Hopes and Expectations

Exeter City F. C.

SEASON 1907-1908

Much of momentous import to the Association world happened in the last month of the 1906-07 season and since its close. Nothing, in fact, quite so momentous as the amateur split has occurred since the adoption of professionalism. There are many, and among them several writers of repute, who have been prone to criticise the attitude of the F. A. in the circumstances which led up to this rupture. They have stoutly defended the amateurs who seeded from the F. A. ranks, and have had little or nothing to say in defence of the parent body. But the F. A., short of abandoning their original demands in every one of the points under dispute, did everything they could to avoid the actual rupture. The secessionists brought it about, and if the game suffers in consequence of the split, to them must be attributed the primary blame. However, it does not appear that the game will suffer. It was understood in the first place that the Army and Navy would join the new Association, yet on the contrary, they have remained as loyal as ever to the disciplinarians. It was also presumed that amateur organisations all over the country would forsake the F.A. almost in a body, but, up to the present time the only clubs that are directly affiliated to the F. A. who have thrown in their lot with the Amateur Association number sixteen all told. Every day affords fresh evidence that the parent body will in the end come out triumphant from this rupture. The seceding clubs will be the real and only sufferers in the long run, and it can hardly be expected now that the offers upon which a conciliation can be founded can emanate from the Football Association.


While so much of importance has happened during the "close" season in respect to the governing bodies and the constitution of the Leagues, there have been comparatively few transfers of real importance. Material changes in the playing composition of the English League clubs have been the exception rather than the rule. A good deal has been written about the new players who have come South this season, but, from an unprejudiced point of view, it is readily admitted that in the transfers which have been effected as between North and South, the former have had the better of these bargains. To quote only two examples, there are no captures by the South which are adequate compensation for the loss by the Crystal Palace club of Wallace to Aston Villa, and a promising young player like Winterhalder, of West Ham, to Everton. Very rarely indeed does a man of high reputation in the League circles come South; the great majority of the emigrants, season after season, are men from the second strings of the Leaguers. Strikingly so has it been this season, and the true follower of the game would be sanguine indeed, having regard to all the existing circumstances, who prophesied that 1907-08 will find the big honours coming South.


From the lists of transfers which have been published it looks as though Plymouth Argyle have done as well as any of the clubs in the Southern League in regard to new men. In Atterbury (Swindon Town), Wake (Newcastle United), Sterling (Hearts of Midlothian), Morris (Welsh International, Grimsby Town), Holden (Southend United), and Mc Cormick (Sheffield United), they have secured a useful batch of young players, who should furnish a big improvement on the record of the supposed "stars" of last season. These new men, in fact, with proper management controlling the club, are good enough to put the Argyle back again on an assured foundation. It is far from as likely, however, that clubs like Luton Town and Tottenham Hotspur are taking up the fray for another season with strengthened armour, and taken all round the Southern League prospects just now are on the downgrade. The secession of Fulham, the threatened secession of Tottenham Hotspur and one or two others, the persistent neglect of a good system of promotion, the present weakness of the 2nd Division, in consequence, and the unexplained principle which justified the selection of Bradford Park Avenue to the ranks of the Southern League, are, all alike, so many "writings on the wall." What do those writings foretell? Surely that a national League sooner or later must replace the many existing anomalies.


Turning now from affairs of national concern in the world of Soccer to those of purely local interest it is easy to find many things to enthuse over. To start with, Association prospects were never so bright in Exeter as they are at the outset of this, another season. Friernhay start the year as a Senior Club, while the City have on the tapis the very important scheme of a new ground at the Barnfield. When that scheme has been realised Soccer will have risen to a position of importance in the "Ever Faithful," which only the most sanguine could have anticipated five or six years ago. Nor will its development surely stop there. The future of the Association Code in this district is almost solely in the hands of the premier club, Exeter City, and now that the organisation has risen to the possibilities of the future, thanks in not a small degree to the assuidity of officials like Mr Fey and Mr Thomas, Association will establish a firm and lasting foothold here.

The Barnfield ground, as many people know, will be ready by the opening of another season. The terms upon which the City Club will have the lease of it, their plans for laying it out on the most modern and up-to-date lines, its entrances, and capacity, are all being gone into. Suffice to say now that if the scheme, as at present drafted, is carried into effect, Barnfield will be an enclosure of which any amateur club would have reason to be proud. And above all, and this is where the Club will have a tremendous pull, it is ideally situated in almost the very heart of the city.


