Sunday Reading Sorted...
Welcome to the latest Senior Reds Bulletin. It’s hard to believe two weeks have gone by since the last issue and even more surprising is the fact that the next couple of weeks will mark twelve months since we started these newsletters. Little did we know then what lay ahead.
The news that the FA have allowed the FA Youth Cup to recommence is exciting, as it allows the City youngsters to pick up from where they left off when the tournament was put on hold. In case you’ve forgotten, they’ve already beaten Plymouth Argyle and Cheltenham Town (both 3-2 and both after extra time), as well as recording a superb 3-1 win over a very strong Bournemouth side.
Next up will be the winners of the Leicester City v Sheffield Wednesday tie, which is due to be played this Friday, with the Grecians having home advantage. Hopefully the game will be streamed, giving us the chance to watch the player we’re sponsoring this season, Sonny Cox, and the rest of the lads.
A quick mention of former Grecian Matt Gill, who’s been put in temporary charge of Ipswich Town, following the departure of Paul Lambert. With a club takeover in the pipeline, it could be a short reign but, nevertheless, we wish him well.
Our first attempt at a Zoom meeting went very well, Richard Logan was an excellent, entertaining and forthright guest who obviously still closely follows the Grecians and spoke fondly of his time with the club. Thanks go to Martin Weiler who chaired the session brilliantly and Pete Ferlie who sorted all the technical bits. Inspired by that, we will be looking to do another one. Details as and when they’re available.
In this issue:
We feature a stirring memory from Grecian Alan Tonge
Mike Paxton recalls his favourite former City player
Ed Lee’s Quiz
But first, a quick question.
What links the shirt below to Exeter City?
Answer at the end of this newsletter.
Next, we’re delighted to include the following article from one of our former players. It’s a piece that brings back happy memories to him and many of us.
‘Turning back the clock’ – a memory from Alan Tonge
Many people have asked me if I could go back and re-live one game in my football career, what would it be? Without hesitation, my recollections of the Exeter City v Plymouth Argyle, Boxing Day fixture of 1992 readily spring into view.
Bally had us wound up to the eyeballs all week and kept re-iterating the importance of this fixture for the supporters. He outlined what it meant to everyone and that it was very important indeed that we found a performance and most importantly found a result.
It was a dull, damp morning and the pitch was very heavy indeed. It was a very early 11am kick off to stop any crowd problems and drinking prior. All week we had been working on shape and Bally had given me a definitive role.
He said to me that Warren Joyce was their danger man. Indeed, Bally had tried to sign Warren a few times in his managerial career. He instructed me to follow him everywhere and stated quite categorically that he simply mustn’t get a kick. He also said to ‘go and play’ when the opportunity arose.
We ran out to a mass of noise, balloons and a very special St James Park atmosphere. The ground was packed to the rafters and the anticipation was crackling.
It was one of those games where everything went our way. I harried, cajoled, closed down and on occasion, made sure Warren Joyce knew I was there with a few tasty tackles thrown in for good measure.
As per Bally’s instructions I was to join in when I could and one of those moments arose early. I remember a corner or set piece that was cleared and the ball was chased by Scott Daniels towards the corner flag.
I found myself in a bit of space and Scott cut the ball back to me around the corner of 18-yard box. I took a touch, set myself and managed to bend a beautiful curling cross towards the back stick. Pete Whiston rose best and planted a cracking header past Peter Shilton into the corner.
The Argyle fans behind the goal were stunned and the home crowd went absolutely crazy! The players did too. What a start! 1-0. A fantastic moment. What a buzz!
We kept pushing, dominating and had the ball in the net a few times more over the course of the first half. All had been disallowed! We could have been at least 3 up! It was turning into a massacre. Bally wasn’t happy with the officials and I can remember him confronting them as we walked towards the dressing room.
We came out second half and kept battling away. We got our just rewards with about 15 mins to go. A corner was launched in and Scott Daniels rose powerfully to head the ball into the top of the net at the Big Bank end.
