Warrington-born Strettle featured in South America tourThis Friday’s FA Cup match between Warrington Town and Exeter City comes 100 years after a local Warrington lad played for the Grecians against Brazil.
Sammy Strettle, a full back, was born in Warrington in 1885. His football career started out with the Lively Polly Soap Works XI in Liverpool. He then joined Everton in 1906, playing four games between 1907 and 1910.
Chesterfield bought Sammy for £800 and he stayed there for four and a half years, captaining the side during the whole period.
He signed for Exeter City in the summer of 1913 and became a regular member of the Southern League team. He was part of the 15-man squad that toured Argentina and Brazil in the summer of 1914 and played in ten of the 11 matches.
The last of the games, with Strettle in defence, was against Brazil in Rio, the five-time World Cup winners’ first ever match. Exeter lost 2-0. It was a match commemorated this summer when Exeter City returned to the same stadium, Laranjeiras, for a centenary game against hosts Fluminense.
Strettle returned to play every game for Exeter in the 1914/15 season. But like many other footballers he was soon off to the front. In 1915 he enlisted with the Royal Engineers 58th Division Signal Company and served in France and Flanders – one year at Ypres and another on the Somme.
He was awarded the Military Medal in October 1918.
After the war, Sammy played for Exeter in the 1919/20 season before leaving to sign for his hometown team Warrington – an unrelated predecessor of Warrington Town.
A full account of the Exeter City’s 1914 South American tour is available in Aidan Hamilton’s book ‘Have you ever played Brazil?’ – published by Exeter City Supporters’ Trust, it costs £20 and is available from the Exeter City Club Shop or online by clicking here.