WE come to the end of our trip back through Minehead AFC’s glory days in the 1970s... but just like the Harry Potter film franchise, we are splitting Brian Walder’s review of the 1976/77 league season into two parts.

Bob Boyd’s men had become the first West Country team to win the Southern League Division 1 South title in 1975/76, and the Blues manager stated that they were aiming for a top six finish in the Premier Division the following campaign.

The prospect of such a finish in the top tier of the Non-League pyramid was no doubt scoffed at by the likes of Bath City, Kettering, Wimbledon and Yeovil Town.

Neither they nor Minehead could have foreseen just how close the Blues would get to a place in the Football League.

The passing of club chairman Isaac ‘Nick’ Carter, a local hotelier, dampened the mood before the season started, but the team remained buoyant, with Andy Leitch, whose 17 goals in 14 games had helped secure the Division 1 South title, now signed on contract.

He was joined by ex-Bristol City schoolboy Brian Durbin (from Taunton Town) and goalkeeper John Macey (from Newport County).

A home friendly against a Bristol City XI attracted 899 spectators, ahead of their Premier Division baptism in front of nearly 2,000 at fellow Somerset side Yeovil.

Disaster struck when Minehead’s deadly striking duo of Leitch and Jimmy Jenkins were both delayed by holiday traffic in Devon, forcing Boyd to start with the 11 players who had made it to the Huish Athletic Ground on time.

Even so, the Blues were only denied victory by a Yeovil equaliser with seven minutes left, as Bobby Brown and Derek Bryant scored for the visitors in a 2-2 draw.

Somerset County Gazette:

BLUES: Minehead players, from left to right, back row - Derek Bryant, Alan Impey, Steve Risdale, Richard Crabtree, John Macey, Paul Crowley, Bob Boyd, Steve Carter, Brian Hurford (trainer); front - Andy Leitch, Micky Burns, Bobby Brown, Chris Hurford (mascot), Jimmy Jenkins, Peter Druce, Brian Durbin. Ball boys - Steven Lynch, Phillip Bailey, David Steele

It had been a promising start, and as the season went on it became clear that Minehead were title contenders.

The favourites to win the league were Wimbledon, who had finished top in the past two seasons.

They arrived in Minehead on March 22, 1977, sitting one point ahead of the Blues, with both teams chasing table-topping Bath.

The Rec welcomed 846 supporters, and the Dons fielded future manager Dave Bassett in the in their line-up.

Minehead battered their opponents, but they could not get the ball past goalkeeper Dickie Guy.

Wimbledon left-back Jeff Bryant gave the Dons the lead with 17 minutes to go, after which the home side did everything but score.

Jenkins and Steve Risdale shot inches wide, and Leitch had a header turned onto the crossbar by Guy.

The ball just wouldn’t go in, and so Wimbledon escaped with a 1-0 win, from what was a non-stop thriller.

Could Minehead recover from that blow? Find out next week.