The University of Exeter Men's Football Club faced National league 2 side Exeter City in the sixth annual varsity match at St James' Park.

Over 4000 attend varsity goal-fest

Goals were the order of the day as the sixth annual football varsity kicked off term one at St James’ Park on 25 September.

Record crowds flocked to the stadium in the city centre where the University of Exeter Men’s Football Club faced League 2’s Exeter City FC. Attendance figures reached over 4300 for the charity fixture as supporters from across the University’s Athletic Union and the wider student body gathered in one of the largest student events of the year.

Each year the match is held in memory of University of Exeter Footballer Mike Poulden, a St Luke’s student who tragically died of cardiomyopathy in 2001, and City striker Adam Stansfield who was lost to Bowel Cancer in 2010.

Overall the match raised £2500 for the events chosen charities, the Cardiomyopathy Association and the Adam Stansfield Foundation. University of Exeter Athletic Union President Alex Powell helped organise the event and applauded the commitment of the student fans.

She said: “The turn out this evening has been truly fantastic. Last year we broke the record for varsity attendance, but this year has blown that out of the water. I want to say a massive thank you to all of the 4324 people who have turned out tonight – the atmosphere has been tremendous.

The football varsity has become an essential student event and we are delighted that it has gone so well. The whole point of the varsity is to bring everyone together in an evening of entertainment whilst also supporting these two fantastic charities, whose work provides vital support to so many people.”

City’s assault started early in the match, Tom Nicholas’ drill at goal in the fifth minute saved by Nat Slack, signalling the start of a busy night for the University keeper. The Grecians finally broke through after just 16 minutes. Quick footwork between the home sides two striker’s opening the gap for Jake Gosling who found the top hand right corner.

The flood gates then opened, as minutes later Aaron Dawson surged through the University midfield, letting fly from 25 yards out and finding the back of the net.

The final goal of the first half again went to city. A deflected save from University keeper Slack found the feet of Ollie Watkins who casually tapped it home.

Despite a brave performance from the University side, the half time break saw the “town” with 3-0 lead. However, the spirit of the student crowd remained high following entertainment from the award winning University of Exeter Cheerleading and Gymnastics squad.

A more composed University team performed better in the second half, however further goals from Ollie Watkins and Tom Nichols, including a free-kick just outside the box, made for a decisive victory for Exeter City. The final score City 6:0 University.

Regardless of the score-line, University of Exeter captain Rob Fellingham was positive about his team’s performance against a professional side who compete eight leagues higher, and praised the Exeter City for their prowess. He said:

“The match was massively tough. Our plan was to try and keep it tight in the opening stages of the match, but City’s early goal robbed us of that. After that we had to take chances to try and break through, but City’s quality really showed through.

“While it is disappointing for the score not to be closer, credit has to go to city for an exceptional performance.

 “I am chuffed to pieces with the support we have had tonight - absolutely over moon. The crowd have been fantastic and the club would like to thank everyone for coming out.”

The University of Exeter Men’s Football Club narrowly missed out on promotion from last year’s British Universities and Colleges Sport Western A1 division. At the start of the new season Rob is confident of another good performance again this year. He added:

“We have a really strong squad this year, with great depth. We just missed out on promotion last year, which would put us into the BUCS Premier League, so that is definitely our target for 2013 / 2014.”


Date: 26 September 2013