BRIDGWATER Town FC secretary and sports historian Kerry Miller’s latest nostalgia piece on the sporting history in and around the town looks at the story behind a small collection of old medals from 110 years ago.

A random letter sent to Bridgwater Town FC by a lady in Cornwall led to some mysteries being solved and some old stories retold from the bound volumes of the Mercury recently.

Pam Dodd, who now lives in Probus in Cornwall, found some old football medals which belonged to her late grandfather, and sent photos of them hoping that the story behind them could be told.

Pam said: “My grandfather’s name was Reg Morris and we know that he met my grandmother in Bridgwater and played football before the Great War, which is where the medals are from, but other that we know very little about his time there.”

The medals turned out to be for the winners of the Taunton & District Thursday League and KO Cup in 1912, which Reg and his family had treasured for more than a century without knowing the backstory.

Reginald Frank Morris was born on January 8, 1891, at 34 Kineton Road, Wellesbourne, in Warwickshire, and lived there with his grandfather.

He was baptised on March 8 at the Anglican church in Wellesbourne; his dad was John Henry, a bricklayer, and his mum was Alice.

Around 20 years later Reg moved down to Bridgwater to find work, as he had made a living as a barber and men’s hairdresser back home, but had been forced away as his employer could no longer keep him on board.

He found lodgings with a young couple named Fred and Minnie Pocock and their three-year-old daughter Ethel in Fore Street, North Petherton, and at some point met Winifred Louise Winter, who was born on May 12, 1891, and had at least four brothers - Walter, Wilfred, Herbert and Arthur - and a father named James Thomas Winter.

He was born in 1857 and by 1911 it would appear he had finished with being a seaman or mariner, and had a greengrocer business in Barclay Street, in Bridgwater, while living 50 yards away at 40 St John Street.

Dead opposite there is a grocers/off-licence in what was the Mariner’s chapel, and the stone telling of its 1857 beginning is still extant.

The match reports for some of Reg’s games show he played alongside a man called Winter, which is possibly how he met Winnie Winter, and they were married in around March 1916, by which time he had signed up for the Great War.

He joined up on November 22, 1915, and was in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve Division, in Bristol.

Reg was listed as being just under 5’3’’, with brown hair, hazel eyes and a fresh complexion with a scar in the corner of his left eye... and could swim !

As an Able Seaman, he was attached to the British Expeditionary Force and sailed to Bologne in October 1916.

By Christmas 1916 he was at the front line and was injured two days before the Germans pulled out of the Ancre river area.

Reg was in hospital for seven days and rejoined his colleagues on February 28, before being injured again two months later.

After nine days he was back in action again and remained there until being given two week’s leave with ration allowance in November 1917.

Sadly, Reg was more badly injured by shrapnel on January 21, 1918, with wounds to both hands and his right thigh, which meant the end of the war for him.

He was transferred to Rouen, from where he was sent home, also suffering from neurasthenia, which in basic terms is emotional fatigue - not surprising after what he had gone through, and with a brand new wife back in Bridgwater.

Reg and Winnie eventually settled in the docks area of Chatham in Kent, where he continued working as a barber; he died there in 1961, aged 70.

Bridgwater Mercury:

LINE-UP: The Bridgwater Thursday team in the 1910/11 season

While he was in North Petherton he played football on early closing day, for Bridgwater Thursdays FC in the Taunton & District Thursday League, and initially was in their reserves at half-back, before being promoted to the first team.

In his first season his side played their matches on what was also the ground of Bridgwater Albion RFC, called the Taunton Road ground.

That ground survived until the mid-1980s and is now underneath a B&M store.

His second season was much better, as the team were challenging for league and cup honours and reached the KO Cup semi-final against Camden United, another Bridgwater side.

A large and excited crowd turned out for the game despite constant rain; it finished 1-1, meaning a replay seven days later.

In similar weather Reg impressed another big crowd as his side won 5-0 to reach the final in style.

It was held in Taunton, at the East Reach Athletic Ground, against Taunton Post Office on March 28, 1912, and many Bridgy people travelled with the team on the 2.16 train.

The game was end-to-end, with a second-half goal bringing the cup to Bridgwater Thursdays.

A week later the team were top of the league when they played Yeovil Thursdays in a winner-takes-all decider for the championship.

In front of a big crowd, Reg was involved in a thrilling game, which saw his side net a late winner to take the game 3-2 and seal the title.

(To put the date into context, the Titanic had sailed from Southampton a day earlier.)

Later the club held a smoking concert celebrating a “wonderful season” at the Alexandra Hotel, where club chairman John Palmer presided over a “large attendance”, which saw the room decorated with the two cups they had won in a prominent position.

That was where Reg would have been given his two medals, which found their way back to Bridgwater in photo form, 108 years later.

Pam said of Reg: “I am so pleased that grandfather’s story could be told, as he was a genuinely lovely man who somehow came through the war and kept his family together.”

Any readers who may have old medals, team photos, programmes or sporting memorabilia are welcome to contact Kerry on and he will try to tell the forgotten story behind them.