Hopes and Expectations
And Pre-season Friendlies
"We have been busy in the close season improving the first team squad and it would be nice if you could give a special welcome to Eamonn Collins, Ronnie Jepson and Kevin Bond and I wish them all the very best here at Exeter. We have asked the play ers to play to a new system which necessitated a different approach to the pre-season build up-in and instead of a longer period of fitness training without matches we opted for more matches and less legwork. The games at Penzance, Falmouth, Tiverton and Launceston were an excellent exer for us and the cise for Cornish experience was a marvellous one for me and the hospitality shown to us was excep tional. By the time you read these notes we will have also played Charlton, Luton and Swindon at St. James Park and we will talk about those matches in the next programme. With the majority of the hard work behind us, and a new rule to con tend with, the real busi ness is about to start"
Alan Ball August 1992
The Directors, Management and Players of Exeter City extend a warm welcome to you all this afternoon for this the first League match of the 1992/93 season and from a historical point of view Exeter City's first ever game in the Second Division. Alan Ball, Steve Williams and all the players have worked tremendously hard in training and the players performances and superb attitude in the four games against superior league opposition has given us all hope that a successful sea son is ahead. Off the field work continues to make Exeter City stronger and more able to meet the deteriorating economic situa tion that now faces football generally. The investment in the Youth Policy will surely pay dividends in the future and anyone studying Alan Ball's record at Portsmouth cannot fail to be impressed with the £5,000,000 worth of young tal ent that fell into the lap of current man ager Jim Smith. The major concern to all of us support ing the club and working for the club is the continued well being and strength ening of Exeter City. We all support this club because we love it, through good times and bad the club needs our con tinued support. Ironically support is more important to the club when things are not going well on the pitch. For over seventy years Exeter City have been members of the Football League, it is a great club and we should all be proud to be associated with it. Hopefully there will be many memorable moments this season and no doubt a few, hopefully a just a few, not so mem orable. But no matter what, we hope that you will continue to support your team.
1992-93 season squad
PENZANCE 1, CITY 1
22nd July 1992
Eamonn Dolan scored City's first goal of the season in the seventh minute of this pre-season friendly at Penlee Park and but for the cross-bar Gary Chapman's header would have made it two before Mark Damerell hit a thunderous drive past Kevin Miller to give Penzance the draw.
FALMOUTH TOWN 2, CITY 2
24th July 1992
Former Falmouth striker John Hodge celebrated his return to Bickland Park by opening the scor ing on the half-hour and two min utes into the second half Steve Moran increased City's lead As often happens in pre-season friendlies changes are made and rhythm lost and Falmouth made the most of this by scoring twice in the dying minutes through Darren Robinson and Darren Northcott.
TIVERTON TOWN 1, CITY 1
27th July 1992
After beating Reading 2-1 and only losing by an own goal to Plymouth Argyle Great Mills league side Tiverton fought out a 1-1 draw with City for whom Eamonn Collins scored from the penalty spot.
LAUNCESTON 0, CITY 3
29th July 1992
City returned to Cornwall for their last away match, before returning to St James Park for three more matches, and served up their best display to date with a fine 3-0 victory. The two Eamonn's, Dolan and Collins both scored in the first half with Gary Chapman completing the scoring in the second half.
Exeter City 1, Charlton Athletic 1
31st July 1992
If ever there was a travesty of justice then this result was it. City must have had five or six clear chances to score and either missed or had them saved by Bob Bolder.
Alan Ball took the opportunity to give a debut to his new signing from Preston, Ronnie Jepson, and the big man immediately teamed up with Steve Moran.
It was Moran who had one of those nights when the ball was never going in and chance after chance went begging before Alan Pardew headed home from two yards with just seconds of the first half remaining.
Watching from the directors box was Kevin Bond and he was impressed enough with what he saw to agree five days later to join the Grecians.
Exeter City 1, West Ham 2
3rd August 1992
City ran the Hammers ragged in the first half with Steve Moran heading them into the lead on the half-hour. But once Clive Allen had put the visitors level in the 53rd minute the game turned and it was no surprise when Mitchell Thomas scored their winner 20 minutes from time.
Exeter City 3, Luton Town 2
5th August 1992
City had been steadily improving throughout the pre-season build-up and all their hard work came to fruition in this match against former Exeter winger David Pleat and his side from Kenilworth Road.
In the fifth minute Scott Hiley threaded the ball through to Andy Harris, who timed his run to perfection to round the 'keeper and place the ball into the unguarded net.
City were playing some brilliant football with midfielder Éamonn Collins calling all the shots and full-back Andy Cook making a telling con tribution down the left flank. Seven minutes from the interval Chris Kamara levelled for the Hatters but within a minute Tom Kelly had restored City's lead with a blis tering volley from 20 yards. The best was still to come with Collins floating over the perfect cross for Hiley to volley goal wards on the run and although the 'keeper somehow blocked the effort Hiley kept running to blast the rebound over the prostrate 'keeper and high into the roof of the net. City made several changes in the second half whilst still managing to maintain control of the match and despite Darren Salton pulling a goal back for the visitors in the 80th minute the Grecians still ran out worthy winners.
