As we head towards the first league game of the new season, things are beginning to ramp up. The off season is never quiet, but there’s a definite buzz of excitement at St James Park, which was felt, I’m sure, by the 5,000 plus people – including 1,000 away fans - in the stadium for our final pre-season friendly against Championship side Coventry.

And, although Coventry got the win with a final minute goal, it was a good game and decent test ahead of the official start of the season, which begins with a trip to Wycombe Wanderers, followed by our first home match against Crawley Town in the Carabao Cup on August 8 and then Blackpool at St James Park on Saturday, August 12.

It was also a good opportunity to see some of our new signings in action, and a welcome return for Kyle Taylor following his recovery from his horrendous knee injury more than 16 months ago.

Saturday also saw the official opening of the new facilities at the Cliff Hill Training Ground. It was a fantastic gathering of the supporters, volunteers, the great and good (and me) at the ground, to see the Lord Lieutenant of Devon cut the ribbon and unveil a plaque. The new facility is fantastic and I’m sure we’ll reap rewards in the years to come.

The Coventry match was also the first opportunity to reveal the new third kit. This season, the shirt is being sponsored by Exeter City Supporters’ Trust to mark the 20th anniversary of the Supporters’ Trust purchasing the club and is just one part of a year of celebrations to mark that momentous occasion in our history.

We’ve had yet another accolade for our club, being named the best club for fan engagement across all the leagues in the recent Fair Game index. As a supporter-owned club, putting the fans at the centre of everything we do is in our DNA, so it’s really gratifying to win it again and reflects the hard work from our staff and volunteers to provide the best possible fan experience.

Just one example of fan engagement would be the Fans’ Forum, which took place at SJP last week with supporters able to direct their questions to the manager. It was a really insightful session, as Gary shared information about prep for a game, the new signings, plans for the coming season and reflections on the pre-season games.

There were some good run outs for our Academy players in the pre-season games, including a good showing from 15-year-old Jake Richards, demonstrating that the Academy is still doing its amazing work.

We’ve also said goodbye to some of our former Academy players, with Josh Key heading to Swansea and Archie Collins to Peterborough and it was great to see former Academy star Ethan Ampadu, make the move to Leeds United from Chelsea this week, as well. I’ve been to see Ethan play abroad a couple of times, for both Spezia and Venezia – so not quite such a glamorous location for the next time I see him…Incredible to think he is still only 22, so still has so much potential, and I’m looking forward to watching him grow and develop.

I took part in the club’s recent corporate golf day at Woodbury Park, where players, the management team and staff played in teams with local businesses. A great day was had by all, with some serious skills on show!

Our partner charity, Exeter City Community Trust has launched its running events, which is just a tiny bit of the work in that area. The events begin with Halloween 5k and 10k runs on Sunday, October 29, followed by the Santa Run in December and next year, for more serious runners, include the Granite Way, Half Marathon, Exeter Live Better Marathon and River Run. You can find out more at

Look forward to seeing you at SJP very soon, and don’t forget – the future’s bright, the future’s red and white!