Exeter City F.C.
|Full name||Exeter City Football Club|
|Founded||May 1904 , as Exeter City|
|Ground||St James Park|
|Capacity||8,541 (3,000 Seated)|
|Owner||Exeter City Supporters' Trust|
|Chairman||Julian Tagg (vice chairman)|
|2015–16||League Two, 14th|
|Website||Club home page|
Exeter City Football Club / / is a professional association football club based in Exeter, Devon, England. The team play in League Two, the fourth tier of the English football league system. The club is owned by the club's supporters through the Exeter City Supporters' Trust.
The club was a member of the Football League from 1920 to 2003. Following five seasons in the Conference National, Exeter were promoted back to League Two for the 2008–09 season and immediately achieved automatic promotion to League One for the 2009–10 season. In the 2011–12 season of League One Exeter City were relegated to League Two, finishing 23rd with 48 points, they have remained in League Two ever since.
Exeter City was founded in 1904 and began playing on an old field used for fattening pigs, St James Park (not to be confused with the homes of Newcastle United or Brackley Town). Exeter remain at St James Park to this day. The club is nicknamed "The Grecians". For the 2016–17 season City's home kit is supplied by Joma and it consists of red and white shirts, black shorts, and black and white socks.
- For more details on this topic, see History of Exeter City F.C..
- For a statistical breakdown by season, see List of Exeter City F.C. seasons.
Exeter City F.C. was formed from two predecessor clubs, Exeter United F.C. and St Sidwell's United. Exeter United was a football club from Exeter, Devon, that played between 1890 and 1904. In 1904, Exeter United lost 3–1 to local rivals St Sidwell's United and after the match it was agreed that the two clubs should become one. The new team took the name 'Exeter City' and continued to play at Exeter United's ground, St James Park, where Exeter City still play today. Exeter United was formed from the cricket team of the same name and were one of the first football teams with the moniker 'United'. St Sidwell's United (which had also been known as St Sidwell's Wesleyans and St Sidwell's Old Boys) was a club that had formed from the regulars who frequented the Foresters Inn in Sidwell Street, Exeter, although the public house was always known as the Drum and Monkey. The team played in St Sidwell's old colours of green and white.
On 10 September 1904, Exeter City played its first ever competitive match, a 2–1 victory at St James over 110th Battery of the Royal Artillery, in the East Devon League. The attendance was 600, and the winning goal scored by Sid Thomas, who was to serve the club in various capacities for 70 years. City topped the East Devon League with 11 wins, two draws, one defeat in its first season, and transferred to the Plymouth & District League for next three seasons.
In 1908, Exeter City A.F.C. became a limited company. City became a full-time professional team, and applied successfully for membership of the Southern League, replacing Tottenham Hotspur. A wooden grandstand was erected, and the club entered into a leasing arrangement over the ground.
On 3 October 1908, City got its record highest FA Cup win: Exeter City 14–0 against Weymouth. The match was in the First Qualifying Round. James ("Daisy") Bell scored six goals, and 10 of Exeter's 14 goals came in the first half.
City changed to its current colours of red and white in 1910. This was after having had a poor start to the season (only two wins out of 11). City abandoned its supposedly unlucky green and white kit, and turned out for the first time in red and white striped shirts at home to West Ham United on 12 November. The result of the game was a 0–0 draw, but five consecutive league wins came for the club in December.
City made an historic tour of South America in 1914, during which time it played eight matches against teams of Argentina and Brazil. The Brazil national football team is believed to have played its first ever game against City on 21 July, at the Laranjeiras stadium, Rio de Janeiro, home of Fluminense Football Club. The result of the match is disputed, with some sources claiming City lost 2–0, whilst others claiming a 3–3 draw. That was the last match of the tour, which yielded five wins, one draw and two defeats. The only other loss was in a match that kicked off 12 hours after the players got off the boat.
Football League (1920–2003)
City's historic first match in the Football League took place on Saturday 28 August 1920, when Brentford was the visiting team to St James Park. Exeter won 3–0.
