It’s time for seven questions again. This time, Exeter City fan and volunteer worker Chris Sumner takes the questions. You know the drill by now, on with the show!
1. After two play off defeats in a row, do you feel a change was needed to carry the Grecians forward this campaign?
I think now the change has happened it has definitely lifted the spirits of everybody, and there seems to be more of a positive aura around the club. It’s never nice to lose at Wembley, but to do it twice in a row is even more gut-wrenching. It was 50/50 as to whether fans wanted the manager to stay or go, so I think the outcome was best for all parties in the end. Appointing from within and giving the managers’ job to Matt Taylor, who captained the club in the promotion seasons of 07/08 and 08/09, has gone down well with the support, and having someone at the helm who knows what it means to lead and represent Exeter City is something I believe will stand us in good stead for the future.
With being a supporters-run club and therefore the way the club is in terms of its ethos of bringing through youth, developing them and selling them on for profit, it was important to get someone in who knew how the club worked rather than a journeyman manager with no experience of how our club works.
2. How do you feel the season has started and what are your hopes going forward?
The key thing is that we have kept the nucleus of our squad, so most of the players will know each other and their games well and that should stand us in good stead. We’ve started well, we’ve looked good and have been playing a more attacking style of football and I hope that after the disappointment of two successive play-off final defeats that we can go one better this year – I fully believe we have the players capable of doing the job.
3. Paul Tisdale – discuss
Arguably he’s been our club’s most successful manager, gaining back to back Wembley trips and back to back promotions in his first 3 seasons at the helm, but sadly towards the end of his tenure relations between him and some fans turned a bit sour, as the support was divided in wanting him to stay or wanting him to go. After a number of years of poor home form, notice was served on his 2 year rolling contract 18 months ago following a supporters’ trust motion being passed, as some thought that the contract he was on made him unsackable and wasn’t feasible for a club of our size. However, he was offered improved deals in the run-up to the expiry of his contract but decided not to sign.
All in all, it was probably the right time for all parties to part ways and obviously the opportunity case for him to take up a new challenge at MK but he did a lot of good for our club in the 12 years he was here, and I thank him for all he did and the efforts in building the club into what it is today. As sad as I was to see him leave, I was equally as excited when it was announced that Matt Taylor would be his replacement – which actually happened less than 12 hours after it was announced that Tisdale was leaving!
4. Which player would you mark out as the real dangerman for city to keep an eye on this weekend?
Jayden Stockley already has 3 for the season and after scoring 24 last season he’ll be looking to better that this time around. Home-grown keeper Christy Pym picked up many player of the season accolades last season and is a consistent stopper, whilst new signings Aaron Martin at centre-back and Nicky Law in midfield have looked promising early on in their Grecians’ career.
5. What are your honest perceptions of the Imps, as a club as well as on the field?
I’m a big admirer of the work that the Cowley boys have done at Sincil Bank, not just by getting the best out of the players and getting the club back into the league but by getting the community backing the side in numbers. When I visited Lincoln for the game on Good Friday last season, it was really encouraging to see the whole city getting behind their club with window displays and the like. It showed in the games we played last season that Lincoln are a tough team to beat, and I fully expect them to be there or thereabouts this season. Judging by our respective sides’ starts, Saturday will be a good gauge as to how we’re progressing early on.
6. Who is your all-time Exeter City hero and why?
For me personally it was striker Adam Stansfield, who sadly passed away from cancer 8 years ago at the age of 31. He never stopped running and gave his all to the cause, and even now his name is sung by the Grecian faithful at most games if not every game.
7. Finally, what can Lincoln fans expect to see this weekend, in terms of style and approach?
We’ve gone a bit more attacking this season which is pleasing to see, whereas there were times last season where we were perhaps a little too cautious and gave too much respect to the opposition at times. The signings that have come in are ones that from early indications I believe are going to complement the team well, and I’m sure a few of them will have a part to play on Saturday. Judging on last season’s encounters and the way both sides have started the season, we should be in for a cracking game of football.
Thanks Chris and good luck for the season, after Saturday.