Club: Exeter Chiefs
Nickname: The Chiefs
Ground Opened: 2006
Stadium Name: Sandy Park Stadium
Sandy Park Way
Telephone: 01392 890890
Fax: 01392 890888
Seated 5,046, Standing 5,698, Boxes 12
Club Web Site:
Other Web Sites:
"The Tribe"-Unofficial Supporters Club
Official Supporters Club
Home Colours: Black and White
Change Colours: White and Blue
League (2013/14): Aviva Premiership
Exeter Chiefs: An Introduction
Walk along the front of a packed east terrace at Sandy Park before kick-off, asking Exeter chiefs fans to predict the day’s result and I challenge you to find one who doesn’t believe their team will win.
Self-belief is something this West Country club has in bucket loads and its been a major factor in their success over the years. The Chiefs battled their way into National One in 1997 but made no secret of their ambition to join the top flight, a feat they achieved for the first time 13 years later. For some years, the Chiefs were near to topping the second division and were starting to be labelled “the nearly men”, but a move from the County Ground to Sandy Park in 2006 inspired an increase in impetus at the right time. They beat Bristol in a home-and-away play-off at the end of the 2009/10- season to win the Championship, and are now are living out their dream of rubbing shoulders with the best teams in the country.
Head coach Rob Baxter is one of the club’s most loyal and long-standing servants. Now in his sixth coaching year, he played for the Chiefs for 14 years, captaining the side for ten, and has seen the club through many highs and lows. He can remember the days when they would be beaten by local Devon teams at the County Ground, and winning a Devon Cup final seemed like the be-all and end-all.
Rob’s brother Richie still plays No. 8, having made his debut in 1997, and says its important for new players to appreciate where the club has come from. On the wall outside the changing room is a photo of every first team to have worn an Exeter shirt and a centenary board honouring players who have made over 100 appearances for the club.
These were all features of the County Ground that survived the move, and now take pride of place inside the plush new stadium. The County Ground was graced by the first All Blacks side to tour England, and Australia have also played on the old hallowed turf, and it was important that this piece of history wasn’t discarded.
The Chiefs have developed schemes to help their fans travel to the games, and the Jurassic Coast bus service picks up fans in nearby towns from Seaton to Topsham and takes them to and from matches. Fans are sucked in by the tribal atmosphere. Club mascot Big Chief gets the crowd going before kick-off from the centre of the pitch, and when they get into their tomahawk chant it must be heard on the other side of the city. However, silence falls when a kicker is about to take a shot at goal, and anyone who breaks this etiquette is likely to get a stern ticking-off from their neighbours. The team thrives on their vocal supporters, and average attendances are just under 9,000 a game.
Exeter chief executive Tony Rowe is already looking to the future with talk of expanding Sandy Park stadium to over 20,000 within the next five years, as well as floating a part of the club into a PLC company.
With the advent of the professional era, it was decided to re-locate from the historic home of the County Ground, which in 2005 had hosted the New Zealand All Black’s ever game in England, to a new, purpose-built stadium.
The club moved into the current facilities at Sandy Park in September 2006, at a cost of £15m. A crucial element in the planning of Sandy Park was to create not only a modern sporting stadium, but to combine that with a conference and function venue for the region. This contributes to both the playing side of the club, and to future phases of its physical development.
Last Updated January 2014
Copyright Miles & Miles Publishing 2014