Exmouth Town’s Martin Cook nominated to be a Flybe Community Champion

Exmouth Town's Martin Cook (right) with Matt Kimberly from ECFC commercial sales. Picture ECFC

Exmouth Town's Martin Cook (right) with Matt Kimberly from ECFC commercial sales. Picture ECFC - Credit: Archant

Exmouth Town’s Martin Cook has been nominated as a Flybe Community Champion, writes Steve Birley.

Exeter City Football Club marketing manager Scott Palfrey explains just what the award is all about, saying: “The award is in conjunction between the club and main club sponsors Flybe and its aim is to reward those who work tirelessly as volunteers in football in the local community.

“We were looking for people that put in their own time and go the extra mile to make sure grass roots football is open to all.”

He continued: “This season there have been three opportunities for fans across the region to nominate their ‘Community Champion’.

“The next stage will follow this week as it goes to a public vote, which is then announced and presented at our 2018/19 awards evening on Saturday, April 27, at the Great Hall at Exeter University.

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“All three winners of the rounds received two return flights on a Flybe operated flight of their choice.”

As for who is behind the award, Scott Palfrey says: “The award is between the football club and Flybe, in part to celebrate the fact that we have one of the longest shirt sponsorships at 16 years so far. Also, as both organisations are community focused, we wanted to use that to reward some inspirational people.”

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Speaking about the nomination of Cook, the City marketing manager says: “Having met Martin, it was obvious that he has a true passion for Exmouth Town and is doing very impressive work in helping to spread the word on their fixtures, and running travel to away games.

“He clearly loves what he does and it’s a testament to him that it is so appreciated. Having gone to a recent Exmouth Town match, I was impressed by how welcoming and great an experience it was.”

Flybe CEO Christine Ourmieres-Widener said: “One of the reasons that Flybe and Exeter City have had such a long and successful relationship is that we both feel very strongly about bringing communities together.

“This new award will shine a light on those who make a valuable contribution to local football but don’t often get the recognition they deserve.”

Exeter City chairman Julian Tagg added: “The Flybe and Exeter City partnership has been phenomenal; they, like City, have always been involved and indebted with the local community.

“With Flybe, we are looking to celebrate those people that do all the things that run behind successful teams in our community.”

So now, over to Martin Cook, and first up we asked him what being nominated meant to him. He replied: “To be honest, when I received a call about it I was shocked, surprised and humbled that someone had taken the time to nominate me for this award.

“I actually also felt a little embarrassed as I know there are plenty of people who have been at the club behind the scenes working hard to keep our football club going.

“I feel the nomination is actually acknowledgement of all the effort from Town players, staff and supporters as we really are one big family. I feel I am very fortunate to be recognized for doing something I enjoy.”

That led nicely for us to ask Martin what drew him to Exmouth Town FC in the first place. He said: “I am a local lad who loves football, and over the last few years had watched games and gradually got involved.

“A few years ago we supporters were putting up the flagpole for the MTC (Muff Town Casuals) flag and we were chatting about how much work our fantastic groundsman ‘Dibbo’ (John Dibsdall) had to do on and off the playing area.

“We decided we could help by sorting out the outside areas and it just started from there. The MTC regularly run work parties at the ground.

It’s further developed that I now do all the modern day ‘social media’ stuff for Town, trying to make people aware of the club and its facilities and things that we are putting on.”

He continued: “I`ve also helped run away days for the supporters and players. We have run four ‘Away Day’ trips so far this season and have one left to do – that hopefully all-important final day game at Bodmin Town on April 27. I must also add that I also do my best for the club’s second and third teams as well as the youth set-up for I, like everyone else connected with the club, feel they are so very important in terms of the bigger picture.”

Next, we asked Martin if he can recall the first time he saw Town play? His reply was: “That’s a tough question, but I don’t doubt that, as a youngster living in the Town and close to where Exmouth Ammies played (where the rugby club has their second pitch), I expect it would have been in the 1970s at a local derby in one of the cups at Ammies.

“Later it would have been in the 1980s watching the Western League team and FA Vase cup run when the team comprised the likes of Alan Hooker, Mel Pym, Lennie Jones and Wally Dawson to name but a few. I am also an Exeter City Supporter so have always watched them up until the last couple of years with the odd Town game thrown in, but that has reversed over the past 12 months, though I do still have a season ticket for City – as well as one at Southern Road!”

We then asked Martin, what was his first project or idea, to which he replied: “That would be with the work parties which remain on-going and, for last season I got involved with the selling of season tickets. We sold eight in year one and 25 for this season, so goodness how many we will move for next season – lots more I hope!”

We also asked, what single thing he was proudest of in terms of what he has achieved at Town. Martin responded: “So far, it’s the interaction with supporters, who are very supportive of me and what the club is trying to achieve.

“We know the football club has a vital role to play in the community. Success can be measured by league tables, but the football club can be much more. It’s a facility for the community, on and off the pitch, for all ages. The thing I love most is the smile on people’s facing during or after events.”

Regarding how the club has changed since the day he walked through the gates for the first time, Martin says: “To be honest, when I first started watching Town it was from afar and I was basically paying my money, watching the game and leaving, not really feeling apart of anything. But in recent years it has changed.

“Now, I think the supporters and players at Town see what we can achieve with hard work, on and off the field.

“There is plenty of interaction between both as well. The clubhouse on match days is buzzing and for away games people enjoy the trips and I would like to think local football benefits from the support of our great supporters.”

Last, but not least, we asked Martin: ‘What would it mean, as far as you are concerned, if the club does win the SWP league title this year?”

He says: “That would be simply so good…us supporters have had a blast this season. It has been great fun. Hilly (Town boss Kevin Hill) and his staff and players so deserve to win it. Next season we could have Western League Football, FA Cup Football and FA Vase football on offer at Town – here’s hoping.”

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