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2013: 10 popular news stories

31 December 2013

The things that gripped your attention on this year

Another year draws to a close today, and Exeter City ensured 2013 would go out on a memorable note with the 3-1 derby win at Torquay United on Sunday.

The year, like any, had its highs and lows and certain moments and stories will live long in the memory of City supporters.  We’ve already had a look at 10 of the best goals from 2013 and here, in no particular order, are the 10 of the most popular news stories that featured on in 2013.  Enjoy!

It’s always great to see one of our own going on to do great things and that is certainly the case for former City defender Dean Moxey.  Exeter born and bred, Dean began life as a footballer aged 9 in the City Academy.  He completed a fairy-tale journey from Non-League to the dizzy heights of the Premier League when a Kevin Phillips penalty in the Championship play-off final in May sent Crystal Palace into the top flight.  The 27-year-old has already made 17 Premier League appearances for the Eagles but he never has forgotten where it all began.

Another Grecian going on to greatness in 2013 was under-18 head coach Kevin Nicholson who joined Premier League newcomers Cardiff over the summer.  The move marked a great turnaround for Nicholson who in 2002 had his dreams of being a professional footballer quashed at Derby County.  After the move was announced, he spoke of his sadness at leaving Exeter but his legacy is already showing with two of his former under-18 players Matt Grimes and Christy Pym now in the first-team squad.

On the eve of the Football League season, City acquired the services of Staines Town winger David Wheeler.  The 23-year-old captured the attention of fans and management alike in the friendlies with Clevedon Town and Swansea City, and Tis tied him to a permanent contract ahead of the season opener against Bristol Rovers.  For David, it was the fulfilment of his lifelong ambition of becoming a professional footballer and he has already rewarded the manager’s faith, making 20 league appearances for the club and scoring a glorious second goal in the recent win against Torquay.

The visit of Premier League Swansea City for a pre-season match at St James Park was exciting enough, but the Swans also generously allowed the Grecians to keep all the gate receipts from the fixture, giving Exeter a much needed financial boost.  10 years ago, the Welsh side narrowly avoided relegation out of the Football League (sadly at Exeter’s expense) but the reigning Capital One Cup holders never forgot how close they had been to the brink.  The game finished 2-0 to the visitors but Tis’s men put on a strong showing against a near-full-strength side featuring the likes of Michu and one of the goalscorers Nathan Dyer.

Another generous move came from First Great Western, who put on a special supporters’ train to mark the league fixture against Portsmouth.  It was the club’s first visit to Fratton Park in over 30 years and a number of City supporters were able to travel direct on a specially commissioned service called ‘The Red Grecian’.  Although the result didn’t go our way, fans certainly made the most of the occasion, with 1,304 making the trip and their fantastic vocal support for the team drew plaudits from all quarters. 

In October, there was a homecoming for former Grecians hero Matt Gill.  The midfielder spent three seasons at St James Park between 2006 and 2009 and was part of the team that unforgettably earned back-to-back promotions from the Conference to League 1.  He signed on a loan deal from Bristol Rovers until January and made an instant return to Paul Tisdale’s squad, having made 13 appearances to date.

With Swansea City in town in July, the heartbreak suffered at the end of the 2002/03 season returned to the forefront of everyone’s minds.  Ahead of the game, former City defender Chris Todd was interviewed for our matchday programme about the relegation fight that went down to the wire and ultimately saw the Welsh club who he supported as a boy and where he started his career stay up but the Exeter team he captained plunge into the Conference. 

Rotherham United made a rallying cry to their supporters and to any Exeter City fans who had stopped over South Yorkshire after forecasters predicted heavy snow ahead of the game at Millmoor in March.  Despite the best efforts and preparations of the club and exertions of the supporters of both sides, poor weather eventually forced the Millers to postpone the fixture until April 9th when they went on to win 4-1 at the New York Stadium.

We already know we have the best set of supporters in the league, but it was great to see it recognised officially as Neil Le Milliere was crowned Fan of the Year at the Football League Awards in March.  Neil, a founder of London Exiles and one of the original members of the Supporters’ Trust, is involved in everything from arranging travel to games and organising Exile holidays to manning the bottle bar at St James Park on match days.  As he said after winning the award: “I live halfway between Arsenal and Tottenham but my home is where my heart is.”

The club’s history is something to be proud of and it seems fitting that we end the list on something to look forward to for next year.  In July it was announced that Exeter City will make a return to Brazil in 2014, just one week after the World Cup final, to play in a historic commemorative match against Fluminense.  It marks 100 years since the club made their first South American tour and were famously the first ever opponents for the Brazilian national team. 

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