Monday 31 October 2011

Exeter City - St James' Park

Exeter City FC
St James' Park
Stadium Way

01302 411243

Ground Number: 144
Monday 13th April 2009
Exeter City 1-0 Wycombe Wanderers
Coca-Cola League 2


1: The club was formed in 1901 as St Sidwell's United. They changed their name to Exeter City in 1904 after merging with another local side, Exeter United.

2: Exeter City started out in the East Devon League, before progressing to the Plymouth & District League. In 1908, they joined the Southern League, replacing football league bound Tottenham Hotspur.

3: Though they never pulled up any trees during their time in the Southern League, they were invited to join the Football League in 1920 as founder members of Division 3 South. Exeter City have generally plied their trade in the basement division, though some time has been spent in the third tier since the Football League went nationwide in 1958. The best ever finish came in 1980, with an 8th place finish in Division 3, or as runners-up of Division 3 South in 1933 when the leagues were regionalised.

4: In 2003 the club were relegated to the Conference, becoming the first team to exit the league without finishing bottom, following the introduction of 2 promotion places from the Conference. They'd spend 5 years in non-league, after several good finishes they finally triumphed in the playoffs of 2008, beating Cambridge United 2-0 in the Wembley final.

5: Following their relegation to the Conference, the club was taken over by the supporters trust. A successful return to the Football League followed in 2009, with promotion to League 1 in their first season and a record-equalling 8th place finish in League 1 in 2011. Despite relegation back to League 2 the following season, they remain fan owned - along with AFC Wimbledon, Bury and Wycombe Wanderers in Football League terms.

6: Exeter City have twice reached the FA Cup Quarter Final. The most recent occasion came in 1981 where they beat Leatherhead, Millwall, Maidstone United, Leicester City and Newcastle United before a 2-0 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.

7: The 4th Round of the League Cup has been reached three times, losing to Watford in 1978, Liverpool in 1979 and Sunderland in 1990.

8: In other cups Exeter City reached the FA Trophy Semi-Final in 2006, losing to Grays Athletic. The Southern Area final of the Football League Trophy has also been reached 3 times, lastly in 2011 with a defeat to Brentford over 2 legs.

9: Locally, Exeter City have won the Devon St Jukes Challenge Bowl on 12 occasions, lastly in 2009 and have been runners-up on a further 8 occasions.

10: Famous Exeter City fans include Coldplay's Chris Martin, actor Adrian Edmondson, TV host Noel Edmonds and singer Joss Stone. Former directors have also included Michael Jackson and Uri Geller.


On my first and only visit to Exeter City, I decided to stay down for the weekend with my Wycombe supporting mate Paul. But as it was Bank Holiday, everywhere was really busy and I had to stay in nearby Tiverton. So I had a fairly quiet night before the game. On the day, I parked up at the ground and walked into the town centre. I managed to pick up Ian Holloway's autobiography from Poundland, for would you guess it... £1

That was about as good as it got though. Despite having a bright start and a few good spells, Exeter deserved their 1-0 win, achieved by a goal from former Wycombe transfer target Matt Gill. This defeat saw Wycombe drop to 3rd place in the table, where they would finish at the end of the season and gain promotion. The game was a typical Peter Taylor one, with us withstanding a fair bit of pressure at the back, but not having much going forward.

VISIT 2: EXETER 1-1 WYCOMBE (L2, 10/2/18)

When the lineup for League 2 was finalised at the end of last season, Exeter City was the one standout ground that I wanted to visit. Though my blog needed updates on several of the entries, I'd visited most of the venues multiple times. That was apart from St James Park that I'd paid a sole visit to, back in 2009. Looking at Exeter, it had a number of great looking pubs, so I was hoping for a potential stay away - either in midweek or during the warm weather. Sadly for me, the fixtures didn't fall as I hoped and we were handed a Saturday at the start of February. I could have still taken in the pubs on the train, but with the ludicrous prices in full operation (£90 return) I decided to go on the Independent Supporters Club coach. This picked up from near my house and meant that I could go with my Dad. The pubs that the Indies pick vary wildly for a cider lover for me, but luckily their latest offering, the Pony and Trap in Cullumpton, did not live up to its cockney rhyming slang namesake as it had 4 real ciders on offer, according to my research. I knew the town of Cullompton for its football team - Cullompton Rangers - that's the one you can see from the M5 and indeed I had gone for a look at their ground on the way back from Plymouth one year. The ground was half a mile from the pub, so a revisit to get updated pictures was a real possibility, as was a look around the town, which had some decent looking shops, but no further pubs worthy of investigation. I decided that I'd play it by ear on the day, if I'd tried all the ciders on offer at our chosen pub, I'd see if I could do any better in a local shop or off license, what with it being right in the heart of cider producing country.

