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St James' Park
 
Exeter City
June 11th, 2009
Visit on Non-matchday
Doug Mulliner

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

It was not actually for a match I visited St James's for. I was on holiday in Devon and my wife, kids and in-laws had gone shopping in Exeter so instead of going stir crazy shopping I decided to have a look at the ground. I'd been there around 20years ago for an away game with my own club, Bolton Wanderers, but remembered little. I'd read a little of the history of the ground and the recent financial woes and was looking forward to putting life into the pictures in my head.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

I was glad for my sat-nav! I came off the M5 and it was quite a complex route. My driving instructor always used to say, if in doubt stay in the left lane. Not in Exeter. I went round one enlarged round-about three times. When I got to the ground I tried to find somewhere to park but even on non-match days its all residents only and double yellows. After ten minutes looking, I gave up and risked the double yellows and had a quick look round. I then noticed a club car park on a street I'd missed so went and moved my car.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

As it wasnít a match day I went to reception to ask if I could have a look around. I spoke with an extremely friendly and helpful club official (I didnít catch his name unfortunately because I'd like to thank him again). He showed me into the ground via the Big Bank End and after a brief chat, he allowed me unlimited access of the whole ground. Following this he showed me all the executive facilities in the main stand and talked me through past and future developments.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

My first impression was pure delight! Going to the Reebok every home game you become used to a quite sterile and symmetrical stadium. It was nice to have something different on each side. I started with the Big Bank and after taking a few snaps, I walked up the terrace. I greatly miss terracing and have not stood on a league terrace since 1997.

I walked to the very top and had a moment leaning on the bars which are extremely sturdy and plentiful. The stand is new but does not look out of place. I then went onto the Grandstand to the right of the bank. It is the oldest remaining structure and showing its age but I loved it all the more for this. The lower half is concrete (formerly a paddock I presume) and the upper wooden. The roof and rear wall are corrugated iron sheeting. To the right of this is the away terrace. It is very low and uncovered but the sight lines are adequate. The rear is fenced off as is a stairway entrance next to the grandstand. This is the aftermath of the Taylor report I presume. Finally is the new Flybe Stand. It is all seater and looks modern but I hope the whole ground doesnít end up looking like this. It would destroy any individuality which at the moment the ground has masses off. The executive facilities and the views from them at the back of the stand are excellent. The ground is now owned by the fans and a lot of maintenance work is also done by them.

5. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

Excellent. Very nice and compact ground. Neat and orderly inside. Very friendly staff who made me extremely welcome and I wish the club all the best in the coming season.


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