Exeter City’s STARS campaign, which supports the funding of the club’s academy, has accumulated more than three quarters of their £12,500 target in just seven months.
The club’s Supporters’ Trust has raised £10,000 after launching the campaign in August 2019 to aid the development of future stars and help its academy reach an even higher ceiling.
Many a talent has come out of the Grecians’ Cliff Hill training ground with the likes of Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea), Matt Grimes (Swansea), Ollie Watkins (Brentford) and Jordan Moore-Taylor (MK Dons) all leaving the club in the last five years.
Eleven academy graduates are also currently within the first team set-up, including: Matt Jay, Dean Moxey, Jack Sparkes, Archie Collins, Harry Kite, Josh Key, Alex Hartridge, Ben Seymour, James Dodd, Jordan Dyer and Will Dean.
The conveyor belt of first-class players hasn’t happened by chance, Exeter City prides itself on the work achieved within the academy. But why is it that the club produces so many top young players?
First and foremost, the vision is clear from top to bottom of how the academy is run under Academy Manager Arran Pugh.
“Everyone at the club understands its goals and values. Our goal is not just to produce players for the Exeter City first team, but to produce players for international and Champions League football,” he told Storyhub Derby.
“Exeter City has a strong and identifiable belief in academy prospects and those that present that they deserve the opportunity to play in the first team, will get it.
“Of course, not every player will make it because you have to have a certain amount of must haves. Players have to have the ability on the pitch, but they’ve also got to be the right people off of it. We do a lot of work to create well rounded people that can represent the football club in the correct way.”
One of those successful academy products is Dean Moxey, who came through the Cliff Hill ranks in the early 2000s, re-joined the club in 2017 after eight years away.
The 34-year-old, like Pugh, believes there aren’t many better clubs to be at for a young footballer in the English Football League.
“It’s a great club to be coming through at and knowing that you might get a chance if you do well.
“I think the managers that we’ve had have given youth a chance and it’s something for the young boys to look up to and know that the manager, if you’re good enough, will give you a chance.”
Certainly the club have produced some fine talent on the pitch, but Moxey also advocates the work done off of it to create good and well-rounded characters.
The central defender continued: “They try and instil things like good manners from the start and the way you have to respect the place and everyone around it.
“The academy is really good, it’s what the club desperately needs, we’ve had a lot of high-profile players go and that’s helped the club a lot.”
“It’s what Exeter has been about for a number of years, you’ve got young players coming through every season.”
Matt Jay, who over the past two seasons has cemented himself into the first team also believes that the club’s academy is second to none amongst the teams around them.
“One of the best things about the club is that it does offer a pathway into the first team,” Jay said.
“There’s a lot of evidence too, the amount of players that have come through this season alone is a large number.
“The coaches are top quality and tell you what you need to do and how you need to grow to become the player you want to be on and off the pitch.”
Yet, with all the success that the academy brings, funding is still crucial in assisting its sustainability.
The STARS campaign was launched at the beginning of this 2019/20 season and aims to support the future stars of Exeter City, and help the academy reach even greater heights.
As a supporter-run club, the City Supporters’ Trust has been at the helm of the operation.
The trust’s Director Elaine Davis, 69, has been the figurehead for the attempts to raise money, and is pleased with the way things have started.
“The campaign started in August and has since raised £10,000 out of our £12,500 target, so we’re really pleased with that, but we need to still continue,” she told StoryHub Derby.
“As a supporter-owned club, we don’t have a millionaire to help us and we all know that the way to raise funds has been in developing players from the academy and then selling them on like Ollie Watkins and Matt Grimes.
“So, we need to raise money to allow the club to continue to do that.
“We’ve got some really talented young professionals coming through with Joel Randall and Will Dean. Jack Sparkes started this season off brilliantly and was proving to be a crucial player for us, however his injury has meant that he’s been out for a number of months.”
Exeter City are always looking for donations, so if you are interested in helping out this fan-run club follow this link.
You can also support the STARS campaign in a variety of ways:
- By increasing your monthly Trust contribution by a minimum of £1
- By donating a one-off £12 online (Click here to donate)
- By picking up a cash donation envelope from Reception (you can return it there)
- By putting your loose change in the collection boxes around St James Park
- By supporting our STARS activities and events throughout the season
For any enquiries, the club have released this phone number: 07414 676367.
🚨There are only a few places left at the STARS dinner on 28th January – £15 in the Heritage Suite at St James Park ⭐️⭐️⭐️
— ECFC Supporters’ Trust (@ECFCST) November 29, 2019