For once in the midweek leading up to the game, I'd not seen any midweek football. With both of my hopping pals declaring themselves unavailable, the poor weather and the fact that my nearest unticked ground was around 70 miles away. None of the revisits appealed, though I did miss a 6-4 between Hayes & Yeading and Marlow. The week dragged a bit without football, so I was glad when Friday rolled around. I had a few pints on the night before the game, though not much as I wanted a good night's sleep. I did my research for the days drinking tomorrow. As well as our pub stop, there was a decent bar at the ground which I might pop in if I had the time. After listening to TalkSPORT for a couple of hours before going to sleep at 11. I didn’t have the best night’s sleep, waking at around 5. I drifted off until my alarm went at 6.45 when I got up and got dressed. After a burger for breakfast, I went down the shops to get a paper, although my Daily Star wasn’t in yet. I went back to meet my Dad at the coach stop. The coach was 5 minutes early, but I was glad to learn there was only 14 of us, meaning we got a double seat each. We stopped at the train station, so I popped out to get a paper. After a pick up at the cinema, we left Wycombe at 8.15 and embarked on our long journey west.

The pub menu was handed round as per usual. I was glad to see that butchers faggots, chips and peas were on offer for just a fiver. I’d only really had them before at a pub near Chasetown FC a few years back and it was nice to try something that I don’t usually get near home. The coach fare was a very reasonable £24, far cheaper and more convenient than driving and although it didn’t have the freedom of the train, it was a fraction of the cost. Of course, the weather was a disgrace again, drizzle all day in the seemingly never-ending winter. It wouldn’t be match affecting for us, but there were plenty of games being called off in non-league all over the country. There was a brief holdup on the M4 near Bradley Stoke while the police retrieved some debris from the road, but it didn’t last too long. After a 15 minute stop at services near Bristol, we got to the pub at 11.50. There was still about 10 minutes before it was scheduled to open so I went to Home Bargains just across the road from where our coach parked. I picked up some aftershave that I needed, plus some beans for my breakfast, as well as Irn Bru and crisps for later. Once we got to the pub, I still had 2 hours to spare. Two pints preceded my dinner - Sandford Orchards Shaky Bridge and Devon Red. The former was the better, but the highlight of the stop was the faggots, chips and peas which were by far the best meal I’ve had on the Indies in over 20 trips. I went for a wander to see if I could find something new, but I drew a blank. The farmers market was packing up and although the Co-Op had interesting stuff, it was nothing I’d not tried before. Instead, I went back to the pub, having a pint of Bee Sting before we left at 2.

The journey to the ground was a simple one, with us getting there just after 2.30. I went for an explore to get some outside pictures of the ground. But there was a kind of magnetic pull that attracted me to the real ale and cider bar where I had a pint of Thatchers ‘Big Apple’. I’d have preferred something more obscure and local to Exeter, as it was, this was made 65 miles away in Herefordshire, but it was still decent. They had the option of returning the glass and getting a quid back, but I decided to keep it. It was one of those plastic type ones that you get in Germany and as it had club and bar logos all over it, I kept it as a souvenir. After that, I bought an Exeter fanzine for a quid and made my way to the turnstile. Ten minutes before kick off, entry was gained with minimal hassle and I rejoined my Dad for the game.

On the pitch, Exeter enjoyed the lions share of the first half, they took the lead around 15 minutes and really, the Wycombe defence should have done better. But the second half was a different story, Wycombe equalised though Marcus Bean and looked the more likely to score. But 1-1 was a fair result and Exeter City had been good hosts. I put out a tweet saying as much, the club shared it and it got lots of coverage. We had to wait about 10 minutes for our coach to arrive, as soon as we were on it, my Dad was out for the count. I was wide awake though, catching up with my blog and other things, well before the football phone-ins came on. I had to listen to TalkSPORT 2 at first due to TalkSPORT covering the Man City v Leicester game and Radio 5 covering the rugby. We stopped at Leigh Delamere services for 15 minutes just after 7, so when I got back on I returned to the Danny Kelly phone in on TalkSPORT. We got home at 9, then it was then the standard Saturday night ritual of watching the League 2 goals and Match Of The Day before going to sleep around midnight.


