History books should make Exeter City fans appreciate the good times at St James'
Last week's victory at York City gave me a chance to look through the history books and see when the last time was Exeter City won five games in succession on the road.
Close friends will tell you I am not really one for statistics, but when interviewing manager Paul Tisdale post-match, it was he that posed the question before looking in my direction for an answer.
It is times like that you wish for City historian Mike Blackstone to be present as I am sure he would have reeled off the answer without a moment's pause. But while my knowledge of the Grecians isn't bad, certainly in my time supporting and covering the club, it is nothing compared with Mike.
However, I like a challenge and so Sunday morning was spent looking back at Exeter's results. It was when I got as far back as the 1976-77 season that I found the answer with City winning their last four games en route to promotion from the old Division Four.
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I returned to the 1977-78 season and saw that City had won the first two games of that season as well, so there was the answer. It was also during this research time that I learned that nine wins is the most City have ever had in a season away from home, a feat achieved by Tis during the 2008-09 season, which also ended in promotion from the fourth tier.
Today, Exeter sit on nine away wins for the current campaign, so one more between now and the end of April will see Tisdale break his own record. He has every chance of smashing it with a further ten away games still to be played.
Looking back through the record books brought back plenty of memories. Or should I say nightmares? Such positive runs are not something you usually associate with Exeter and it again made me realise that at this moment in time, I still think City fans have never had it so good.
Of course, there is a generation of Exeter fans who have been brought up on this pretty successful spell in the club's history. The Conference years were spent at the lowest level the Grecians had ever competed, but with top-half finishes, cup runs, two Wembley trips and promotion, they were good times to start watching City and perhaps why there is a level of expectancy on the club, which I think is unrealistic.
It is a topic of conversation I often have with friends of mine who started following Exeter at the same time as me. We were fortunate to watch the 1989-90 Championship season between lessons at High School, but what followed was... well, I sometimes wonder how and why we still follow the team.
The Alan Ball years were fun – always beating Argyle and Torquay back then, for instance – and the likes of Danny Bailey, Ronnie Jepson and Steve Moran became cult heroes.
After that, things turned sour. Bally left for Southampton, an on-fire Jeppo headed to Huddersfield for peanuts and the kind of records I am more familiar with began!
The 1993-94 season started well enough and included extraordinary 6-4 games against Reading (lost) and Fulham (won), but after that win against the Cottagers on November 2, 1993, City did not win again in the league for nearly four months! The Grecians did not so much slip down the league, but dropped like a stone and that continued the following season, which was arguably one of the darkest in the club's history.
Off-the-field troubles led to the ground being sold in a desperate bid to keep the club afloat. On the field, City failed to win any of their last 16 games and picked up two points from the last 11 matches as they finished bottom of the Football League and were spared relegation because Conference champions Macclesfield Town's ground was not up to scratch.
In that dismal year, City failed to win a game from February 8 onwards. If you think home form is bad now, City won only five home games in the league all season, the last of those coming in November.
Other notable facts I remembered and came across included the away run under Peter Fox, where City failed to win after a 3-1 success at Brighton on October 18, 1997,until January 2, 1999, a 3-1 victory at Carlisle!
Looking further back and in 1986-87, the Grecians won only one of the last 17 League games and that season also saw an incredible 25 draws. Away day regulars did not see Exeter win for a year and a day from October 15, 1983, to October 16, 1984.
It should underline the fact that this is a good time to be a City fan despite the home form which, as Tis said, is more of an anomaly than anything else. Football is cyclical and there may come a time when the club endures such wretched runs of form again. Enjoy things while they last!