Classic Match | Chelsea 1951

For this week’s classic match we take an excerpt from Exeter City A Complete Record 1904-1990. Produced by Maurice Golesworthy, Garth Dykes and Alex Wilson, this book is considered a detailed source of reference to those interested in the history of our football club, and is available to loan from the ECFC Museum on request – museum@ecfc.co.uk.

Six hours before the kick-off of Exeter City’s fourth-round FA Cup tie against Chelsea, a small queue of enthusiasts were waiting patiently outside the entrances to St James Park. The were the first arrivals of an advance guard of a crowd which packed into the stand and the terraces.

It was a quiet and orderly crowd, but excitement quickened when the man body of the Chelsea contingent, which numbered about 2000, arrived in Exeter and marched to the ground headed by a chromium banner on which the printed word ‘Chelsea’ was surmounted by a modelled Chelsea Pensioner. By kick-off time the crowd numbered 20,000, the biggest attendance at St James Park since the replayed Sunderland tie of 1930-31.

Both teams received and enthusiastic welcome, and there was another roar from the Chelsea section when John Harris won the toss. The first threat, however, came from Exeter, who advanced from the kick-off and had the Chelsea defence on the retreat.

Collecting Angus Mackay’s pass, Doug Reagan beat Bathgate and centred, but Harris headed the ball away. Forceful work by Makay kept the play at the Chelsea end and anything might have happened when a shot from Joe Lynn hit a defender and bounced off Archie Smith’s shins before going behind the goal.

When Chelsea got forward, Ray Goddard three times broke up attacks with perfectly timed tackles. Pickering then had to save from Regan and Smith within a minute. Following a good move involving four men, Williams put Chelsea ahead in the 32nd minute, and it was not until four minutes from the end that Regan got Exeter’s equaliser.

Considering that Exeter had a goal disallowed and a penalty claim refused earlier in the game, and the fact that Mackay’s effectiveness was reduced after he suffered a foot injury, City came out of the match with great credit and fully earned their right to a replay which they lost 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. The gate receipts of £3,760 for the first game were, incidentally easily a record for St James Park.


Final Score: ECFC 1 Chelsea 1

Exeter City: Singleton; Warren, Clark, Harrower, Goddard, Davey, McClelland, Lynn, A.Smith, Mackay, Regan

Chelsea: Pickering; Bathgate, Hughes, Armstrong, Harris, Mitchell, Gray, Campbell, R.Smith, Bentley, Williams

Attendance: 20,000

Man of the Match: Ray Goddard


Written by: Will Barrett




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