For all the grief that Exeter City like to give us us, we just can't seem to let them go and bother other teams instead...
Photo: "Exeter City" by myeralan is licensed under CC BY 2.0

For all the grief that Exeter City like to give us us, Boro’ just can’t seem to let them go and bother other teams instead. Of course, some of this comes down to them. It’s not like you can’t fault us for their recent failures to win promotion to League One. And we’ve had our time apart since first meeting in September 2003. And still we end up back for more – no matter whether we like it or not. Spoiler alert: in most cases, we did not.

Here’s how it’s unfolded against the Grecians over the years.

Who are Exeter City Football Club?

So, apparently we have two clubs to thank for the creation of Exeter City. That’s because Exeter United and St Sidwell’s United apparently played a friendly – and came out of it thinking they’d be better off as a single club. It happened in 1904 and that’s where the journey begins.

Now, we’ll fast forward as we’re probably obliged to cover them touring South America in 1914. In an eight-game schedule, their final date was a match against the first-ever Brazilian national team. Not bad, huh. And it set in place a long-running link between Brazil and the Grecians. It’s not all that relevant to this story, however, so we’ll move on.

In 1920, the Football League asked them to become a founder member of Division Three South. Not many clubs turned down such an invitation. It was difficult for them at first too. The 1932-3 season was a pre-WWII highlight; finishing second in the table. Usually though, you’d find them in the bottom half. If not the bottom two or three. In 1936, they propped up the division.

It was more of the same after World War Two. The Grecians made one appearance up in the top half of the table before the divisions were reorganised in 1958. That was the same year the club, yet again, finished bottom. But the shake-up that caused the de-regionalisation of the Football League seemed to have a positive impact. In their first campaign as a Division Four side, they’d found the know-how to land a fifth-placed finish.

Why do we know the Grecians?

The Grecians were promoted for the first time in 1964. But it wasn’t quite the right time for the third tier. After an instant relegation, they’d go back for a much longer stint in Division Three in 1977. Ending the 1979-80 season in eighth was the highest they’d ever come before (that’s still the case now, achieved again in 2011).

In 1995, the Grecians again finished bottom of the Football League. Due to Macclesfield Town’s ground not being up to scratch, the club were saved. You don’t need to ask our thoughts on the matter – not least given the Silkmen’s fate happened to us the following season. The rest of the 1990s and early 2000s continued to be, broadly speaking, a struggle.

And, in 2003, there wasn’t anyone or anything to save them when they came 23rd; the first-ever season that two sides went down to the Conference. Another historic moment for them, right?

What is our record against them?

To be fair, the Grecians were immediately one of the stronger teams in our humble division. The first two seasons saw them miss out on the playoffs by a single point. The 2005-6 campaign was slightly worse, but it was a blip. They’d go onto make the playoffs in each of the next two terms.

Of course, that doesn’t answer the question about our record against them.

Given how strong they were, it was mixed. It started a 1-0 away defeat in September 2003; Boro’ picking up a point in a 2-2 home draw later that season. After a 2-0 defeat at Sid James’ Park in September 2004, we then embarked on a four-game winning streak. It kicked off with a 3-2 win in December 2004 where we came back from 2-1 down.

It also included our maiden win at their place in October 2005 when Barry Laker – of all people – scored our winner in an FA Cup Fourth Qualifying Round tie.

The 2006-7 and 2007-8 campaigns were less than memorable. We drew twice during Stimmo’s debut campaign as Boro’ gaffer; a 0-0 draw in April 2007 pretty much ending any hopes we still had of the playoffs. In the following season? Well, it was dire. We crashed 4-0 twice (FA Cup and league) at their place, while a 1-0 home defeat in April hastened our exit from the top five.

And then they were gone; defeating Cambridge United in the playoffs.

A Football League reunion

Before we go too far down this road, we want to bring up the fact that we’d won four and drawn three of our 12 non-league meetings with the Grecians. And that obviously means we lost five at the same time. Now look at our overall head-to-head record below. Don’t forget to come back – otherwise the point of checking will be entirely lost. What it should tell you is that we’ve played them a further 17 times in the Football League. And we’ve managed just two more wins.

So, this isn’t going to be a happy section – is it?

It wasn’t until we’d rushed through League Two, and up into League One, that we crossed paths with the Devon side again. Our 0-0 draw in early August 2011 was actually our first-ever match in the third tier. And, en route to those playoffs, we added another point to the tally with a 1-1 draw down at their place in March 2012. But those two points weren’t enough to save the Grecians. At the end of the season, they were relegated back to League Two.

We came tumbling after two years later; meeting back up again for the 2014-5 campaign.

It started well enough for us; beating them 1-0 in December 2014 and then drawing the next two to take us into the following season. It included an epic 3-3 draw at their place, which was on the tellybox can you believe; Chris Whelpdale scoring our equaliser in the 92nd minute.

Exeter City: Boro’s Record

Our head-to-head: P 29 — W 6 — D 10 — L 13 — F 24 — A 41— Pts 25 — WR 21%
Our last tango: Stevenage 0-1 Exeter City, 02 February 2021

What happened to them?

Then things started to go wrong for Boro’. Three of the next four meetings went their way. Or it’s seven in 10 if you want to bring things right up to date. There have been a couple of draws in the mix, as well as a 3-1 home win in April 2018. Revs got a hattrick that day and that result wrecked the Grecians’ hopes of automatic promotion. They must still be sore about it as they’ve made us suffer a fair bit in our encounters since then. As things stand, we’re on a run of three defeats.

This ain’t a team we wanna be playing if we’re in need of three points. But they’re still in League Two; three failed playoff bids and two 9th-placed finishes in the past five years. We expect them  to be in the promotion mix come the end of the 2021-2 campaign. If you’re reading this from the future, you can write to us and let us know if we were right. Or telepathically communicate with us. We’re pretty sure that’ll be possible soon enough. Not that it’ll necessarily be a good thing.

Sorry, where were we…

• WANT TO KNOW MORE? – Exeter City club profile


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