ST JAMES' PARK is a ground currently in transition, with just 2 of the 4 sides surviving from my first visit some 9 years previously. The two stands that remain are impressive. The MAIN STAND is all seated and offers great views and decent legroom. It has a capacity of around 2,500. Far more impressive is the BIG BANK TERRACE. This is the largest terrace still left in the Football League with a capacity of 4,000. It looks very smart and is the source of the main vocal support for the Grecians stand. The two sides that are no longer there were a mixed bag. The GRANDSTAND was a great looking classic looking stand, however, it was showing its age. In its place will be a 2,800 seated stand. The ST JAMES PARK END was a shallow terrace open to the elements. This will be replaced by a metal terrace that once stood at Barnet's Hive stadium and offered decent views.

I don't recall a huge amount about the food on offer, although I do remember being taken aback that they did pizza. Also at the ground is the Centre Spot bar which allows away fans. This also includes the 'Famous Exeter City Real Ale And Cider Emporium' This lives up to its name, though it concentrates on the former rather than the latter. Otherwise, the excellent town centre is a short walk away, this offers a good range of excellent pubs to suit all tastes. plus no doubt some takeaways too. Note some of the pictures are from their non-league days, taken on the way to Plymouth in 2006.


1: Ground facilities & condition (for the level)

Half a ground at present, but what there is, is good (6)

2: Area around the ground (parking, food/drink, public transport)
Right close to the town, with options a few minutes walk away (8)

3: Welcome / Club Friendliness
Nice people and a friendly welcome (8)

4: Value for money
About £4 too expensive at £22, but in line with other L2 clubs (5)

5: Social Media & Website
Decent and interactive Twitter (8)

6: Programme

Didn't buy (-)

7: Game entertainment
Fairly average (6)

8: Tea Bar
Selection was fairly standard, but good prices for the league (7)

9: Bar / Clubhouse
The real cider and ale emporium is good, though would prefer the cider to be more local (8)

10: Club Shop
The usual football league stuff (5)



Sunday 30 October 2011

Eastbourne Borough - Langney Sports Club

Eastbourne Borough FC
Langney Sports Club
Priory Lane
East Sussex
BN23 7QH

01323 766265
Official Website

Ground Number: 145
Friday 25th July 2009
Eastbourne Borough 0-1 Wycombe Wanderers
Garry Wilson Testimonial


The club was established in 1954 and were initially known as Langney FC, named after the area of the town in which they were based. Formed by a group of friends who were too old to play for a local youth team, they initially plied their trade in the Eastbourne & District League. Results were not a priority at the time - they just wanted to play football for the fun of it. A name change to Langney Sports followed in 1968 and a move to the Hastings & Eastbourne League followed soon after where they had a little more success. In 1983 they were founder members of the Sussex County League's third tier. Despite being labelled as a 'parks team' by some FA Officials, they took to the higher level well, never finishing lower than 5th. In 1987 they were champions and were promoted to Division 2. The repeated the trick the following year and now, in the top tier of the Sussex League, they continued their success, only once not finishing in the top half of the table. They finished as runners-up to Peacehaven & Telscombe in 1992, taking until the turn of the century to earn promotion as champions. 

Promoted to the Southern League D1 East, they lost out on the title on goal difference to Dorchester Town but were still promoted. They'd spend just one season in the Southern Premier for in 2004 they finished high enough to be elected to the newly-formed Conference South. Their first season saw a 5th place finish and progress to the playoff final but they would lose out to Altrincham in the decider to see which of the regional playoff winners would be promoted to the Conference National. A 2nd place finish in 2008 was good enough for another shot at the playoffs and this time, with the winner going straight up, they defeated Hampton & Richmond Borough 2-0 in the final. The 2008/09 season saw the club's highest ever finish of 13th in the Conference National. The next two seasons saw the side struggle and in 2011 the club was relegated for the first time in their history, back to the Conference South. A poor start to the season saw Boro sack long-serving manager Garry Wilson, the man who had served the club for 13 years and had taken them from the Sussex County League to the top table of non-league football. They've played in the Conference South ever since, but finishes have been moderate - ranging from 10th in 2014 to 18th in 2012 and 2018. 

