Match 29
7th January 1956
FA Cup 3rd Round
Stoke City (h)



Saturday January 7th 1956:
There were queues forming outside the walls of St James's Park for the big F. A. Cup third round match with Stoke City at 10.30 this morning. By lunch time the crowds were stretched most of the way around the out side of the ground. Two thousand ground tickets were on sale in St. Sidwell's Street, and were selling repidly. The selected teams were:

Exeter (blue and white) 
Doyle Mitchell
Davey Harvey Dunne
Buckle Burke Iggleden Murphy Rees
Referee:- Mr. A.W. Smith of Aldershot.
Oscroft King Graver Bowyer Coleman
Sellars Thomson Cairns
McCue Mountford

Stoke City (red and white) 

Stoke City, known as the "Potters" are at present among the leading clubs in Division 2 of the League, being seventh with 29 points, 13 wins, 10 losses, and 3 draws. They were in the First Division until three years ago when they went down in company with Derby. Robertson,
the goalkeeper, is 33 years of age and was born in London. He played for Lossiemouth (Scotland) in wartime football and from entering the professional ranks has assisted Chelsea and Birmingham. He signed for Stoke City in June 1952. The careers of Frank Mountford and John McCue, the full-backs, follow almost identical lines. Both are natives of Stoke, both are 33 years old, and both became professionals with their local club during the war.
Bob Cairns of Annathill, Scotland, is 27, and joined Stoke City from Ayr United in December 1953. Ken Thomson cost Stoke a record transfer fee for the club when they bought him from Aberdeen in September 1952. He is 25 years of age, born at Aberdeen, and is now reckoned to be one of the best centre halves in the country. Jack Sellars, like Mountford and McCue, is another local lad who graduated in wartime soccer, and is the son of Harry Sellars, a Stoke City stalwart for many seasons before the war. He is 31 years old and has served no other club.
Neville Coleman, outside-right, was born at Prescot 26 years ago, and joined his present club from Gorleston in January a year ago. Harry Oscroft, who occupies the other wing position, comes from Mansfield, and played for the Town club there until signing for Stoke in January 1950. He is 30 years of age. Centre-forward is Andy Graver of Craghead, for whose services a large amount of money has been paid at different times. Beginning his soccer career with Annfield Plain he soon attracted the attention of Newcastle United. Since then he has had two spells with Lincoln City and one with Leicester. He is a comparative newcomer to the Stoke eleven, having joined them only two months ago. 28 years of age and a renowned goal scorer. Frank Bowyer, who holds the inside-right position was born at Oldham 33 years ago but his only senior club has been Stoke City, for whom he signed just on the outbreak of war. The other inside man is John King, at 23 the youngest man in the team and a native of Wrenbury. He played for Crewe Alexandra before coming to Stoke in September 1953. Twelfth man is Johnny Short of Barnsley, and formerly of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Wath Athletic. He is 28 and has been a Stoke player for two years.

    The men who brought the Stoke club into existence in 1863 were some of the members of the Old Carthusians employed at the North Staffordshire Railway works. The Staffordshire Cup was won in 1878, and again the following year. Professionalism was adopted a few seasons later. There was one stage in the early history of Stoke when there was a demand by the players for an increase in wages from 2/6d to 5/- and a strike was threatened. With the formation of the League in 1888 Stoke gained membership, only to finish the initial season in the position of "wooden-spoonists." Faring just as disastrously the following year the Stoke Club was not re-elected, being replaced by Sunderland. Joining the Football Alliance, later to become the second division of the League, they returned to the top class within one season. Since then, however, the club's fortunes have been mixed. Apart from their having played in all three divisions of the League they had two or three years in both divisions of the Southern League, and also the Birmingham Combination. But they have fought back and today are well established and among the strongest clubs in England.


Exeter City, who at the time were in the Southern League, played three F.A.Cup-ties against Stoke in season 1909-10. The first match was on the Stoke ground, drawn 1-1, the next one at the County Ground, Exeter, was also drawn, no goals, and the decider, which took place at Fulham ended Stoke 2 Exeter 1.

Two first-time clearances stopped Stoke raids, and then Exeter attacked magnificently and almost scored. Iggleden raced out to the right wing, and passed back to Buckle. Buckle centred to Burke, whose header just missed the upright. Stoke tried to penetrate on the left and right, but Exeter's defenders halted them easily on three occasions and then Davey blocked shot from King.
Rees rounded Mountford and centred for Thomson to give away a corner, which Robertson punched away. Stoke swung the ball about beautifully and it came finally to King, on the edge of the penalty area. But as Hunter advanced the Stoke inside man shot yards wide. Robertson after saving from Murphy and Burke, then pulled down a terrific drive from Rees, right under the crossbar. The first fifteen minutes had undoubtedly been in favour of a lively and skilful Exeter side, who were giving their Second Division opponents plenty to think about. King wasted another chance through delaying too long and Harvey robbed him of the ball. The next effort by the visitors, from Bowyer, was much better, for he did manage to get his shot in although hampered by Davey and Dunne. In one tackle Mountford was injured and had to be helped off the field, leaving Stoke with ten men after 28 minutes. Bowyer dropped back to cover his position. The tall fast-moving Coleman was proving a menace to the City, and he waltzed his way past three men before cracking in a drive which was finger-tipped on to the upright by Hunter. At the other end Burke forced his way past three Stoke defenders, but his final shot was well held by Robertson.


After an uncertain start the visitors had improved, and in the second half continued to apply pressure. When Sellars placed a long ball into the City goalmouth Harvey headed away from Graver. Hunter held a ground shot from Cairns, and only Exeter's hard tackling and last ditch interventions kept Stoke from scoring. Bowyer wasted a good chance by shooting well wide from a good position, but right on the hour the biggest cheer of the match went up when Iggleden put the ball past Robertson, only for the linesman to flag for offside. Thomson was Exeter's biggest stumbling block, but even he was unable to check Rees as the young City winger dribbled through and beat Robertson again, but again the score was annulled because of an infringement, and this time the referee's whistle had blown before the ball entered the net. For a Cup match there had been a surprising amount of good and clever football from both sides, and Exeter had been every bit as good at it as Stoke.

This was a fine game of exciting football and the City well deserved to draw. They were every bit as good as the Second Division side and at least had the satisfaction of getting the ball into the net even though the scores were disallowed. Exeter's defence was strong and their forwards clever. But there was not quite the all-out effort expected in such an important match. The City were lucky in one respect, and that was that Stoke's finishing was appalling. Iggleden, Burke, and Rees were Exeter's best forwards, but most of their efforts were thwarted by the brilliant Thomson, the Stoke centre-half.

Official attendance 16,919, gate receipts £2,276.


The replay is at Stoke on Monday, kick off 2 p.m.
Supporters can travel by the 10.07 p.m. train tomorrow (28s.6d. return).



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