Bristol Rovers (a)
Bristol Rovers 0 Exeter City 2.
Saturday 9 April 2010.
On the road with Kirstie Bowden
A View With A Pillar In the Way!
In a rare, and very welcome, break from tradition we departed for an away game at the civilised hour of 11am. We arrived at the Memorial Ground just over 2 hours later and loitered in the blazing sunlight (so blazing' that despite being sat in the shade during the match still got sunburnt) ahead of the opening of the turnstiles.
Inside faced a battle that was as hilarious as it was dangerousI needed to put my flag up and the area designated to me was a fence that required the scaling of a wall to do so.
With a fierce wind blowing struggled to keep hold of my flag, and my balanceI didn't help proceedings when I joked to the steward who was helping me that the flag clearly wanted to be at Bristol City instead.
With the wind threatening to help facilitate this we moved it to the terrace where it was quickly swallowed up by the Grecian masses
Taking my seat in the stand I was slightly perturbed to find a pillar plonked right in front of itLuckily it didn't block out the goal and learned to live without a large chunk of the right hand side of the pitch!
During the warm-up the away end gave a standing ovation to Rovers' Director Ken Masters in honour of his completion of a mammoth walk from Bristol, to Yeovilto Exeter and back again in aid of the Adam Stansfield Foundation. The tribute paid to Stanno over the tannoy was incredibly touching.
The first half saw City put in a competent performance, doing pretty much everything but score. Marge however, was worried. Ben Hamers customary 'Hamerisms' were, by her own admission, giving her "the heeby jeebies!"
The second half continued much the same, with City clearly superior. It took until the 78th minute for this superiority to be reflected by the score-line. Here the second half subs combined excellently with Marcus Stewart providing a deft touch which teed up Daniel Nardiello perfectly to fire the ball home. As time ticked down City remained dominant. I was confident of victory and this was assured deep into added time when Nards scored his second of the day.
He celebrated right in front of us with Ryan and Dunney. It's special moments like those that I travel round the country in hope of!
The final whistle for once was not about City, the 3 points, or the performance. On this day it was all about Marcus Stewart and his retirement from football. I will never forget when we signed Marcus, mainly because I thought it was a wind-up. When he emerged out of the changing rooms at our pre-season friendly at Truro in 2008 I was dumbfounded and blurted out "oh my god it's real!" He heard and smiled
It has been both a privilege and a pleasure having him wear the Grecian red and whiteHe has been a real class act both on and off the pitch. With regards to the latter you'd be hard pushed to find a nicer man at the club. On away days he always says hello.
At Hartlepool this season he memorably ran half way across the pitch during the warm-up to rescue Grecian the Lion who had fallen off the wall and into a pitch side ditch! Ending his career at the place it began 19 years ago he received a truly wonderful receptionA stadium wide standing ovation met his 66th minute arrival on the pitch, and the whole stadium waited for him to departHe looked clearly movedThe day belonged to Marcus and quite right too.
Referee Jonathan Moss
Attendance 7500 with 1074 City fans.
BBC match summary
Veteran striker Marcus Stewart came off the bench to play a key role in his final game as Exeter overcame relegation-threatened Bristol Rovers. Drawing the curtain on a 19-year career, Stewart touched on Ryan Harley's cross for Daniel Nardiello to fire in from close range. Exeter goalkeeper Ben Hamer kept out Jo Kuffour's close range effort with his foot late on. Nardiello then raced clear to round Conrad Logan and slot in his second.