Copestake, Levi


Kiveton Park, Yorkshire 1886



Biographical Text

Levi Copestake, from Kiveton Park in Yorkshire, was a renowned Exeter City outside-left in the Edwardian period. Signed from Bristol City ahead of Exeter’s first season in the Southern League in 1908 he was one of the club’s earliest professionals and, coming into the side for the fourth game of the season, played through two campaigns before heading back to Bristol City. He later returned to spend the rest of his life in Exeter.

Like so many of Exeter City’s earliest professionals, Levi - described as a player “whose trickiness has won popular favour” - was from the north of England. Born in Kiveton Park near Sheffield, the 1891 census records him as the son of a coal miner whilst by 1901 Levi had started working underground as a pony driver. 

Around this time, having made his debut for Kiveton Park at the age of fifteen, he signed as a professional for Worksop in the Midland League. He then transferred to Blackpool in 1905 and he spent two seasons with the Lancashire club where he had 19 league outings before joining Bristol City for 1907/08. Making just two league appearances for his new club (scoring once), he joined Exeter City ahead of the club’s venture into professional football. 

Although Levi didn’t feature in the very first professional match played by the Grecians, he soon made his debut in a 3-2 home win over Norwich City in September 1908. This was the first of 32 appearances (six goals) in 1908/09 followed by another 30 in 1909/10 when he scored four times.

Such impressive form led to a return to Bristol City, where playing at a higher level again, he was far more successful during his second spell with the club as he made around forty Football League appearances scoring on five occasions. 

Still only in his late twenties Levi's career was interrupted by the outbreak of war and, having served in the Royal Naval Reserve during the Great War, he eventually returned to live in Exeter where he was residing in Market Street in 1939. Briefly coaching Exeter’s colts team after 1945 he kept in touch with the club through his friend George Gilbert, the club secretary.

Levi Copestake died in Exeter in 1968.  







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