Exeter City continued their recent run of play-off and Wembley heartache this week, as they have now lost in 3 of the last 4 editions of the Sky Bet League Two Play-Off Final. Their last win at the national stadium saw their return to the Football League secured, after beating Cambridge United in 2008 to gain promotion back to the Football League, from the then known Blue Square Premier.
What’s even more interesting, is their continuation of the curse of red & white kit in the Football League play-offs, as they were comprehensibly dispatched, by what manager Matt Taylor called “a physical” Northampton team.
The 2020 League Two Play-Off final became the 14th play-off final consisting of a team in red and white stripes and black shorts. Unbelievably it also signifies the 14th defeat for such a team.
Brentford, Lincoln City, Sheffield United, Sunderland and Exeter previously, have all fallen foul of the Red & White Stripe curse. Although Sunderland did prevail in 1990 after losing the final due to Swindon Town’s financial irregularities.
The curse doesn’t stop there. When you consider the Semi Finals, a whopping 29 attempts to be promoted, by seven clubs wearing the red & white with black shorts combination, has ended in 0 wins. Brentford & Sheffield Utd – eight each; Lincoln – six, Sunderland – three, Exeter – two, Southampton – one and recently Cheltenham Town – one.
Let’s hope the next time a club who usually wear the red & white stripes and black shorts, is asked to change their shorts for the final, to avoid a clash. Evidence suggests that this may break the curse! Cheltenham Town bucked the trend in 2006, with their 1-0 win against Grimsby Town in Cardiff, thanks to a Steve Guinan goal! They were asked to wear white shorts to avoid clashing with Grimsby’s black ones.
Brentford Town fans best hope they can leapfrog West Brom into the automatic promotion spot in the next few weeks!