Ecstatic Exeter scale the heights
The Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield.
Ever heard of the V10 project? Neither had I until recently.
It might sound like a bit like a plot by a mad scientist to create a rocket of incredibly destructive power but in reality the V10 landed to joyous celebration at The Don Valley Stadium on Saturday as Exeter were promoted to League One.
Launched at the start of 2006, it was a bold plan by the Devon club to reach the third tier of English football by 2010.
Back then Exeter were a non-league club that had only just become solvent after years of hard work by the Supporters' Trust to clear all its debts. League One looked a long, long way away.
Fast forward to 2 May 2009 and 2,454 magnificent Grecians supporters saw the dream become reality as Exeter clinched the second automatic promotion place in League Two with a hard-fought 1-0 win against Rotherham, in the process completing back-to-back promotions.
Substitute Richard Logan scored the decisive goal in the 71st minute with a looping header. It was rich vindication of manager Paul Tisdale's bold substitution minutes earlier in introducing Logan and fellow striker Craig McAllister when the game appeared to be ever so slightly slipping away from his team.
The goal sparked mass celebrations among the away support and, drenched in the late afternoon sunlight, plenty of supporters engaged in an end-of-season pitch invasion shortly after the final whistle.
However, as Rotherham play their home games at an athletics stadium in Sheffield very few supporters made it the substantial distance across the running track and on to the pitch. But history is often written in unusual places and they didn't care a jot that their celebrations took place in one of football's more unlikely venues.
They had travelled almost 250 miles from Devon desperate to see their team clinch promotion and their efforts had been rewarded.
Driving up the M1 from London in the morning I saw plenty of cars decked in red and white, while a good two hours before kick-off hundreds of Exeter fans were in The Cocked Hand and Fara's across the road from the stadium sampling the atmosphere and plenty more besides.
Chatting to a few of them before the game I got the impression that they still could not quite comprehend the speed of their club's ascent.
One of them, Hubert Fernbank, will be 90 in 12 day's time and must have seen it all in his time. He uses a walking stick now and his hearing isn't quite what it used to be. Nonetheless he had made the long journey up on the supporters' coach determined to be there when his club sealed promotion. If I ever reach that mighty age I hope that I still have his enthusiasm for the team that I support.
Exeter's triumph is truly an example of the mouse that roared and should provide hope and encouragement for a whole host of clubs that have experienced a downturn in fortune and the cash problems that have blighted so many.
They have shown what a supporters' trust can achieve when it is properly run with a coherent strategy in place - and furthermore in reaching League One they have proved that you don't need to be cash rich to have ambition and then go out and realise it.
I sat next to an Exeter fan at the game who could not recall the club laying out a transfer fee for any of their players - perhaps £10,000 for Matt Gill - while seven of the players that started against Rotherham were in the team that won last season's Blue Square Premier play-off final against Cambridge United.
Speak to Exeter's supporters and a theme they return to again and again is the attractive, passing football that their team play, with the ball spending most of the game on the ground, and I was impressed by the willingness of their attacking players to take on their opponents, to bring the game to life with a dribble or a piece of skill.
It was never going to be an easy task against Rotherham, who had picked up as many points as the Grecians going into the game and would also have been hoping to win promotion had they not started the season on minus 17. Mark Robins, a former team-mate of Tisdale's at Panionos in Greece, should be applauded for the good job he has done this season.
Exeter had a little more snap, crackle and pop to their tackles although they could easily have been trailing at the break but for the intervention of the crossbar and a goal-line clearance from Troy Archibold-Henville.
The Millers continued to press after the interval before Tisdale's intervention turned the match in his team's favour.
Tisdale is most definitely one to watch and Exeter's director of football Steve Perryman admitted afterwards that securing promotion certainly would not do his club any harm in terms of keeping hold of the manger's services.
The 36-year-old started his coaching career as head coach at Team Bath. In his time there the club won four promotions in seven seasons and reached the first round of the FA Cup. He moved to Exeter in June 2006 and has won two promotions in three seasons after a defeat in the Conference play-off final at the end of his first campaign.
I spoke to him earlier in the week and was impressed by both his level-headed approach and the care with which he selected his words. At first he did not want to say too much in case he said anything that might come back to haunt him. Only when I assured him that I wouldn't be publishing anything until after Saturday's game did he start to open up.
He described this season as a "trip into the unknown" and explained that he had focused a lot of his energy on developing individual players, hoping that by logical extension it would improve the team as a whole.
Before Exeter left their team hotel prior to Saturday's game Tisdale told his players that he could only guarantee two things - a coach journey to the stadium and another one home afterwards. What happened in between was up to them but, with Bury lurking just one place below them in the table, he told them they must go out to win the game.
It is all a far cry from the end of season in 2003, when Exeter were relegated from the Football League on the final day of the season. The club were in dire straits and the Exeter City Supporters' Trust became the majority shareholders shortly afterwards.
One fan told me that hitting rock bottom and starting over again was the best thing that could have happened. You could hear the pride in his voice and there is definitely a real sense of togetherness and community at Exeter City. Local lad Dean Moxey, a regular in the side, was lost for words after the victory.
In achieving promotion to League One a year ahead of schedule the club has now drawn up a revised plan to take the Exeter forward. They are looking for a new chairman and hope to develop the stadium.
Next season clubs such as Charlton, Southampton and possibly Norwich will be visiting St James' Park. The aforementioned are used to heading north when a stadium with that name is mentioned. Not anymore.