The unofficial archives of Tiverton Town Football Club

Ten Terrific Terms At Tivvy Town

by Nigel Davis

When Martyn Rogers called me on Phil's behalf to delve into his Tivvy past, I must admit that I went as white as a sheet. To investigate ten illustrious years of the all-time record goalscorer would not be a five minute job. Indeed, the club has no central records of appearances so I basically started with a blank sheet of paper.Little did I know what a magical mystery tour I would embark on in my quest to hunt down every one of those appearances.

The thought that Kerry Miller's “The History of Tiverton Town Football Club” would make a good starting point was misconceived as this did not include appearances and, indeed, only covered the first three years of Phil's career. Digging deeper it also showed discrepencies with regards to goalscorers in individual matches (some missing, some incorrect) and season totals. Indeed I know what a Herculean task it must have been for Kerry to get as much information correct as he did. And this mighty tome did manage to help fill some huge holes, especially the 1994/95 season. And then James Wright came partly to the rescue with a list of all the games that Tivvy had played since August 1996 – in the form of a spreedsheet resplendent with goalscorers and attendances. But, of course, not appearances! But the sheet of paper was no longer blank.

Programmes during the earlier seasons had intermittent appearance tallies and even using the fine Tivvy Town website almost proved to be a folly – but more of that later. We also had to define terms of reference for appearances. So, out went testimonials and friendlies – even those which had a trophy to play for, such as the Team Talk Challenge Cup and the Mills Hospital Cup. The pool of games used was based on all matches that were designated as Western League Premier Division, Les Phillips Cup, FA Cup, FA Vase, FA Trophy, Devon St Lukes (in both its guises) and any Southern League game, whether League or Cup. And an appearance as substitute is only registered if he came on, not if he was ‘not used'. And reserve games were not even delved into.

Cajoling of current Football Secretary, Ramsay Findlay, reaped its reward when he managed to uncover the Western League team sheets for seasons 1995/96, 1996/97, 1997/98 and 1998/99, which also included the Les Phillips Cup. This was as definitive as you could get. He also had a book of FA matches which, had it been taken for gospel, would have deprived Phil of an impressive record (again I'm getting ahead of myself) – but no records of the Devon St Lukes existed, as this competition requires the completion of a postcard to be sent to County HQ – no copies being produced at the same time. It was thanks to NCR paper that copies of line-ups for all other competitive games were, in theory, produced.

So we had a few large gaps such as 1992/93, 1993/94 and 1994/95. But we did have the good fortune of statistics from the latter years of the Western League (when I was the incumbent of the Programme Editor's job) and the Southern League – thanks to John Fournier. These programmes documented appearances for every competitive game and were to prove to be a godsend.

Unfortunately, with work schedules reducing the number of hours available for this research, I decided to take a short-cut and extract final appearances from the Tivvy web-site archives for the latter seasons and this, when taken into account with all other evidence, led me to believe that Phil would fall short of the magical 500 appearances for the club.

What we did know was that Phil scored his first goal thirteen days after his 24th birthday in our 3-2 victory at Westbury on Saturday August 22nd 1992 having joined from Dawlish Town.

In those days, just as this, Tivvy had a small squad and that season, along with the more well-known names of Ian Nott, Jason Smith, Neil and Mark Saunders, Mark Short, Hedley Steele, Matthew Scott, Lee Annunziata, Kevin Smith, Steve Daly, Steve Hynds and Martyn and Peter Rogers, we also saw the odd appearance from Dean Newman, Paul Ashford and Rob Hagley.

However, we had no clue as to how many appearances Phil had made as, unfortunately, the record keeper from that era, Sid Chorley, had not kept all the stats. So it was with some relief that Ramsay's second hunt around his house, loft and garage a week ago, led him to the Western League team-sheets for Phil's first two seasons. (But still no 1994/95). From this he was able to inform me that Phil had played 35 times (out of a maximum 38) in the league and made five out of five appearances in the Les Phillips Cup. He played in both FA Cup ties against Bath City and, according to the official FA log, played in nine of our FA Vase games. (We played ten that season).

