Exeter City Football In The Community invited us down to St James’ Park last night to entertain the crowd at half time of the Johnstons Paint Trophy encounter against Portsmouth,with a game of walking football.
This was the first time that another club has invited us to compete in the vastly developing game of walking football. Our Tuesday morning group gladly accepted the invite and along with Community Manager, Geoff Stevens, they made the trip southbound with excitement.
After the short trip down the M5 we were greeted by Peter Ferlie from Exeter’s walking football programme who led us around the ground to our changing room. There’s somethingvery rewarding about seeing the anticipation between a group of men who many a year a go had given up on playing football.
Everyone was given a quick briefing regarding the rules and then led into the ground to the Community Corner to watch the action. After a dull first half it was time to get ready for the eagerly awaited rematch after Exeter won 2-0 in the pre-season match.
We had been given a little warning about Paul Tisdale encouraging the ground staff to water the pitch at half time but we weren’t expecting the direct soaking they gave us for five minutes just before our game. At least it made us run a little bit to try and stay dry and warm.
The usually slow starting Weston side were unlucky not to open the scoring in the first 30 seconds when Ivan Gerstel’s long range effort was tipped onto the post by the Exeter ‘keeper. However, after a controversial decision to penalise Bryan Sheridan for a foul on the Exeter forward, the free kick was taken quickly and blasted into the net past Bob Coles who earlier in the day had a trip to A & E after making a cracking save in the morning session. Commitment rarely seen from a modern day footballer.
Before the guys had time to let their heads drop they were back playing with Alan Cockayne alongside Ian Carrington-Porter beginning to pull the strings in the middle of the pitch. It was Alan’s brilliant pass down the line to Roy Phillips that caught the Exeter defence unaware and Roy’s Ronaldo-esque quick feet enabled a killer pass to Ivan who expertly finished first time into the top corner.
With the scores at 1-1 it was Weston who continued to press for the winner with plenty of neat interchanges although the Exeter team stayed strong and held on to draw the game.
During the second half we were given a signed match ball to remember the occasion. The 3000 strong crowd cheering the guys on was something they will cherish for a long time to come and we would like to thank Peter for giving us the opportunity to play, and also treating us superbly.
Before the trip home there was enough time to stop of for a nice portion of chips to warm everyone up after the game and debrief on what was a great night out.
Once again thank you to everyone at Exeter and we look forward to meeting everyone in the near future for more action.