Another year of progress and potential for Exeter City
- Credit: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK
I ho-ho-hope you’ve had a lovely Christmas and are enjoying the Christmas break!
In football, we don’t normally get much a of a break during the festive period, but this year, due to disruption caused yet again by COVID-19, the team at Exeter City has had something of an enforced break.
Our match against Port Vale and our Boxing Day fixture against Swindon were both postponed due to COVID-19, so we were keeping our fingers crossed for Forest Green Rovers on December 29, but that has all fallen foul of the current situation.
As it’s my final column of this year, it’s a good chance to look back over the year: yet another year of ups and downs and twists and turns!
We began in January playing to empty stadiums; something which seems like a lifetime ago now, but is also a reality that we could be facing in the months ahead. Those games were very surreal, so it was wonderful to welcome you all back at the start of the season. I know how much the players missed the crowds and we will all never take the atmosphere at St James Park for granted again.
This was the year we got our new pitch, and we were treated to regular updates from Chas, our new star of stage and screen, throughout. The hard work has certainly paid off, as the pitch is still holding up well, whereas normally by this time of year it would be rapidly turning into what can only be described as a quagmire!
We were all proud when ‘two of our own’ Ollie Watkins and Ethan Ampadu were selected for the England and Wales squads respectively this year – what an incredible achievement by two hard-working genuine young men. Both of these tremendous players came through our Academy, which continues to produce excellent players – sometimes as many as 10 of our own starting or on the bench this season.
- 1 Members of South West drugs gang jailed for combined 40 years
- 2 School steps up safety at road crossing areas
- 3 Managing the woodland at the Knapp in Sidmouth
- 4 Fire training exercise at Newton Poppleford
- 5 New police station will help address challenges in keeping residents safe
- 6 Careless charity shop donors cost Devon Air Ambulance money
- 7 Cash grant offer to Sidmouth youth support groups
- 8 'Good news - a new restaurant in Sidmouth!'
- 9 Exeter vaccine centre at Greendale will remain open
- 10 Students step out on Woodbury in their Ten Tors training
October saw agreement for work to start on the new facilities at the Cliff Hill Training Ground. Our fantastic supporter group, the East Devon Grecians, has worked hard to keep the buildings functional over the years, but with water leaking through the roof and countless other issues, it was definitely time to modernise and improve the facilities.
Members of the Supporters’ Trust were asked to vote on whether we should go ahead with the work – truly reflecting our ethos and our ownership model. It’s yet another reason to join the Trust, as you do genuinely have a say on some of the big decisions which affect your club.
The Supporters’ Trust also contributed to the Government’s fan-led review on football ownership, which came off the back of the ill-fated Super League. The results of that review have been released with the recommendation to appoint a ‘strong and independent’ football regulator, which we’d urge you all to write to your MPs to support – look out Ben and Simon, there should be some mail coming your way soon!
Exeter City Community Trust, our partner charity, has continued its amazing work across the city. Over the last couple of weeks, they’ve been supporting more than 400 vulnerable families through delivery of free holiday activities for young people and the delivery of festive hampers, full of goodies from Greendale Farm Shop.
Our Exeter City Women’s team have produced some brilliant performances under the watchful and skilful eyes of Abbie and Aaron. They’re through to the fourth round of the FA Cup against West Brom after beating Southampton 3-0.
We had a record crowd for their match against Plymouth Argyle Women at St James Park, with our attendance knocking the socks off some of the Premier League Women’s teams. Watch out for this group of young women – they’ve got a bright future.
All that remains to say, is thank you for reading my columns over the year – Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!