Hopes and Expectations
Season 1932/32

The Grecians: Season 1932 1933

Here we are again, bubbling over with energy and enthusiasm at the start of the great new season, 1932-33. Halfway through August it seemed that serious competition football was almost unthinkable in view of the heat wave. Gloom and drizzle during the week, however, have transformed the fellings of everyone, and on Saturday next the usual big figures. of attendances will be recorded at the opening games, and all the customary excitement will be abroad again. "King Soccer" has once more been acclaimed by the multitude, and will shortly enter upon his reign of eight months and a half, as firmly enthroned as ever in the hearts of the great mass of the people. Soccer, with its attendant thrills, its glorious victories and its tantalising and intriguing reverses, comes as a welcome relief from the anxieties of a difficult world. The confidence of the big clubs in their public and in the future of the game is well shown by the steady progress they make, year by year, in the way of providing additional and improved facilities for spectators, and in their efforts towards building up the team which "shall eclipse all previous teams."


The close season has not seen many sensational transfer deals. The clubs are relying more and more on club and team spirit, rather than individual brilliance, to bring about those match results, which pull in the public in ever increasing numbers, and which spell happiness all round. More thought is given nowadays to the securing of a balanced combination which shall be reliable as as clever, and to this end many a club manager has been devoting much time during the last few months. Not a club but hopes for a better season than the last, for even the best of seasons is not so good that it cannot be bettered, not a player but hopes for a rattling good run during the campaign and not a spectator but hopes that the play of his favourites will be so good as to stir himself and his associates to the very marrow. And so the curtain rises!


There are more changes than usual in the composition of the Third Division Southern Section for the new season. Fulham gained promotion, Mansfield Town have transferred their own interests to the Northern Section, and Thames have dropped out of the running for lack of support. The vacancies have been filled by the return of Bristol City, who are relegated from Division II, and the election of Newport, old associates who hope for better luck in their second spell in the Football League, and Aldershot Town, a vigorous young club which has been knocking at the door for some time. Gillingham had to seek re-election, and were successful in their appeal.


Exeter City, stimulated to some extent, no doubt, by the wonderful strides made by their great rivals at Plymouth, have done a lot this summer in the way of ground improvement, and the enterprise shown by the City club in completing the roofing of the whole of one side of the ground to provide covered accommodation for the shilling supporters, and in terracing and extending considerably the big East End bank, has resulted in such a marked advance comfort and appearance as to enable St James's Park to take its in place amongst the cosiest as well as amongst the most compact and convenient arenas in the Third Division. There are bigger grounds, and smaller grounds, but it is doubtful if there is any ground in the competition on which the spectators have a closer or better view of the proceedings, or which is so central and has such pleasant surroundings. Wet weather, for the future, then, need have no terrors for the Exeter City following. There is now ample room under cover for at least ten thousand people.


Next comes the consideration of the question as to whether or not the club has got together the playing personnel which is likely to fill the ground. The prospects, as far as can be judged at this stage, are exceedingly rosy. Very shrewdly, it seems, the Exeter City directors and officials have retained intact the backbone of last season's side, and have sought to build up a new attack which shall bring about improved results. There was a deal of misgiving when it was learned that the forward line which helped to bring high distinction to Exeter City in the Cup-ties of two seasons ago was to be dispersed. It was of course appreciated that the attack was not by any means as good as it might have been last winter, and that new players were required to bring it up to standard. At the same time it was impossible to view without regret the last of a forward line which at times played inspired football, and by doing so helped to achieve some splendid results.


Houghton and Whitlow, of the old first team forwards, remain with the club. Purcell and Armfield have joined Mr Fred Mavin, who was the Exeter City manager until succeeded by Mr Dave Wilson and then by Mr McDevitt, at Gillingham; Varco has removed to Brighton and Hove Albion; Doncaster and Roberts have linked up with the Crystal Palace club, and Halliday has returned to Scottish football. Roberts hardly stayed long enough at Exeter to become established, although his ability could not be questioned in the few matches he took part in, but every one of the others had his admirers, and on occasions gave some rattling good displays. The fact remains that as a line the attack weakened perceptibly in the closing months of the season just past. The "fire" seemed to have gone out of their football, and in the circumstances it is likely that a change will be beneficial all round.

