Skip to main content Skip to site footer
Club News

📝 Alex Hartridge: Time to say goodbye ❤️

30 April 2024

Club News

📝 Alex Hartridge: Time to say goodbye ❤️

30 April 2024

The end of the 2023/24 season saw the club say goodbye to One of Our Own, Alex Hartridge, who has opted to leave the club after 17-years a Grecian.

The 25-year-old, who joined the academy as an eight-year-old, leaves the club with 154 first team appearances, and has spoken to the club for one final time to discuss his memories of his career in red and white and his decision to leave.

“It has been something I had been thinking about for quite a while. It has hit me harder recently, doing for things for the last time at this club,” Alex said.

“It has meant so much to me and this club has made me into the man I am today. I owe so much to the club and it has been hard to leave that but I know that this is the right decision for me.”

Like so many of the young players that pull on the red and white of the Grecians, Alex’s journey started as a schoolboy. Such is Alex’s modest character that he has so often displayed over the years, becoming a City legend wasn’t the top of his list for future goals.

“Growing up I don’t really think I had dreams football wise. It was just playing football for me and competing to be the best I could around the others. Later on it was then just to play one game for Exeter City.


“I didn’t get up here too much because of the distance but whenever I did, I always dreamt of playing here and I always remind myself of that at this stage having made quite a few more appearances!”

Alex’s ‘all-round good bloke’ and kind nature stems from the way that City’s youth are shaped within the academy structure, where it is so much more than just football. Alex feels he owes the academy, and those coaches that taught him what he now knows, for the way he is as a person.

“Everything that I am today is a combination of the lessons they teach you in the academy, the people I have been around. It is a part of all the values that I have now and I am happy with the person that I am. Everyone at the club has played a huge part of that.”

“Someone like Dan Green, who progressed through the academy with our group really so we had him three or four times as coach and then with us in the first team which was so special to share him, and the boys that I have grown up with like Kitey, Archie, Sparkesy and Ethan [Ampadu]. Just to see what people like that have gone on to do with their careers, that’s one of the proudest things I get to do – watch my mates play.”

His youth development continued, like so many of his colleagues, with loan moves lower down the pyramid to Truro City and later Bath City, where he would make a combined 74 for the two clubs. He stressed the importance of the two loans, calling them a learning curve.

“Like anyone you think you are ready before you are and the loans are a bit of a dampener to your ego playing at that level, but it is a good level. It gave me time to develop my game and become ready.

“After my loan at Truro I played here three or four times and probably still wasn’t ready so went back out on loan. The club has been patient with us and seen the qualities in us, knowing that we will go on to develop.”


Those games on loan would prove vital to Alex’s development as he would later be called back from his temporary home to feature for the very time in a first team fixture – an EFL Trophy tie with Chelsea under-21s.

“I was on loan at Truro, and I got called back especially for that game. To be honest my league debut is one I think fondly of – but yeah to be able to play in the first team with my name on the back in a competitive fixture is what I never thought I’d ever do.”

His league debut would come just over a year later, amidst an injury crisis he was recalled back from loan again, this time longer term as he was handed a start against Grimsby Town. Despite a 2-1 defeat on the day – a game in which the Grecians had over 30 chances on goal – Hartridge will never forget his special day.

“I was shocked to be honest. I was coming back from injury and I got thrown in when I was fresh. I was so grateful for that chance as it was a stepping stone to go on and do what I have done now.

“I can remember the feelings of the game and just enjoying it so much – the energy of the crowd and the intensity of the play, and you could feel how much it meant. It was amazing to have my family and friends there.”

It didn’t take Hartridge long to stamp his name on the first team, making a total of 34 appearances in the Covid-enforced 2020-21 behind closed doors season. It was in this campaign that he scored his first professional goal in a crazy 4-3 win at Swindon in the EFL Trophy, that also marked a first professional strike for Harry Kite, who also announced his departure from the club at the end of the season. Alex’s now infamous goal celebration GIF also caused a stir on social media, and national TV…

“To score the first pro goal, and then went back-to-back against Fylde in the cup, that was amazing. I haven’t had a goal in front of the Big Bank… but they all count and I’m glad I’m not ending on zero!”

