1901 or 1904?THE EXETER CITY HISTORY GROUP has been researching the origins of the club and now strongly believes that the date of formation was 1901 and not the usually-quoted 1904.
Our research has revealed that 1904 was simply the date of a name change. Before the new date is adopted, the Supporters' Trust and the club want to hear the views of supporters and other interested parties.
The confusion over dates seems to go back to 1904 when an existing club, St Sidwell’s United, changed its name to Exeter City.
There is a clear account of this name change in the Western Times of 1 June 1904, which reports on the AGM of St Sidwell’s United held at the Red Lion Hotel, Sidwell Street on 31 May 1904. A key sentence in the article says:
“It was decided to change the name of St Sidwell’s United to Exeter City Association Football Club”.
Consequently, if this is just a change of name then the club itself is older. Research reveals that the first known mention of St Sidwell’s United is at a meeting (to discuss the formation of a local junior league) of officials from Junior Association clubs in Exeter at St David’s Guild House on 3 June 1901. St Sidwell’s United are present with two representatives ‘S H Thomas and E.Eveleigh’. This was reported in the Devon Evening Express on 5 June 1901.
City Historian Aidan Hamilton has researched whether St Sidwell’s was itself a continuation of another club but concluded in his ‘Have you ever played Brazil?’ book that ‘St Sidwell’s United was indeed a new club, a collection of players from several local sides’. This club was also known as the Grecians.
Taken together all this information suggests that the date of formation of our club is 1901 and that only a name change took place in 1904. If there is support for this conclusion then there are clearly opportunities to celebrate both dates.
The Exeter History Group, on behalf of the Supporters Trust and the club, would like to know:
1) Do you support the adoption of 1901 as the date of formation of the club and 1904 as a name change?
2) If so, do you have you any suggestions on how both the 1901 and 1904 dates can be celebrated in the future?
Please send your comments and views to the Exeter City History Group by the end of February 2016. These can be sent to:
Exeter City History Group, c/o Exeter City Supporters Trust, St James Park, Exeter EX4 6PX