St. James Park
Address: Stadium Way,
Capacity: 8,219 (3,715 Seated) (Operational Capacity)
One of the most uniquely-shaped professional football grounds in the whole country, and that helps to cement its place in your memory even long after you’ve visited it.
Not to be confused with St. James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne (the apostrophe is the big difference in name here), or the St. James Park in Brackley, Northamptonshire, the St. James Park in Exeter dates back to 1904.
The land it is based on though dates back even further. In the mid-17th century it was known to be owned by Lady Anne Clifford and rented out for fattening pigs.
Exeter United Football Club had been playing on the land in the late 19th century and very early 20th century, before they merged with St. Sidwell’s United Football Club to form Exeter City Football Club.
The Grecians as they are known had St. James Park leased to them in 1904 and have played here ever since.
Location and Getting There
St. James Park is based very close to the St. Sidwells and Polsloe areas of Exeter, around one mile north of Exeter City Centre. The Northernhay Gardens are located less than 0.5 miles to the southwest of the ground, and around 0.5 miles out beyond there is the River Exe.
Reaching the football ground by car is certainly possible, but with no matchday parking available at St. James Park itself, you will need to make use of local streets nearby for parking.
Be sure though to check that you are legally allowed to park where you find and be sure not to block the driveways of any residents.
St. James Park is located very, very close to St. James Park station which is served by Great Western Rail.
The walk from the station to the football ground can be less than five minutes as a result depending on what side of the tracks your platform is on.
Exeter Central is the next station on the line from St. James Park and walking from here to the ground takes around 20 minutes.
Exeter St. Davids is the main station used by CrossCountry services in the city and walking from here to the ground can take around 25-30 minutes depending on how quickly you go.
For buses, the recommendation is to make use of Exeter Bus Station that is roughly 10 minutes walk south of St. James Park.
Many local buses terminate at the station, and it is also in use for intercity services including Megabus, National Express, First Bus and Western Greyhound.
Outside the Stadium
If you are walking to the football ground from the St. James Park station, the first part of it that you will reach is the western side, which is known as the Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand.
Formerly the Old Grandstand at St. James Park, it is named after Adam Stansfield, the late Devon-born striker who joined Exeter City in June 2006, helping the Grecians to promotion into the Football League in 2008, and scoring 10 goals the following season as Exeter won a second consecutive promotion that took them up into League One.
Stansfield was diagnosed with a form of colorectal cancer in April 2010, and tragically passed away on 10th August 2010 at the age of just 31. His ‘Number 9’ shirt which he wore at Exeter City was retired by the club for nine seasons, and the club have since decided that the number will always be worn by a homegrown player from this day forth.
Because St. James Park is located right next to a bend in the railway tracks, its western side doesn’t have a stand that runs all the way along the side of the pitch.
The Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand covers roughly one half of the pitch’s western side, with the triangular space next to it being made available for toilet and refreshment facilities for those using the football ground’s northern stand. The Adam Stansfield stand itself was closed during the 2017-18 season as part of redevelopment work, and the once tired-looking exterior has been given a fresher feel as a result. Its exterior consists of a corrugated iron forming stripes of either grey, white or red. The stand itself is on hgiher ground than the turnstiles outside of it.
The turnstiles for the Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand (Gate 4) can be found off Well Street, right next to the bridge that passes over the railway tracks. Gate 3 is up a set of stairs immediately to the right of Gate 4 and is for those based in St. James Park's northern side.
The close proximity of the railway tracks means that it is not possible to walk around the entire vicinity of the football ground.
To get from St. James Park Station to the northern end of the ground therefore, you will first need to walk around its western, southern and eastern sides.
The northern end of St. James Park is currently known as the Thatchers' Big Bank, but has previously been known as the Cliff Bastin Stand after the Exeter-born winger who won five First Division Titles and two FA Cups with Arsenal in the 1930s.
The exterior of the Thatchers' Big Bank consists of a brickwork base with corrugated iron higher up and a cantilever roof on top. Immediately behind the stand is Clifford House, student accommodation that is fenced off from the nearby football stadium.
Turnstiles into the Thatchers' Big Bank (Gate 1) can be found on one side of the stand next to the northeast corner. Having gone through these turnstiles, you then either head up staircases on the side of the terrace or along the front of the stand to reach the terraced area inside.
Fans also make use of Gate 3 off Well Street, which is on the other side of St. James Park and next to the Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand Turnstiles. Fans follow the Jungle Path round from Gate 3 to the Thatchers' Big Bank.
There is a sign for Gate 2 near to Gate 1, but this normally remains out of use on a matchday.
You can reach the entrances to St. James Park’s northern and eastern sides via Stadium Way off of Old Tiverton Road.
Stadium Way splits off in two directions up by the northeast corner, with one route going past the, Thatchers' Big Bank and the other going alongside the East Stand, which is currently known for sponsorship reasons as the IP Office Main Stand.
The exterior of this stand is split between a brickwork lower section, a silver, corrugated iron upper section and a cantilever roof at the very top.
Heading from north to south along the exterior of the IP Office Main Stand, you will pass The Heritage Lounge (below a large sign saying Ivor Doble), the Supporters Trust, the Junior Grecians Zone, the Exeter City Club Shop, the Main Reception and the VIP Entrance. This part of the football ground’s vicinity also includes Red Square Area that offers a Matchday Bar and Refreshments, with a gate at the far end of the nearby car park that leads out onto St. James Road. On the wall opposite the Main Stand are large pictures taken from throughout the history of Exeter City Football Club.