Indeed, it was whilst at Dawlish that Phil got the bug for the FA Vase and he remembers being in the dressing room at Torrington on October 3rd 1992 explainiing to the rest of the Tivvy team that if little old Dawlish could get through to the latter stages of the national competition then surely a team of the stature of Tivvy could do as well, if not better. Little was he to know that Tivvy would go all the way.

And it was not just a Wembley appearance that came Phil's way that season. Firstly, Tivvy had become runners-up to Clevedon in the Western League Premier Division having scored 134 goals in the process. Then, in a hectic post-Wembley period, he also picked up a winners medal as Tivvy beat Clyst Rovers in the St Lukes, Phil scoring alongside Steve Daly and Kevin Smith in a 3-0 victory. Then, three days later, at Taunton Town, an amazing Les Phillips Cup Final against Clevedon saw Tivvy run out 5-1 winners, Phil scoring twice.

So it looked like Phil had made 55 out of a possible 59 appearances in his first season.

The next season was eagerly awaited and, this time, Phil made 49 appearances our of 52, missing just three league games. Amongst the players in that season's squad were Martin Tregedeon, Matthew Scott, Gary Carpenter, Paul Edwards (the right-back), Martyn Grimshaw, Tony Stuart, Paul Sedgwick, Chris Venner, Darreen Pengelly, Mike Warburton and Matt Taylor.

It was to be a season to remember as Tivvy romped to the League title, 16 points ahead of Taunton, scoring 125 goals in just 34 games. A 1-0 victory at Bideford in the St Lukes Final and the retention of the Les Phillips Cup on a sunny May afternoon at Dawlish when Taunton succumbed 4-1, Phil again scoring, was the icing on the cake.

But it was nothing to the 1994/95 season where Phil scored 51 goals. And that was all I could ascertain until last Wednesday and Thursday when the final pieces of the jigsaw fell into place.

With no official records in existence it was thanks to a lot of people that it all came together. I had a number of programmes from that season and a call to John Reidy helped fill some of the other gaps. But I was still stumped by a few dates and that was when a chance phone-call to Phil pointed me in the right direction.

Fortunately, as Phil was so prolific, we knew that every game he had scored in must be an appearance. But the first game of the season, at Liskeard, was a 4-1 victory – but Phil was not on the scoresheet.

Now, Phil being a teacher, meant that he had to take his holidays when he could and that sometimes coincided with the start of the football season. So, had he been away for this game? Fortunately, he remembered this game well so we knew to include it! But there were other holes, most notably to do with three games against Crediton United.

The first was in the league at Lord's Meadow on December 14th. The second was on March 1st in the Les Phillips Cup, also at Crediton. And the third was the return league encounter on Easter Monday, April 17th, in which I had annotated ‘g/k' by his name in the programme. Phil in goal? It seemed to ring a bell with John Reidy. And then I found a programme for a rearranged game played on Easter Sunday at home to Calne where Phil's name was again preceded by ‘g/k' in my handwriting.

But Phil couldn't remember this – nor could Dodge and nor, most importantly, could Hedley Steele who would have had to have played in front of him.

That's when Phil's memory was jogged when he realised that this was the “Elmore” season – the one where Elmore and Tivvy were neck and neck in the league. He remembered playing against Mangotsfield on April 1st and being crocked by their goalkeeper – an ankle injury. Whilst we could not verify one way or the other whether he played two days later at home to Dawlish in the St Lukes, we both agreed that it was highly unlikely. Tivvy had to cram in ten more league games that month, including the vital crunch game at Elmore on Good Friday.

We know that Phil did play at Torrington on April 5th, because he scored. Indeed, a visit to East Devon College to trawl through the Mid-Devon Gazette archives at lunchtime last Thursday showed him having to retire at half-time.

And Phil had already e-mailed me to confirm that he missed the next two games against Chippenham and Taunton and that he then hobbled around at Elmore in the 0-0 match that turned into a mini-war in front of a crowd of 1,738 as well as the TV cameras. Martyn Grimshaw came on for him after 53 minutes, so why was he then down in my programmes for Easter Sunday and Easter Monday as “g/k”???