“I didn’t have that one stored up! Those media days are a big panic not knowing what you’re going to do as a GIF so I got a bit giddy and did that one. It’s probably why I haven’t scored many since, but it was funny! I think my one the following year got vetoed, so that’s why I didn’t score… in protest!”

Alex was soon a stalwart in the City line-up and would match his appearance number from the previous campaign in the memorable 2021/22 promotion season.

“Promotion season was special. I had played a similar number of games the season before and that set me up. The first game of the season was my first in front of a crowd for City I remember being involved in and we had such a good group.

“There were probably 15 or 16 players in that group who felt they were a key player in that season. I was disappointed not to be involved at the end, but to look back at it and what we achieved, and see what we get to do now as a club, it is reward for that.”

That season of course marked a campaign of progress for the club, who had missed out via the play-offs on three previous occasions during Alex’s time at the club. More so than many others in that League One squad, Hartridge witnessed the whole journey first-hand.

Hartridge 1.jpg

“Seeing the club try and try and build from the first play-off campaign, it was progress and it finally came together that year.

I am so happy that I could say I was involved in that – and I’ll always be part of the club for that record.”

43 total appearances would come Alex’s way in the first League One season for ten years, and Alex found the step up easier than he predicting, owing to what he determines to be a group of players who already playing well above their level.

“The level was tough to step up to and it felt like we had momentum from the previous year which meant that it didn’t probably feel so tough at the start. It feels like the story of my career was a steady progression and nothing too fancy, and taking the opportunities when it comes to us.

“We got out of League Two because we always had players that were a step above where we were.”

Having secured 14th place and another season in the third tier, this recent campaign became a test of Hartridge’s meddle having experienced the very highs and lows that are synonymous with the sport.

Alex would begin the season fighting centre-half partner Will Aimson for the weekly man of the match award, before injury and a poor run of form meant the Totnes born defender would lose out on his place in the squad. However, Hartridge took it all in his stride and would be handed the opportunity to end his time as Grecian on a positive note, captaining the side on his very final appearance at St James Park,.

Mansfield Hartridge.jpg

“It has been a tough season really – it started so well then went on a difficult run that no-one felt good in. But we all stuck at it and hoped things would turn round and then they did just after Christmas. It’s been amazing to see the type of football we have been playing for the past month or two.

“I am disappointed not to keep my place in the team, because that is something I have never really experienced before – it’s probably not the worst thing to happen as it gave me the chance to reflect on myself and learn from it as a blessing in disguise.”

“That was a nice moment for me to captain the side, and to play at Cheltenham the week before too. I don’t think I realised how much I would enjoy a send off and really be able to soak it in. It was a bit selfish and all about me, but it was nice to get that recognition. I saw so many people, knowing it would be my final game, and had some lovely conversations.”

“It is 154 times that I got to play for my club and that was an incredible experience and I will always be grateful for.”

In those 154, Hartridge’s famed long throw would so often be seen when City had a throw in the final third by all those in attendance. While there probably aren’t figures to tell us exactly how many goals they have led to, it is certain that he contributed to one of this season’s most memorable goals.

Reece Cole’s 90th minute winner against Reading back in August 2023, in a performance which Gary Caldwell calls the best of the season, was all thanks to Sam Nombe latching onto one of Alex’s deliveries before putting the ball on a plate for Reece to smash home.

“The long throws are something that should’ve been utilised more often that other teams probably have – it was a part of my game that has helped us score goals so it was only natural to try and use it. To be a part of moments like Reece’s goal was special.”

Asked for his best memories of his career at Exeter City, Alex unsurprisingly shows his class again, choosing someone else’s moment as his favourite.

“The league debut here, that was amazing, remembering how I felt and seeing pictures from my mind. That was special. Promotion here of course, the night that MJ scored. To see someone like MJ do that, seeing someone who did that academy journey, your friends, have moments like that was so special too.”


And his final message to the supporters?

“Thank you. They want to see us do well, they are as proud as we are of the young players that come through and they get to see us a humans. Thank you for sticking with me over the tougher times. The club is in great hands and will enjoy the next few years. Just thank you.”

Watch the full interview ⬇️

Advertisement block

iFollow Next Match Tickets Account