Foreword | By Julian Tagg
‘One of our own’ has become a phrase that means so much to this football club. Since my earliest involvement with Exeter City - and the many years before - our youth have been a source of great pride and inspiration, both on and off the pitch.
In this time, countless young footballers have come through the ranks of the academy and in doing so, many have gone on to improve not only the reputation of Exeter City Football Club, but also our financial security. Simply put, they are our past, our present, and our future.
That statement has become even more relevant in the Trust era, as the development of top-quality young players has become an even more regular occurrence, and whilst I by no means intend to write this foreword to comment on my own role in the growth of the academy in this time, I would like to acknowledge some of those people who may not be shown on display, but who have been fundamental to this success.
Like the players, there are far too many hugely appreciated people to mention within the word limit, but some space at least must be dedicated here to Mike Radford, Eamonn Dolan, Simon Hayward and Aaran Pugh, who, along with some of the very best support staff in the game have made the Exeter City Football Club Academy something that we can all be proud of.
It would also be appropriate to acknowledge the role of our managers. Eamonn, Alex Inglethorpe, Paul Tisdale and Matt Taylor have each provided opportunities for our academy players to make the step up to first team football. This pathway is an essential aspect of the ECFC ethos, and thanks to these managers, we continue to see our young players grow into first class professionals.
As Chairman of the ECFC Women’s team, I am also thrilled to see that three of our players have been included in this display. The ethos of this club is that football is for everyone, and we can all be immensely proud of our Women’s team and the thriving partnership with the Exeter College Sports Academy.
I feel privileged to have seen the careers of many of the players in this exhibition develop from our youth systems to – in some cases – the very top of the game. During that time, it has been the greatest pleasure to see each one of them succeed in the game that we all love, and while it is good manners to keep calm in the director's box when a player scores, I must admit that when it’s ‘one of our own’ who puts the ball in the net, I may not have always kept to that rule!
My sincere thanks to the ECFC Museum Team, The Supporters’ Trust, the University of Exeter, and the National Lottery Heritage fund for working together to produce this exhibition, and for acknowledging and celebrating just some of the Crown Jewels of the ECFC family throughout our history.