Today (August 28) sees the 100-year anniversary of Exeter City’s first ever match in the Football League, a 3-0 home victory over Brentford on Saturday, August 28 1920.
The Grecians fielded five of their new signings in this, the first match as a Football League club. They were Jack Feebury (Bolton Wanderers), Jas Carrick (Plank Lane), Leonard Appleton (Blackpool), William Wright (Tranmere Rovers) and Chas Vowles (Army).
Brentford had young goalkeeper, from Whitburn; Elliott, late of the Spurs and Levitt of Silkworth in the half back line, and Smith of South Shields, on the right wing. Pat Hendren, the Brentford clubs brilliant left winger, was unfortunately absent today, his magnificent batting performances in the Middlesex side this summer, having won him a place in the MCC party for the Australian Tour, so he will not play football this season.
Exeter: Pym; Coleburne, Feebery; Crawshaw, Carrick, Mitton; Appleton, Makin, Wright, Vowles, Dockray.
Brentford: Young; Rosier, Hodson; Amos, Levitt, Elliott; Henery, Morley, Spreadbury, Thompson, Smith.
Referee: Mr W. H Richards, Merthyr Vale.
The Brentford eleven reached the ground more than an hour before the kick-off, which was timed for 3:30pm. The party was in the charge of Mr P.H.Knight, a director.
Everybody seemed delighted with the extensive improvements to the ground, and much enthusiasm was in evidence as the crowd trooped in. New and up to date tunes by the Exeter City Military Band were keenly appreciated. The playing field looked to be in absolutely perfect condition, thanks to the unsparing efforts of the Groundsman, Mr H. Greenaway. The attendance increased rapidly till the start of the match, when the total must have been in the neighbourhood of six thousand.
The Bees were first out, in new blue and yellow shirts, and looking very smart. They were accorded a warm welcome, but the really big ovation was reserved for the City team, who followed within a minute, headed by Dick Pym. Pym's success with his toss were taken as a happy omen, and he elected to play towards the St James Road end in the first half.
Spreadbury started the ball rolling, and Brentford attacked on the left, but Coleburne cleared. Dockray, from the touch-line put in a centre which Young gathered safely, but Wright charged into the goalkeeper unfairly and Brentford were awarded a free kick.
Smith and Thompson came away from the visitors and forced the first corner of the match, but Vowles booted Smith's flag kick away and Feebery completed the clearance. Makin worked a pretty opening for Wright, who dashed through and beat Young with a nice shot, but the referee's whistle blew for offside against Wright instead of for a goal
Dockray delighted the crowd with some of his pretty football near the corner flag, but nothing came of it. Coleburne tried to dribble through, but was robbed on the penalty line, and a long pass from Hodson to Henery gave the winger a clear field. Henery sprinted up the wing and swung the ball across the goal-mouth. Mitton headed it out, only to see Thompson pounce upon it and shoot, but Feebery came to the rescue with a timely clearance sending the ball to the half way line. Makin created another chance for Wright and the centre forward again netted the ball, but for the second time the referee's verdict was offside.
Some very nice approach play by the Grecians roused the crowd to great enthusiasm, Wright and Appleton being conspicuous for clever work. Young saved a powerful drive from Mitton, and in a rare Brentford attack Spreadbury was checked by Coleburne. After 25 minutes Wright scored one of the best goals seen on the ground. Receiving from Makin yards outside the penalty area and beset by three opponents he steered the ball delicately and intricately between them, and with a clear view of his objective hammered the leather into the net from about five yards range, leaving the goalkeeper absolutely powerless. The crowd could hardly believe their eyes, as it had looked impossible for the centre forward to have scored from the position he was in when he received the ball. But they did not neglect to cheer.
Five minutes later Wright was going through again and when he was charged in the back, but Exeter's appeal for a penalty was ignored by the referee. The Grecians continued to press and all the new men were working well together and fitting splendidly into the team.
Just before the interval the game opened up a little, and the visitors began to revive, but Coleburne and Feebery were very safe, and Pym was not tested. The referee awarded a penalty against handling, although the offence did not appear intentional, and Hodson came up to take the kick. But even then Pym had no shot to save, for Hodson drove harmlessly against the railings, yards wide of the goal. At half time the City were leasing by one goal to nil.
The Second half
The crowd had increased to 7,000. Play had not been in progress two minutes when Wright, racing ahead from the half way line, fed Dockray, who beat Rosier and converged on the goal before sending a ground pass to Vowles. The ex-army man took the ball forward a yard or so and beat Young with as neat a shot as one could wish to see, the ball travelling along the ground and into the net, just inside the post. Two shots by Dockray and one by Mitton were cleared by the goalkeeper, but he was beaten a third time ten minutes from the end. Makin was deliberately tripped up by Rosier in the penalty area, and the kick was entrusted to Feebery. The old Bolton Wanderer came up to take the shot and nearly shattered the net.
City 3-0 Brentford.
Scorers: Wright, Vowles, Feebury (pen)