Delve, John

Birth Date

27th September 1953


Isleworth, Middlesx



Biographical Text

John Delve, who started with Queens Park Rangers, had already made over 130 league appearances for Plymouth Argyle when he signed for Exeter City in 1978. Playing six seasons in the third-tier, during which time Exeter reached the quarter-fnals of the FA Cup, John appeared in over 200 league matches for the Grecians before departing for Hereford United. After returning to St James’ Park and serving as caretaker-manager, John settled in Exeter and finished his career playing for Minehead, Elmore and Taunton.   

An England Schools international, John joined Queens Park Rangers as an apprentice and turned professional in July 1971. Making 15 league appearances for the Loftus Road club, a £30,000 fee took John to Plymouth Argyle in July 1974 where - as a tenacious and busy midfielder - he helped Argyle win promotion in his first season at Home Park. 

Totting up 132 league appearances for Argyle, and scoring six times along the way, John followed his former Argyle teammate Bobby Saxton - now the Grecians’ player-manager - to Exeter City in March 1978. Making his City debut against Rotherham United on 8 March 1978 John appeared eleven times during what remained of the 1977/78 season before playing 42 league games in each of the following two seasons as Exeter finished in 9th and then 8th place in the (old) Third Division. 

Then, in 1980/81, John had a further 36 league outings and appeared in all eight games in Exeter’s run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. Remaining in the team for another two seasons, and making another 84 league appearances in the process, it was something of a surprise when John moved to Hereford United in June 1983 having featured in 215 league games for City. He had also contributed 20 league goals plus three in the cups.

John was to play another hundred or so league games during his time at Edgar Street before briefly dropping into the Southern League with Gloucester City and starting work at Exeter City assisting with the club’s lottery. John quickly re-registered as a City player and made his return to the first-team against Crewe Alexandra on 24 October 1987. Playing thirteen league games in total John marked his final appearance in professional football with a goal against Halifax Town on 7 May 1988. 

John’s return to St James’ Park would be chiefly remembered for him taking over as caretaker-manager following Colin Appleton’s departure in December 1987 and subsequently remaining in post until the end of the season. With some initial expectation that John might be offered a role by incoming manager Terry Cooper, he left the club over the summer of 1988 to continue playing for Minehead, Elmore and Taunton.

Settling in the Exeter area, John managed the Centre Spot social club at St James’ Park and later became a publican before working for the Royal Mail.  



Exeter City league games only


Appearances as Substitute






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