The crowd again went ballistic and the 3 points had been secured. Many fans had got over the advertising hoardings and managed to get onto the pitch and join in with the players! It was a glorious moment when the referees whistle went and the fans and players were absolutely ecstatic.
One of those incredible moments that only sport can bring. Beautiful. I was buzzing for a long time and still get goosebumps now thinking about it! I managed to get the man of the match award which filled me with immense pride and satisfaction.
A number of years later I managed to catch up with Warren Joyce at Carrington (Man Utd’s training ground) where he was working as a youth coach. I reminded him of the day and he said he still had the scars on his calves! What a day. What a moment. A job well done.
Bally waiting for the officials at half time in the Devon Derby. I’m in the background with Joe Gallen in the foreground. The Big Bank is packed!
Saluting the brilliant support at the end. Victory was sweet. John Hodge and Danny Bailey acknowledged the crowd and I seem to be contemplating a good job done!
It’s always a great feeling reading the newspapers after a top win! Five out of five for me and 1 star for most of the Plymouth players! Job done.
Some thoughts from Bally and a nice mention too!
I’m very proud of this man of the match award and still keep it safe to this day!
Alan started his career with Manchester United, becoming Sir Alex Ferguson’s first signing. He joined City in December 1991, but left the club at the end of the 1992/93 season with a back injury curtailing his career at the age of just 24.
He relocated back to Bolton and moved into the academic world to become a lecturer in Sports Research. Prior to the lockdown bringing travel restrictions, Alan could be heard on the radio as co commentator at some of City’s games in the north, and is very much still a Grecians’ fan.
Alan recently described memories as “the cushions of life!” I like that phrase.
Now for what is becoming a regular feature...
Ed Lee asks the following questions. You may not know the answers until you read them at the end of this newsletter, but there’s always something of interest.
Who am I? My middle name is Sydney and I was born and bred in Exeter. I attended Ladysmith School and was in the Exeter Schoolboys side at the age of 11. An appearance for England Schools followed at the age of 14 in 1926. I made my football league debut aged 16, signed professional forms and was later sold for £2,000. So, who am I and which club bought me?
Which former City player once lived in a house in Exeter Road, Exmouth called “The Grecian”?
Which comedian made an offer to buy Exeter City FC in 1993, but was rejected?
Which former City player ran a betting shop in Newtown, Exeter?
What is the connection between the Steam Packet Alcantara and Exeter City FC?
MY FAVOURITE PLAYER
LAMMIE ROBERTSON – by Mike Paxton
Supporters of all football clubs frequently like to reminisce about their favourite players from former times and often go back to their schooldays to recall some special memories. A hero to someone of a young age is often a world or national superstar, but to me, as a young teenager, my idol was a star performer in my local team – Archibald Lamond Robertson.
Having spent most of the early part of his career at Halifax Town, Lammie Robertson signed for Exeter City from Brighton & Hove Albion in June 1974, along with John Templeman, in an exchange deal that took another popular Grecian, Fred Binney, in the opposite direction to the Goldstone Ground.
Lammie was a Scot, born in Paisley on the western fringe of Glasgow, tall and upright in stature with a cultured right foot. He was creative and I always remember him as having great vision. He seemed to be able to deftly execute defence splitting passes more than most midfielders could at our level.
Above all, I recall him possessing a few tricks and a nonchalance which sometimes made opposition players look silly! If I remember correctly, an example of this occurred in the Boxing Day derby against Torquay United in our promotion season of 1976/77.
Lammie was ambling towards the Cowshed touchline to stop the ball from going out of play at which point a Torquay player started to hare towards the ball from further away. The City midfielder just calmly controlled the ball with the outside of his right boot, turned 180 degrees towards the centre of the pitch, leaving the opponent careering towards the old grass bank in front of the stand!
