Ethan Ampadu has just transferred to RB Leipzig and they are top of Germany’s Bundesliga. Matt Grimes is currently starring in midfield for Swansea. Ollie Watkins has scored four goals for Brentford. All three are former Exeter City academy players out there showing what they can do in the game.
It is a source of gratification to the Grecians. There is some regret too, obviously. But that’s tempered by the knowledge that the production line of young talent continues. Exeter will also be apparent at their table’s top – unbeaten in League Two after picking up 17 points. No more than four academy graduates have featured.
Three of these are youngsters making their way. The fourth is Dean Moxey who returned to his club at 2017. “I have had my time away and I have come back to find young lads are still receiving their opportunity here,” Moxey informs Sky Sports. “Other clubs likely would not give them that. It’s why I loved coming .
“The academy is precisely what this club requirements. Evidently, the funding isn’t the greatest that’s what has happened and so the academy to be generating players to assist move forwards is needed by that the club. It’s changed through recent years. We’ve sorted out the pitches and everything about the club was moving in the ideal direction because I was first here.”
Moxey scored the goal that arguably produced everything possible – that an outrageous 50-yard strike against Doncaster back in 2004 that set up a profitable FA Cup tie against Manchester United. “Folks still remind me about it,” states Moxey. Exeter’s long-serving chairman Julian Tagg is.
The club has been on the verge back then. “It is Bury today but we’re pretty much there,” Tagg tells Sky Sports. “We had a debt of #4.8m.”
Exeter were a non-league club in the time of the United match and did not make it back into the Football League under Paul Tisdale until 2009. But even at the darkest days, the team were smart enough to see the value. “We had no funding at all so that it was very difficult to keep it going and keep things professional at that time,” says Tagg.
“I could understand that the future was very much dependent on us bringing childhood through. It is the advantage you gain from earning your players through although the benefit you gain from potential sales. It puts more people about the gate and it is less expensive than bringing gamers in from outside.
“It takes just two minutes to shut an academy but it is going to require 10 years to get it into an area where it is working again to support your club. It has taken us a long time and then maybe another five or even six years to create it the way we want it. For us, it is a very important part of our version. We’d be in a really different location if it was not for our academy.”
Three quarters of a million pounds from the sale of Grimes helped to fund the pitches . There was a 850,000 although that was a source of frustration raised through the sale of Ampadu to Chelsea. A precocious talent, he’d made his debut Exeter aged just 15.
“It was extremely galling,” states Tagg. “It was common knowledge that his value was 20m however there wasn’t any subjective assessment in the mediation. The men and women who live in the mediation might have liked to do much more for us all we have been told is they are the rules.”
Since the reputation of Exeter has grown they’ve become a target. Sean Goss left for United at 2015. More recently, Jay Stansfield had been offered to Fulham in the summertime, aged only 16, on the grounds that it had been they would have obtained in the arbitration. “it’s extremely tricky for us. Because it is not fair, something has to be done. The threat is that academies close.
“Sports such as tennis and rugby might adore a pyramid such as football. It is totally brilliant and the wider it’s in the bottom, the better it’s at the very best. But not if the golden goose is discharged for pennies. The system works but when nothing has been done then the cancer can form and clubs will wonder why they’re doing it and just receive their players off someone else.”
It is. The club is owned by the fans and this community ethos guides the believing. The academy is not only for the few who go on to big things. Tagg is an actual education lecturer by commerce and the mantra that is sport-for-all is one he subscribes to. Exeter has a catchment area. The club is there for the community.
“It is about looking after the 95 percent who do not make it too,” adds Tagg. “If you do this then parents will still be pleased and children will come back instead of play for somebody else which is what happened back in the day. You had been lost. We’ve addressed that and that’s held us in good stead with the neighborhood .”
Nothing sums up this community spirit more than the identities of their team at Exeter. This academy’s head is Arran Pugh, a former youth-team player himself. “I remember him here as a 10-year-old boy,” says the chairman. The director, matt Taylor, was the U23 boss of the club. His helper Wayne Carlisle was once the mind of coaching. Everyone gets it.
Clubs can claim to be as. Exeter are a academy however the purpose would be to the quality of training available for your players that are young to become as great as anything else elsewhere. Former Torquay manager Kevin Nicholson has come as a coach educator. “We are striving constantly to find that advantage,” clarifies Tagg.
“There is a series planning there which isn’t limited to this academy but what it means is that everyone has a great understanding of the way the academy functions. Perhaps that’s the reason why we have achieved better than some.” Moxey is going to be next to make the step that is familiar. “I’d love to give back something to the club as a trainer,” he states.
For the time being, Moxey is currently a participant in a group that’s high in League Two. Neither he nor Archie Collins, the two scholars that were ever-present of the team, have discovered the net up to now this season so it will spark a reaction, but if they do . When Exeter score he tries to stay calm. He has seen a lot of in the match. But he can make an exclusion.
“The daily of existence in soccer can be hard and individuals know today I don’t jump up during the game if we score,” he says. “But when one of our players enjoy Archie scores, before thinking about it, I leap upward. That is exactly what I get a kick out of.” It is the Exeter City way.

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