After relegation from the Third Division in 1984, Exeter City needed a fresh start and it was decided that former Newcastle United manager Jim Iley was the man to bring just that.
Beginning his footballing career in 1950s Yorkshire, Jim was initially sent by his family into the local coal pits to find work but he was determined to climb out of that industry, doing just that by earning a contract at Sheffield United aged 18.
Coming into a side that had just won the second division, Jim struggled to gain a regular starting spot in the team and eventually left in 1957 after four years with the Blades.
Two year spells with Tottenham Hotspur and Nottingham Forest followed before a career-defining move to Tyneside, joining Newcastle United in 1962.
Jim captained The Magpies to their 1965 Second Division title, pipping Northampton Town to the top by just a point. He later went on to win the infamous Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in 1969 as Newcastle beat Hungarian side Újpesti Dózsa 6-2 over two legs.
After over 230 appearances and seven years in Black and White, Jim moved to Peterborough to become Posh’s player-manager aged just 34.
Jim retired from playing and became a full-time manager during his three years at Peterborough before spells managing Barnsley, Blackburn and Bury.
The departure of Gerry Francis after Exeter City’s disastrous 1983/84 season meant there was a vacancy in Devon and Jim was quickly on his way, agreeing to work on a wages budget of £100,000 to rebuild the side into a competitive fourth division outfit.
Sixteen new signings were made, including future title-winning centre back Jimmy McNichol, and City started the season perfectly by smashing Northampton 5-0 on the opening day.
Unfortunately that type of form couldn’t be kept up and four more league wins before Christmas saw City sat in the bottom half of the table. Results didn’t improve in the second half of the season and Jim was asked to hand in his resignation in April but he refused, arguing that he shouldn’t be judged on just 10 months in the job.
He was eventually sacked however, despite an uninspiring season Jim had the sympathy of many supporters who produced a petition disapproving of his dismissal. He was so determined to get back in charge of City that he offered to buy the controlling share interest from Clifford Hill to reinstall himself as manager, but this was ultimately unsuccessful.
City was Jim’s final managerial role as he moved to Chorley in 1987 where he ran an Italian restaurant for five years before retiring.
Star Player: Ray Pratt
Ray Pratt top scored for Jim Iley in the 1984/85 season with 19 goals.
Standout Season: 1984/85
The 1984/85 season was Jim's only one in charge of Exeter City.