Harry Kite explains why he has chosen to leave Exeter City

Exeter City academy graduate Harry Kite has said that it is time for him to fly the nest and move on for the benefit of his career when he leaves St James Park this summer. The 23-year-old will leave the Grecians when his current contract runs out in the summer having turned down offers of a new deal.

The midfielder - who has made 101 appearances for the Grecians, scoring seven goals, joined City at the age of nine. But Saturday’s game at home to Oxford United will be his final appearance in the red and white.

He follows fellow homegrown player Alex Hartridge in departing St James Park after Saturday's final game of the season at home to Oxford United. And Kite said that the move was one that he felt he needed to make for his own playing career to get back to being a first team regular.

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"I got offered a couple of contracts at the end of last season," Kite said. “It was similar to Alex I guess, for my career now, I would benefit from moving on.

"I feel I've contributed to the club to be where we were when I broke into the first team to being a team fighting at the top of League Two, and then to get promotion and be a stable League One team, I think I'm quite happy with how that's progressed. I feel like for me now, looking selfishly towards my career, I feel that a move would benefit me just with new experiences and new challenges."

“There is no club in the pipeline yet. Once the season finishes, teams then start to move to recruitment more, and then know more. I have only ever known Exeter, SJP, and I love the club to bits, I have been here the amount of time I have, but I feel for my career, I need a change.

“It is emotional for me, it has been a really good stint, so I am happy with the contribution I have made throughout the seasons, so it will be emotional the last game of the season and playing for the last time at SJP.”

Kite joined City as a nine-year-old, and made his first team debut as a 17-year-old in the EFL Trophy in 2017. It wasn’t until October 2020 before he made a league appearance, but then established himself in Exeter's midfield in the League Two promotion-winning season of 2021-22.

He played 44 times last season, but has found chances harder to come by this season, having firstly missed the start of the season with a knee injury, and then finding time on the pitch limited by the arrival of several other midfielders, but also manager Gary Caldwell looking towards next season and players who would be at City.

“I never have had a bad word to say about Gary,” Kite said. “He said to me around February when I wasn’t getting many minutes, he would be focusing on the players here next season. I said that’s fine, but he told me I would get to 100 appearances and then some more, so full credit to Gary and I appreciate it.”

When asked for his best memory of his time at the club, he said the promotion was the big one. He said: “We were a team fighting at the top end of League Two but couldn’t get over the line, so that would be the highlight of my time here. Promotion, and now we are a sustainable League One club. To be doing as well as we have the last couple of seasons, a real credit to the players and the manager.

“Me leaving at the end of the season has been a long time in my mind with the contract offers last season, but I feel like it probably won't hit until three o'clock on Saturday.

"It's something I'm going to have to soak up, it might be a bit emotional for me at the time, being at the club so long like I have, but I feel for me it's the right choice in my career, but I'll always thank everyone at the club.

For City, victory on Saturday would guarantee a top half finish, with a top ten spot possible depending on other results. Exeter are unbeaten in nine, and given how strongly the season began, with City top in the early stages, and the form being promotion-chasing in 2024, there is a tinge of regret among the squad over the 100-day, 13-game winless run at the end of 2023 that has meant they aren’t in the position the U’s are and hunting a play-off spot on the last day.

“Any game you don’t win, you think what could have been, it is a bit cliché,” he said. “But throughout the run, there were games we dominated but didn’t have the cutting edge to win the game, and had we been more ruthless we would have picked up the points.

“I want to say a big thank you to the fans – they have stuck with us and been the 12 th man through the good times and the bad times this season. Our form since the New Year has been excellent and we will try and finish with a win. It will be unbelievable to see a full SJP and a sea of red and white.”

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