It behoves every follower of the game, having regards to the ambitious nature of this bold venture, to give the City Football Club their loyal support, and the earnest hope may be justifiably expressed that all petty carpings and all spirit of jealousy may be sunk in the desire to see Exeter City prosper in all their new schemes. For, after all, as the City Club prospers, so will all other Soccer organisations in the whole district reap the benefit proportionately.
The Citizens, or the "Grecians," as they are called, have never entered upon a season when it was more important that they should score playing successes. If they establish themselves in public favour by meritorious performances during the coming winter, the bigger and venturesome battle of 1908-09 is half won. They have started, acknowledging this fact, upon the correct course. Mr Thomas has stated that, for instance, no effort will be spared to encourage the East Devon League or Reserve Team. In the last two or three years the great mistake has lain here, for the Club has had absolutely no reserves to fall back upon, and in the event of a contingency arising, they have had to seek help from the Batteries, or, indeed, any available quarter. Things must be different in future. If such men as Price and Chapman, of the Batteries, are available for the best part of the season, secure their services by all means, but an indiscriminate reliance upon men from Topsham Barracks has proved to be nothing but a rank failure, and must therefore be discontinued.

The backbone of a good team remains. Men like W.Wells, Bastin, Fenwick, Warner, Sellick, and Singlehurst are still in the city, and these, with some of the promising young blood which was out in the trial game, should provide a useful and serviceable side. The best advice, in summing up, is to encourage the young players of merit, spare no effort to win matches now that the verge of such an ambitious project has been reached, and the future of the City club will be all that it can desire.

City Personalities


The Exeter City Club owes a far deeper debt of gratitude to Mr Sid Thomas than to anyone. He practically pioneered the organis ation, and sticking to it through its early difficulties, is still at the helm now that the Club has been firmly established. In the years to come when Association (as most good judges prophesy that it will) occupies a much more important position in the sporting life of Exeter than at present, the name of Mr Thomas will always be indisputably linked with its birth and rise here. Details of the services he has from time to time rendered his Club would make a long story indeed. To be brief, he appeared as centre-forward for St Sidwell's United when he was only fifteen, and was recognised at once, though not a "showy" player, as one who was indefatigable and effective. The same qualities have also always marked his secretarial work. In the first two years of the St Sidwell's club they were the champions of the then new Exeter and District League. In that second year (the club was a very small affair then), Thomas was appointed Secretary, and has successfully held the reigns of the office ever since. His 41 goals in one season, which was done in that same year, still remains a record for the Exeter City Club. Subsequent to their premiership in the local league, St Sidwells joined the East Devon competition, and at once went into the sen ior classes.
Phenomenal Progress.
Then came phenomenal progress. The Club beat the Exeter United club in a memorable match by 3 to 1 and thereafter they became the first club of the city. The old Exeter United faded out and in the fourth season of its existence the St Sidwells organisation became Exeter City. It was chiefly through Mr Thomas's foresight that the Plymouth League was joined, while he, too, in the face of much adverse criticism, introduced Christmas Day football to Exeter. The history of the City Club, in short, has been the history of Mr Thomas's labours for the game, though he himself, there is no doubt, would wish to give a great share of the praise to Mr Fey, who has latterly helped him in the capacity of hon. treasurer. As a player Mr Thomas's best days were when he was the centre forward in the well remembered quintette: Sellick, Davey, Thomas, Eveleigh, and Coles. Standing 5 ft. 9 ins., and weighing 11 stone, opposing backs and halves always found him a difficult man to rob of the ball. Latterly he played inside right, and good sportsman that he is, persisted last season in standing down for one whom he considered a better player. Mr Thomas was only 22 last April, and, therefore, has a great deal of further useful work before him.