It turned out that this was the season when the FA stipulated that you could have two outfield substitutes and one goalkeeper on the bench. Not having a deputy for Ian Nott – and Steve Daly being the obvious choice should Notty get injured – it transpired that Phil was nominated as the substitute goalkeeper! And he wasn't used…

The season ended in Tivvy holding onto the League Championship, one point ahead of Elmore, as well as keeping grips on the St Lukes with a 5-1 win over Bideford, Phil scoring twice. Elmore had the last laugh in the Les Phillips, knocking Tivvy out at the semi-final stage 3-1 at Ladysmead in what was a brilliant game compared to the Good Friday encounter.

All in all, Phil made 46 out of 51 appearances that season (the two earlier games against Crediton turning out to be games that Phil did play in – confirmed by the MDG archives) and played alongside the new names of Paul Tatterton, Dave Leonard, and Dave Stocker. He was ever-present in the FA Cup, FA Vase and the Les Phillips Cup, missing just that St Lukes game against Dawlish plus four league games in April when out with that recurring ankle injury.

In season 1995/96, Phil missed just the first two league games and went on to appear in all six Les Phillips, five FA Cup, the humbling defeat at Bideford in the Vase and both St Lukes games where once again Bideford knocked Tivvy out.

Micky Fallon had joined the club and there were appearances from Dave Mann, Danny Burwood , Dave Jones, Graham Waters, Steve Rowland, Damon Palfrey, Jason Cadle, Brett Wright, Mike Barrett, Ben Rowe, Lee Setter and Jamie Bircham as well as Jason Smith. This was the season that Steve Daly played in goal in the second half at Barnstaple, which we won 5-3 on April 13th, following an injury to Ian Nott. He then played the whole match at Odd Down a week later when we romped through 7-0.

Phil picked up a winners medal in the Les Phillips – a 4-0 win over Barnstaple, as well as a runners-up medal in the Western League.

1996/97 saw Phil play in 45 out of 51 games. He only started 22 out of 34 league games but came on as sub seven times. He missed one of our Les Phillips Cup games but won a winners medal in our 1-0 victory over Chippenham Town at Paulton Rovers in the Final. Tivvy also won the Western League for the third season in four and regained the St Lukes with a 6-0 thumping of Torrington, Phil and Martyn Grimshaw both scoring a brace. Kevin Smith and a Paul Edwards penalty completed the rout – and this was the season when we had Paul Edwards at number one and number two. Most confusing. It was our current keeper who scored that goal in the Final!

New names to the line-ups, apart from Eddie, included Anthony Thirlby, Mike Taylor, Lee Groves, Nick Campbell, Scott Rogers and, in a season that he will never forget, Kevin Nancekivell.

Season 1997/98 saw Phil miss out on six Western League games but he still made 53 appearances out of a maximum of 59 making him ever-present in cup games in a season which saw Tivvy retain the Western League title, get to the First Round Proper of the FA Cup, losing 2-1 at Cheltenham Town, pick up a winners medal in the thrilling 3-2 victory over Taunton Town in the disrupted match at Yeovil Town when a thunderstorm knocked out the floodlights and, most importantly, four days prior to this game, see Tivvy win at Wembley when Pete Varley's goal beat Tow Law Town.

Other new names around that season included Pete Conning, Lee Aston and Rob McGahey and Hedley Steele also returned to the fold in the February, albeit as cover.

The following campaign, 1998/99, Phil made 53 out of 55 appearances and, had he come on as sub at Backwell on November 7th and at home to Yeovil Town Reserves on May 5th, would have been ever-present.

With Tivvy retaining the Vase - Scott Rogers' goal making it 1-0 for the second year running over Northern opponents, this time Bedlington Terriers - it was also a landmark as the final season in the Western League.

New names in the squad included Mark Cutler, Duncan Floyde (back for one game having played many times for the reserves), Paul Maxwell, Richard Pears, Dominic Richardson, Stuart Smith, Darren Tallon and Lee Tucker.

Remarkably, in our first season in the Southern League (season 1999/2000) Phil was ever-present except for the St Lukes semi-final victory over Dawlish Town. He won a winners medal in that competition after we beat Torquay on penalties following a 3-3 draw (Phil scoring twice). In all he made 54 out of 55 appearances, although the web-site had led me to believe he had made three fewer.

