A rough guide to... Exeter City

Cod Almighty | Article

by Rich Mills

1 August 2016

In their quiet corner of the south-west, Exeter have a fine city, splendid countryside, and two fierce rivals

How are you?

The Grecians are certainly not the Greasy ‘Uns, no sirree! Exeter’s a lovely place; full of well-groomed, affluent students and with views of the moors from the centre, it doesn’t really feel like a city.

You can get a feel of both the city and City by looking at the way manager Paul Tisdale wears his cap. Dapper.

What have you been up to?

For such an unassuming place, Exeter have a couple of fierce rivalries – Torquay and Plymouth. Having failed to haul themselves over the line last year, Argyle are facing another season in the fourth division so the locals can expect token chest-puffing and leeriness when the green army come visiting this season.

The Torquay thing is more bitter. In fact when the Gulls appealed for some fan unity and support in the face of financial strife last season, the home fans still booed the Exeter contingent who turned up on the night. That was particularly hard to understand as it came only a few months after the Grecians donated the gate receipts from a pre-season friendly to Torquay, such was the mire that the Gulls were in. A lovely gesture and likely down to Exeter’s fan-owned set-up.

Still, with Torquay stuck in the Conference it’s all a bit meaningless. Like us and Scunthorpe, really.

Our history against Exeter is peppered with some cracking games, usually at Blundell Park. But lately there’s not much to talk about other than Danny Butterfield being on the coaching staff at St James Park.

What kind of a season did you have?

After flirting with the play-off positions, Exeter eventually fell away and finished in 14th. Mid-table obscurity.

Apart from the rugby (and let’s be honest, that’s what the locals are really interested in) the big news around Exeter last year was the visit of Jurgen Klopp and his Liverpool charges in the third round of the FA Cup. The reds fielded a team nobody recognised, not even their own parents, and sneaked a 2-2 draw before walloping City 3-0 at Anfield. Still, the gate receipts and TV money were more than welcome.

How are you feeling?

I reckon another mid-table finish is all Exeter can reasonably hope for this season. Given the funding available to manager Tisdale, I don’t think many fans would argue with that...

...Except they are. At home, the Grecians are having a shocker and have been for some time now. For the last five seasons they’ve won more games on their travels than at St James Park and they face us on the back of a record five consecutive home league defeats. Fan protests? It’s just so unseemly, isn’t it? Not very Exeter at all.

What about the team itself? After elderly talismanic striker Clinton Morrison left the club earlier in the summer after a couple of seasons there aren’t really any names that jump out at me. Other than centre back Troy Archibald-Henville, for no other reason than it’s a great name.

Injuries left them struggling for numbers recently and it’s still looking tough for them, despite the arrival of one Reuben Reid, formally of rivals Plymouth, and the emergence of 15-year-old midfield prospect Ethan Ampadu.

Where are you from?

If you’re going to make a weekend of it then there’s plenty to do nearby in Devon as well as in Exeter itself. It’s got a smart cathedral, Roman walls and loads of nice coastal towns nearby, as well as Exmoor on one side and Dartmoor the other.

St James Park is pretty decent for a lower-league ground. It’s not even half-seated so will be a bit like last season in as the away end is all standing. The club has just got the go-ahead to redevelop the ground, including knocking down the old grandstand, even though it was only built in 1926. No age at all. Stadium nerds will be interested to know that the enabling developments linked to the scheme are a small shop and 300+ student bedrooms.

You must be so tired of folks talking about that Liverpool tie?

The draw with Liverpool was a great result, for sure. But more impressive - to me, anyway – is your sustainable fan-owned model. Maybe you’ll never go much further than the fourth division but is that so bad if you’re doing it in such a fan-friendly way?

Because I love that kind of thing I’d like to offer the following advice. If you draw Liverpool or some other bunch of 'billy big club' types in the cup this year then don’t inflate your ticket prices. OK, you might make a few quid off the students or armchair fans but surely the real fans suffer as a result?

Also, how the hell did the chairman of a fan-owned outfit, Julian Tagg, vote in favour of the Football League’s Trophy proposals? The supporters’ trust, who of course own the club and employ Tagg, should never need to issue a statement saying that it was regretful he voted in such a way.

But still, fan ownership… mmm.

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