Season Summary


The 1955-56 football season has ended with Exeter City escaping a re -election plea by a margin too narrow, much too narrow, for comfort or complacence. Yet the season began full of promise and hope that it would be one of Exeter City's best-ever years. The board of directors spent money freely; manager Dodgin sought out players with first-class reputations; and there was a new spirit at large about a "new-look" Exeter City. But the season that came was destined to provide little but despair and disappointment. Looking back, the season can be divided into four categories. First, the spell of fine, sometimes brilliant football, football which did everything but bring results.
Then that glorious peak period when, solely by good football, results did come to send the City shooting up into the top half of the table. And sent them on a money-spinning F.A. Cup run. That run ended in the third round replay at Stoke, and so did Exeter's league form. For, starting with that 3-nil defeat, the City lost seven out of their next eight games, and the stark possibility of finishing at the bottom was making itself a nuisance. Finally came this present spell of the City's. Good enough to win them enough points to stay away from the bottom.

The Weaknesses
But not anywhere good enough. What went wrong? What are Exeter City's weaknesses? They are these. Too many of the men Exeter bought lack one or more of the three requisites. Right age, right ability, right type. And too many of the City's retained players failed to improve, in some cases completely falling away from form. The chief weaknesses are first and foremost in the important positions of inside-forward.The City's big, important need, is for inside-forwards. One should be strong and a goal-getter. The other should be a ball-player, not just a fiddling, foot-over-the-ball, "beat two men then lose it" type, but a ball-player in the Don Mills (Torquay United) stamp. Give Exeter City the right men in those positions and they are capable of finishing in the top half of the League table. If the City want to be in a promotion fight they not only need inside forwards but two or three defenders as well. Chairman Mr Sidney Thomas makes no bones about the fact that the City must finish in the top twelve next year. And he says "Steps are now being taken to put the club in a position to fight for a place at the top. The directors are now concentrating on that."
Division 2 Pair
Better than anyone manager Norman Dodgin knows which positions do not satisfy him. And already he has had his eye on a wing-half-back and an inside-forward both with Second Division clubs. But whatever signings are made in the summer and whatever happens in season 1956-57 surely nothing can be more disappointing than the one just ended, which started on such a high note and finished on a key of gloom. The highspots: George Hunter's unfaltering brilliance, he was without the slightest doubt Exeter's best capture. The 3-2 win at Watford and the 6-1 thrashing of Crystal Palace. Ronnie Burke's crashing second goal against Southampton. The low spots: huge defeats by Colchester, Southampton, and Brighton. A pitiful defeat by lowly Walsall. The season long air of injury that hung over St James's Park. Mr Thomas has said that it is imperative for Exeter City to finish in the top twelve next season. The reason of course is the proposed splitting of the two present 3rd Divisions into a new 3rd and 4th Division. Exeter City's manager goes a step further and thinks that the formation of four national divisions will be the beginning of the end for many of the clubs at present in the 3rd Division, both north and south.

Billy Armfield
A more than welcome guest in Exeter City's dressing room at Walsall recently was Billy Armfield, the outside right in that wonderful Cup Team of season 1930-31. Armfield, who came to Exeter from Aston Villa and later had a spell at Gillingham, now lives in his native Birmingham and supports his former love, the Villa. His playing career ended when he lost a leg after an injury in a pre-season Banbury Spencer practice match, but he still says: "The best and happiest days of my life were spent playing football and my time at Exeter was the happiest of the lot." Another old City player who came in to the dressing room at Walsall was Bill Coley. He would like, he says, to return to the west country.

Some Facts and Figures.

Exeter City have not one "ever-present" this season, and that goes to show how injury-ridden they have been. Arnold Mitchell, the captain, made 45 appearances, George Hunter made 44, and Ray John, who played both as a forward and a half-back, and Keith Harvey, each made 42. In Southern League matches Norman Packer with 36 appearances, was the most consistent. Foley played in 34 matches, Kelly and Peter Thomas 32 each.

Top of the goalscoring chart (League matches only) are Ronnie Burke and Ray Iggleden with 12 each;
Alan Sword (16) and Burke (12) scored most for the Reserves.

The attendance figures for the season show the City's highest gate in League matches to be 13,991 on September 3rd, when Torquay United were the visitors. The lowest was 4,027 against Watford on February 11th. A crowd of 12,044 watched the cup-tie v Hendon, and one of 16,919 v Stoke. 



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