Earlier last Thursday I had chased Ramsay once more in order to tie down season 1992/93 in my quest to find out which game he thought Phil had not played in in that season's Vase run. It was then we realised that there was a page missing in the FA log – our 5-1 win over Cinderford in which Phil scored twice. This was a very important find as we shall see in a moment – and added one more to the total. Ramsay then wanted to know how many games Phil had played – and I'd quickly calculated (wrongly) in my head that it was 494 up to and including our win at King's Lynn. “Shame you can't find any more” was his ripost.

It was only an eleventh hour decision to go through seasons 1999/2000 and 2000/01 with a fine tooth comb that showed the shortfall on the web-site due, no doubt, to the fact that I did not file match reports for all of the games!

That season we witnessed performances from the likes of Ryan King, Nicky Marker, Richard Pears, Luke Vinnicombe, Geraint Bater, Lee Harvey, Nathan Blamey and Darren Cann – with Hedley Steele again helping out in two games.

Last season Phil missed just three league games and, again, was ever-present in cups making his tally 52 out of 55. With the foot and mouth epidemic causing problems, we never got round to playing in the St Lukes but Phil did manage a runners-up medal in the Southern League Western Division as Tivvy won promotion to the Premier.

In the side we had new names in Paul Chenoweth, Jamie Morrison-Hill, Nicky Marker, Steve Ovens, David Steele (who had played in our reserves some years earlier), Dave Toomey, Steve Winter, Jason Rees and Rob Speakman – plus a return from Graham Waters for two games.

This season he has so far missed the League Cup game at Clevedon when most of the team were rested prior to our trip to Cardiff in the FA Cup - and two league games. That makes it 48 out of 51 appearances prior to our game against Chelmsford – and a grand total of 502. Amazing.

Throughout his career he has scored 358 goals (unless he popped up with some on Saturday) but he hasn't always played up front. Right back and left wing-back have also been positions he has excelled in but the role I will remember most fondly goes back to the Christmas of 1993 when he made a surprise appearance as Snow White in the Tivvy Town Panto. It was a well-kept secret (even the rest of the team didn't know) and what a brilliant performance. It epitomised the man to me – totally genuine in every way possible and never failing to give 100%.

I never shall forget his instigating of a sing-song in the STAMCO clubhouse after our defeat in the slime. It lifted everyone's spirits and surely made a lasting impression on the home throng as well and showed that he had a pure sporting outlook to his footballing career. Winning isn't everything – it's the taking part.

And he has been a gentleman when playing the game, picking up just four bookings (as far as we all can remember) in those 502 appearances – at Bideford, Calne and Cirencester plus at home to Bristol Manor Farm.

But surely the best accolade of all came from his peers when in 1998 he was made the Non-League Player of the Year – an award that still makes him shake his head in disbelief. But then he's that sort of chap.

And, finally, if we are looking for records, the one that impresses me most is that he has played in EVERY FA Cup, FA Vase and FA Trophy games in the past ten years. That's a grand total of 93 appearances in FA competitions!

And it wasn't just for Tivvy that he played as he was picked for the Devon County side (along with quite a few of his Tivvy team-mates) and managed to help them to one Championship. He also represented the Western League on October 19th 1993 in the Centenary Match against an FA XI played at Ladysmead.

The full breakdown of Phil's 562 appearances is as follows:

Season WL WLC FAC FAV DSL FAT SL SLC Season total
1992/93 35 5 2 10 4 56
1993/94 31 5 5 5 3 49
1994/95 30 4 6 3 3 46
1995/96 32 6 5 1 2 46
1996/97 29 5 3 5 3 45
1997/98 32 5 6 8 2 53
1998/99 36 4 2 8 3 53
1999/00 3 3 3 42 3 54
2000/01 5 5 39 3 52
2001/02 5 3 3 40 51
2002/03 5 1 1 42 4 53
2003/04 2 2
2009/10 1 1 2
Total 225 34 47 40 28 12 166 10 562