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Know Your Enemies: Exeter City F.C.

KYE was originally going to sit out this round, but this feisty fourth-tier club just had to go on and force the issue. Besides, for such a small club they have a rather interesting history.

Dan Mullan/Getty Images

In 1901 St. Sidwell's United formed as Exeter's second football club next to Exeter United F.C. After three years of local rivalry, and following a St. Sidwell's 3-1 derby win, they two clubs decided to join forces and Exeter City F.C. was formed. One hundred twelve years later, Exeter City would welcome Liverpool Football Club to their home, and force a replay. In between their founding and now, they've had a bit of history.

Exeter City F.C.

St. James Park, not to be confused with Newcastle's, was not originally planned to be a football stadium, but instead a field used for fattening pigs. Judging by the reviews of the pitch after the last FA Cup tie, its agrarian origins are not a shock. Regardless, this former swine pasture would become the home of the Exeter United, and in 1904, the newly-minted Exeter City. Incidentally, Exeter United was one of the first teams to use "United" in their title. Good move in ditching that bit.

Anyway, the club originally sported green and white kits, but ditched them in 1910 after a poor run of form. Seems logical. Their first match featuring their now-standard red and white striped kits (because we needed more English teams wearing that design) came in a nil-nil draw against West Ham. Exeter went on to win five consecutive games in December, and the red and white stripes were here to stay.

The club has gained the nickname "The Grecians," but there seems to be no real consensus how that came to be. Either way, the name stuck.

In 1914, still six years shy of admittance into the Football League, the Grecians made a tour of South America. Here, Exeter played what is believed to be the first ever football match against the Brazilian national team. However, reports about the encounter are conflicted, with the result either being a 2-0 win for Brazil or a 3-3 draw. I know these were pre-twitter days, but I'd be fascinated to know how these radically different results wound up being reported.

In 1920 the club finally joined the Football League as one of the founding members of the third division. The Football League expanded to four divisions in 1958, dragging Exeter City down with it, and this has more or less been their level ever since. In 1963-64 Exeter won their first promotion, but would only last two seasons in the third tier. The Grecians would have a few other stints in the third division from 1977-1984, 1990-94, and 2009-12. Since 1920, the club has only spent 5 years outside of the Football League, from 2003-2008.

Unsurprisingly, Exeter's trophy case is a bit bare. Their one triumph of note was their 1989-90 season, when they won the fourth division title. Exeter has also made it as far as the FA Cup quarterfinals twice, in 1930-31 and 1980-81. So, next time you feel bad about not winning the league in a while, you can think about that Liverpool fans. You're welcome.

Liverpool will attempt to avoid further embarrassment against this League Two side tomorrow night, 8 PM GMT.

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