Exeter City Football Club’s special relationship with HMS Defender continues to strengthen the city’s ties with the ship.
Tomorrow sees HMS Defender exercise its Freedom of the City by marching through the city centre in a parade, which includes His Majesty’s Band of the Royal Marines, veterans and cadets.
HMS Defender is Exeter’s affiliated ship. Launched in 2009, it is a state-of-the-art destroyer, and was given the Freedom of the City of Exeter in 2014.
Julian Tagg, president and director of external affairs at Exeter City Football Club, said the club donated two full playing strips to the ship’s football team.
“We’re really proud of our ties to HMS Defender, it’s great for both the city and our football club to see a little bit of Exeter promoted around the world every time the team plays a match.”
The HMS Defender team won its most recent match 3-2 against its sister ship HMS Diamond. The game took place at HMS Temeraire – the home of Royal Navy Physical Training.
Last summer, the then Commanding Officer Commander George Storton made a visit to Exeter, which included a trip to St James Park, where he toured the stadium and visited the club museum, where two HMS Defender plaques are on display. He also visited the Cliff Hill Training Ground and watched part of an under-18s game.
CDR Storton said: “Last year we invited all our affiliates for a day at sea which proved a real success and showed how important it is to foster these links; inviting our affiliates to see what our “day job” is like, whilst reminding the Ship’s Company our work is valued and celebrated is extremely important.
“We’ve kept our Exeter links alive through visits, newsletters and we also still play in the Exeter FC football kit all around the world on our deployments. It is a rare opportunity for a Royal Navy ship to exercise the Freedom of a City and to be allowed to march, makes our planned day in Exeter extra special for me and the crew. We are really looking forward to the day, meeting the great people of Exeter and further exploring the city.”