You had a feeling that he never wanted to be rushed. Perhaps, on occasions, he would hold on to the ball too long and get dispossessed but, more often than not, he would tease and draw opposing players towards him and, in doing so, create space for teammates by timely releasing the ball.
Returning to the present day for a moment, it was perhaps a bit of a shock to many City fans, including myself, that Nicky Law had recently chosen to take up an attractive playing and coaching opportunity at Indy Eleven in the United States. It reminded me of the summer that Lammie Robertson chose to play in America at Chicago Sting.
It was 1976 and in that close season he was able to cram in 14 games, scoring one goal, including an appearance against Pele of New York Cosmos fame! As it turned out, the City midfielder was late returning from the States and missed six games at the beginning of the 1976/77 season (including League Cup matches) but he was suspended for three of those due to a ban carried forward from the previous campaign for a sending off.
He was prone to be a little mischievous on occasions! Times have changed and it would seem inconceivable these days for a player to be allowed to spend a summer abroad, playing regularly for another team, between two demanding seasons for a club in the Premier League or EFL!
In his 133 appearances for the Grecians, Lammie scored 25 goals, 11 of which were penalties. He once hit a hat-trick, including two spot-kicks, in a home match against Southport. He often also liked to be involved with free-kicks.
I remember during a 1977/78 pre-season friendly 5-0 win over Norwich City, he seemed to catch out the opposition at a free-kick just outside the penalty area by stooping to appear as if he was going to move the ball with his hand but then subtly tapping the ball with his left foot behind his right to allow Alan Beer to fire a shot into the far corner of the net!
I fondly remember this period as an Exeter City supporter as being a real high. We had just gained promotion to Division Three, we had started the 1977/78 campaign in fine style and the team were rebranded with a new smart, mainly all white kit, with red trim!
Early in the season I recall travelling to the Port Vale match on the Exmouth to Exeter train with school acquaintances, instead of going in the car with my father, and standing with the “choir” at the back of the Cowshed.
I was not quite fifteen years old and I must confess that it was a very different experience for me, being in the midst of this vibrant section of the crowd, after having spent many seasons under the television camera gantry on the halfway line!
Being fairly short, I found it rather difficult seeing all of the action so I think it was a one-off appearance of mine singing the various group songs and chants of the day but, on the pitch, City really looked as if they were continuing to go places with a 4-1 win and Lammie Robertson converting a brace of penalties.
Unfortunately, in hindsight, the Port Vale match probably proved to be the high spot for City around that time! The results started to falter and later that month my favourite player had deservedly earned a transfer to Leicester City in Division One.
Lammie only played in seven fixtures for the Foxes before ending his senior career with spells at Peterborough United and Bradford City but I thought that his contribution at Exeter City in terms of success and entertainment was immense.
He had the ability and licence to do something different and, for me, that was exciting and it was great having him being part of a fantastic side.
Lammie Robertson, signed photo courtesy of the Grecian Archive/Steve Stentiford
Answer to shirt question above.
It was designed by former Grecian James Coppinger as a special edition third kit for his club, Doncaster Rovers. In gold, the black and white sash is in recognition to his former club Newcastle United. The shirt is sponsored by mental health charity CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably).
Coppinger joined City in 2002 and made 89 appearances for the Grecians before joining Doncaster Rovers for £35,000 plus a 15% sell on fee of any fee above that amount when he moves on. As we now know, that move didn’t materialise.
Answers to Ed’s Quiz
Who am I? - the answer is Cliff Bastin, and the £2,000 transfer was to Arsenal
David Gibson named his house in Exmouth “The Grecian”
Freddie Starr was the comedian who tried to buy the club in 1993
It was Frank Houghton who ran the betting shop in Newtown, Exeter.
City returned on board the Alcantara from their tour of Argentina and Brazil in 1914
That’s all for this issue.
Thanks go to Alan Tonge, Mike Paxton and Ed Lee for their significant contributions.
We’re always delighted to hear your memories and would love to share them with like minded City fans. All such articles can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks, and stay safe.