I went to see Exeter City take on Derby County on Saturday. The Grecians had some fine moments, and it seems that, once again, manager Paul Tisdale has made some un-flamboyant but judicious signings over the summer. That said, Derby completely outclassed them at times. The final result was 3-1 to the Rams. It could have been 5-2. That would have been a fair reflection of the balance of play overall. It was a pleasantly entertaining game, though. Plenty of good, flowing moves and touches... plus no-one really had to worry about the result and ex-City man Dean Moxey, back immediately after his transfer, got a good reception and a presentation from the youngsters at the end of the match. He had a constructive game, though his through-balls from the back were often rather predictable. Robbie Savage was shouting at him (and other Derbyites) as soon as he got onto the field towards the end of the second half.
Meanwhile, it was "interesting" to be charged £15 for a friendly game and to discover that the main stand prices (where I sit) will be up this season from £16 to £20 - or more. £25 for the Leeds United game. The commercial vibe is noticeably increasing, in fact. Tony Pryce Sports are taking over the club shop (wonder if prices will go up and merchandise become more 'formatted'?). At this match food and programme sellers were roaming the stands during the game, as they do in US baseball. "Programme!" one guy was shouting, as he half-blocked my view of the action. I was tempted to reply, "No, unobstructed view of the pitch, please!"
City fans will understand that financial pressures increase as you go up the League pyramid. The old stand has to be replaced, too, and that will not be cheap. But there is also a law of diminishing returns. I think £19 would have been a smarter move than £20. It's less of a price Rubicon. I confess that, as a non-season ticket holder, but a regular, I may now sometimes think twice about going to a home game every time I'm in Exeter. (I also have to keep an eye on the pounds to fund my trips to Dumbarton.) And I suspect non-regulars will be put off. The calculation, I assume, is that this does not matter, because there will be more "it's League One, so now we'll go" characters paying up. Plus season ticket sales are over 2,000 already, I'm told.
The Trust and ECFC officials might like to think about this, however. If I want a corporate experience, I'll pay for it elsewhere. It's not what I want at Exeter. What next, stopping me from taking my tea flask in? Try that one, and they'll lose me for good. Meanwhile, some old traditions continue. Like Mike Blackstone's superb matchday programme, The Grecian, which I'm honoured to be writing for again this term. Plenty of local colour in that, alongside the professionalism. The two can and should go together.