Exeter Exiles enjoy full return to Greece for exhibition football match.
Exiles enjoy trip to Andros
For the first time since outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Exeter Exiles have all return to Greece to play an exhibition match against a Greek XI.
The near annual pilgrimage to the South Aegean island of Andros was limited over the last few years but finally the Exiles have been able to return en masse to the archipelagos.
On the trip, the Exiles meet with their friends and contacts in Andros and arrange an Exhibition football match between the two sets of groups, with the Greek XI usually coming out on top.
Neil Le Milliere, trustee and trip organiser has been in touch, to update us on how the trip is going and how fans can express their interest in future trips.
Who are the Exiles and what do they do?
The Exeter Exiles/London Grecians are the London, and anyone else who wants to join us, supporters group that was founded at an away match at Leyton Orient quite a few years ago. We've gone from strength to strength with, mostly rail, trips organised to all Exeter games; social get-togethers; quiz, pool, and darts teams who all play in the respective AFPSCIL* leagues. We used to have two football teams as well but the aging process caught up with many and not so many younger supporters coming through. New members always welcome.
*Association of Professional Football Supporters Clubs In London see http://www.apfscil.org.uk/
How did the Greek trip first come about?
An Exeter Supporter’s wife discovered a connection to the island and when visiting found Villa Rena in Batsi. Rena’s long-term partner, Johnny, who ran the bar at the Villa turned out to be an English footballer who played for Yeovil amongst other non-league clubs and his first game for them was at St James Park.
He suggested getting a few fellow supporters over and playing a football match or two against the local teams and the annual trip and match was born. Again an aging group meant just before Covid the matches stopped but that certainly didn't stop us from coming and this year we returned to a group making it, eleven of us with four London based and seven Exeter based coming.
Next year promises to return to near normal numbers so up in the twenties or more, as always all welcome and I'm happy to organise or recommend travel and accommodation.
How long has the trip been running for?
We're now In our fourteenth year with the only year missed being when we went to Brazil instead. A few of us even managed to get here in both years of the pandemic. There's usually a tour Polo which helps keep track of the years.
How many of you usually go?
It varies, we've got into the thirties at times and during the pandemic just three or four. The last few pandemic years there were high teens/early twenties and although the bulk arrive together or the same day, not everyone does and people come and go as it suits them. Some also visit at other times of the year.
How did you first meet you contacts in Greece and how did you keep in contact over the pandemic?
From those early beginnings we have made many friends on the island from the places we stay, the places we eat and drink, our own taxi driver, and the people who have played against us, who always greet us and treat us like family. There's the Greek Grecian Sports Club founded in the island then the usual WhatsApp, Messenger, and FB. Also quite a few video calls.
To the football then, what have results been in the past?
We've only ever officially won once as the opposition are actually footballers rather than supporters aspiring to be footballers.
Memorable moments from a game in the past?
Contrived penalty shoot outs no matter the actual score; flock of goats watching from the cliff next to the pitch, their best player switching sides at halftime, giving us all medals and a trophy no matter the result, swopping shirts at the end of the game just like the pros then remembering we'd borrowed the kit from City!
Who are the better players in both teams? #
One of their players one year was actually in the first team squad at AEK – no names as he really shouldn't have played! We've had one or two “stars” over the years and Johnny himself played and still showed his class even in his fifties.
Once of their keepers made me look slim – but he was still better than me!
First full trip back since Covid, has anything changed?
More holidaymakers, but still not crowded, still cheap prices for everything, food still to die for; and most local people still here thankfully.
Did you do anything in the last couple of years to keep the tradition going?
Always inviting people and most having come once always want to come back when they can. With my seventieth next year there are quite a few wanting to come specially to celebrate that.
If someone’s interested in going to the next trip to Greece, who can they get in touch?
Just contact me via email or phone, or at the FECRACE on match days.
Predictions for the next game?
Hopefully a new/younger generation of Grecians will join us in the future and we can resurrect the game. TBH it would be perfect for some of the youngsters at the academy to come over and there is a standing invite.
Sadly there only three days to go this year but then the planning for next year will start as we book flights almost straight away!