60 years on: Bassett’s remarkable FA Amateur Cup run
Thursday 26 September 2019 - by Stuart Smedley (Updated on 26 September 2019 at 05:00)
Sixty years ago, on 26th September 1959, Wootton Bassett Town embarked on what would turn into a remarkable FA Amateur Cup journey.
It would encompass nine ties across four different rounds over the course of a period lasting a month and a half, during which Bassett were unable to play a game in any other competition.
And, still, it did not result in Bassett advancing beyond the Amateur Cup's qualifying rounds.
Nevertheless, it represents one of the club's most successful participations in a national cup competition and one that deserves to be remembered – not least because few clubs across the country can surely claim to have experienced such a unique run.
It began with an away trip to Clandown in the preliminary round. Bassett had enjoyed an unbeaten start to their Wiltshire League Premier Division season and so travelled to Somerset confident of getting a positive result against their Western League Division Two opponents.
An early goal from Ken Pewsey only added to that feeling. Clandown equalised with a penalty a minute before the break though and looked on course to win when awarded another spot kick late on. However, a stroke of luck fell Bassett's way as Clandown forward Bill Rogers missed. The same player then atoned for his error, clearing off the line at the other end to force a replay in Wiltshire a week later.
And Bassett ensured they would advance at the second time of asking as Lou Nash's deflected shot and a Geoff Simpkins beauty secured a 2-0 victory.
That set up a first qualifying round tie against Pinehurst YC. The Swindon-based side represented familiar opponents for Bassett as they had already met three times in the season's opening few weeks. Bassett had triumphed 2-1 and 3-2 over the course of two legs in the Wiltshire Senior Cup first round before the teams shared four goals in a league draw. A fifth meeting would soon be on the cards too as Simpkins' early goal was cancelled out by Prothero just before half time in an evenly contested match at Rylands Way.
The return fixture seven days later on 17th October was played in the face of a strong wind. Bassett played into it in the first half and survived a number of Pinehurst attacks to go into half time a goal to the good thanks to Pete Teetgen's opener. Teetgen scored twice more in the second half to complete a hat-trick meaning Prothero's reply for Pinehurst proved academic in a 3-1 Bassett win.
Another home tie, this time against Radstock Town, also of Western League Division Two side, was Bassett's reward in the second qualifying round, with the game played on 24th October.
Again, the hosts made a fantastic start as Johnny Lawrence scored after twenty seconds with a forty-yard lob. Ray Young then doubled the advantage before half time to put Bassett on course to advance without the need for a replay. Alas, Radstock centre half Dave Tilley replied, scoring a second half penalty and a late free kick to necessitate a trip to Somerset.
That was to be Bassett's sixth game in the competition. Come full time, a seventh would be required too. As in the initial tie, Bassett raced into a 2-0 lead, Ronnie Mair scoring twice in the opening twelve minutes. Once more though Tilley would prove Bassett's nemesis, netting twice from the spot to earn another 2-2 draw.
A second replay was therefore required, with this played on neutral territory at Chippenham. It would be a midweek date too, on Wednesday 4th November – a novelty for games at that point of the season back then.
Bassett made the most of this rare midweek engagement. They fell behind to an early own goal, but Pewsey quickly restored parity. Five minutes before the break Teetgen deflected in a free kick to put Bassett ahead, before Ray Young secured a place in the penultimate qualifying round, steering home a Stan Embling cross to make it 3-1.
Bassett's opponents three days later would be Western League Division Two leaders – and eventual champions - Welton Rovers. Despite the strength of their opposition in what was their eighth game in the competition, Bassett held out hope given they had home advantage.
And they had a healthy support behind them too, it being reported that the club broke their gate record with around £16 being earned from hosting the tie.
Two goals in two minutes – courtesy of a Simpkins header and Mair penalty – had Bassett dreaming of the next round. It could have been three before the break too, however Teetgen had a goal disallowed for offside.
But, beginning with a penalty, Welton's Ray Barker scored a twelve-minute second half hat-trick to turn the tie around. Bassett dug deep though and Mair headed an equaliser to force another replay.
That took place the following Saturday – 14th November – and, after having already played thirteen hours in the Amateur Cup, it proved a game too far for Bassett.
Taking the lead in the second minute, Welton proceeded to go 3-0 up after half an hour.
Bassett attempted to fight back valiantly. However, they were not helped by injuries – Teetgen was unable to start while Dave Gillett picked up an early knock that forced him to play ineffectively on the wing for the rest of the game while clearly hurt.
Simpkins did score for the visitors, but Welton netted four more times to seal an emphatic 7-1 win and finally end Bassett's adventure. Rovers would go on to lose to Devizes Town in the final qualifying round.
Nine games over four rounds in a fifty-day period, comprising five draws (at least one in each round), three wins, one defeat, eighteen goals for and the same number against – it was some journey.
It tied Bassett's record of reaching the third qualifying round in 1946-47 too. However, that was achieved in more straightforward circumstances - without the need for a single replay 0 as Dilton Rovers (3-1), Melksham Town (2-1) and Chippenham Town (4-3) were seen off before a 9-0 loss away against Cornish side St. Austell brought it to an end.
After their Amateur Cup exploits in 1959-60 came to a conclusion, Bassett were finally able to get back to other engagements. Their cup exploits seemed to have taken a toll on the team though. A week after losing to Welton, Bassett were defeated 1-0 by Swindon BR in the Wiltshire Senior Cup second round before suffering a 4-1 loss in their first league action since September at home against Westbury United.
Bassett would ultimately finish a credible sixth in the 1959-60 Wiltshire League Premier Division though – their first at that level having secured the Division One title a season before.
That cup jaunt would be one of Bassett's last in the Amateur Cup too. It was certainly their final extensive run in a competition they had first entered in 1936-37.
In 1960-61, Bassett defeated Swindon Victoria in the extra preliminary round before losing away against Bromham. Four years elapsed before the next – and final – entry for the club, which saw Highworth Town thrashed 8-1 away from home, only for Ferndale YC to triumph 2-1 in the subsequent preliminary round tie.
Wootton Bassett Town's 1959-60 FA Amateur Cup run in full:
Saturday 26th September 1959: Preliminary round v Clandown (A) – Drew 1-1 (Scorer: Ken Pewsey)
Saturday 3rd October 1959: Preliminary round replay v Clandown (H) – Won 2-0 (Scorers: Lou Nash, Geoff Simpkins)
Saturday 10th October 1959: First qualifying round v Pinehurst YC (H) – Drew 1-1 (Scorer: Geoff Simpkins)
Saturday 17th October 1959: First qualifying round replay v Pinehurst YC (A) - Won 3-1 (Scorers: Pete Teetgen 3)
Saturday 24th October 1959: Second qualifying round v Radstock Town (H) – Drew 2-2 (Scorers: Johnny Lawrence, Ray Young)
Saturday 31st October 1959: Second qualifying round replay v Radstock Town (A) – Drew 2-2 (Scorers: Ronnie Mair 2)
Wednesday 4th November 1959: Second qualifying round second replay v Radstock Town (N) – Won 3-1 (Scorers: Ken Pewsey, Pete Teetgen, Ray Young)
Saturday 7th November 1959: Third qualifying round v Welton Rovers (H) – Drew 3-3 (Scorers: Ronnie Mair 2, Geoff Simpkins)
Saturday 14th November 1959: Third qualifying round replay v Welton Rovers (A) – Lost 1-7 (Scorer: Geoff Simpkins)
Bassett's complete FA Amateur Cup history, including results and match reports from each of the nine games played in the 1959-60 season, can be found in our extensive history archive.