Season Summary

Germany Invade Poland.
City Win at Port Vale
War is Declared. 

On Friday 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland. On Saturday 2 September 1939, Exeter won their second away game of the season, a 1-0 win at Port Vale, But this would be the last fixture before abandonment following the British declaration of war on Germany on Sunday 3 September 1939.
Large gatherings of crowds were suspended with the implementation of the Emergency Powers (Defence) Act of 1939.

This led the Football League to suspend the competition with Exeter sitting in second place. While regional leagues were organised for the duration of the conflict, Exeter City would close down until this state of emergency passed, as the ground was to be used for the war effort.

The break from football changed the purpose of SJP, and during the war years the ground was used by both the Home Guard and the US military for training, with the latter proving so popular that the stadium was opened for the visiting public to come and watch. Sport would also feature, with the European Baseball Championship final being played here in 1945.
A game of American Football, was played, where the US Navy Sea Lions beat their fellow naval opponents, McKee's Maulers by 13 points to 6. A result which technically makes it the highest scoring game of ‘professional football’ ever to be played in our stadium

Third Division South Top 8 
1. Reading           5 points (F-A) 8-2.
2. Exeter City       5 points, 4-2.
3. Notts Cty.         4 points, 6-3
4. Ipswich.           4 points 5-3.
5. Brighton.          4 points 5-4.
6. Cardiff.              4 points 5-5.
7. Crystal Palace.  4 points 8-9.
8. Bournemouth.   4 points 13-4.

Exeter were also unbeaten in the Southern League.

What happened to the 1939/40 squad.

