Exeter City and St James’ Park isn’t much of a happy hunting ground for Boro’; the place where Mark Arber backpasses go to die. If you don’t get the reference, it harks back to a 4-0 defeat there in the 2007-8 FA Cup; one of two 4-0 defeats there that season, actually. or all the grief they like to cause us, we just can’t seem to let them go and bother other teams instead. Of course, some of this comes down to them. It took them long enough to escape League Two. And we’ve had our time apart since first meeting in September 2003.
Still we end up back for more – no matter whether we like it or not. Spoiler alert: in most cases, we did not. Thankfully, our home record against The Grecians is much more prettier to look at.
Exeter City: The Facts
St. James Park
Stadium Way, Exeter, Devon, EX4 6PX
So, apparently we have two clubs to thank for the creation of Exeter City. That’s because Exeter United and St Sidwell’s United apparently played a friendly – and came out of it thinking they’d be better off as a single club. It happened in 1904 and that’s where the journey begins. Now, we’ll fast forward as we’re probably obliged to cover them touring South America in 1914. In an eight-game schedule, their final date was a match against the first-ever Brazilian national team. Not bad, huh.
And it set in place a long-running link between Brazil and the Grecians. It’s not all that relevant to this tale, however, so we’ll move on.
In 1920, the Football League asked them to become a founder member of Division Three South. Not many clubs turned down such an invitation. It was difficult for them at first too. The 1932-3 season was a pre-WWII highlight; finishing second in the table. Usually though, you’d find them in the bottom half. If not the bottom two or three. In 1936, they propped up the division. It was more of the same after World War Two. The Grecians made one appearance up in the top half of the table before the divisions were reorganised in 1958. That was the same year the club, yet again, finished bottom.
But the shake-up that caused the de-regionalisation of the Football League had a positive impact. In their first campaign as a Division Four side, they’d found the know-how to land a fifth-placed finish.
Why do we know the Grecians?
The Grecians were promoted for the first time in 1964. But it wasn’t quite the right time for the third tier. After an instant relegation, they’d go back for a much longer stint in Division Three in 1977. Ending the 1979-80 season in eighth was the highest they’d ever come before (that’s still the case now, achieved again in 2011). In 1995, the Grecians again finished bottom of the Football League. Due to Macclesfield Town’s ground not being up to scratch, the club were saved.
You don’t need to ask our thoughts on the matter – not least given the Silkmen’s fate happened to us the following season. The rest of the 1990s and early 2000s continued to be, broadly speaking, a struggle. And, in 2003, there wasn’t anyone or anything to save them when they came 23rd; the first-ever season that two sides went down to the Conference. Another historic moment for them, right?
How to get to Exeter City – Travel Information – Distance: 218 miles
You can do this long ol’trip in a couple of ways, but we’re sticking with the simplest option here. This is pretty much all motorway until you get to the sunny south west, so let’s start. Head south and join the M25 in the way that you choose, before scooting round to the M4 and tootling off to Bristol.
At Bristol, switch to the southbound M5. You’re on this for 76 miles; Junction 29 is what you’ll want, in fact. This is the A30 exit for Honiton and Exeter Airport. After leaving the motorway, turn right from the slip road and go over the roundabout by the Park and Ride facility in half a mile (second exit).
Once you reach the next roundabout, you want the second exit again; this time, taking you onto the B3183 – but still Honiton Road. Stay on the B3183 for nearly two miles until you reach a roundabout in the city centre. Take the fourth exit for the B3212 to go past Vue on your left. Another roundabout will come to you in under half a mile.
Take the second exit here; barely 0.1 miles later, the ground will be up to your left.
With no parking at the ground and limited spaces in among the resident schemes near to the venue, your chances of getting a spot super close are not good. But you don’t have to venture too far for options. These include the King William Street NCP or one of the car parks located off Western Way (Parr Street, Belmont; Belgrave Road and Bampfylde Street; and the Triangle). Each of these are 10 minutes’ walk from the ground tops.
Station: ST JAMES’ PARK (via EXETER CENTRAL)
Services to: LONDON PADDINGTON (FGW), LONDON WATERLOO (SWT)
The ground is only half a mile from Exeter Central. But many of the trains won’t stop here; using St. Davids only. So, you’ll need to change to get to Central. This is no real hassle though; the trip between the two being only 3 minutes and running every 15-20 minutes.
If changing at St Davids, you can then get a direct train to St James’ Park (Exmouth line). There are tie-ins with train companies so there are services on matchdays stopping there at times suitable for the match.
Exit from the rear of Exeter Central and turn right in New North road, before taking the left hand turn into Longbrook Street. Pass the Black Horse pub on the left, and – at the grass triangle verge – go right. It’s then right again into York Road; turning left at the school into Well Street.
When arriving at the ground, go right to get to the away terrace (St James’ Road) or keep going ahead for the seats. Our thanks to Oliver South for information.
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