Hopes and Expectations

Exeter City Football Club

At no time within recollection did a season open more successfully for the City club than did the last one. The first team trounced Northampton Town by 5 goals to 1, and the reserves won their Southern League match at Dartford by 2 goals to 1. With their expensive new signing from Rochdale, Ron Johnston, to lead the attack (and to be the successor to Dick Ebdon, transferred "down the road" to Torquay United) and with Duggie Regan in his very best goalscoring form, Exeter's prospects appeared rosy indeed. Unfortunately, and in keeping with what has happened more than once in the past, the early promise did not materialise. Johnston failed to make the grade and was dropped after five matches during which he found the net only once. Reg Gibson was badly injured at Southend on the last day of August, and was out of action for many months. Worse still, the player has now been medically advised to give up playing football.


After picking up 11 points from their first 9 matches the City gained only another 8 by the end of the year. At that time more than half the season's fixtures had been completed. During this latter period no fewer than 37 scoring shots had found their way into Exeter's net, including nine by Notts County, six by Swansea, five by Leyton Orient, and four by Northampton Town, in the return match, and only four clubs were below the City in the League table. Relegation fears were not dispelled until the 35th match, against Crystal Palace at St James's Park on April 9th. With the remaining games yielding seven points the City eventually reached the twelfth place in the League, but only three clubs, Ipswich, Leyton Orient and Newport County lost more goals than the Grecians. The first round F. A. Cup-tie, against Barnet, featured the fastest goal ever scored in first class football. Archie Smith kicked off, down the slope and Bartholomew, moving up in support of his forwards shot low into the corner of the net less than ten seconds after the start. The Barnet players, none of whom had touched the ball, were utterly bewildered. The spectators were equally dumbfounded. After beating Barnet (6-2) and Hereford (2-1) Exeter City entered the third round for the first time since the war. They were beaten by 2 goals to 1 by Grimsby Town on the latter's ground, but all who saw the match were of the opinion that Exeter were unlucky. Playing their best football of the season, the City attacked for much of the game, and even when facing the strong wind in the second half Exeter continued to dominate the game. From all parts of the ground the City's clever constructive tactics drew unstinted applause from a sporting crowd, and the men of Exeter received a big cheer at the end of their gallant fight. A Grimsby Town director said afterwards that Exeter were unfortunate. He went on to pay the 3rd Division a big compliment by saying that if Exeter City's football was a fair sample of that played in the Southern Section then it must be an attractive. 

When the retained lists were drawn up and published on May 2nd, 1949, it was learned that Exeter City were parting with their captain and right half, Harry Bartholomew, and Johnston, their centre-forward. Free transfers were given to six players, namely A.Coles, J.Cumming, W.Dymond, B.Grant, R.Jeffrey, and F.O'Hagan. All exceps Coles and Dymond are Scots.

Nineteen players are retained, namely Hoyle and Singleton (goal), Johnstone, Clark, Rowe and Warren (full-backs), Fallon, Walker, Davey, Powell, and Gibson (half-backs), Hutchings, Smart, Smith, Durrant, Mackay, Regan, Harrower, and Rew (forwards). "Digger" Ebdon is one of five players given a free transfer by Torquay United.

The diary of Exeter City's close season activities can be summarised as follows:

June 20 J.Greenwood, half-back, signed from Manchester City.
June 22 W.Green, inside-forward, Royal Naval Barracks, Plymouth, on amateur forms.
June 23 Rigby (Manchester City), Birkett (Oldham Athletic), and McClelland (Blackburn Rovers) interviewed with a view to transfer.
June 30 McClelland transferred to Exeter City. R.Squires (Doncaster Rovers) transferred to Exeter City.
July 11 Arthur Coles appointed player-coach to Barnstaple Town. Ron Johnston signed for Weymouth.
July 27 Exeter City players reported for pre-season training.
July 29 Jack Angus appointed player-coach to Exmouth Town.
August 2 Exeter City signed Andrew Roy, inside left, of Dunfermline Athletic.
August 3 Leslie "Paddy" Doyle, of Everton, full-back, centre-half, or centre-forward, signed from Yeovil Town, for whom he played as a "guest" last season.
August 9 Exeter City v Bradninch, cricket match.
August 10 First practice match, followed by amateur trial game.
August 13 Final practice match, Whites 5 Reds 0.
August 16 Annual club outing to Exmoor via Tiverton, Minehead, and
Lynton and Lynmouth.
August 18 Ronald Mitchell, outside-right, of Glasgow Celtic, signed for Exeter City.


Extra terracing and other improvements will increase the capacity of St James's Park to 25,000 including the grandstand. Experts have measured the ground and allowed 18 inches per person, compared with Home Office allowance of 162 inches. They say there is room for 23,000 including the stand.


Mr S.H.Thomas, chairman.
Mr F.P.Cottey, vice-chairman.
Messrs A.T.Ford, C.W.H.Hill, J.Lake, F.P.Nichols, J.G.R.Orchard, J.Rigby, L.J.Seward, J.G. Warne, H.L.White.
Secretary:- Mr G.J.Gilbert.
Manager:- Mr W.G.Roughton.
Assistant manager:- Mr W.J.Fellowes.
Trainers:- J.Gallagher, S.W.Cutting.

Goal:- H.Hoyle, B.Singleton.
Backs:- J.Clark, R.L.Doyle, C.Johnstone, S.Rowe, D. Warren.
Half-backs:- F.Davey, P.Fallon, R.Gibson, J.Greenwood, K.L. Powell, R.Squires, S. Walker (captain).
Forwards: F.Durrant, W.Harrower, D. Hutchings, A.Mackay, C.McClell and, R.Mitchell, D.Regan, R. Rew, A.Roy, R.Smart, A.Smith.

City v Crystal Palace at St James's Park, August 20th.
Hereford United v City Reserves at Hereford, August 20th.


Wednesday, August 10th 1949.
WHITES (McClelland) 1
Attendance 4,100.

Reds: Hoyle; Johnstone, Rowe; Greenwood (Manchester City), Gibson, Squires (Doncaster Rovers); Digby (Dawlish Town), Roy (Dunfermline), Hill (R.A.F., Chivenor), Mackay, Smith.

Whites:- Singleton; Warren, Doyle (Everton); Fallon, Carter (Heavitree United), Powell; Hutchings, Harrower, Durrant, McClelland (Blackburn Rovers), Regan.

Saturday, August 13th 1949.

WHITES (Roy, Rew 3, Smith) 5
Attendance 4,699.

Reds: Hoyle; Johnstone, Rowe; Greenwood, Walker, Powell; Hutchings, Mackay, Durrant, Smart, Regan.
Whites: Singleton; Warren, Doyle; Fallon, Davey, Squires; Digby, Roy, Rew, Harrower, Smith.

Hoyle was injured in the first half and replaced in the second by A.McLaren, an amateur goalkeeper from Plymouth.


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