  • J. Thomson, Played for City after the war and wartime football in Scotland.
  • V. Blore, there is no record of Vincent playing after the war, however he later became a Sports Master at Ewell County Secretary School.
    Vincent died on the 16th January 1997.
  • T. Halliday, there is no record of Tom playing after the war, he was however In recognition of his contribution to Norwich City, Halliday was elected to the club's Hall of Fame. Tom died in 1975.
  • J. Little, After the war, he returned to play for Southport in a second spell at the club, and later wore the colours of Fleetwood Hesketh and then High Park. John Little died in 1988.
  • J. Blood, His career was then put on hold until the Football League resumed in 1946-47, although he did play 17 games and score one goal for the Grecians in the 1945-46 Division Three South (South of the Thames) league. He was in the R.A.F. where he became Sergeant P.T. Instructor and in June 1945 was stationed near Hereford. During the War he had guested for Southport, Liverpool and Lovells Athletic. Blood added a further 39 games for Exeter, scoring one goal. The 32-year-old was released at the end of the season and was appointed player-manager of Peterborough and Fletton United in April 1949, remaining in charge until May 1950. John Blood died in 1992.
  • F. Speed. There is no record of Fred after this season
  • R.Smith. There are no further records
  • S. Walker. During the Second World War he guested for Dunfermline Athletic, Doncaster Rovers and Southampton, whilst serving with the Coldstream Guards He was also been wounded in a running fight when the Scharnhorst and Gneisenau made their escape up the English Channel. Back with Exeter City for the 1944-45 and 1945-46 wartime seasons, Walker was a regular in the side until the middle of the 1949-50 season.
    He was offered the player-coach job at Ilfracombe Town in January 1950, but turned that down and eventually became player-manager at Minehead in May 1950 after also being wanted by King’s Lynn and Clacton Town. Resigning as player-manager at Minehead in May 1953, he did so to take over as a landlord of a pub in Warminster.
    Stephen Walker died in 1987.
  • J. Angus. He resumed his career with Exeter City after the Second World War, having been stationed in Redcar in 1945, and remained with the club until 1949, when he joined local side, Sidmouth. He had a joint benefit match with Richard ‘Digger’ Ebdon in March 1948 when Exeter City played Plymouth Argyle. At the age of 40, Angus was appointed player-coach at Exmouth Town in July 1949. After leaving the Grecians, he worked in Exeter for British Railways. John Angus died at his Whipton home in August 1965.
  • W. J. Fellowes, served with the Ordinance Corps in India during the Second World War.
    He remained with the Grecians to resume with them after the Second World War, but only added a further 14 games to his career total in 1946-47.
    At the end of that season, the 37-year-old returned to the club he had started with, by signing for Tavistock. Fellowes had the distinction of becoming Exeter City’s first ever assistant manager when appointed to the position in August 1948, however he resigned in September 1949, owing to business interests outside of football.
    He died in November 1987 in Plymouth. 
  • W. J. Shadwell, Joining the Forces for the Second World War, he was an Army Corporal stationed in Germany in May 1945. There is no records of him after that date.
  • Stan W. Cutting was involved in the war in Burma. He was back in the side for 1946-47 though, when he featured in 35 Third Division South fixtures, scoring two goals.
    His last season at the club,1947-48, saw him play in the opening three matches, only to lose his place and eventually led him to being released. He made a playing comeback when turning out for City reserves in August 1948 at the age of 43, after an injury crisis left a shortage of players. Later in January 1949, he scored hat-trick of penalties in City reserves Southern League fixture at home to Worcester City. In the 1947-48 season he became the assistant trainer at St James’ Park, a position he held until May 1953.
    Although had an offer to join the coaching staff at Chelsea, he preferred to look for employment locally. He had a joint benefit match with Jimmy Gallagher in May 1950 when Exeter City played Leicester City. By September 1960, he was the landlord at the Globe Inn, Exeter. Stan Cutting died in 2004. 
  • James Gallagher. He was a Grenadier Guards Reservist, Gallagher was undertaking military training at Pirbright Camp near Aldershot when he signed for City. During WW2 he joined the Coldstream Guards. After the War he went into coaching back at Notts County, before rejoining Exeter in September 1948 when he became the club trainer, a position he held until May 1953 when he left by mutual consent. He then had offers from both Stoke City and Southampton. He had a joint benefit match with Stan Cutting in May 1950 when Exeter City played Leicester City. James Gallagher died at his Southampton home in December 1972. 
  • George Wardle Stationed in London and guesting for Chelsea, Wardle was selected to play for the full Army representative side against the Royal Navy at Ipswich Town’s Portman Road ground in February 1945. He played and scored for Chelsea in a war time cup final.
    Returning to Exeter after the War, (although he did play 2 matches for the Grecians in 1945-46), he only had one full season with the club and in May 1947 had moved on to Cardiff City where he scored 11 goals in 40 league matches. He was transferred to Queens Park Rangers for £5,000 in January 1949, and added a further 53 league games and four goals. He then signed for Darlington in August 1951, and in three seasons featured in 95 league games, scoring six goals. After retiring from playing Wardle became coach to Crook Town, and in August 1966 rejoined his former club, Middlesbrough, to coach their youth team.
    George Wardle died in November 1991.
  • Harold Riley. It is not known what Harold did in the war. After the war he returned to the Lincoln area where he played for Ruston-Bucyrus' works team, Ruston Bucyrus. In the 1960s he was manager of Lincoln City's reserve team Riley died in Lincoln on the 8th April 1982 at the age of 72.
  • Henry Bowl, The war intervened in 1939 in his great goal scoring effort and by the end of it, Bowl had left the Grecians to sign for Lancaster City. 
  • Richard (Digger) Ebdon Playing for the City first team up to the outbreak of the Second World War - the 1938-39 season being his best thus far. He also for City in the 1944-45 and 1945-46 seasons, Ebdon returned to the side for the resumption of league football in 1946-47 and hit 16 goals in just 29 starts.
    He had a joint benefit match with Jack Angus in March 1948 when Exeter City played Plymouth Argyle, and, was released at the end of the 1947-48 season, aged 35, and despite having an offer to join Yeovil Town, preferred to sign for Torquay United where he appeared in five games, scoring one goal in 1948-49. He then returned to playing with Ottery St Mary in 1950-51 and stayed with them until he was over 40-years of age. Richard died in April 1987. 
  • Charlie Sutherley in May 1945 he was stationed in Colchester with the R.A.F.
    He did, however, play two games for Exeter in 1945-46 in the Third Division South (South of the Thames). After his demob, Sutherley signed for Penzance in 1948 and played for them for several seasons, ending his career as a left-back. He was still with them for the 1957-58 season.
  • Charles Windle In 1946 he signed for Bristol Rovers, for whom he played 7 times scoring one goal.
    He left Rovers the following season and there is no record of where he went next. Charlie died in Bury, Greater Manchester in 1975.
  • James Gray it is not known what happened to James after 1939.
  • Cyril Crawshaw it is not known what happened to Cyril during the war, He spent the 1946-47 season with Hull City, scoring 2 goals in 2 league matches.
  • Ray Freeman. In 1939, he was with the RFA at Topsham Barracks, sadly, and on the books of Manchester City. In 1945 he was with Exeter, but only played in friendlies and reserve matches. 
  • C. Hartill. It is not known what happened to him during the war or afterwards.
Exeter City to Close Down.
Unlike 1914, when the Football Association and Football League determined to carry on with their programmes, the war this time began with a total blackout of all football. A few days later, however, it was officially announced that friendly matches would be permissible in certain circumstances.
Exeter City remained closed because the ground was to be used for the war effort.
The fans blamed the Directors for not pushing the authorities enough to allow Exeter to play and the Directors blamed the War. Other sports were played at the Park, however when the USA joined in,the ground was used by them. 


Paul Farley



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