Kellow, Tony

Birth Date

1st May 1952


Falmouth, Cornwall



Biographical Text

In three spells with the club Tony Kellow scored 129 league goals for Exeter City and a further 21 times in cup competitions. Joining from Falmouth Town (his home town club) at the age of twenty-four, Tony scored 19 league goals during City’s 1976/77 promotion season and, after a move to Blackpool, returned to play an important part in the Grecians run to the quarter-finals of the FA Cup in 1981 when he famously netted a hat-trick in the replay against Leicester City. Leaving later for Plymouth Argyle, with subsequent short stays at Swansea City and Newport County, Tony once again returned to St James Park to see out his professional career. 

Tony Kellow died in 2011 and was one of the initial eight inductees into the Exeter City Hall of Fame in 2014.              

Tony was playing for Falmouth Docks in the Cornwall Combination from the age of fifteen before stepping up to the South Western League with Penzance. Having represented the Cornwall county side, he then joined the all-conquering Falmouth Town in the summer of 1973 and netted 62 goals as the team won the South Western League title in 1973/74. Briefly returning to Penzance, Tony was back at Falmouth for the 1975/76 season when his fifty-odd goals helped the club to the Western League championship. 

At the age of twenty-four Tony was suddenly a “hot property” and it was only a matter of time before he turned professional. Eventually it was Fourth Division Exeter City who clinched Tony’s signature in July 1976 with Falmouth being paid a nominal sum and promised 10% of any subsequent fee that may be received for Tony.

Marking his professional debut by scoring twice against Hartlepool United on 21 August 1976, Tony never looked back and contributed nineteen league goals during his first season at St James’ Park. With Alan Beer netting twenty-one league goals, City’s new forward-pairing helped steer the way to promotion as City finished runners-up at the end of the 1976/77 season. 

Now playing in the third-tier, Tony added another fourteen league goals the following season with a further seven coming by the October of the 1978/79 season. With speculation rife about his future - and reported offers from Chesterfield, Fulham, Peterborough and Watford - Tony moved to Blackpool for a then-club record £105,000 in November 1978 having scored 40 times in 107 league games.      

Tony never really settled on the Lancashire coast and, although he managed a highly-respectable 23 goals in 57 league appearances, was on the move within eighteen months when he rejoined Exeter City in March 1980 for another club record £65,000. 

Slotting back into the team against Blackpool - his immediate past employers - on 15 March 1980, Tony was soon in the groove as he scored in his second and third games to finish with five goals from his ten late-season appearances. Now entering the most prolific period of his career Tony claimed 25 league goals in 1980/81 followed by 21 during the next campaign as the Grecians finished 11th and 18th in the old Third Division.

However it was in the FA Cup that Tony’s goalscoring exploits drew the most attention as his 6 goals in 8 cup ties - including a hat-trick in the 3rd Round replay victory over Leicester City - helped guide City to the quarter-finals of the competition in 1981. He duly became City’s player of the year for 1980/81.

Tony notched 10 league goals in 1982/83 but failed to score during the opening months of the subsequent season before a £5,000 transfer fee saw him heading down the A38 in November 1983 to join Plymouth Argyle. By this time Tony had notched 61 times in 143 league outings during his second spell at St James Park.

Tony’s stay at Home Park was relatively brief as, after scoring just twice in league games, he made a solitary appearance for Swansea City ahead of signing for Newport County in November 1984 where he netted eight league goals over the remainder of the season. 

Then, in July 1985, Tony was once again back at Exeter City where with 9 goals in 1985/86, and 15 the season after, he resumed the mantle of City’s top-scorer.

Now thirty-five, and eleven years past his City debut, Tony featured less-frequently during 1987/88 and, after scoring another 4 league goals, made his final professional appearance as a substitute against Tranmere Rovers on 30 January 1988. His third and final stint with the Grecians had seen him add 28 goals from 82 appearances (with an increasing number as substitute) to bring his overall league tally for the club to 129 goals from 332 games.   

After the end of his playing career Tony served the club in various capacities as promotions manager, commercial Manager and steward of Centre Spot social club prior to leaving St James’ Park in November 1991 having had a benefit match against Leicester City in August 1990. He later became landlord of both the Eagle Tavern and Clifton Arms in Exeter, and subsequently fundraised for Crediton United, ahead of moving to live at Budock Water near Falmouth. 

Tony’s name was to be introduced to new generation of Exeter supporters through ‘Kellows Bootlaces’, an online show, before his untimely death at the age of fifty-eight in February 2011. He is remembered in Budock Water with a picture in the local pub and a memorial stone in the village.

Tony Kellow was one of eight players inducted into the Exeter City Hall of Fame when it was inaugurated in 2014.  

Tony's 1981 hattrick against Leicester City in the FA Cup:

Tony opening the Exeter City club shop in 2006:



Appearances as Substitute





Item Relations

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