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"The crowd were brilliant for me because I always gave 100 percent, and if you do that then you’ll win the fans over"

Jimmy Giles discusses his first, best and worst moments

25 April 2018

Jimmy Giles turned out for City over 300 times over two spells with the club.

He first joined in 1971 having impressed whilst actually playing against the Grecians for Aldershot. He spent four years with the club before switching to London side Charlton Athletic for two seasons before he returned to Devon to spend a further four years with City. Giles then rounded off his career with our relatively close neighbours, Yeovil Town.

Ben Strange caught up with the former Grecian to discuss some of his football First, Best and Worst moments.

First...

...day at Exeter City

I remember meeting the likes of Jimmy Blain, Michael Balson and Joseph Gadston who were all great lads. We weren’t the best team in the world but we had such a good camaraderie there, that’s one thing Exeter City has always had. It was one of those situations where I’d broken my leg at my previous club, Aldershot, and I was struggling for confidence after returning from injury. After playing against John Newman and scoring, he came up to me after the match and I explained how I had been struggling so he brought me down to City and it was like a breath of fresh air giving me another 12 or 13 years in the game.

...goal for the club

I honestly can’t remember it! I think it may have been against Chester but I played over 500 league games in total as a player so it’s a difficult question to answer for me. The games that I remember are the big cup ones.

...memory of the City fans

They took to me straight away. I’ve always been a blood and guts player which, I think, is the sort of thing that they loved to watch. The crowd were brilliant for me because I always gave 100 percent and if you do that then you’ll win the fans over.

Best...

...appearance for City

I played in the League Cup against Liverpool (a narrow 2-0 defeat for City) and I played exceptional. David Fairclough came on and scored two but I played so well that night.

...coach you played under

Bobby Saxton was brilliant, but I can’t speak any higher of John Newman. It was the way they both talked to you, and I was a similar player to the way John played as he also gave everything on the field. I still remember one incident under Bobby Saxton when we had lost away from home and he told me to come and see him on the Monday morning. I arrived, and he sat there with the Racing Post on his desk in front of us, he said to me: “Well, it didn’t go so well on Saturday, did it?” After I’d apologised he changed the subject within two seconds and said: “Look, there’s one (a horse race) at 13:30 and I think we should get on it!” I knew that I hadn’t played well before but he just planted it in my head which meant that next time I was even more determined to do better. The man management was brilliant.

...moment of your career

At the end of the season all the players from the league would vote for the player of the year and I happened to win it in 1971/72 and the season after. It was so good to be acknowledged by my fellow professionals that I was a decent player.

Worst...

...moment in your career

When I broke my leg, I think. But also, the cup run where we came up against Newcastle United. It was all down to man management, under Brian Godfrey, when I was told that I wouldn’t be playing in the match in front of all the other lads. That was hard to take. I felt belittled so I walked out, it was such a sad moment because before that I’d had such a wonderful time at City. I’ve played at a higher level for Charlton but playing for Exeter City was something special.

...performance for City

I was always confident in my ability, I wasn’t the best passer but I was a good tackler and I was quick. I can’t remember too many times where I got too many beatings.

...Defeat you’ve been involved in

We played at Doncaster and we lost 6-1. We’d all had a nightmare and it was one of those games that you just want to forget!

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