, ending the season having played 22 games in all, losing only three and scoring 69 times.

Also concluding in April was the first ever season for the Bridgwater Skittles League, after 26 rounds, where the Cross Rifles got the better of runners-up Bath Bridge Inn.

The cup and medals were presented to the winning team of C Innals, W Frampton, T Ware, F Francis, G Rainey and T Prescott.

Bridgwater Mercury:

REPORT: Bridgwater Mercury coverage of the local skittles league

The town bowling club was going from strength to strength, meanwhile, and at its AGM at the Golden Ball Hotel, the local MP Robert Sanders was made president, with local coal merchant Richard Sully his vice-president and R Morrish club captain.

It was agreed to continue with Thursday and Saturday matches, and the link-up with the cricket club was becoming a fruitful one.

Bridgwater Albion bade farewell to two of the three popular Churchill brothers at the end of their season, as HAH (Harold) and ANH were emigrating to Canada, along with many other families from Somerset.

EAH (Edward) stayed at home, going on to fight in France 18 months later.

One former Bridgwater RFC player who made the grade that season was Vincent Coates, a wing three-quarter who had moved up to play for Bath RFC when his father, a local GP, moved his practice to the city.

He first played for Bridgwater when on holiday, then made his county debut at 17, and with brother Norman formed one of the finest combinations the Bath club has known.

Vincent had the honour of playing in all of England’s five internationals that season, with the South Africans rating him the best they had come across.

Across town Bridgwater RFC also bade farewell to their captain, as Arthur Spriggs took the option of moving to Canada.

His party at the Malt Shovel saw him presented with an inscribed travelling clock - although he would be back in England within a year.

While the cricketing scene was largely dominated by the town side at that time, as they could still call upon the veteran Sammy Woods and his many business and sporting contacts, the game was still being played in many villages on rough and ready fields.

In June one such game was recorded on a Thursday afternoon - early closing day.

Bridgwater Amateurs CC made the short trip to Woolavington CC, where the rough pitch and outfield caused a chapter of accidents all afternoon.

Thistles were “greatly in evidence” in the outfield’s long grass, and the very first ball of the match hit J Woods above the eye, which bled profusely and caused a swelling which was reportedly as big as a fist.

He retired hurt and his side were all out for 14; it would have been even worse had a number of chances not been dropped in the slips.

Incredibly, Woods then took five wickets despite his damaged eye.

Readers are invited to contact Kerry with any memorabilia or queries, via