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  • Writer's pictureAndy Cooper

An Exeter Chiefs visit

I know I am biased, but a trip to the Exeter Chiefs – whether they win, lose or draw – is a grand day out. And I emphasis the “day out” element of my opinion here.

Granted, the gladiatorial sporting action to be witnessed on the field at Sandy Park is a major part of the draw when it comes to the attraction. The skills, commitment, dynamism and bravery on show from the players on both sides is always to be admired. And yes, it does help if the Chiefs win, as they seem to have done a lot in recent times.

But it’s the whole experience of attending a game at Sandy Park which makes it for me. It really is a top social occasion, as well as a sporting one.

Fans are friendly on both sides – with opposing supporters mingling before, during and after the game - and there is no need to be looking over your shoulder and worrying that you are going to upset your rivals with an ill-timed chant or a jump from your seat when your team scores. Football, take note.

I have undertaken visits to Sandy Park both corporately (as a host and a guest) and socially under my own steam and in all honesty, nice though it is to eat fine food and drink wine in the warm and dry, then amble to your designated seat two minutes before kick-off somehow it feels a better experience to go as a fan.

I tend to watch proceedings from the SW Comms Stand at the end of the ground because, despite being at one end and thus proceedings at the far end being a long way from your gaze, as rugby is a crossfield sport much of the time it feels better when viewed from there.

And the other advantage of a seat in the SW Comms Stand is the proximity of the Wigwam Bar and its adjacent pasty store (which also serves a pretty mean curry). It means you can luxuriate in the warm glow of a pasty and pint before kick-off, mingling with your fellow fans and enjoying what the Irish call ‘the craic’. What would the South West version of the craic be, I wonder, maybe ‘crimp’?

Talking of a pint before kick-off, for me it has to be the taste of something from the lovely team at Otter Brewery because not only do they make terrific beer, they also do a mean line in half-time entertainment at the game in the shape of Chase The Otter.

For the uninitiated, this half-time ritual at Chiefs’ home games involves a select band of supporters making it onto the pitch to show off their rugby skills and then one lucky punter getting the chance to chase a man in an otter costume halfway across the pitch before rugby tackling him. Words don’t really do it justice – you have to be there to see just how funny it is.

So there you have it – world class sporting action, great banter, fine provender and a six-food otter named Derek. I told you a day out at the Chiefs was entertaining!


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