Come on you Grecians! My day at Exeter City Football Club with Exeter City Community Trust
The other week I was chuffed to be invited by Craig Townsend from Exeter City Community Trust to a football match at Exeter City Football Club. ECFC were playing against Crawley (which happens to be just down the road from my old stomping ground in Croydon).
Hubby dropped me off at the pitch, and as we got closer to St James Park we thought the sat nav must have it wrong, the pitch couldn’t be that close to the city centre… But we were amazed to find that the stadium really is in the middle of the city surrounded by houses.
The location and the size of the stadium give it a real sense of traditional family football values. It was reminiscent of the stories my Dad used to tell me about watching football with his Dad in the stands at Selhurst Park.
The site is undergoing a huge re-development, part of which includes building a stand on the far side – but in its absence, the view across the city is a pretty spectacular backdrop for the beautiful game.
The Cliff Bastin Stand (affectionately known as the ‘Big Bank’ by Exeter fans) dominates the far end of the pitch. The historic grandstand, which dates back to 1926, boasts the largest single-terrace capacity in the Football League, with room for almost 4,000 standing fans.
When the game was in full swing, a rumble of drums and chants rolled through the terrace from the dedicated Grecians in the Big Bank – there is nothing quite like the ritualistic roar of fans at a match, you can’t help but want to be a part of it.
In front of me were a row of older ECFC fans challenging the oppositions management and heckling the Ref (quite rightly IMHO – he let Crawley get away with murder).
I’m not a football virgin, I’ve been to a few Crystal Palace matches at Selhurst Park and away so I was looking forward to seeing ECFC in action (and I did get a bit vocal in the second half).
We had lunch in a hospitality box and I got to meet James Lyon who is part of the England Amputee Football Association and a volunteer community coach for Ability Counts – a brilliant initiative that offers adults with mental health issues, learning difficulties and physical impairments the opportunity to engage in regular, structured, professional and fun physical training sessions, more about that here.
I didn’t realise quite how much work Exeter City Community Trust do across the city. Close to home, they run the football after-school club at a lot of the schools (including ours). They are Exeter’s leading health & wellbeing charity who focus on delivering inspiring physical activity, education, programmes and courses in Devon and Somerset. Around 22,000 hours each year is spent out in the community striving to improve life chances for all, often in the most deprived areas of Greater Exeter and among the most disadvantaged groups in our society.
Thank you to Craig & Jamie for the invite & the hospitality, I am looking forward to seeing more of the brilliant work you do.
Jamie Vittles who is the Head of Community at Exeter City FC has just run the marathon and is raising money for Children’s Hospice South West who provide hospice care for children with life-limiting conditions and their families across the South West. So far he has raised a whopping £2,550+ if you would like to donate here is his page.