The Giant Killers

Every F A cup giant killing since 1888

Giant Killers

 1981


1980 - 1982

Exeter City 3-1 Leicester City

Fourth Round replay: Wednesday January 28th 1981

Attendance: 15,268

Scorers: {Exeter} Tony Kellow {10, 75-pen, 85}: {Leicester} Jim Melrose {69}

Ranked at the time:103

Only twice in history have the top flight managed to survive an FA cup campaign without a single side having their colours lowered from outside their own ranks, both times back in the 1890s. In the 20th Century, no season came closer to such an unromantic outcome as 1981 when just the relegation haunted Second Division Champions, Leicester were humbled. Jock Wallace's men were now well established among the  'too good for Division Two, not good enough for Division one' ranks as the joy of wining promotion back to the elite was now fading in the memory of five consecutive defeats over the festive season that left them rooted to the foot of the division and with little hope of salvation. 

Since gaining promotion from the Football League's basement in the late seventies, Exeter were now a stable Third Division side, offering little by way of a threat of promotion. The hope of a big day out in the cup was the height of most Grecian's fans expectations and a trip to Filbert Street produced their best cup day for decades when they held their top flight opponents to a 1-1 draw.

The replay would hinge on a controversial penalty decision in the closing stages of the tie. Tony Kellow had given the Grecians an early lead before Jim Melrose was quickest to react when Ian Main saved but couldn't hold Kevin MacDonald's stinging shot. The game was ticking into its closing quarter when Dave Pullar was put through on goal before Larry slid in to clear the danger. Pullar was sent clattering into the penalty area and he referee pointed to the spot. It could be debated whether or not May's challenge was a foul but a penalty it certainly wasn't, the challenge coming a good yard outside the box.

Protests were waved away before Kellow slammed home the spot kick. There was no room for sympathy in the Exeter camp and they finished off the Foxes with five minutes remaining as Kellow earned the right to keep the match ball. Leicester rallied a little in the League but never left the relegation zone, retaking their place in Division Two at season's end.

Exeter meanwhile had a trip to Second Division Newcastle in round five where a late Phil Roberts goal salvaged a replay in Devon, which produced one of the most stunningly convincing cup victories in the club's history. A stunning first half display took the Grecians into a three goal lead, rounded off late on with a fourth to completely humiliate their opponents.

Now, in this year of little surprise, Exeter lined up as the only side from outside the top flight in the quarter finals, rekindling memories among the senior citizens of the great Grecian's side of fifty years earlier. That 1931 side was the only other time that Exeter had reached the last eight and indeed the only other year they had defeated top flight opposition. A classy Tottenham side were their reward at White Hart Lane and on a rain sodden day in London the Grecians yet again put in a spirited display. This time however they were to be undone by two late goals to the side who ultimately won the cup. Back in '31, the legacy of Exeter's cup run had been a mascot, Dido the Seagull, although apparently sadly forgotten by 1981 when manager, Brian Godfrey instead gave the club the short lived catchphrase "Win or lose, we'll have some booze. If we draw, we'll have some more." A very 20th Century Third Division sentiment indeed.    

Exeter: 1:Ian Main, 2:Martyn Rogers, 3:Peter Hatch, 4:Dick Forbes, 5:Lee Roberts, 6:Phil Roberts, 7:Ian Pearson, 8:Peter Rogers, 9:Tony Kellow, 10:John Delve, 11:Dave Pullar. {Manager:Brian Godfrey}


Leicester: 1:Mark Wallington, 2:Tommy Williams, 3:Paul Friar, 4:Andy Peake {Replaced by 12:Mark Goodwin}, 5:Larry May, 6:John O'Neill, 7:Pat Byrne, 8:Jim Melrose, 9:Alan Young, 10:Ian Wilson, 11:Kevin MacDonald. {Manager:Jock Wallace}