Paigntonian Steve Tully relishes derby combat as Exeter City await Torquay United
Steve Tully is no stranger to a Devon derby and, if he lines up for Exeter City against Torquay United on Monday, he will be making his 23rd appearance in such a fixture.
Paignton-born Tully started his footballing career on the English Riviera after coming through Torquay's youth XI before going on to join the Grecians via a two-and-a-half year stint with Weymouth.
His first outing in a derby came in a 1-1 draw for the Gulls against City in December 1997, a game in which he also picked up his first yellow card in professional football. The popular full-back can boast an impressive record of having lost only five of those 22 encounters against City, Torquay or Plymouth Argyle.
"I didn't know I had played in that many, but you said to me after the Plymouth game that I hadn't lost that many, so I would like to keep that record going," Tully said. "When you get to my age, any record you can break or keep going you want to keep going and, as far as I am concerned, the derby one is a good one.
NEW IN : for those cold winter nights highland check dog and cat beds in stock, fleecy and washable ideal for those nights snuggling by the fire...... available in 3 colourways
Contact: 01271 440626
Valid until: Saturday, January 25 2014
"I have always enjoyed playing in derby games. Everyone gets up for it, the fans love it, there is a good atmosphere and it's something I enjoy.
"I am a Devon boy, a local lad, whether it's been against Torquay, Plymouth or Exeter, I have always loved them and even when I was at Weymouth, I used to love it when we played against Dorchester. They are the big games that you want to be involved in."
As a former Gull, who still lives in Torbay but who now represents the Grecians, he always comes in for some stick when he lines up against his former employers, but it is water of a duck's back to the ever-smiling full-back.
"I always do! You wouldn't think I had played for them," said Tully, who made 125 appearances for Torquay. "But, no, it's all good banter, it's all a bit of fun and I enjoy that sort of thing.
"It's always a game I look forward to. It's a big game, there will be a big crowd, it's a derby game and there is all to play for. I can't wait.
"The way it has worked out means it is back-to-back games against them and it is like the good old days when we played them back-to-back in the Conference."
Tully did start the game between the two sides almost two weeks ago – the 1-1 draw with the tenth draw in his Devon derby career – but not in his familiar right-back berth.
Not that it bothered Tully, who did a sterling job in midfield for the team.
"You never know what Tis [manager Paul Tisdale] is thinking and it was a surprise to us as much as it was to them," Tully said. "He had a plan, it sort of worked, but then we had the injury with Flynny [John O'Flynn] going off. That meant we had to change the plan, but bringing Gowser [Alan Gow] on at half-time helped us pass the ball more.
"We didn't do the basics right in the first half, but we did in the second half. I was surprised to be playing right wing after playing so well at right-back on the Saturday, but we had a plan and we just had to go with it. So long as I'm in the starting XI, I don't mind where I play."
The Grecians, who lie fourth in npower League Two ahead of this weekend's fixtures, will start as favourites against a Gulls side who have struggled for form of late and have slipped down to 17th in the table. They have also only won twice away from home all season, while City will perhaps have the psychological edge as well, having come back to draw at Torquay two weeks ago. However, Tully thinks all that is nonsense.
"I don't think you can read anything into the last game," he said. "Every game is different and it will be different to how it was down there, with the pitch and everything. It's a completely different game and I'm looking forward to it.
"The pitch was definitely a leveller down at Torquay, especially down one side where it was plain to see it was a bog.
"Hopefully the pitch up here will be decent and we can put a performance on. We are looking forward to it.
"We have had a good week's training and we are looking forward to get back playing again. It was disappointing to have the Bristol Rovers game called off, but now we are looking forward to games coming thick and fast."