Having now looked through seven books about Exeter City F.C. (including, among others, Grecian Voices by Dave Fisher and Gerald Gosling, Exeter City Down the Years, Exeter City F.C., A Grecian Anthology and Exeter City, all by Mike Blackstone), I am trying to imagine more concretely what kinds of trails we could design to test whether the app would support Exeter City Supporters Trust in designing trails that combine heritage and sport, as well as trails that capture the actual sport heritage of the trust and club themselves.
I have already mentioned that Lewis Jones drew our attention to the significance of St James’ Park itself. The history of the Exeter stadium alone could capture a wealth of trails, from chronological trails, about the oral history of specific sites, players, fans, to trails about individuals that we may wish to remember. Lewis has already been seminal in identifying possible oral histories that we could use in our trails. Just a few days ago, he wrote to me:
‘As you walk around the ground and the immediate area, there is so much that could be described, e.g. the entrance route to the main stands is called ‘Stadium Way’ and has some new housing. Once it was a large gate – the Kendall Gate – and a school playing field with a portacabin. We could point out the origin of the name Kendall. In the early 80’s when we had an FA cup run, hundreds of supporters slept overnight on a Friday on the pavement by that gate so that when the club shop opened on the Saturday morning to sell tickets for the quarter final match away to Spurs, we would not miss out. Also as you walk down Stadium Way and pass the back of the main stand there is now a tribute hanging there to Adam Stansfield – our number 9 who died of cancer 3 years ago aged just 31.’
I couldn’t agree more. I discovered only recently, in a separate project called Art Maps, a collaboration between myself, at the University of Exeter, the Department of Computer Science at the University of Nottingham and Tate (Tate Education, Tate Research and Tate Online), funded by RCUK, that my mother had interpreted an art map I created about my hometown Turin as a way to remember my father who passed away in 2006 as a consequence of a debilitating moto neuron disease. The use of time trails as a way to remember someone is definitively something we would want to support, so we will look into this at our next meeting.
As well as St James’ Park, there are a number of significant sites associated with the club. I have already pointed out in my last blog that schools and pubs are important. This is where passions about the sport and the club start and loyalties are formed. The streets of Exeter, where milestone celebrations were held, also seem important. There’s an amazing image, for example, showing Exeter City player and manager Bobby Saxton acknowledging a massive crowd’s applause from the Guildhall balcony after thanking them for their support.
I can imagine a number of site-specific trails, as well as chronological trails. Some dates and associated images and stories seem particularly interesting to me. For example, the club itself was formed in 1904, from two predecessor clubs, Exeter United F.C. and St Sidwells’ United. There is an image from 1905 showing Exeter City wearing green and white halved shirts, which were later changed to red. There are images of the historic tour in South America in 1914, during which matches were played against Argentina and Brazil, as well as images from matches against Ajax in 1925, like the one showing an Exeter City party relax in a café (Blackstone 1992: 102); and an image from 1945 marking the foundation of Grecian Association. These could capture where the team have played over the years. And there are figurines, programmes from all times, including Edwardian programmes and modern film poster adaptations, memorabilia that are educative about the club but also Exeter’s history for a period of over 100 years.
And then there are stories… so many of them… some already written up in the books, some, probably, not. These stories invariably tie the club to some of the most important events in recent history, from the Titanic to the wars, telling us about dedication, determination, passion, love and life, but also reminding us of sickness, disappointment and, sadly, loss of friends and loved ones.
Let’s hope we can capture some of this amazing history interconnecting sport, heritage and the memories of people in relation to Exeter City F.C. through our application.