As the fun and fanfare of the London Olympics disappear over the horizon in a relay race with late summer squalls, I’m left to ponder the legacy of possible missed opportunity. Not my own, I hasten to add. That mad medley of running, jumping and swimming being something I would not so much aspire to as expire from. No. Instead, I cast my mind back a few weeks to the Exeweb story of young Olivia Hancock meeting the president of the Brazilian Football Confederation and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Committee. A heart warming tale of incredible chance, Grecian devotion, and international footballing history set against the heady backdrop of Olympian drama.
So enchanted was the president, Jose Maria Marin, by six year old Olivia that he went on to invite her and her parents to be his personal guests at the final of the football tournament where Brazil were playing Mexico. Whilst there, chance played another ace and she was interviewed by a major television company. Her confident answers and her all important ECFCfootball shirt were broadcast across Brazil. Live. So taken by her, the company have already sketched out ideas for a forthcoming documentary about City’s pint sized fan with the quart sized passion. And that’s not all. One of the country’s largest circulation magazines has also picked up on the story.
All in all, quite an incredible PR coup for our recently relegated Club who must surely have grasped this golden platter with both hands. Or, at least, that’s the first assumption one would be reasonably expected to make. However, as the weeks slowly passed, no acknowledgement of the story appeared to be forthcoming. Astley Media – creating conversations – was also strangely silent and the Club’s Official Site remained coy. Then, seeming to follow heavy demand from Grecians up and down the country, a small article was placed in the programme for the Morecambe game.
This, then, is the synopsis of the story which has been sizzling away in it’s own thread on WoWS and dividing opinion for some time. And divide there is. As the cliché goes, there are two sides to every coin and what is written above is simply one side. The case for the prosecution, if you will. On the surface, whilst it appears that an opportunity is slipping through fingers, it has to be noted that the Club would surely not be so inept for this really to be the case. So what is going on? With what can best be described as a moratorium on the subject, it is hard to glimpse – let alone see – the other side of that coin. There is, however, still information available with which we can try to balance the view. We know that in January this year a delegation from ECFC travelled to Brazil. The intention being to lay the foundations for a World Cup visit. Having spoken to several people who have conducted business in that country, it is apparent they operate in a way that is different from what we might expect here. There is a far higher reliance on trust, foreigners often finding it harder to break into what could be seen as protected markets. The road to which, it might be mooted, is often paved by many promising much but not necessarily delivering the same. In a country steeped in the beautiful game, it is hardly surprising that football and big business walk amorously hand in hand. What would be needed is either a patron or an agent. The former requires good trust, the latter requires good pockets. Sources within the Club tell me that a ‘considerable sum’ has already been spent on this affair so I presume an agent must already be on the cards.
Then there is politics. A complicated issue and there is none more complex than the footballing type. Senhor Marin was an unexpected choice for the position he holds. He took the reins in March this year after the resignation of Ricardo Teixeira on health grounds. Widely popular with football fans due to his genuine love of the game, there will inevitably be some who don’t share the grass roots view. This brings into sharper focus the need for the Club to get things right. Perhaps it is what lies behind the comment that ‘delicate negotiations are ongoing’.
Whatever the undercurrents may be, there is one certainty. Both sides of this debate share the same coin. The same goal. To see Exeter City FC in Brazil for the World Cup. No doubt if the team manage to visit Brazil in 2014, a century after that first match, there will be many at the Club ensuring they start saving up for the trip.
I hadn’t intended to spend so much of my meagre word allocation on just the one story, however, that is how things worked out on this occasion. I’ve just got space to mention a couple of things in passing. ECFC Ladies, bless their cotton draws, almost lost their most desperate exiled fan. Moi. Having invested considerable time in failing to build a rapport with them, the head honcho herself finally blinked first. “Sorry, we don’t talk to strangers” came her tartly belated riposte. Followed swiftly by an explanation that she preferred to personally control what information was made public about her team. Put me in my place that’s for sure.
- Which former City ‘marmite’ player proved to be a boorish transphobic bigot through his recent tweets about C5’s cerebral Big Brother show?
- And which City Legend showed remarkable acumen with ‘who is the muppet wemissmoxey? #getoutmore’
As the months pass, I hope to develop ‘The view from over here…’ into a much broader and more patchwork column of opinion, views and whispers of all things ECFC. So if you have a snippet that you think might be of interest, email me at [email protected] and, in the meantime, it just leaves me to thank those who have provided me with bits and bobs for this month’s edition. No names. No pack drill. I know who you are, they don’t. And that’s just the way it should be …
Spreading a little knowledge. Very, very thinly …