THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Alan Crockford's handy guide to the Exeter chairman

Distinguishing features Grey hair. Awful grey suits. Grey shoes so cheap and nasty looking that he might as well wear flip-flops.

Habitat Mr Doble can often be seen in the window of the office above his jewellery shop. Very occasionally one or two people wander into Ivor’s emporium, following the advice of his latest far-sighted marketing campaign to “Keep your money in Exeter, shop at Ivor Doble”.

What use is he? Ivor’s in his second spell as Exeter chairman, the first having been ended by an FA ban arising from some alleged funny business with a Football Grounds Improvement Trust claim. He regained control on the back of Freddie Starr’s bid for the club; the Hamster Muncher enjoying the whole-hearted support of we City fans, which says much for the degree of lunacy of both the previous board and, of course, of we City fans.

Since his return, ID’s brought us relegation to the Third Division, a costly spell in administration, a series of half-baked property deals which resulted in the give-away sale of our ground, several seasons of staring the Conference full in its spotty face and one bottom-of-the-league finish when only those sensible ground criteria saved us from derbies against Yeovil and Forest Green. (You see, we’ve had to think about this. How many other League sides know off the top of their heads who their Conference local rivals would be?)

Who remembers his birthday? Oddly, many Exeter City fans seem to like Uncle Ivor. If I had a tenner for every time a fellow Grecian has said to me: “If you don’t like what he’s doing put your own bloody money into the club and run it yourself, you wanker,” I would have enough cash to put my own bloody money into the club and run it myself (like a wanker, obviously).

Quote Unquote Doble’s rhetoric is an agonising blend of small minded nonsense (“This will take all the pressure off running the club,” when commenting on a TV windfall) and half-hearted appeals for help, usually far too late in the day (“We need supporters to rally around and hold coffee mornings,” when City were weeks away from going bust).

Other offences to be taken into consideration Ivor set up a separate property company to buy some land and a school next to St James Park, then demolished the two structurally sound sides of our lovely old ground. Brilliantly, this will enable us to move the pitch a few metres, build four new stands with top notch facilities for players and officials and renovate the school to provide a hospitality area linked to the ground via a bridge. Phew!

Less brilliantly, Ivor’s run out of money and the plan has ground to a halt at the new terrace behind the goal and one half-completed stand stage (the Football Trust grant paid for that bit). If a rich and rather vain reader would quite like a stand or two named after them, write c/o WSC. Mark your envelopes “I can help poor old Ivor out of this mess”. A tenner would at least let us put some new bulbs in the floodlights.

From WSC 166 December 2000. What was happening this month

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