At the southern end of the IP Office Main Stand is a large brick building called The Park. It has a Ticket Booth portacabin right outside and inside The Park are facilities including the Centre Sport Bar as well as suites and offices.
Turnstiles for the IP Office Main Stand can be found at Gate 7 at the northern end of the stand, next to Gate 1 for the Thatchers' Big Bank. Having gone through Gate 7, you will find on the right a collection of silver plaques which are in memory of Exeter City players and staff who died during World War I and in service during World War II.
Outside of The Park building is the Fountain Centre Car Park, which is strictly for authorised personnel only. The Exeter Community Trust and Fountain Centre are located at the northern end of this car park. I would generally advise not walking through the car park in order to get to St. James Road to the south, especially as there is a narrow footpath right by The Park building that visitors regularly use instead.
The southern side of St. James Park is the St. James Road Terrace, named after the street that runs along outside it.
The clear smallest of the four stands at St. James Park, the exterior consists mostly of grey corrugated iron behind a black metal fence with a set of white portacabins in place for what is considered the stand’s outer concourse.
Turnstiles for the St. James Road Terrace (Gate 5) are found off St. James Road and around the centre of the stand. Head further up the sloped road and you will come past a black Away Ticket Booth right outside The Park. The Turnstiles for the away section of the IP Office Main Stand (Gate 6) us near to this black Away Ticket Booth.
Inside the Stadium
The Stagecoach Adam Stansfield Stand consists of a single tier of red seating with the letters ECFC spelt out in white across the four blocks.
Your view of the pitch from anywhere inside here is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof above.
The stand has a windshield in place at one either that protects the rows up towards the back, but there is no windshield in place at the end nearest to the railway tracks, with just a small wall in place here to offer protection.
The Thatchers' Big Bank is the largest of the four stands at St. James Park.
A giant standing terrace that can hold a little under 4,000 people, there are several rows of red metal bars at regular intervals up the stand for supporters to lean on. The Thatchers Big Bank additionally contains two covered bays right down at the front which can be used by disabled supporters, and another disabled bay at the stand's eastern end which is next to the designated Family Area.
With no supporting pillars coming down from the cantilever roof above, your view from anywhere inside the stand is perfectly clear, though there are no windshields in place at either end to offer protection from the sides.
Many Exeter City fans will tell you that the Thatchers' Big Bank is the place to go for the most buoyant atmosphere on a matchday, and it can be an impressive sight when full to the brim with fans.
The IP Office Main Stand consists of a single tier of red seating with the letters ECFC well spread out across the seating blocks. The stand additionally contains disabled seating bays in blocks E, H, J and L, and up at the back is a row of executive boxes. St. James Park's changing rooms, dugouts and tunnel can also be found in this stand. The tunnel is based towards the southern end of the stand.
With no supporting pillars coming down from the cantilever roof above, your view from anywhere inside the IP Office Main Stand is perfectly clear, though the stand doesn’t have any windshields in place at either end.
The St. James Road Terrace has the simplest design of all four sides of St. James Park.
It is a single tier of standing terrace split into a larger and smaller section that are separated from one enough by a path that leads to the outer concourse and exit gate. A large electronic screen sits atop the St. James Road Terrace, and this can be seen by those in other parts of the stadium.
Your view of the pitch is perfectly clear from either section as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof, but the St. James Road Terrace doesn’t have windshields in place at either end. There is however a pair of stacked portacabins in the southwest corner which can help in protecting this end of the St. James Road Terrace.
Away fans are held in two places at St. James Park.
The majority of fans will be housed behind the goal in the St. James Road Terrace, though there is also the option to use the two southernmost blocks in the IP Office Main Stand. Both seating and standing is made available to supporters upon purchasing tickets, and how much of the St. James Road Terrace is made available will depend on how big the allocation is expected to be. The larger of the two terraced sections is the one that gets filled first.
Regardless of which side you end up in though, you are treated to a very clear view of the action taking place on the pitch and the Away Turnstiles (Gate 5) off St. James Road are very quick and easy to reach from St. James Station. A set of white portacabins directly behind the St. James Road Terrace form the stand's outer concourse.
The away section in the IP Office Main Stand additionally has a bay available for disabled away supporters to use.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Bowling Green (29-30 Blackboy Road, EX4 6ST) (Home and Away Supporters) (Located east of St. James Park itself)
-The Duke of York Inn (58 Sidwell Street, EX4 6PH) (Away Supporters Welcome)
-The Hole In The Wall (Little Castle Street, EX4 3PX) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located east of Exeter Central Station)
-The Red Square Area outside the IP Office Main Stand (Typically Home and Non-Rival Away Supporters)
-The St Anne's Well (31 Well Street, EX4 6QL) (Popular with Away Supporters) (Located near to the St. James Road Terrace)
-The Stoke Arms (Prince Charles Road, EX4 7BZ) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Victoria Inn (36 Victoria Street, EX4 6JQ) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located north of St. James Park Station)
There are plenty of unique football grounds in England, and St. James Park is absolutely one of them.
Its location within such close proximity to railway tracks gives the place a distinctive layout, particularly on its western side, whilst its northern side contains a large, terraced stand that can look very impressive when full of Exeter City fans.
With great accessibility for those coming by train and top-quality views from any of its four sides, this is a football ground you absolutely should make the trip to come and check out.