In the FA Cup, Eastbourne Borough have reached the 1st Round on three occasions. The most notable of these was in 2005 when they took football league side Oxford United to a replay, losing out 3-0 after gaining a 1-1 draw. The game attracted the club's record attendance of 3,770, got the club on Match Of The Day and led to the £25,000 sale of Yemi Odubade to Oxford United, following his impressive performance in the tie. In the other FA competitions, Eastbourne Borough have reached the 3rd Round of the FA Trophy and the 2nd Round of the FA Vase. Local cup wins include the Sussex Senior Cup on three occasions, the Sussex Community Shield on three occasions as well as the Sussex Divison 3 Cup, the Sussex County League Cup and the Sussex Floodlit Cup.


This was the pre season game I was looking forward to the most at the start of that particular season as it was the one ground that I'd not been to yet. I drove down, giving mates Paul and Dale a lift to keep me company and help chip in with fuel costs. On the way down we visited grounds at Oakwood, Crawley Down, East Grinstead, Crowborough Athletic, Wealden, Eastbourne Town and Eastbourne United association. They were all fairly decent, probably my favourite was Crowborough Athletic, a tidy ground in a nice setting. We got to Eastbourne at around 6.15 and so we went in search of dinner before the game. The game was a testimonial for long-serving manager Garry Wilson and his assistant Nick Greenwood. Looking back, I don't know why I have no pictures of inside the ground and assume I must have lost them in the interim period.

The game was a fairly dull one, witnessed by around 700 people. Wycombe started with a strong team and being fairly late in the pre-season, there was no room for trialists. Wycombe had the better of the game but were not massively convincing. In the end, it was an 85th-minute goal from Chris Zebroski that won it. It was fellow striker Stuart Beavon who set it up, his cut back from the right finding Chris Zebroski who fired into the roof of the net.


I'd fancied a visit to Eastbourne Borough for a while, as it had been a long time since I'd last been and I'd hardly got any pictures. It would also give me an opportunity to update my blog where I'd hardly written anything about my last visit. Fellow hopper Anwar was also very keen to go and the Bank Holiday Monday game against Woking was ideal as it could be doubled up with an 11 am kick off in the Southern Combination. There were a number of former Wycombe players for each side - cult hero Sergio Torres was club captain whilst former defender Ian Simpemba was also in the squad.  For Woking, former midfielder Max Kretzschmar was the latest in a long line of former Chairboys to play for them. I tidied up my blog and researched Eastbourne Borough's history in preparation for the game.

From a cracking 4-3 win at AFC Uckfield v Langney Wanderers, we made our way towards Eastbourne. We stopped at Hailsham Town to get pictures, but it was well secured, so I didn't get many. From there we went to a chip shop called Calamar where I had a decent portion of chips for £1.80. Getting to the ground at 2, we parked up and got some pictures of the outside. It was £13 to go in and I also bought a programme (£2.50) old book called 'You Have To Love It' (£1) and some chips (£2.20). I then went and found Anwar and we stood along the side of the pitch, near the halfway line. The matchday DJ was playing some banging tunes before the game, which set me in a good mood for the match ahead.

A post shared by Russell Cox (@russ_wwfc) on

The game was just five minutes old when Max Kretzschmar emphatically dispatched a penalty awarded for a foul just inside the box - this giving Woking the lead. Woking continued to dominate with Eastbourne Borough relying on chances on the break. Former Wycombe man Torres was their heartbeat and he still had plenty of running in him, despite him being in the twilight of his career. The second half started with a great save from home keeper Mark Smith as he saved Kretzschmar’s goalbound header with his legs. This spurred on his team to a much better performance in the second half which they dominated. The equaliser came on 63 minutes when Kane Wills latched on to a good layoff from Yemi Odubade, using his pace to get away from the defence and finish well. After such a dominant second half performance from the hosts, they were dealt a sucker punch with an 88th-minute goal from Woking. A cross was put in for Kane Ferdinand to head home and keep the visitors top of the table. I had a good run home, dropping Anwar off at 7.10 and getting back myself in 25 minutes, just in time for Coronation Street.