Away Days - Exeter City

First Impressions -- Around the ground -- The Game -- The Stand -- Overall -- Pictures

Fixture: Exeter City vs PNE
Competition: NPower League One
Ground: St James Park
Date: Saturday 17th March 2012
Kick off: 3pm
Final Result: 1-2 Hume (2)

First Impressions

Another long away trip I was eager to tick off but after another long trip a few weeks earlier (Yeovil) I knew the journey down wouldn't be too bad. This time I made the journey down with my Dad and older brother.

After roughly about 4 hours on the road, the coach driver got a tad confused when approaching the ground as he wasn't sure which street to park down, so after turning round at a roundabout we eventually parked right outside the away end. On my first thoughts, I thought 'end' would be the only apt description for it as it certainly isn't a stand! It looked a right eyesore with the rusting corragted sheets, paint flaking off and ivy growing on the back of it.

Certainly my first impressions of the ground weren't very good but I soon noticed there were redeeming features of the ground.

Around the ground

After seeing the somewhat dilapidated away end, we took our usual stroll around the ground. Since we arrived quite early, we had plenty of time to stroll around the ground. First though, we decided to head for a local pub for a well deserved drink. Our pub of choice was the Wells Tavern which was only a very short walk down from the ground. They had an excellent choice of ales mainly from Cornish breweries (Sharps and St Austell). I can't remember the name of the ale I had but it was excellent none the less!

We finished our drinks and then headed back towards the ground so we could all buy a programme. Judging by the thickness of it, £3 seemed very good value. The programme seller just so happened to be stood at the corner of the away end (at Wells Road) so we could also have a quick glance of the Grandstand. Just like the away end, this looked the worse for wear too and had clearly not seen many improvements for many-a-year. I know some people seem to prefer the older stands as they have character etc but this stand just stood out like a sore thumb. I can certainly see why they have redevelopment plans in place for the away end and the Grandstand - its certainly needed.

We then headed to the opposite side of the ground where all the 'action' was. A Brazilian TV company happened to be filming at the ground on the day so they were having a few Brazilian-themed events including a 'Samba band'. Anyway, this side of the ground was a complete contrast to the opposite side - it had been redeveloped in recent years (well now just over a decade ago!). It was certainly a smart looking stand and I particularly liked how they joined it up with the former school building the club now use for hospitality facilities.

There was also a hot food stall nearby although the only meat they were selling was pork (I never knew this at first - I assumed they would be selling beef burgers since burgers were advertised and I had never come across pork burgers before!).

It was soon time to make our way into the ground and judging by what I had seen of the ground so far, I thought it was half good, half bad!

Inside the ground, I had the same impression of the ground as I had outside it - half good, half bad. The two new stands looked very impressive and I was particularly impressed by the terrace at the opposite end - very imposing and I liked its 'quirkyness' with having to fit round the railway to the side of it.
The away end and Grandstand were the complete opposite though looking tatty, dated and crying out for redevelopment.

The Game

Thankfully this time our long journey south proved dividends as North End came away with a very rare but deserved away win. North End were deservedly in the lead after a solid but not spectacular first half performance with Hume grabbing his 100th career league goal.

Second half began a tad different than the first as Exeter almst grabbed an equaliser soon after the restart. North End still looked solid but Exeter soon began to get a foothold in the game backed by a voicerous home support (outstanding given their precarious league position). North End still had their chances which were unduly wasted but after a spell from Exeter they grabbed an equaliser. Normally North End heads would drop, but on this occasion it actually spurred us on and we eventually got a foothold in the game again.
Eventually, Hume popped up again to 'fire' in a deserved winner in the 84th minute and North End rode the game out comfortably.

A North End win and a decent performance - that makes a change!

The Stand

As I mentioned earlier, the away end can only really be described as an 'end' as it certainly wasn't a stand. The outside just looked an eyesore and inside wasn't much better.

There is no roof on this 'end' and with their being a few drops of rain, I was fearing the worst. However, we got lucky and the few drops of rain that did fall were just that and nothing more. As for it being a terrace, well thats certainly dubious as well as its practically just a few steps with a lack of crush barriers (well apart from the barrier at the front). I had noticed they had closed off the back few steps too with it being blocked off by barriers you normally see at a building site. I assumed this was for safety reasons rather than aesthetic reasons!

With it only being a few steps of 'terracing' and them being rather shallow too, the view was pretty poor - it was a bit of a struggle to see the other end of the pitch.

My criticisms don't end there however. I bought a burger from the catering kiosk before the game and I have to say it was one of the worst I've had - completely bland and tasteless. Not even the ketchup could improve it.
The toilets weren't much better either. Situated below the grandstand, they were nothing more than just a wall and a trough. A grim reminder of what the toilets at Deepdale used to be like!


It was a bit of a mixed bag with this one - one half of the ground looing great and the other looking like an eyesore. It didn't neccessarily mean overall its a bad ground though and to be honest it was a very good day out. I think though that the ground could really benefit with the redevelopment they've got planned and I hope it goes ahead rather than stagnate like a lot of ground redevelopment plans.

It was also great to witness a very rare North End performance and an equally rare decent performance! Overall, an enjoyable day and a decent ground.


Appearance: 6/10
Game: 8/10
Enjoyment: 8/10
Fans: 9/10
Away Stand: 3/10

Overall: 7/10