PETER Hartley now knows first-hand how it feels to play in a Devon Derby, and he is relishing the chance of playing once more in what he calls a “phenomenal” atmosphere.
The Greens take on Exeter City in a Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Southern Section second round tie on Tuesday night, and despite the distance between the two sides dwarfing many derbies further up the country, Hartley is fully aware of what is at stake in the 101st meeting of the two sides.
“Obviously up north,” said Peter, “there can be five or ten miles between two big cities, but with it being a big distance here, I think it means more to the fans.
“There’s a lot of people making more of an effort, which is a credit to both sets of supporters. As I noticed the first time last season, the fans were phenomenal at our place, and I know we took a few fans to their place and sent them home happy.”
Whilst the Pilgrims have hit the ground running at the start of this season and sit atop the Sky Bet League 2 table, Exeter themselves have shown positive signs in recent games. Peter is prepared for the challenge the Grecians will bring to Home Park, but has total confidence in himself, the team and the Green Army to lead them to victory in their 5000th ever game.
“We’re expecting a tough game,” said Hartley. “To be fair to Exeter they’re a decent footballing side - they play good football. But we got the bragging rights last season, we won both games, and we want nothing less.
“Even playing at Exeter away was a phenomenal atmosphere, when they came her last season it was great. It just gives you a boost, especially at Home Park when you feel the fans get behind you.
“They’re loud, but it’s that feeling you get as well. It’s like a 12th man – they carry you through at times. So if they turn out, hopefully we will turn up.
“We fully expect to come out victorious.”
Tonight's game against Exeter kicks off at 7.45pm. Tickets are £17 for adults, £12 for concessions, £7 for under-18s. See you there!