Wimbledon match serves up a few aces and many well fed supportersSupporters enjoying hospitality arrived early in advance of the match against AFC Wimbledon on Saturday 14th March and by the time lunch was served at around 1.30 the hospitality suite on the second floor of the WTS stand was full and buzzing with people. There were over 80 guests in the room of varying from individuals by themselves, a couple of couples, family groups, corporates and long term supporters enjoying special celebrations. We took the time to speak with some of them and you can read their stories below.
Lunch itself was its usual delicious fare, with grilled chicken butterfly served with sage & onion stuffing, ‘pigs in a blanket’, roast potatoes, carrots and green beans bundles finished with red wine & onion gravy. For desert there was chocolate pastry case filled with salted caramel chocolate and honeycombe with toffee flavour mousse topped with cookie dough balls & salted caramel sauce - YUM! (Our picture shows Mark the Chef serving up the main course!).
There was table service and a free match day programme to read as well, with the match day team sheet circulated about half an hour before kick off.
After lunch, washed down of course with wine, beer or soft drinks according to taste, it was time for the match day host to warm everyone up for the forthcoming match. Exeter School teacher Giles Ashman was his usual polished self – he’s been in this role for nearly 10 years now – and was aided on the day by players Pat Baldwin, who has been absent from the field for much of the season with a long term injury, and former Academy youngster and now first season pro Jason Pope. Jason gave some interesting insights, including that the young lads are still in touch with Matt Grimes who of course is with Swansea now – spending much of his time in the gym, bulking up to be able to handle those full-on premiership challenges.
Hospitality guests also participated in the ‘guess the score’ competition at £1 a go, with a crowd estimate included to act as a tie-breaker if required, all adding to the pre-match atmosphere. It was then out to see the match, sitting in the seats in upper ‘G’ block of the WTS stand, giving a superb view of the match. At half time it was back in for teas and coffees, followed by more action in the second half, including 3 Exeter goals within 20 minutes – not sure when we last experienced that at a home match!
At the end of the game it was back to mull over the match and see the man of the match presentations, whilst keeping up to date with all the day’s final scores and the Calcutta Cup rugby match that was showing on the wide-screen tv’s.
Here are some of the stories of those there that Saturday:
Fiona Mackay and Phil Willmot
Fiona and Phil have been an item for 20+ years now, even though Fiona lives in Scotland and Phil in West Sussex. Phil is a long time Grecian supporter, whilst Fiona’s team is Manchester United, however she started to appreciate the achievements of the lower league team during the epic 3rd round draw at Old Trafford in 2005 and subsequent replay at St James Park. Since then they both have been firm fans of the Grecians and get down whenever they can – this is their 5th match this season. They enjoy the family friendly and community-orientated atmosphere at the Park, but would like it if we won a few more home games! So they had no complaints about the Wimbledon match.
Tool Care Hire
Martin Phillips (not the one that used to play on the left wing!) is owner and managing director of Tool Care Hire and two roofing businesses in Exeter and was enjoying hospitality with work colleagues and clients. They too enjoyed their day out, particularly the second half when City turned the match on its head, again praising the quality of food and good atmosphere both at hospitality and then watching the match. Tool Care Hire, who also enjoy hospitality at Sandy Park, were one of the 50 or so local businesses that lent the Club £1k during the difficult days of administration, so have a long-standing attachment to the Club.
Alan was enjoying a belated Christmas present from his wife and family. Alan, from Kingsteignton, who isn’t a season ticket holder but he gets along for many of the Grecian’s home matches, was enjoying hospitality for the first time. Alan felt the food and service were excellent, he enjoyed to the buzz around the Apple Taxis Suite and bar, and watching the early kick off match on the widescreen tv’s there (it was the London derby between Crystal Palace and QPR). He also enjoyed the match and the excellent view from the premium seats in the WTS stand, indicating that he’d suggest a return for his birthday!
Kevin and Stephanie McDonnell
Opposition supporters are more than welcome for pre-match hospitality, it turns out that the McDonnell’s had more than just an interest in Wimbledon – they are the proud parents of the Don’s young goalie, Joe. It was only Joe’s 3rd match he had an excellent first half making full length saves from both Ryan Harley and Tom Nichols, but of course the Grecians had the better of things after the break. They both really enjoyed the hospitality experience. Kevin is a season ticket holder at Chelsea and has had hospitality there, but he said “Its better in the lower leagues, the Clubs have to try harder. Obviously, Chelsea could fill their allocation many times over, but you appreciate when the staff work hard for you, and the quality of food (at ECFC) is just as good.”