The Euros
Euros Heading
A Brief History Of The Euros...
By Alan Robertshaw

In October 1999 a football team from Exeter hired a minibus and travelled to Rotterdam to take part in a four-team tournament with (art-college) sides from the host town, The Hague and London. That this first-ever tour took place was thanks to the organizational skills and the extensive international contacts of the team’s incomparable (now retired) right back and entrepreneur, ‘the Artist formerly known as John Butler’.

As that Exeter team was entering European competition for the first time, someone decided it was about time it had a name, and so the EUROS were founded.  So far capital letters have been used for this name, as it was in fact an ingenious acronym appropriate to the occasion - credit for which is apparently due to Martin (‘Imcomingupforthiscorner’) Innalls -  Exeter University Reds Overseas. The team also acquired a set of shirts that were exactly the same design and the same shade of red. They even had sleeves and the team’s name on the back (© RDunbar Designs International  - replicas available on request from the Club Shop at vastly inflated prices).

Though this writer was not a witness of the first airing of these shirts, he assumes that at least the tradition of individual grubby socks, faded shorts and tatty tracksuit bottoms was maintained, so the team didn’t get mistaken for M********* U*****.  They may in fact have also had matching footwear, but only because the games in Rotterdam were rescheduled at short notice to be played indoors because of a waterlogged pitch (don’t they have dykes over there to stop this sort of problem?) and all the Euros had to buy cheap daps in the local market to avoid playing in bare feet. Despite wearing shiny new shirts and clogs and playing in a bicycle shed, the Euros celebrated their new identity with an unbeaten record in the tournament, and returned with the cup (the Jules Holland trophy?). This was nearly all that returned, as there were rumours of players falling heavily for the local gin and narrowly escaping the charms of the local girls (and boys). Manager Steve Grange also denied reports that they had drunk the minibus dry, but it was somewhat suspicious that it ran out of petrol on the way back to the ferry.

Since its official founding, the team has got used to its new name, but old traditions die hard. Shouts of ‘come on, you Euros’ are still as rare as Lammie’s headed goals, and Wednesday nights continue to echo with ‘wake up, you Reds’ (or ‘wake up, you useless ****s’, this one from the right midfield, though only in times of severe stress). Nevertheless the team has continued to consolidate its new millennium identity with more European triumphs on tours to The Hague, Rotterdam, Amsterdam and Rome (besides hosting an international tournament in Exeter), featuring more RDunbarTM shirts and tops (stylish and suitable for all leisure occasions – eat your heart out Timmy Holfiger).

How it all began...

Not long after Alf Ramsey noticed that Bobby Charlton’s brother was also a brilliant footballer, and Big Jack won the World Cup (OK, so I’m biased, but I was there), a University of Exeter Staff football team started playing in a Saturday league at Ducke’s Meadow. In the winter of 1969-1970 (or thereabouts) they made a booking for a Wednesday night to play on the all-weather (which at that time meant a sort of gravelly sand) floodlit pitch at the University Top Field from 8-9.30pm.

The rest, as they say, is history, and in this case the history of the (future) Euros. That Wednesday night booking has continued through every winter since then (even indoors, during the time the pitch was astroturfed). Among the founder members were Mike Duffy and Alan Robertshaw from the (long forgotten) Arts Faculty, and Duncan Boldy (Institute of Biometry – also long gone) and Phil Everson (Maths. – still hanging on). They were joined soon after by Steve Grange (Computer Unit, with various name-changes since).

Behind every great team there is probably a woman, and in this case it was Mike Duffy’s wife Christine, who, though she wasn’t involved with the football (unlike Elsie Revie, who many believe was the real manager at Elland Road) also worked in the Computer Unit and was the link between the two buildings that supplied most of the players in the earliest days. These were joined over the years by various colleagues, relations and friends, skimming the cream of footballing talent from the Exeter area.

The Early Years...