Men of fine physique and considerable experience and skill are now engaged to take the vacant positions, and the impression is that the City club has not only strengthened the first eleven but has also made a big advance as regards the second team. The important reserve element has been brought up to very much the standard of two seasons ago, when the Grecians carried off the honours in both the Southern and Western Leagues.

Welsby, from Sunderland, impresses as a particularly dangerous left winger. Speedy, with excellent ball control, he shoots hard and centres admirably, and should make a splendid partner for Houghton or any other capable inside-left who may happen to gain first team recognition. Scott, the right winger from Northampton, is another fast and powerful player with plenty of confidence.
Poulter, the ex-Naval and Sunderland centre forward, appears to be exceptionally well equipped physically for his exacting role, and in Connaboy, a Scotchman with an Irish name, and some experience of Soccer in the New World as well as the Old, the club appears to have found a very suitable deputy to Houghton for the inside left position.

Other forwards who are likely to make good with Exeter City are Jack Kennedy, a sharp-shooter, of Sheffield United and Tranmere Rovers fame, and Andy Higgins, another Scotchman, who signed for Cowdenbeath after Connaboy had left that club for New York, and was later transferred to Millwall.
No new half backs have been signed on as professionals, but there are two very serviceable recruits to the full back division. They are McJennett, from Cardiff City, and Hughes, from Bristol City. The reserve goalkeeper will be Joe Ince, from Newcastle, who will be keen to do well in his first season as a professional.


Mr M.J.McGahey, the "father" of the club, has declared in the most emphatic terms that Exeter City are all-out for promotion again in the forthcoming season, and he is looking to the players to put up a skilful and scientific game of the sort which will achieve good results and make a favourable impression everywhere the Grecians play. Mr William McDevitt, the City manager, has high hopes for the club in the new campaign, and feels that if the players will aim at consistently good results, away as well as at home, and will keep that end in view always, they may very well follow the Argyle into the Second Division. There was not a lot of difference between the Grecians and the teams which finished above them last season. Charlie Miller, the popular captain, who declares himself to be in better trim than ever, and certainly looks the part, struck upon a happy note on the occasion of the annual club outing earlier this month, when he said that the old players appreciated that the City was a good club, and one well worthy of the best efforts of them all. He asked the new players to help the old brigade to carry the team to the top of the Third Division. These are sentiments which every supporter of the club will echo.


An almost all-new attack is the big feature of Exeter City's team building for the new campaign, and everyone is anxious to see how the newcomers in both the first and second elevens come through their initial tests. Success by the Grecians is dependent on quick, keen, and spirited endeavour by all sections of the team, and by wholehearted co-operation between what Charlie Miller, the City skipper, describes as "the old brigade" and the new front line men. The players, at the end of their preparation for match duty, are all in splendid fettle, and as eager as the local public for a rousing season for Exeter City and themselves. Nineteen full-time and two part-time professionals, the latter being Ditchburn and Courtney, have been engaged, as follows:
Goalkeepers A.L.Davies J.Ince
Full Backs  W.J.Gray G.J.McJennett
C.Miller R.G.Hughes
Half Backs  R.L.Clarke J.A.Childs J.Angus J.H.Ditchburn S.Barber C.A.Robinson 
Forwards J.Scott M.Connaboy J.Kennedy F.Whitlow H.Poulter H.Houghton A.Higgins A.Welsby K.F.Courtney

In addition to the professionals, an unusually valuable measure of amateur support has been enlisted, among the players who will give assistance when required being:
Stanley Hurst, the opportunist centre-forward, of Tipton,
Victor Dash, inside left, formerly of Yeovil and Petters,
E. Tappin, a talented left half with Kent League experience,
R.G.Lennon, outside left, from the London and Athernian Leagues,
Jimmy Gumm, the Devon County right winger,
Stanley Risdon, an inside left who promises well,
A.Johnson, of Friernhay, a wing half with the constructive flair,
E.Keefe, another very useful local half-back.