Shop Inn FC v Exeter City X1
Thursday, August 6th
"We took an Exeter City XI down the road to Chudleigh to play the Ship Inn FC in aid of the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. We ran out winners by 7-2 in an entertaining and enjoyable match with our strikes coming from Toby Redwood (2), John Hodge (2) with Matthew Harris and trialists David Bright and Chris Stanley one apiece. Former City favourites John Delve and Jim McNichol guested for the Ship Inn and scored their goals. We are delighted to support such a good cause and with a large crowd present the Imperial Cancer Research Fund should benefit quite considerably. At an after match reception, City Manager Alan Ball presented the man of-the-match award to the Ship Inn's 'keeper Paul Sanford."
by Mike Radford
City team: Bull, Sprod, Taylor (Allen), Redwood, Cooper (Rice), Hodge, Boulton (Ball), Stanley (Brown), Marshall (Phillips), Harris, Bright.
THE atmosphere surrounding St James's Park as Exeter City prepare to commence Division 2 battle tomorrow is strangely relaxed. An air of quiet confidence is the regulation club manner for players, management and directors. It is hard to believe that City were a club torn apart 12 months ago and missed relegation by the slimmest of margins in May. And the bookies have made Exeter red-hot favourites to go down this time out - simply and short-sightedly on their ghastly form in the final dozen games last term and the lack of much summer transfer activity. But with a new sweeper system firmly in place and on the back of four stylish pre-season outings against Division 1 sides - albeit three of them defeats - the odds against City having a perch at the right end of the table come next May are realistically much shorter.
Manager Alan Ball boasts one of the best, if not the best, goalkeepers in the section. His highly-talented young rearguard is unrivalled, particularly with the addition of experienced new- signing Kevin Bond. And Steve Moran is undoubtedly amongst the most lethal finishers in the Football League. Ball has had the pre-season he missed when he took over in the Exeter hotseat 10 days before action started last time out. "The players have worked really well this summer and we've played some good stuff in pre-season friendlies without pulling up any trees," he said. "My squad will be as prepared as I can get it to play this new system. I am delighted with newcomers Eamonn Collins, Ronnie Jepson and Kevin Bond and I have got to be optimistic that my side is better than last season. "I'm hoping for a good season it's as simple as that. Ball's introduction of the sweeper system - with his assistant Steve Williams the favourite to get that job- could leave the Grecians a little short of midfield options. Much of the creative responsibility will fall on the shoulders of 5ft 6in Collins, shipped in in on a free from Colchester. His prompting has been devastating in warm-ups, but Collins may require a minder when City play physical sides in mid-winter. "In the system I want to play you have got to have a good passer of the ball who can receive it comfortably and make players around him play. That will be Eamonn's job. "I don't believe there is any better passer in the new Second Division although in some games we have got to be prepared for the fact that he might get bullied out of things," said the City boss.
EXETER'S 22-man first team squad which includes the transfer-listed Gary Chapman and Gary Marshall and Australian Glenn Sprod, who is struggling to obtain a work permit - is considerably smaller than many of their rivals. But Ball stresses the emphasis is on "quality rather than quantity" and with youngsters Andy Harris, David Cooper and first-year professionals Toby Redwood and Craig Taylor maturing fast he should have enough back-up. The need to find a strike partner to complement 21-goal Moran's predatory exploits was one of the most glaring requirements last season. Jepson was City's only summer buy when they paid Preston £60,000 for his services a fortnight ago. "Every supporter I met for six months told me that they thought we needed a big striker alongside Steve and I hope Ronnie fits that bill," said Ball. "If Steve can get his usual ratio of goals and Ronnie weighs in with 15 or 20, we'll be in business. Six-figure offers from bigger outfits for full backs Andy Cook and Scott Hiley, Miller and new skipper Peter Whiston, were rejected during the close-season, although the temptation to sell one to buy several must have been great. "The board have been smashing. They have the right attitude. If the right offer comes along then the player would have to go but nobody will be pinched, that's for sure," insisted Ball. "Hopefully the public can see that there is a lot of thought going into my squad and they will understand what we are trying to do with the type of money that we have got here." Last season's abominable finish, when City managed just four points from the last 33 on offer and slipped from 13th spot to 20th in a fraction over a month, hurt Ball tremendously. The fiercely-competitive City manager couldn't hide his embarrassment as the fans chanted his name following the 5-2 final day defeat at already-relegated Darlington - a reverse that would have seen Exeter go down if Bury had won at Preston. City are likely to have been injected with a large dose of the "never-say-die" Ball fighting spirit over the summer and Bond's presence at the back should impose some calm when the going gets tough. Expect Exeter to improve dramatically on last season. The club's historically feeble away record has got to be remedied if they are going to aim higher than mid-table and with a small squad they must avoid suspensions and hope to steer clear of injuries.