Party time at the Park for Exeter City fans

A busy Red Square during the Exeter City Party at the Park at St James Park, Exeter on 3 July 2022.

A busy Red Square during the Exeter City Party at the Park at St James Park, Exeter on 3 July 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK - Credit: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Pre-season has officially kicked off and there’s just over three weeks until our first League One game, so it’s time to buckle up and prepare for the rocking, rolling, red and white, rollercoaster ride ahead.  

In my column, I often liken supporting a football team to riding a rollercoaster: huge thrilling highs followed by stomach-churning dips; but we’re made of strong stuff, us Exeter City fans, and we’re definitely ready for the ride. 

The squad will be heading for Lincoln for their opening game of their League One season on Saturday July 30. There are some big teams in this league, and we’re expecting some large crowds at SJP; Portsmouth on Boxing Day should see a packed park and, of course, there are the home and away legs of the Devon Derby to look forward to.  

The run-in looks pretty interesting as well with some big games to end the season – April sees Plymouth and Derby County at SJP, followed by Sheffield Wednesday and Ipswich Town away, with the final game at home against Morecambe on May 6. There’s lots to look forward to, and I for one cannot wait to see the Big Bank getting ready for ‘take off’ again! 

And talking of packing out the Park it was fantastic to see so many happy smiling faces for the Party at the Park on Sunday. There was a brilliant atmosphere, a very warm welcome from the crowds for Matt and players from both the men’s and women’s teams and free activities, entertainment, food and drink on offer all day. All I can say to event organiser Clive Harrison is - take a bow!  

There are a few pre-season matches coming up where we’ll get to see some favourite faces, and, as Matt and his team’s recruitment ramps up, some new ones as well. It was great to see so many of our academy players at the first friendly against Tiverton on Friday.  

There aren’t many games when you have two ‘keepers on pitch at the same time, but as Tiverton’s goalie was on holiday, we lent them Jack Arthur for the evening! Next up are matches against Weston-super-Mare, Taunton, Truro, Yeovil, Bristol City and Torquay in the weeks that follow. Truro and Bristol City will be played behind closed doors, so if you’re planning on heading to some pre-season games, don’t make the trip east or north for those games! 

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The development work is progressing well at the Cliff Hill Training Ground with the foundations being laid for the new £3 million building. Once the foundations are prepared, we won’t see too much action on site, as the building is of modular construction and will be manufactured off site and transported to the training ground, where it will be erected. The Kit out the Cliff fundraising campaign, to buy equipment and facilities for the new development, is going incredibly well.  

Club board director Elaine Davis, who is leading the campaign, has received fantastic support from local businesses and fans, and we’re extremely grateful to everyone who has pledged or donated to the fundraising drive. The next fundraiser is a bingo night on July 9 – so grab your dabber and get on down to the park for that one… 

I’ll have a bit of extra work to do this season, as I’ve been voted onto the board of the English Football League as an alternative director. I held the same position when we were in League Two; it’s a great opportunity to represent all clubs, but also to inform and enlighten the other directors about our supporter ownership model. Whilst I’m often asked to comment and advise on Academy matters, don’t worry I won’t be giving away too many trade secrets! 

I look forward to seeing you all at St James Park for our League One season – and don’t forget, the future’s bright, the future’s red and white! 

Exeter City fans enjoy activites during the Exeter City Party at the Park at St James Park, Exeter

Exeter City fans enjoy activites during the Exeter City Party at the Park at St James Park, Exeter on 3 July 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK - Credit: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK

Exeter City fans enjoying activities during the Exeter City Party at the Park at St James Park, Ex

Exeter City fans enjoying activities during the Exeter City Party at the Park at St James Park, Exeter on 3 July 2022. Photo: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK - Credit: Tom Sandberg/PPAUK