In 1931, City reached the sixth round of the FA Cup, losing a replay 4–2 to Sunderland in front of its largest ever home gate. 50 years later, City reached the sixth round again, but lost 2–0 to eventual winners Tottenham Hotspur. Earlier Exeter had beaten Newcastle United 4–0 having beaten Leicester City in the previous round.
In the 1963–64 season, City achieved their first ever promotion, going up to Division Three. However, City were relegated just two seasons later. It wasn't until 1977 that they would return to Division Three, under the guidance of Bobby Saxton.
The end of the 1970s and the very early 1980s were regarded as City's most successful spell in the Third Division, including a finish of 8th in 1979–80 and an FA Cup run the following season. Star players included Tony Kellow, John Delve and David Pullar.
City's only major trophy so far has been the Fourth Division Championship which it won in 1990. In that season, City won 20 league games at St James Park, and remained undefeated in 31 home matches, including dramatic draws against Norwich City in the FA Cup third round and Sunderland in the League Cup 4th round, both of which featured late equalisers for the visitors.
Following that promotion, City rarely shone at the higher level. The departure of manager Terry Cooper and key players such as Shaun Taylor, Richard Dryden, Clive Whitehead, Brian McDermott and Steve Neville left new boss Alan Ball to pick up the pieces. There were some successes under the former World Cup winner—including winning both games against local rivals Plymouth in the clubs' first derbies for a decade in the 1992/93 season—but Ball left for Southampton in January 1994 and the returning Cooper was unable to save Exeter from relegation.
Back in the bottom division, City struggled for nearly a decade, with chairman Ivor Doble taking the club into administration and starting a chain of events that resulted in the sale of the club's ground. In November 1994, the club almost went out of business and sold its stadium to Beazer Homes for a sum of £650,000, but were able to stay there after the local council took it over. After nearly two years on the brink of closure, the club came out of administration on 1 August 1996, although the problems on the field were far from over.
In 2003, City finished 23rd in Division Three and was relegated to the Conference National; Exeter were the first club to suffer automatic relegation without finishing bottom of the league. City won their last game against Southend United 1–0, but were still relegated as Swansea City's victory over Hull City left the Grecians one point short of safety.
Conference era (2003–2008)
Following relegation to the Conference, the club was taken over by the Exeter City Supporters' Trust, purchasing a majority shareholding on 5 September 2003. In May 2007 two of the Directors who had been in charge during season 2002–2003 were convicted of fraudulent trading at the club, John Russell receiving a prison sentence and Mike Lewis a community service sentence.
Several million pounds in debt and with no big investor in sight, the Trust kept the club going through fund-raising activities amongst rank-and-file supporters. Complex legal arguments with both Inland Revenue and football authorities meant that City's first season of non-league football was plagued by off-the-field uncertainty. The claim was finally dropped in June 2004.
In 2004, a Creditors Voluntary Arrangement (CVA) was put in place to reduce the club's debts. Through the club's "Red or Dead" scheme, hundreds of fans pledged at least £500 each to fund the CVA repayments, but the FA Cup proved to be the income boost the Grecians had needed, as City was drawn Manchester United away in the third round of the FA Cup. City drew 0–0 at Old Trafford in January 2005, gaining £653,511 as City's share of receipts from the 67511 attendance. Further income from a televised replay—won 2–0 by United—coupled with ongoing fund-raising and unpaid work from the club's supporters helped the club to repay its debts, and the CVA was cleared in December 2005.
2004 also saw the club's centenary. In May 2004 a friendly fixture was arranged against a Brazilian masters team at St James Park, a celebration of City's South American tour of 1914. The Brazilian team, containing such notable players as Careca and Dunga, won 1–0.
City's first team finished the 2006–07 season in fifth place, qualifying for the play-offs. After beating Oxford United on penalties in the semi-final, City met Morecambe at Wembley in the final, where they lost 2–1 despite taking an early lead.
Exeter reached the play-off final in the following season; this time Exeter looked to be heading out of the play-offs after losing the first leg of the semi-final at home to local rivals Torquay United 2–1, but came back to win the second leg 4–1 with 3 goals in the last 20 minutes. In the final Exeter met Cambridge United in front of a Conference play-off record crowd of 42,511, winning 1–0 with a goal from Rob Edwards, earning promotion to League Two.
