Match 49
29th April 1995
Fulham (Home)

Grecians' fans endure death by instalments

by PETER SLATER at St James' Park

THEY came with their camcorders and cameras to capture the moment - just in case.

They came in far greater numbers than on any other Saturday this season to bid a sad farewell to St James' Park and show they cared - just in case.

They also came with a giant, but pithy, message just in case anybody wondered why more than 3,000 people would want to watch a side that has plummetted to the foot of the Third Division; just in case there was anybody there with hard cash, influence, or power to prevent the inevitable from happening in the next 17 days.

The banner read "PLEASE DON'T LET OUR CITY DIE," and, on the final whistle - just in case anybody had not spot- ted it scores of them carried the plea from the Cowshed bank across the spring-green turf and displayed it in front of the directors' box. Just in case.

Then, they sang the favoured anthem "We'll support you evermore," just in case anybody - was ever in any doubt. That brought a huge lump to many throats, for, make no mistake, "evermore" will soon be "nevermore" for Exeter City.

If the administrators do not find £300,000 in the next week, along with a way of convincing the Football League's board of directors on May 18 that the club has a viable future, Exeter will lose a 75-year fight with finance, and the Park will have staged its 1,515th and last 90 minutes of league football. An hour or so after the die-hard fans had reluctantly left the scene of their hope-filled Saturday afternoons, John, of Exeter, was being given the chance to air the City "Is there anybody out there?" appeal on the Radio 5 Live soccer show 606.

"It sounds a snip," said host David Mellor, told of the £300,000 injection of lifeblood that Exeter immediately need, but £300,000 is just for star- ters; just for another season; just for the chance to try and clear the most pressing debts, totalling around £850,000, and the to-move-or-not-to-move poser.

Then there is the team. Do not forget the team, because that is what it is all about, and how this one needs money spending on it should another season magically materialise. Assistant-manager Trevor Morgan required no prompting to concede the staff's part in all this mess after the 1-0 defeat to 10-man Fulham, and to apologise to the fans. "If we had won a few games, everybody would have been a bit more positive, but when you're down at the bottom and losing every week, it's all doom and gloom," he said. "Our results have not helped in any way, and I'm sorry we didn't get the one we would all have liked to have seen today." So City head for Northampton on Saturday and the sunset on a run of 15 games without a win, having already compiled a record-breaking sequence of 12 home outings without success. That has all but ensured a rock-bottom finish for only the third time in their history, perhaps a fitting end to this most agonising and lingering of football club deaths. Set a captain's example by committed Mark Came against the Cottagers, it had looked for a moment that Exeter would bring down the Park curtain with a smile. However, this side has flat- tered to deceive so often this season that nobody should have been fooled, even when Fulham were reduced to 10 men following right-back Tony Finnegan's dismissal in the 52nd minute for a second bookable foul on Mark Gavin. A little more than 15 minutes later, the visitors were ahead, having first rehearsed the scoring move for City's defensive audience. Teenage debutant Danny Bolt swung over a near-post corner, Nick Cusack flicked on, and Pete Fox, having earlier retained his Player-of-the-Year title, clawed the ball to safety. Then teenage debutant Dan- ny Bolt swung over a near-post corner, Nick Cusack flicked on, and Gary Brazil stooped unmarked at the far post to head in. City undone by yet another cunning ploy. "That game was the story of our season," fumed Morgan. "We've had plenty of posses- sion, we've never looked like scoring, and we've been beaten by a terrible goal that is down to lack of concentration. "If we're here next season, something will be done about."
Chances are, they will not be there. As the ground emptied, the fans' banner was fluttering in the breeze, on its back on the Park turf. All that was needed was somebody to dig the hole.

The Programme 

South West Counties Youth League Cup

Plymouth Argyle (a) 

Barry McConnell's hat-trick sent Exeter City through to the semi-finals of the South West Counties Youth Cup at the expense of Plymouth Argyle at Harpers Park on Saturday. McConnell struck first in the 20th minute with a low drive from 15 yards and he completed his hat-trick when he twice ran clear in the 78th and 88th minutes to beat the advancing Mike Roberts on both occasions.



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