Joe Ince, goalkeeper, born at Byker, Newcastle, and formerly with Wellbeck Athletic and St Peter's Albion.
John McJennett, right-back, has just completed five seasons as a professional with Cardiff City. Was once the subject of an offer of a four-figure fee from Sunderland.
Richard G.Hughes, full back from Bristol City, where he has been located for more than a decade, rendering good service year in and year out to the "Babes." Hughes was born at Sunderland, and gained football recognition at an early age as a schoolboy international.
John Scott, outside right. Born at Sunderland, and has played for Seaham Harbour, Sunderland, Kettering, Notts Forest, and Northamp ton Town. Played in both matches for the Cobblers against Exeter City last season.
Michael Connaboy, inside right, from Edinburgh, has travelled in his football career to Albion Rovers, Cowdenbeath, the "New York Nationals," Yeovil & Petters, and Wolverhampton Wanderers. He was an outstanding player in his one season at Yeovil.

Jack Kennedy, of Blyth, was signed on by Sheffield United after a season with Blyth Spartans, but in view of the strength of the United's first team personnel Kennedy found it impossible to get a look-in with the Chiefs. He was transferred to Tranmere Rovers, for whom he scored 34 goals in 41 Northern Section appearances in season 1930-31.

Harry Poulter, a Sunderland-born footballer, came into prominence in Soccer with the Royal Navy at Portsmouth, Rosyth, and with the Atlantic Fleet generally, here and in the Mediterranean. Assisted Sunderland last season, taking part in three F.A.Cup-ties, two at Sunderland and one at Southampton. He was then an amateur, and he begins his professional career as a "Grecian." Andrew Higgins was born at Gartsherrie, near Coatbridge, and his first football was for the local club, Gartsherrie Athletic. Then he moved on to Stoneyburn Juniors, and after only two months there was signed up by Cowdenbeath as a professional. Millwall brought him to England as an outside left, but he will operate at inside left for Exeter City.

Arthur Welsby, who was born at North Ashton, Lancashire, has had a long career with Wigan Borough, playing mainly at left half. Last year he was signed by Sunderland, who played him mainly at outside left, and it in that role that he will assist the Grecians.

Headquarters and ground:- St James's Park.
Club colours:- Red and white striped shirts, dark blue knickers.

Directors:- Mr. M. J. McGahey (Chairman), and Capt. F.J.C.Hunter,
Messrs E.Head, F.P.Nichols, R. Thomas, J.Lake, F.J. Parkhouse.
Secretary:- Mr S. H. Thomas.
Manager:- Mr W. McDevitt.
Trainer:- Mr R.Loram.
Assistant trainer:- Mr T. Brown.
Captain:- Charlie Miller.

Practice Matches

The first public practice match was held at St James's Park on the evening of Saturday, August 13th, and while the form displayed in pre-season trial games cannot be taken too seriously, all the new players engaged by Exeter City revealed considerable ability. Experimental sides were chosen, and the result was a win for the Whites, who defeated the Red and White Stripes by 2 goals to 1.

Ditchburn Miller
Clarke Angus Barber
J.Gumm Kennedy Whitlow Higgins Courtney
Referee:- Mr H. Frith.
Linesmen:- Messrs E.L.Potter and R.Powell.

Welsby Houghton Poulter Connaboy Scott
E.H.Tappin Childs Robinson
McJennett Gray

The game was rather faster than than usual in these preliminary trials, and the sides were so evenly matched that interest was maintained throughout. Close on five thousand spectators were thrilled when the veteran Ditchburn checked a menacing advance by the Whites' forwards, and from his clearance Whitlow, artistic as ever, sent Courtney away with a perfect ground pass. Courtney closed in and got round Jimmy Gray, but then shot just over the bar. Higgins, the Millwall recruit, opened the scoring for the Stripes. with a rousing shot into the top of the net which gave Ince not a hope of saving. It was a beautiful goal, and one which roused the onlookers to high enthusiasm. Before the interval Childs levelled the scores with a typically powerful header, following a corner-kick. The concluding goal was scored in the second half by Welsby, who beat Davies from close in. Afterwards Poulter headed against the cross-bar and Kennedy had a great drive stopped by Ince.


