89/90 LEAGUE APPEARANCES: FOUR
TONY FRANKLAND WAS ONE OF A HANDFUL OF GOOD QUALITY PLAYERS FROM THE CITY YOUTH SYSTEM WHO CONTRIBUTED TO THE CLUB’S FINEST SEASON IN LEAGUE FOOTBALL.
Born in Greenwich in 1972, Tony was just 16-years-old when the 89/90 season kicked-off, and had recently been voted the player of the year at the club whilst still in his first year as a youth training scheme (YTS) apprentice.
He was promoted to first team action shortly after the departure of Chris Vinnicombe to Glasgow Rangers, and made his professional debut – now aged 17 - in the 1-1 draw at home to Wrexham on November 25, 1989.
An accomplished player for his age, Tony always looked like he could do a job when called upon, and Terry Cooper had no issue with putting him in to replace the more experienced Jim McNichol for his second appearance in a City shirt.
However, with a player of the quality of Richard Dryden ahead of him in the pecking order, he was limited to a total of seven appearances throughout the season, including starts in both games against First Division Norwich City in the FA Cup.
Despite limited showings, Tony was the "Barclays Young Eagle of The Month" for February 1990. Only one other Exeter player had won the award at that time - Chris Vinnicombe.
Following the celebrations, Tony signed a full contract with the Grecians in July 1990, but serious ankle and knee issues curtailed his early promise and he was released at the end of the 1991/92 season.
On his recovery Tony spent time at Bristol City on trial, before being picked up by Bath City where he made his debut against Farnborough Town.
At City, Tony had been a part of a great example of a club that was prepared to mix youth and experience to great effect, and his departure has often left fans wondering what might have been had it not been for his injuries... He will always be a champion though!