Ebdon, Dick (Digger)

Birth Date

3rd May 1913


Ottery St Mary, Devon



Biographical Text

Dick ‘Digger’ Ebdon, from Ottery St Mary, scored fifty Football League goals in 138 league games for Exeter City either side of the Second World War. Making his debut as a 22-year-old in 1935, he made his final appearance in 1948 before playing a handful of games for Torquay United. 

Whilst playing for Ottery St Mary Dick had attracted the attention of Plymouth Argyle but soon joined Exeter on trial playing for the reserves against Torquay United Reserves in January 1935. After scoring ten times for the reserves, with another seven goals in friendlies, he made his Football League debut for the Grecians whilst still an amateur when lining up against Coventry City at St James’ Park in September 1935. 

It was another three months before Dick signed his first professional contract and, after scoring nine goals in his first season, somewhat faded from the scene before scoring on a dozen occasions in 1938/39. With a career interrupted by war, he eventually returned to action for City in the 1944/45 and 1945/46 'war time' seasons before the resumption of official league football in 1946/47 when he hit 16 goals in just 29 starts.

After a joint benefit match with Jack Angus in March 1948, when Exeter City faced Plymouth Argyle, Dick was released at the end of the 1947/48 season aged thirty-five. Declining an offer to join Yeovil Town, he opted for Torquay United but only played five games scoring just once. He then returned to playing with Ottery St Mary where he continued to turn out until well into his forties. 

Richard "Digger" Ebdon died in the Honiton area in April 1987.

The following is an article from the 
Ottery St Mary Heritage Society Journal, bh Roger Giles

This article is about their son Richard George Ebdon born on Saturday 3 May 1913, and who died on 27 April 1987. Richard, or Dick as he was usually known, was a very talented footballer, in which circles he was known as `Digger`.
Where did the unusual nickname come from? According to the Exeter and Plymouth Gazette of 17 March 1950 Exeter City fans referred to him as `Digger` because of his `fast, bustling and persistent style`. The Gazette also said (in the interesting language of the time) that he played with `dash and cunning`.
Digger Ebdon first started playing for Ottery St Mary FC in 1928. He soon attracted the attention of scouts for professional clubs. In 1931 he joined Plymouth Argyle and played a season as an amateur in their Combination team.
In 1932 he joined Exeter City, again as an amateur, initially playing inside left. But then becoming the bustling centre forward that the Exeter City supporters loved.
Digger scored 52 goals in 139 games for The Grecians, which puts him high up on the list of all time Exeter City top scorers. His achievements would have been even greater had he not lost arguably his best years to the 1939 to 1945 Second World War (he was 26 at the outbreak).
During the war he worked at an aircraft factory in Yeovil. After the war, he was still a very good footballer. In the 1946/47 season (aged 33) he scored 16 goals in 29 starts for Exeter City.
In 1948 he signed for Torquay United, but only played briefly at Plainmoor, scoring 1 goal in 5 games. And then it was back to Ottery, where he became coach as well as a top player.
During Digger`s `hayday` as a player he completed a plumbing apprenticeship. Luton and Millwall were keen on `signing him` but he wished to continue with his plumbing training whilst playing for Exeter City. 
Footballers were not well paid in those days. And the Football Association appeared not to be very helpful in ensuring footballers got their deserved rewards. A `benefit match` had been arranged for 21 March 1947 for Digger and another Exeter City stalwart. Unfortunately the FA refused to sanction the match because it had been arranged for mid week. The match had to be called off!
After his retirement as a professional footballer, he worked for Ottery St Mary Urban District Council for many years. He lived most of his life in Tipton St John.
Newspaper reports show how prolific he was after his return to Ottery, for whom he played until he was over 40. By 17 March 1950 (with a few weeks of the season still to go) Digger had scored 52 of the 113 goals scored by Ottery.
Another very interesting newspaper report refers to 14 April 1950 (Easter Monday) when Ottery entertained Selhurst Rovers of Croydon, South London in a friendly match. Ottery won 9 - 0 (Digger Ebdon 6, Roy Isaac 2). Before the match all the players enjoyed tea at The London Hotel (perhaps the visitors enjoyed the tea and cake too much!). Afterwards they were entertained at a dance in The Institute.
Richard `Digger` Ebdon was an exceptionally good footballer. He was a player who `gave everything` on the pitch. In spite of his relatively modest size (officially 5ft 8 and 11st) for a centre forward, he was a real handful for opposing defenders. Quite rightly he was revered by Exeter City supporters.
Roger Giles
15 April 2024









richard"dick"digger"was my great great grandad,iwish i could of atl east seen him personally.it burns your heart not being able to see your grandad that was a legend.my mind swells about thinking what a great man he probally was.my eyes tear from looking at the picture for to long,only seeing him from a old gold picture.

By the great great grandson Leo Jones want any more info.try contact me i would give my number but not to thee world.


Julie Perham

Richard Ebdon's father was my Great Grand Mothers cousin.  She was Alma Rebecca Ebdon who came to Australia following her marriage to George Fox Ellis.  Would love to have contact with extended family.

Julie Perham

Roger Giles

I live in Ottery St Mary. I knew Richard and his father Harry in the 1960s. Richard's grandfather William Henry Anstis (died 1953) was my grandfather's uncle.

Paul Farley

Contact Exeter City and they will pass on the information 

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