Return to the Football League (2008–present)
League Two (2008–2009)
The club followed its success in the Conference by finishing as runners up to Brentford in League Two. A goal from Richard Logan helped Exeter to win promotion to League One with a 1–0 win away to Rotherham United on the last day of the season.
League One (2009–2012)
2009–2010 was Exeter's 45th season in the third tier of English football. They have played more seasons in the third tier than any club who have never reached the top two tiers. They survived their first season at this level for 16 years by one point; an 82nd-minute Ryan Harley goal against Huddersfield Town on the final day of the season saw Exeter overcome the promotion chasers 2–1 and relegated Gillingham in the process.
The club suffered a tragedy on 10 August 2010, days after the start of the 2010–11 season, when striker Adam Stansfield died of cancer aged 31. As a result, their next fixture against Dagenham & Redbridge on 14 August was postponed as a mark of respect. Exeter recovered well, however, and finished 8th in the league that season, one point off a playoff spot.
Following such a strong season, hopes were high for the 2011–12 season, but poor away form (with just two wins away from home all season) saw Exeter relegated to League Two. Relegation was confirmed on the 28 April 2012, following a 4–1 defeat away to Carlisle United.
League Two (2012–present)
The club remains owned by its fans, through the Exeter City Supporters Trust. During the 2012–2013 season saw Exeter have a marginally successful season, spending the season travelling up and down the top half of the season from 1st place to 10th. Exeter set new club record for away wins in a single season, winning 11 of their 23 fixtures away from home. City had one of the highest away win percentage of the season however disappointing home form lead them to fall into the playoff positions only to see a poor end-of-season run leaving them to fall into 10th position; despite their earlier automatic promotion and then reestimated playoff ambitions. Tisdale claimed that injuries were to blame for City missing out on the play-offs.
At the end of the 2012–13 campaign, poor funds and lack of income lead to an unfortunate squad trim with boss Paul Tisdale having to let go: Jamie Cureton, lead goal scorer of the last campaign netting over 21 goals and the 2010 campaign (with similar statistics); Guillem Bauzà, Kevin Amankwaah, unable to renew his contract despite of his fan- favourite status and great playing abilities heralding fan chants and songs; Mark Molesley, despite being there only half a season; Rhys Evans and later Tully's new contract was withdrawn due to financial constraints. Despite this Tisdale managed to sign Sam Parkin and Doug Bergqvist.
In 2013–2014, Exeter participated in Football League Two and the Football League Cup, but they were eliminated in the First Round of the competition by Queens Park Rangers. In the FA Cup Exeter City were knocked out by Peterborough United in the First Round. In the League 2 season, Exeter finished in 16th.
In pre-season, after a 0–1 friendly loss to Reading, the club went on a short tour in Brazil to commemorate 100 years since they played the Brazil National Football Team. Exeter drew 0–0 against Fluminense under 23's and then beat sides Tupi and a Rio Cricket Club 2–1 and 3–1 respectively. Exeter finished pre-season with 2–0 home losses to Swansea City and Torquay United.
Exeter City's opening matches of 2014–15 were a 1–1 draw against Portsmouth in League Two and then a 0–2 loss against Bournemouth in the Football League Cup. Both matches were played at St. James Park. In the 2014–15 FA Cup in the first round, they were beaten 1–0 away to Warrington Town, a club 100 places lower than them at that current point in the season. The game was also broadcast live on BBC Two. The Grecians finished tenth in League Two in 2014–15, their play-off push just falling short in the final few weeks.
City finished in 14th position in 2015–16, a season that included a memorable 2–2 draw against Premier League Liverpool in the FA Cup.
The club is nicknamed The Grecians, a name whose origin remains the subject of much speculation.
One suggestion is that in 1908 the club voted for the name because of its association with St Sidwells parish. Historically people living in the parish of St Sidwells were said to have been known as "Greeks" or "Grecians". This is possibly due to the parish's location beyond the city walls. For instance, in Homer's epic poem Iliad the Greek forces laid siege to the walls of Troy.
