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Post-War Recovery
Post-War Recovery 

Following the cessation of hostilities on 11th November 1918 notice was given of an annual general meeting of Moseley Football Club and the committee also reported that the playing prospects were most encouraging.


This period saw the Byrne dynasty joined by another Moseley dynasty the Hills, a family that was to play an extensive and important part in the club’s subsequent history.


During the first post-war season six games were arranged and it appears that Howard Hill, who had previously only played one season for the club, acted as captain although he was probably not formally elected to the post.


The events of 1919/20 proved the committee’s forecast of the playing prospects to be more than slightly optimistic, because the season opened with an almost complete lack of success, understandable perhaps after a four-year break in playing activities.


This period culminated in a match against Birkenhead Park, which resulted in the most crushing defeat the club suffered for many years. In 1973 Howard Hill recalling this period of the club’s history said that this was the worst defeat during his 45 years of membership. Fortunately things improved as the season progressed, largely due to the help that Hill received from A.D. Gerrard and F.H. Deakin while ‘Fred’ Byrne also added his expert assistance. Both Gerrard and Deakin were former club captains and were later to serve as president.


However, the 1920/21 season was not much better as of the 28 games played, seven were won, three were drawn and 18 were lost. Howard Hill served for only one season as captain but for some reason his sucessor, W.T. Latham, seems to have been largely forgotten. Most sources either say that Austin Woodward directly succeeded Howard Hill as captain or that Woodward led the side from 1919.


Woodward was actually elected captain in 1921/22 and Hill became honorary secretary. As Woodward was in Palestine for part of the season Hill deputised during his absence. By this season the membership had improved to the extent that a few ‘A’ team matches were played on a ground at the back of the houses in Moor Green Lane.


During the season R.V. Ryder, secretary of Warwickshire County Cricket Club was persuaded by ‘Fred’ Byrne to take an interest in Moseley. Under Ryder’s influence the close friendship and association between the two clubs, which endured for many years, came into being.


Moseley appeared in both the senior and junior Midland Counties Challenge Cup finals of 1922/23. The junior final was lost to Newbold-On-Avon II by a clear-cut margin and an account of the match summed it up by reporting that  ‘the villagers had something up their sleeve by way of a vigorous bunch of youngsters. After a very short time the Moseley backs showed that they had no stomach for their rough and tumble tactics, and the thing was as good as over’.


No criticism of this sort, however, could be brought against the 1st XV, who lost the senior cup final against Coventry, at Nuneaton, by six points to five. Without their star three-quarter, R.H. Orcutt, Moseley took a lead of five points in as many minutes through a converted try by Edgar Foster, youngest brother of Frank Foster, the famous Warwickshire cricketer. This lead was held until ten minutes from time, when Moseley, having suffered badly through injuries, conceded two tries to lose by one point. The first XV results for the season once more showed an improvement with 34 games played, 18 won, four drawn and 12 lost in which 353 points were scored and 265 conceded.


By the 1923/24 season, the last under Austin Woodward’s captaincy, the club was nearly back to its pre-war strength with four XVs being fielded every week. The general position of the club was also felt to be strong and the future was viewed with confidence.


The season’s opening performances pointed to a more than usually successful year with narrow away defeats to the strong Leicester and Bradford clubs. However, later in the season there was also a long list of injuries with at one stage the fullback, the whole of the three-quarter line and the captain and vice-captain from the forwards all being out of action. These causalities were reflected in the results of later games, however, by the end of the season the overall record was played 33, won 21, drawn one, and lost 11, points for 388 and points against 203.


Prominent players during the season included R.H. Orcutt, who scored in every game until he was injured, L.C. Spencer, James Pritchard, one of the finest full-backs in the country, H.E. Markwick, who was selected to play in the forwards for the North and C.G. Stanley, a 17-year old fresh from school who was referred to as the brainiest forward seen in the Midlands for many years. In addition, Austin Woodward was considered to be one of the best forwards in the Midlands who had not been selected for an international.