The second "City Personality" is one of the most popular, and one of the most brilliant players of the Exeter City Club. The reverend has only been in Exeter for three years, but in that short space he has done much to bring the premier "Soccer" club of the city into the prominent position it now occupies in the amateur organisations of the county. Mr Reid got his grounding in Soccer football while at school at St John's, Newfoundland. He has never been tempted to enlist in the ranks of the rival code but has been steadfast to Soccer, his first love. At St John's Mr Reid. was captain of the school eleven. He was at that time an inside-left, but his versatility is illimitable within the scope of a soccer team. There is no position. on the field of play he has not occupied, and Exonians are sure, from their own observation, that he has acquitted himself with credit in any and all of these positions. In 1897 Mr Reid came to England for the purpose of going up to Oxford. Here also he was selected to captain the St. Edmund Hall college team, playing at full-back. Subsequently he was ordained at Kempsford, in Gloucestershire, and was from time to time seen in the ranks of various amateur teams, including Cirencester and Swindon Amateur. Later on he played for Swindon Town in Southern League football for two seasons, and was at that time the only clergyman playing in that League. He occupied various places in the Swindon team, outside right, outside left, and centre. Mr Reid came to Exeter in 1904, and what great service he has rendered to his present club is familiar to all followers of the code in the city, and far beyond it. He has been found usually either as centre-forward or inside-left, but last season played many times at left-half and even at back, for his sound methods of defence are only equalled by his dangerous attack. Mr Reid is a keen and enthusiastic lover of the game. But he prefers, he says, playing against professionals to amateurs. He likes the hard, fast, and strenuous game invariably put up by the professional teams. In the matter of injuries he counts himself lucky. He has only sustained a dislocated shoulder and a damaged knee. They were at the time both pretty bad, and the visible effect of the latter is not yet effaced. But it gives no pain and does not handicap the Reverend in his play, and therefore he does not let it in way worry him. any


Jimmy Sellick, the Exeter City captain, was born in February 1884, and so is 23 years of age. He played Soccer at school, and is one of the smartest and certainly one of the fastest forwards ever to have worn the City colours. He began with St James's Church Lads' Brigade in 1897 and for three seasons was the mainstay of the team. In 1901 he played for St Thomas's Past as an outside left and headed their goals list with 28 to his credit, including six against Mr Bailey's XI. In his first year with St Sidwell's United he shared the top scoring honours with Eveleigh, 34 goals s each. Two years after wards he shared with this Sid Thomas. Starting as inside-right, he later went to his present position, outside-right, mostly with Davies as his partner. He has been chosen several times for Devon County and East Devon. A fine turn of speed and accurate centres are features of his play, apart from his own goalscoring.

Opening of Football

Saturday, August 30th.


The Exeter City Football Club played a trial game, under the above heading, at St James's Park this afternoon, the proceeds being in aid of local charities.
Considerable interest attached to the game from the fact that several new men were being experimented with. These included Dyer, Letheren, and Stoneman, of the old City Argyle Club, now defunct, Clatworthy and Herriman, both of whom are Army players, Goodchild, late of one of the Association teams in Bedford, and King, a young player from St James's F.C. And in addition to these, Percy Warner, the old St Luke's College half-back, who will be available for the City this season, and some of the best known of the old hands, were on the field. The teams were :
Probables: Ancliff; E.Wells, W.Wells; Clatworthy, Warner, Bastin; Watson, Sellick, Herriman, Stoneman.

Possibles:- Cummins; Dyer, Letheren; Perrington, Kelly, Goodchild; Singlehurst, Drew, Hyde, Chase, King.

Referee: Mr Blackmore.

The Probables, who were a man short, were beaten by two goals to one after a rousing game. Play opened at a fast pace and both goals had narrow escapes. Ancliff brought off good saves from Sellick and Stoneman, and in the ensuing exchanges just managed to scramble out a "grounder" a from King. Cummins, a former Rugby man, fisted out straight stinger from Sellick. Dyer and Letheren, the old Argyle backs, shaped very creditably and formed a sound defence. In the second half Hyde, the skipper of the Whites, headed in a good centre from Singlehurst to give his side the lead.
Singlehurst, rushing through at express speed, put in a fierce shot at close range which gave Ancliff no chance whatsoever, thus putting the Whites two up. It was not until near the finish that the Greens scored their only goal in a decidedly lucky manner. At close quarters Cummins al punched away, but the ball struck Dyer's head and rebounded back into the goal. It was generally conceded that the new men shaped exceedingly well, and that if they retain their form the Club have the making of a fine East Devon team. Singlehurst was exceptionally good but Watson, from Northants, was disappointing.


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