Jayden Stockley has expressed his thanks to everyone at Exeter City following his departure to Preston North End.
The striker, who scored 51 times in 97 games for the Grecians, said he ‘absolutely loved’ to put on the Exeter shirt and represent a club whose fans made him and his family so welcome in Devon.
“I want to say how much I appreciate the club for taking me back here and the way I’ve been treated by the fans since I’ve been here,” said Jayden.
“Everyone has helped look after my young family and allowed us to be happy, really properly happy, for the first time in my career.”
He added that the Cliff Hill training ground, where the players regular mix with the club’s volunteers, is a fantastic place to be because of the family atmosphere they have there.
“I was talking to Jake (Taylor) and it’s very rare that you get proper friends in football, you have people that you get along with, but we are a real close-knit group,” he said. “We’ll meet up with each other most days and our family’s get on which is quite rare.
“They are such good boys, they’re so down to earth and there’s no egos. That’s the main thing when you join the Exeter dressing room, you have to drop any ego that you might have because we’re all in the same boat. We’re down here together, you’ve got to be close or you’re going to fail.
“I’ve had a look around up here at Preston and one thing that looks the same is that it’s a family club. The volunteers at Exeter, the whole atmosphere that they create is so loving and you know that they truly care about you. It’s so cliché to say it but, honestly, they make the whole mood better. Coming into the training ground at the Cliff Hill, it’s such a caring place to feel comfortable.
“The fans are lovely, they come up to you and they’re so polite and passionate for the club. I hope that they feel that was reciprocated back because I absolutely loved playing for Exeter. I got what it meant to play for the club, I tried to play with passion every time and every song they sang to me really meant a lot.
“When I hear that song, I’m absolutely brimming with delight inside because it’s such a good feeling to have those fans singing your name. They’re truly unbelievable. One of my last experiences was away at Oldham. That day was really emotional for me and to see the big trip that the fans made, it brings a tear to your eye.”
Jayden also had kind words to say about his former manager Matt Taylor and his teammates and assured them that he will be watching their results with interest and hopes they will continue to be a success without him, just as they were at Swindon Town on New Year’s Day.
“Tis (Paul Tisdale) brought me here and I loved my time under him, but I couldn’t have asked for a better coach to be hired than Matt (Taylor). Looking back at the summer it was a bit uncertain in terms of who we were going to appoint and I’m just so proud of the club, it’s so clever that they’ve appointed from within. They appointed someone who understood the football club and I couldn’t have asked for a better coach to continue my development personally.
“Matt, Eric (Kinder), and all of the coaching staff talked to me every day knowing that it was a possibility that I could go, they gave me the platform to perform and I didn’t want to let them down. I was desperate to do well.
“We went through a little slump in November and I was really gutted about possibly leaving with the team on a difficult run. We’ve got back to winning ways and you saw the team without me at Swindon, they continued to be brilliant and my dream is for Exeter to go up this season and have success so I can look on and be proud of what happened.”
Jayden also added that he would love to return one day.
“You never know what happens in football, but I’m sure one day I’ll be down here again,” he said. “I love the place. Everything about it felt right and I’ll never regret my decision to come back.
“I should never have left in the first place when I came on loan. Each person at the football club has contributed to everything that I’ve done. I hope the fans remember me as someone who gave their best, every time he put the shirt on because I was desperate to impress them every time.
“To get past 50 goals was something that I wanted to do personally, even though I didn’t admit it to many people, I was desperate for it and I was desperate to do it in under 100 games.”
Up next at St James Park:
City take on Mansfield Town on Saturday, March 30 in a 3pm kick-off. Ticket prices are cheaper in advance. Click here to buy online.