Yeovil People

Frederick James Bond

Early star of the Yeovil Football Club

 

Frederick James Bond, known as Fred, was born in Ash during the spring of 1873. He was the third of the six children of farmer of Little Lyde / Lower Lyde Farm (the names appear to interchangeable), William Bond (1832-1907), originally from Axminster, Devon, and Mary Ann Hoare née Bishop (1847-1936), originally a farmer’s daughter from Chardstock.

William and Mary's children were; William (b1865), Henry G (b1867), Fred, Frances M (b1876), Albert (b1878) and Matilda (b1880). In the 1881 census, William Bond and his family were recorded on the farm, described as 'Lower Lyde' and his occupation described him as 'Farmer (25 acres employing 1 labourer)'.

Fred was educated at the Kingston School in Yeovil where, no doubt, he gained his first taste of association football, under the guidance of John Aldridge, founder of the school. Fred's father, William, was more of a rugby man and had played for the town side, yet in later life took up football playing for Yeovil, and even playing against his son, Fred, in 1889.

Association football first came to Yeovil in the 1890/91 season and was played in conjunction with the Yeovil Rugby Club, both playing games at the cricket ground (see Gallery) in West Hendford - at the time enjoying the sobriquet 'Cricket Lane'.  West Hendford was even named Cricket Lane in the 1901 census, although Cricket Lane was just a colloquial name used simply because the field used for cricket. West Hendford at the time was a simple track beyond Beer Street, between allotments and the Westland factory complex.

The soccer club was known as the Yeovil Football Club, and football and rugby were played at the West Hendford ground on alternate Saturdays. The birth of the football club we know today took place in 1895 with the formation of Yeovil Casuals. They played in green and white stripes, at the Pen Mill Athletics Ground. By the 1907/08 season the club name had changed to Yeovil Town Football Club and a new strip of green shirts with white cuffs adopted. 1908 saw the formation of another club in Yeovil, Petters United, their colours being amber and black and playing in Brickyard Lane (today's St Michael's Avenue)..

From an early age, Fred was a very talented footballer, playing against men's teams from the age of fourteen. His name frequently appeared in newspaper match reports. One report even had him turning out for Wincanton. Positioned as a half back, he was known as a hard working, tough tackler with a terrific and powerful shot.

The 1891 census showed that Little Lyde Farm was still farmed by 60-year old William Bond who lived there with his family. The three eldest sons, William (aged 26), Henry (aged 24) and 18-year-old Fred, worked on the farm while the three youngest children were all at school.

At just eighteen Fred was the captain of the Yeovil team, showing maturity beyond his years. He remained Captain until 1904, and only then stepping down to give himself more time with the running of the club. Once, playing against Radstock, he protected an opposing player from a beating by a 'screaming mob' after being sent off. Famously, he took his team to Devizes in 1901, only for half the team to catch the wrong connection at Trowbridge. Captain Fred arrived at Devizes' Quaker's Walk ground with just five players. He happily accepted when Devizes refused to cancel the game. With just Fred and four other Yeovil players, they took the field to take on the eleven of Devizes. They lost 15-0. Fred, it was reported, tried from the first to the last in a hopeless cause! For the record, the Devizes defenders wore coats to keep warm.

In Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser of both 1898 and 1903 William Bond (presumably the son) was listed as the farmer of Little Lyde Farm

In the winter of 1907, at Yeovil, Fred married Marlen Sibley (1879-1940), born in West Coker but later moving to Ilchester. They were to have two daughters; Marion Sybil (1908-1996) and Matilda Mary (1909-1909) who sadly died in infancy.

In 1911 Whitby's Yeovil Almanack Advertiser noted that the farm was being farmed by the youngest son, Frederick James Bond. The 1911 census listed Fred as the head of the family, together with Marlen and their daughter Marion, together with Fred's mother, two brothers and sister Matilda.

Fred played for Yeovil for 25 seasons, and his  association with Yeovil football club lasted long after his playing days. He attended matches as often as possible and was even photographed before the famous Sunderland FA Cup match in 1949.

Frederick James Bond died in Yeovil during the spring of 1958. He was aged 85.

 

Many thanks to Michael West for much of the above.

 

gallery

 


Courtesy of Michael West

Frederick James 'Fred' Bond photographed in his footballing heyday.

 


Courtesy of Olly Ewens  -  This photograph features in my book 'Yeovil From Old Photographs''

Postcard of Little Lyde Farm, probably dating to the 1920s.

 

This photograph of Kingston School was taken by Yeovil Photographer Jarratt Beckett and published in his 1897 book  "Somerset viewed through a Camera". It was while at this school, Fred first encountered Association football, under the guidance of the school's founder, John Aldridge.

 

This is a 1938 aerial photograph. At top left is the Westland complex with West Hendford - at this time only a stony track - running across the lower left corner. The field between the allotments and the Westland factory complex is the ground shared by Yeovil Football Club and Yeovil Rugby Club from 1890 to 1895. It was later the Somerset County Cricket Ground.

 

A newspaper photograph of 76-year-old Fred Bond talking to Eric Bryant, Yeovil's centre forward, in 1949.