Edwards looks ahead to a trip to PlainmoorExeter City assistant manager is looking forward to a second consecutive Devon Derby this weekend, as the Grecians make a short trip down the A380 to meet neighbours Torquay United.
Rob: “Our support is second to none”
It is the first time that City have travelled to Torquay since the end of the 2007/08 season, when both sides were playing in the Football Conference. With four goals in the closing stages, Exeter overturned a first-leg deficit that afternoon to record a 5-3 aggregate victory in the play-off semi-final – and Edwards admits that he recalls that trip to Plainmoor fondly.
“It’s got good memories, that’s for sure,” said Edwards. “It was a day where we believed it was going to happen for us. At one stage it didn’t like it was going to happen, but it came good.”
“There was a lot of belief in the team then that it was going to be our year, and I’m seeing similar kinds of believe this year as well. It doesn’t go right for you every Saturday or every moment of the game. If you believe it’s going to happen, and you think you’re good enough, you give yourself a chance.”
Edwards reserved particular praise for the fans that attended that afternoon, whose faith was rewarded for giving their tireless support even when the team were trailing by two with only 20 minutes left on the clock. With City’s allocation of 1450 sold out for this Saturday, he is also looking forward to having great backing once again this weekend.
“The fans believed in it as well, not just the players,” he continued. “Even when we were 3-1 down, they believed – and that’s when you need your fans. They helped us that day, and they help us whenever we go away from home.
“The support we get is second to none in this division in terms of the numbers we take away and the mileage we do.”
Approaching a derby fixture requires a particular type of mindset; however Edwards maintains that the preparation for the game is the same as any other, even though the players are well aware that the atmosphere will have a little extra brio.
“When I say ‘preparation is the same’, I’m talking about how we approach the game. When you’re actually playing, you become very aware that it’s different and that the atmosphere is more intense. It’s fantastic to play in, and when you’re involved in it, you desperately want to win.
“I’ve been sent off in local derbies – for Bristol City against Bristol Rovers. So you can get sucked in to going too far in terms of emotion. So we’re aware of that we don’t want that to happen for the players; we want to play our football.”
City have had plenty of success on the road this season, and the wisdom of the management and older players has played no small part in that. With three straight wins on the road at Bradford, Gillingham and Rochdale, Edwards feels the squad have an ever-growing wealth of know-how when it comes to tackling tricky fixtures.
“We’ve got a lot of experienced players. You know what it’s like going to places like Gillingham and Bradford – it’s a certain kind of performance you need. You have to head the ball away from under your own crossbar – it’s tough.
“But the players have got that kind of knowledge in them and so have the staff, so that’s the sort of message that we preach to them.”
Tommy Doherty and Arron Davies both missed out on the matchday squads against Plymouth, and nothing is certain on whether they’ll make this weekend’s fixture either. But if anyone misses out on the squad, it won’t be for want of trying.
“They all want to play, and they realise that you need to play with a couple of bumps and bruises. They’re all willing to do it for the club and for the manager. No doubt if anyone’s got a chance of playing on Saturday, they’ll play – it won’t be that they’re precious or anything.”