However, perhaps more plausibly, the association arose because of rivalries between city boys and those of St Sidwells during the annual beating the bounds.
It has also been suggested the name derived from a group of children in St Sidwells who were referred to as the 'Greasy Un's'. A further possibility was that it derived from a jeweller's shop in Sidwell Street, close to the ground, which had a clock hanging outside displaying the name 'Grecians' on its face.
Yet another theory suggests that it is a corruption of Caerwysg, the Welsh name for Exeter (Caer = fort, Wysg = Exe – fort on the river Exe, similar to the Cornish Karesk). Thus, citizens could have been known as Caer Iscuns and so possibly mutating to Grecians.
Famous fans include Coldplay frontman Chris Martin, Adrian Edmondson, Mark Nicol, Noel Edmonds, swimmer Liam Tancock, and Hoosiers drummer Alan Sharland. Singer Joss Stone signed up as a member of the supporters trust, being introduced to fans on the pitch as a new member during a League Cup match against Liverpool.
In 2002 pop singer Michael Jackson was made honorary director of Exeter City. He visited St James Park with celebrity friend Uri Geller, who was also a director. The crew of HMS Defender also adopted Exeter City as their home team and use their strip when playing games.
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Out on loan
Note: Flags indicate national team as defined under FIFA eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-FIFA nationality.
Notable former players
Notable former players include Harry Gee who during the 1927–28 season made 29 appearances for the club scoring 2 goals. He retired from professional after just one season at the club suffering a career ending broken leg, Harry had formerly played for the championship winning Burnley F.C. side of 1921/22. Cliff Bastin, who went on to play for Arsenal and England, Maurice Setters, who won an F.A. Cup winner's medal with Manchester United in 1963, and goalkeeper Dick Pym, who later played for Bolton Wanderers and England. Pym's sale to Bolton in 1921, for a fee of £5,000, allowed City to purchase St. James Park.
Other well-known players include the prolific 1930s striker Fred Whitlow, Arnold Mitchell, who played 495 games for City, Tony Kellow, City's record goalscorer, Ian Main, the gifted goalkeeper from the club's most successful years who died very young, Fred Binney and Darran Rowbotham in the 1980s and early 90s. Former England winger Lee Sharpe played four games for Exeter at the beginning of their 2002–03 Division Three campaign, scoring two goals. Jamie Mackie and Dean Moxey are products of the Exeter team.
David Pleat scored 14 goals for Exeter whilst playing for them between 1968 and 1970. He went on to manage several successful clubs, including Tottenham Hotspur, before becoming a football media pundit for ITV and Radio 5 Live.
Current management and coaching staff
Current academy and youth development staff
Notable former managers
Past managers include former England internationals Gerry Francis, Terry Cooper and the late Alan Ball. Four days after his death a moving tribute to Alan Ball was held at St James Park prior to Exeter's Conference match against Southport.
After managing the club to a famous F.A. Cup Third Round draw at Old Trafford against Manchester United in 2005, Alex Inglethorpe left the club in June 2006 to join the coaching staff at Tottenham Hotspur.
In May 2009 Paul Tisdale became Exeter's most successful manager by winning back-to-back promotions.
Cups and Trophies
See also: West Country derby
A survey conducted by Football Fans Census in 2003 revealed that Exeter City supporters consider their main rival to be Plymouth Argyle. The two clubs first met in a competitive fixture in 1908 when both sides were in the Southern League, and have contested matches intermittently during their histories due to being in different divisions. Supporters also share a friendly rivalry with Torquay United, a club whose supporters view Exeter as their main rival. The two clubs are closer geographically and have met more often during their respective histories, having first played a competitive match in 1927 after Torquay were elected to the Football League. Matches between the three clubs are known as Devon derbies. Despite their on-field rivalry, Torquay helped Exeter during their financial difficulties of 2003 by waiving their gate receipts in a pre-season friendly. This gesture was returned in 2015 when Exeter gave the Gulls their gate receipts as a result of Torquay's financial difficulties, having had to close down their academy and terminate the contract of manager Chris Hargreaves.