Monday, May 5, 2008

Exeter City and the Thrills and Heartache of Non-league Football

(Yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on this here blog, but I’m back, baby!) I’d now like to ask you to take a gander down a couple divisions of the English leagues. Keep going past the Premier League (suck it Barcleys), past the Championship (suck it Coca-Coca), past League One (such it Coca-Coca), past even League Two (suck it yet again Coca-Coca), until you are no longer technically in the English league but in something called the Conference League (suck it Blue Square Premier League). It is here that you will find my beloved Exeter City, who today will be playing the return leg of their playoff as they seek a well-earned promotion.

The bad news is that they lost 2-1 at home to Torquay thanks to a brutal 90th minute strike on Thursday. The good news is that the Conference League doesn’t count away goals, so they are still only a goal down on aggregate. The other good news is that, unlike the rest of English football, the BBC allows people to listen to the game online from abroad. Not much competition for licensing of non-league football, eh? The match starts at 2:30pm EST, with a link usually popping up somewhere on this here page.

So, what do you need to know about Exeter City? They are located in Devon, along the sunny (kidding) southwestern English coast. Their nickname is the Grecians, even though no one has any idea why. Their two biggest claims to fame are: One, being the first squad to play in South America, which happened in 1914. The second was their famous draw against Manchester United in the FA Cup, which happened a few seasons ago. Other than that, it’s been pretty much 100 years of middling lower-tier football, and God bless Exeter City for it. Oh, the other thing you need to know is that they hate Plymouth Argyle, so you had better not wear green to a City match.

The other interesting thing about City is their current ownership by a supporters trust. This was after their owners bilked the club in a fraudulent trading scheme in 2003 (they have since been convicted on criminal charges). Prior to this, there were rumors that Uri Geller (most famous for bending spoons) and even Michael Jackson (most famous for pedophilia and the Thriller album) were interested in buying the club.

As for the style of play of Conference League football, my friend Tim, who is a lifetime Exeter City supporter, described it as follows: It’s not that the players are absolute rubbish, but rather that they either have only one skill, or they have one glaring weakness. In other words, they are the kinds of gritty, one-dimensional players who rarely survive in the upper leagues, but who often thrive against lesser competition. (Tim also taught me the joys of drinking a concoction called an Armadillo, which consists of cheap sherry and cider. All I can say is that they make the long trek from London to Devon, well, fairly enjoyable.)

So, this afternoon/evening, at a grounds located in Plainmoor, Exeter try once again to climb back into the league. Last year, City made it all the way to Wembley for the Conference League playoff finals, only to be cruelly defeated by Morecambe. My prediction for today is 1-0 at the end of regulation, with Exeter going ahead in stoppage time. Then it's on to Wembley and hopefully promotion. C’MON CITY!

UPDATE: Well, my ability to calculate Greenwich Mean Time to Eastern Standard Time could use a bit of work, because it turns out the match has just ended and Exeter won 4-1 today to advance to Wembley! HOORAH! Exeter City will face either Cambridge Utd or Burton Albion, who play the second leg of their playoff tomorrow. HOORAH! WE ARE GOING TO WEMBLEY!

1 comment:

Bigus Dickus said...

Well done the grecians!!!!