April 28, 1990. A day forever etched into Exeter City's history. The day where our club reached the pinnacle for the first, and only, time to date.
The Grecians, led by the charismatic Terry Cooper, stormed to the Fourth Division title with 89 points, 10 more than runners up Grimsby Town.
City were number one, proving this by beating every other team in the league at least once, and most of them twice – helped by an unbeaten run at St James Park stretching the whole season as only three teams came away from Devon with a point.
Only the most optimistic of City supporters could predict what was to come after a series of mid-table finishes in previous years however an unbeaten August saw hope begin to build around the Exeter faithful. Darran Rowbotham hit form from the off, with four goals in the first four matches, which sent him on his way to winning City’s golden boot with 30 goals in all competitions.
It wasn’t just in the league where City excelled, as the Grecians reached the fourth round of the League Cup where they took Sunderland to a replay, losing at Roker Park in front of over 18,000 fans. City also reached the coveted third round of the FA Cup after overcoming non-league Dartford and Fourth Division side Maidstone United which led to a meeting with Division One Norwich City. Keeping the trend from the League Cup, a replay was needed by the Canaries to overcome City after a 1-1 draw at St James Park, City were defeated 2-0 at Carrow Road.
Bettered only by Cambridge, City found the back of the net 83 times in the league and there were a number of awe-inspiring goals packed within that bunch. Angus McPherson’s delightful chip at Plainmoor, Jim McNichol’s free-kick, smashed home against Rochdale and Danny Bailey’s cool finish at Peterborough - just a few which could’ve won goal of the season.
A week after being named the Grecian’s player of the season and earning a place in Division Four’s team of the season, City’s captain marvel Shaun Taylor lifted the league trophy after the final game of the season at St James Park, a 2-1 victory against Burnley. Ensuring they left the division with a bang, City swept Lincoln City aside with a commanding 5-1 thrashing in the north-east, their 28th win of the season, meaning that Exeter entered the Third Division as worthy champions.