Exeter City's policy of encouraging amateur talent was displayed in the second public trial, when a number of players from the unpaid ranks took part. Some of these men revealed distinct promise, and the game served to show the extensive resources at the club's command.

Davies; Ditchburn, Gray; Clarke, Angus, E.H.Tappin; Whitlow, Kennedy, Poulter, V.Dash, Courtney.

Stripes:- Ince; McJennett, Miller; A.Johnson, C.Smurfit, Barber; S.Lancaster, Connaboy, S.Hurst, Higgins, R.Lennon.

The result was a win for the Whites by 3 goals to 1 after an even struggle. All the goals were scored in the second half, by Clarke, Poulter, and Whitlow for the winners and Connaboy for the losers. Despite the absence of such capable exponents as Childs, Houghton, Welsby, Scott, and Robinson, the players on both sides gave a good account of themselves, and Higgins, Poulter, Kennedy, and Connaboy confirmed the good confirmed the good impression previously made. Whitlow was the best winger on the field, and his many interesting duels with Miller were thoroughly enjoyed by the crowd. Whitlow by adapting himself so well to the right wing position proved that a good footballer is able to play anywhere.

Saturday August 20th 1932.

Exeter City's final public practice match attracted three thousand five hundred spectators to St James's Park on Saturday evening. Plenty of good football was seen, the play at times reaching great heights despite the oppressive weather. Seven goals were scored, the Stripes, regarded generally the as Probables, beating the Whites by five goals to two.

Stripes:- Davies; Gray, Miller; Clarke, Childs, Barber; Scott, Connaboy, Poulter, Houghton, Welsby.
Whites: Ince; McJennett, Hughes; Robinson, Angus, E.H.Tappin; Whitlow, S.Risdon, S.Hurst, Kennedy, Courtney.

Whereas the Stripes fielded as expected, the Whites made several changes. Hughes, newly arrived from Bristol City, was at left back instead of Ditchburn, and in the absence of J.Gumm and Higgins the forward line was re-arranged, with Risdon and Hurst coming in and Whitlow, the chosen centre-forward, moving to outside-right. McJennett won applause for a nice bit of anticipation which enabled him to come across and intercept a promising move by the Stripes' forwards, but Scott was in the picture again soon afterwards, and from his centre Childs headed just over the bar. Cool persistence by Whitlow led to the Whites opening the score in the eighth minute. Whitlow's shot was blocked by Miller, but the right winger regained possession and swung the ball out to Courtney, who promptly centred to the goalmouth. Here Hurst, the opportunist amateur, jumped high and headed smartly into the net.


Good play by Kennedy and Courtney kept the action at the Stripes' end of the field, and after eighteen minutes Poulter levelled the scores by steering into the net a centre from Scott. Not long afterwards Connaboy put the Stripes in front by shooting strongly and low into the net from a mix-up in front of goal. Well timed and thoughtful touches by Whitlow gave Hurst a further opportunity of distinguishing himself, and the popularity of the Tipton St John's amateur who never hesitates to take a chance was well illustrated when from Whitlow's excellent pass he netted from close range. Half-time: Stripes 2 Whites 2.


Good play by Welsby brought the Stripes a third goal. He forced a corner, and placed the flag kick well back for Childs to move to the ball and score with a strong header. Following this, the effective half back and full back play of the Stripes was a feature, and their forwards had a full measure of good opportunities. Welsby hit the crossbar, and later, from Scott's pass, Connaboy, from 25 yards' range, shot a picture goal. Further attacks brought a second goal by Poulter. At the Stripes' end there was a thril when Risdon blazed at the ball with all his might and Davies whipped it over the bar in his best style. The match suggested that the Grecians will have a strong eleven in the forthcoming season as soon as the new forwards settle down to top-speed work in front of last season's tried and trusted backs and halves, and also that the club has some excellent talent in reserve. Poulter, Connaboy, and Kennedy are forwards of powerful physique, while Welsby and Scott are quick-moving artistes.



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