Until archaeologists come up with undiscovered material, details of games played in the seventies will stay lost in the mists of time. There is little doubt that the main reason that someone (probably Steve, burning the midnight oil in the Computer Unit) invented the word processor was so that the Reds’ achievements could at last be put on record. Besides compiling the statistics, Steve was also organising the team (the tradition was already established that the team was not ‘picked’, it materialised on the night), booking the pitch and arranging the fixtures. As these records show, the team had no name and no existence (apart from at the curry venues) outside Wednesday nights, when it could be identified by the (various shades of) red of its shirts. 

In these early days most of the opposition was provided by student or staff teams from around the campus or local Sunday league sides, with a colourful assortment of names:  Hamlet, Dynamo Kebab, Radical Snatchers, Groove Machine, Unknown Students, Piss Punters, Dribble, Kentucky (touring side or chicken fryers?), Pelican Rovers and, most memorably, Angie’s Thighs – Angie herself never turned up - plus teams organised by individual Reds and the occasional local Saturday team (Pinhoe, Silverton, Crescent).

Though all the opposition teams seemed even then to be made up of younger and more athletic players, the statistics confirm the recollection of the Reds who can remember that far back, that we nearly always won.

Though all the opposition teams seemed even then to be made up of younger and more athletic players, the statistics confirm the recollection of the Reds who can remember that far back, that we nearly always won.

The official record for the 12 seasons from 1986-87 to 1997-98 reads:

228 187 21 20

Average score:  5.06 – 1.89 (not sure who scored the fractions).  Three of the seasons we were unbeaten.

The New Millennium.

Round about the turn of the century the University of Exeter decided it wasn’t natural (or profitable) to have all that grass on the Top Field area, and has gradually covered it with plastic, forcing the rabbits that used to feed around the fringes of the Euros’ pitch to move out. But though this imposed an indoor sabbatical on the team, it resulted in the replacement of the old shale pitch with a new green carpet, which proved to be a great improvement, albeit at a greatly increased fee.

Since then the fixture list has continued to be varied and colourful, though the new surface has attracted some more serious opposition, notably Beale and Cole, Grecian 2000, Civil Service, Exeter Investments (not appeared since Stock Market Crash ?), Parcel Force, Faber Maunsell and Becton Dickinson.  The longest-running fixture has been against the Environment Agency, who first appear in the records in 1992 and continue to provide challenging opposition. The goal difference against all opponents over the recorded years has hardly changed (5-2 the average score), though the current season seems to be tougher (so far, 2-1).

Not surprisingly, the list of players who have worn the famous red shirt over the years is long (almost as long as the current Exeter City squad-list: how do they afford all the kit, let alone the wages, for 44 players?).

Among those who still appear regularly on Wednesdays are a few golden oldies who feature in the earliest records: Phil Webb, Ross Dunbar, Neil Webb, Alan Robertshaw (file under ‘subs. unused’), Paul Lamacraft (also creator and custodian of this excellent website) and of course Steve Grange, still awaiting his official contract as player/manager. Occasionally seen also are Frank Keeley, Rob Lamacraft and  Phil Burnett. Duncan Boldy moved to Oz, Dave Starkey to Yorkshire, Adrian Gully to the Middle East, Graham Cox to the pub, and John Butler to Birmingham. John is of course still represented by his two sons David and Richard (who was it who said their mum must have been quite a footballer?), and the club’s family youth policy is thriving also via Neil and Jonathan Webb, Chris, Matt and Sam Cook, Phil and Paul Webb (youth?) and Martin and Liam Innalls.

We’d be glad to hear from any other ex-players who read this, including those who made one or more of the 691 appearances recorded by Steve under ‘Others’. Although many players have made a few appearances over the club’s history, there has always been continuity in the squad. The Euros are a team that members enjoy playing for, and they rarely leave unless they leave Exeter (except for Phil, who left to play skittles, but came back). The current rogues gallery will be found elsewhere on this website. Most of them have been playing for more than ten years. And none of them has ever been sacked from the captaincy, as the team has never had a captain. Nor has it had a constitution or a committee. It does, however, have a Player/Manager, a Director of Football, a Fixtures Secretary, a European Tour Organiser, a Keeper of the Records and a Man with a Stopwatch on Wednesday Nights. And they are all called Steve Grange, without whose dedication over the years the Euros would have no proud history.

The End (for now).