Liam Sercombe will return to St James Park for just the second time as the opposition as table toppers Cheltenham Town face Exeter City in League Two.
A boyhood fan of the Grecians, Sercombe reflects fondly on his time at the club – starting as a 12-year-old in Exeter’s academy and going on to make 252 appearances for the side.
The 30-year-old midfielder made the move to Cheltenham in the summer from Bristol Rovers and has been a crucial part of the Robins promotion push.
“When you’re a young boy and you’re watching a team that you support, you dream of playing for them.” said Sercombe. “I probably started watching them when I was eight.”
“Watching them all the way through, supporting them and going to every game I could. I was there from 12 till 25, that’s 13 years and I was lucky enough to have eight professional years with them.”
Achieving successive promotions, Sercombe’s time at Exeter was a resounding success, helping the Grecians to their fourth League One campaign in a storied 105-year history.
“We had a couple of promotions there and it’s where all my family and friends are. For them to come just up the road, 10 minutes away to watch me, it was a dream for me. It’s a dream for anyone to play for their hometown club.
“I had a good amount of time there but it came to a stage where you only have one career. I got to 25 and I wanted to challenge myself a little bit. Ever since I left, I check their results every week.
“I see how my mates there are doing and a lot of them are still there. I had a great time there and I’ll always look out for their results!”
Saturday spells the perfect time for the midfielder to reunite with some of his old teammates, including Exeter manager Matt Taylor who played alongside Sercombe for four years.
“The assistant manager there Wayne Carlisle, I played with him for two years. There are players there now I chat to, there were a few at my wedding. I’m close to a lot of them; Matty Jay, Jake Taylor and Pierce Sweeney. I chat to them quite often so it will be good to see them and play against a few of them.”
Jay has been in superb form as of late, scoring a hat-trick against Leyton Orient last weekend and dispatching another goal in a midweek win over Scunthorpe United.
Sercombe sung his praises and knew what kind of threat the 25-year-old could pose against Cheltenham.
“It’s kind of his first season where he’s playing week in week out. I always knew what he could do. He was a late developer and he’s a very good player.
“It’s showing now, he’s scored 17 now and he’s one of their main threats. He’s a proper nice lad as well so he deserves everything it’s good to see.”
Looking back at this campaign’s early meeting between the two sides, it was one to remember with Sercombe scoring a brace in front of the Cheltenham fans at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium in December.
For Sercombe, despite it being against his old club, the game was one of the highlights of the season.
“Especially with the fans there!” recalled Sercombe, “I try to perform every game. I love scoring goals but I felt out of respect I didn’t really feel comfortable celebrating after all they had done for me.
“It was nice to perform well in front of my mates and the manager there, obviously the fans too. It was an entertaining game. Not sure Saturday will be another 5-3! I think everyone is looking forward to it.”
Cheltenham will contest another important three points in their pursuit of League Two promotion at 3pm against Exeter.