Classic Match | Aston Villa 1914

Aston Villa were the visitors to St James Park in January 1914 for an FA Cup tie that was lauded in the local newspaper’s as the biggest match in City’s history.

At the time Villa were the holders of the FA Cup, and were widely regarded as one of the best teams in the country, and favourites to retain their trophy.

Given the status and reputation of the visiting team, the match attracted levels of interest never seen before in Exeter, and reports revealed that ‘tramcars and every conceivable form of transport converged on the ground’, while the gates had to be closed early to avoid problems.

The official attendance for the game was given as 10,000, which surprised the supporters who thought that there were at least 13,000 packed in the ground, with even more hanging out of nearby windows to get a glimpse of the action.

In the earlier rounds, Villa had got past Sunderland and Everton with ease, but much to their surprise they found that the Grecians would be much more difficult to knock out than their previous opponent’s.

From the kick-off the ground was on the slippery side, and a drizzle was falling. City opened shakily, and after five minutes of bright play Hampton had put the visitor’s in front with a fine header.

However, this seemed to wake up the Grecian’s and with ten minutes graft of their own they earned a penalty, only to see Fort hit the upright with a powerful shot from the spot.

The second half opening was full of bright and fast football, but it was Villa who doubled their lead when Hampton latched onto a long ball from Lyons and tucked the ball past Pym in the Exeter Goal.

Again Exeter responded with tireless running and good use of the ball, and just after the hour mark McCann pulled one back for City. From here on the home side gave their illustrious opponent’s a game that no one expected of them, and at the final whistle all agreed that Villa were fortunate to be going through to the next round.

Despite our exit, this exhaustive and impressive performance from the players, along with the 4-0 thumping of Portsmouth in the previous round, was enough to catch the eye of the FA, which helped to earn us a little trip to South America in the summer.


Final Score: ECFC 1 Aston Villa 2

Exeter City: Pym; Fort, Strettle; Rigby, Logan, Smith; Holt, Lovett, Whittake, McCann, Marshall.

Aston Villa: Hardy; Lyons, Weston; Barber, Harop, Leach; Wallace, Stephenson, Hampton, Bache, Edgely.

Man of the match: Harry Hampton

Attendance: 10,000+


Written by: Will Barrett

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