April 1909 Match by Match | 3rd December 2005

A continuing series looking back at the history of Exeter City Football Club and how the local press reported events.

Thursday 1st April 1909
Southern League
West Ham United 4 Exeter City 1

The Grecians went to Upton Park with a reputation calculated to strike fear into the hands of the supporters of West Ham, their recent form taking them up to third in the league table. However, the Hammers exploded the ambitions of City, and at the same time considerably improved their own position by winning in great style. Such a wide winning margin though, hardly represented the respective merits of the teams. The Exonians in fact, played football equally as clever as their opponents but luck was against them, whilst everything West Ham tried seemed to work in their favour.


Kitchen had a big hand in the victory of his side. When the City were pressing strongly in the first half he made some remarkable saves, two in particular from Watson being in the best manner of Robinson.


From the kick off West Ham attacked, and Robinson saved at the expense of a corner, which nicely placed by Blackburn into the mouth of the City goal, was scrambled away. For fully ten minutes of the Londoners repeatedly outwitted the endeavours of Ambler and Craig, and sending in a stream of centres. Millear, however, seldom got himself in the right position to take advantage of these opportunities, otherwise City's goal would have fallen earlier.

On settling down, Exeter showed their superiority in the front rank, and Kitchen brought off two saves from McGuigan. On the second occasion he fisted the ball behind one of the uprights.


At the end of 25 minutes a clever movement on the Hammers right wing resulted in Shea lifting the ball over to Blackburn, who headed into the net with Robinson badly out of position. Three minutes later Millear snapped up a centre from Ashton and put his side two up.


Then at the end Bell struck the crossbar with a full-blooded drive which even Kitchen could not have stopped, but McGuigan made amends shortly afterwards when he took advantage of a mistake by Taylor and scored with a fast shot. Just before half time West Ham broke through and Blackburn put them further ahead, the ball cannoning into the net off one of the Exeter backs.


Half an hour went by before the home team again succeeded in getting the ball past Robinson, who in stopping a shot from Costello, put the ball directly in the path of Millear who scored an easy goal. The city made strenuous efforts during the remained of the match to reduce the margin, bit to no avail.


West Ham United team: Kitchen, Shreeve, Taylor, Allison, Piercey, Randall, Ashton, Shea, Millear, Costello, Blackburn.

Exeter City team: Robinson, Craig, Crelley, Ambler, Tierney, Johnson, Parnell, Watson, McGuigan, Bell, Copestake.


Saturday 3rd April 1909
Southern League
Portsmouth 2 Exeter City 0
Attendance: 10,000


The Grecians made their first ever appearance at the famous Fratton Park of the Portsmouth club, where they played a return Southern league fixture. On 29th November the City had beaten Portsmouth 4-1 at St. James' Park. This match will be remembered for the fact that Portsmouth's right back, John Smith, a young man in his first year with Pompey as a professional, unfortunately broke his right leg during the course of the second half and for six weeks afterwards remained under treatment at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital.


Ambler was reported to be suffering from a chill, and Copestake was given the right half position with White making a quick return to the team at outside left. Before today’s game the teams were level on points. Portsmouth being third in the table and Exeter fourth. A good match was in prospect between these evenly matched sides.


The weather was beautifully mild and the ground in good condition. The time of waiting was occupied by a reserve team match and the famous Pompey chimes were often hear ringing around the ground.


McGuigan kicked off and Copestake was early in evidence, but the first attack was made by Pompey and ended with the ball going over the bar. Tierney set Parnell going and Watson was checked by one of the Portsmouth backs, but McGuigan secured the first corner of the match. Parnell placed it well, but Warner headed clear to Dix, whose run down the wing was stopped by Tierney, the ball going being for a goal kick.


White led the next Exeter attack, but this was repulsed, and two minutes later McHahon slipped through the centre between the Exeter backs and game Robinson no chance with a well-directed ground shot into the corner of the net. This happened six minutes after the start and two minutes later McCafferty headed a beautiful goal amid tumultuous cheering from spectators. The City were rocked by these two quick goals and it clearly showed in their play for the next few minutes.


Portsmouth were now playing with the utmost confidence and Reid broke through only for Robinson to dash twenty yards from his goal and kick clear just in time. Further attacks by the home side resulted in Reid striking the crossbar and Banks shooting just too high. McCafferty screwed his shot wide with Robinson scrambling across his own goal. Exeter must have been relieved the whistle for half time at this stage of the match.


The second half started at a fast pace and Portsmouth at once attacked, but McCafferty's shot went weakly behind. Craig made two well timed clearances and front he second Tierney put Bell in possession. The inside left was fouled and from the free kick led to a sharp attack, from which Parnell went wide. Exeter were playing with more spirit in this half and doing nearly all of the attacking.


Portsmouth seemed to be content with the lead they had established by the interval. The home side lost Banks through injury and with only ten men were at times hard pressed to keep the Grecians at bay, but time ran out for City, who although played well in patches, were clearly second best for most of the match.


Portsmouth team: Cameron, Warner, Clipstone, Banks, Buick, Yates, Kirby, McCafferty, Reid, McMahon, Dix

Exeter City team: Robinson, Craig, Crelley, Copestake, Tierney, Johnson, Parnell, Watson, McGuigan, Bell, White.


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