The joy of promotion and City's next challenge

Matt Taylor, Manager of Exeter City and Matt Jay, Captain of Exeter City holds the League two runner

Matt Taylor, Manager of Exeter City and Matt Jay, Captain of Exeter City holds the League two runners up trophy with all the Exeter City fans as they arrive at the Guild Hall during the League One promotion open top bus parade through the streets of Exeter for Exeter City players and staff, Exeter on 9 May 2022. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK

Julian Tagg is president and director of external affairs and football at Exeter City Football Club. He brings you his thoughts on a sensational promotion for the Grecians.  

Well, what can I say!? My previous column for this paper was full of hope and optimism, whilst grounded with a pinch or two of realism, and dare I say, pessimism.  

As we know, it’s the job of football fans to be pessimistic, yet always hopeful…But this time the hope wasn’t misplaced - and our amazing team, led by the magnificent Matt Taylor, did it, securing automatic promotion to League One. It might be strange to say, but I think the joy of promotion was matched equally with the joy of knowing that we didn’t have to endure another trip to Wembley!  

The celebrations which followed the Barrow match when we secured promotion were rightfully jubilant. There are certainly some magic moments in football, and to see MJ, our captain – a player who joined our Academy at just nine years old – score the winning goal to secure our spot in the automatics, was one of those moments.  

I’ve said it before, but this group of players has been something special throughout the season, and as Matt said in one of his interviews, their spirit and determination has been a big part of achieving this promotion.  

Of course, it’s not just the team on the pitch that have achieved this; there are a lot of people who have worked incredibly hard over the years, decades even, and put their heart and soul into our club and we owe them all a debt of gratitude – so, thank you to all those people who have served on the Supporters’ Trust, the club board, all our members of staff and volunteers, and, of course, our fans. 

Our fans. Many of you have stuck with us through thick and thin, and there have been some ‘thin’ and even thinner times. We appreciate every ticket you buy, every song which blasts out from the Big Bank, everything you do to support our club. We’re also incredibly grateful to our sponsors, all City fans, who have backed our club over many years – and continue to play a vitally important role in its sustainability.   

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As a club, we will continue to strive to be the best we can, providing the best experience for our fans, and I don’t think we’re under any illusion that life in League One won’t be without its challenges. But we’ll keep progressing, taking on bigger and bigger hurdles.  

In recent years we’ve built a new stand, a new pitch, survived Covid, and we are now building a new facility at the Cliff Hill Training Ground. This week sees the cutting of the first turf by Cllr Ian Thomas, chair of East Devon District Council, for the £3million development, which will replace the worn-out facilities that, although have served us well, were past their sell by date quite some time ago!  

The proposed development provides a completely new two-storey facility, which will include a new and larger fitness suite, separate canteen facilities (no longer shared with the gym), larger changing and physiotherapy facilities, improved office accommodation and a multi-use theatre/match preparation/classroom space. 

Our club is in great shape and our supporter ownership model is the envy of many. It’s certainly been a journey, with some difficult and challenging times, that we have faced and overcome together. It’s also important to reflect on the impact this can have on our city and the wider area, and to recognise the important cultural role we play as a supporter-owned, community club. 

So, as the reality of the achievement finally sinks in, and the planning ramps up for a new season in League One, let’s enjoy this achievement together. And remember, the future is VERY bright, the future’s red and white! 

Tender moment for Pierce Sweeney of Exeter City with Julian Tagg Club president and director of exte

Tender moment for Pierce Sweeney of Exeter City with Julian Tagg Club president and director of external affairs, celebrating promotion after the Sky Bet League 2 Match between Exeter City and Barrow at St James Park, Exeter on 26 April 2022. Photo: Phil Mingo/PPAUK - Credit: Phil Mingo/PPAUK