THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Plymouth Argyle fan Rob Synnott looks at his clubs fortunes, the current crop and rivalries

What are the main reasons why Argyle have under-achieved over the years ?
Certainly the club has been left behind in terms of infrastructure, especially with the stadium, al­though that would now appear to be a thing of the past. Equally, the geographical position of Ply­mouth has dissuaded many would-be players from joining the club. Stories abound of prospective sign­ings having to be offered sweeteners to even consider travelling this far south-west. The upshot has been that it has proved frustratingly difficult to attract the calibre of player and staff necessary to improve the club.

Where would Argyle fans place the current team in the club’s recent history?
This side differs from that of previous years because we are more tactically astute and seem to be more capable of playing as a unit, which can only be at­tributed to Paul Sturrock, the manager. While Peter Shilton’s side which nar­rowly managed to avoid promotion in 1992-93 had a similar creative edge, it also had a soft core and was certainly not as effective at grinding out results as the present team. The only other comparable side is that which shone brightly but briefly under Dave Smith’s man­age­ment in the mid to late 1980s.

What have been Argyle’s best and worst kits?
In retrospect, Argyle seem to have avoided the worst excesses of kit design over the years but did suc­cumb to the ubiquitous combo of improbably large badge and provocative v-neck in 1973-74. Probably the best and also most sophisticated choice of kit had no white in it at all and was the green-and-black striped promotion kit complete with embroidered “PAFC” which was repeated in the mid-Nineties. Happily we even emerged with our dignity intact from the days when shorts really were short.

Who have Argyle’s rivals been when they’ve played in divisions above the other two Devon clubs?
In recent years I can think no further than Burnley, who not only knocked us out of the 1994 play-offs but then proceeded to relegate us to the Third Division in 1998, complete with a goading pitch invasion at the final whistle. Mention should also be made of the “Battle of Saltergate” in 1997, when Argyle and Chesterfield conspired to get five sent off. It was less malice, more comedy brawl though.

Milestones & Millstones
1920 First game in the Football League
1927 Argyle tease their fans to breaking point by finishing second in the Third Division South for the sixth ­season in succession, at a time when only the champions went up.
1959 Third Division champions, in the first year when two teams are promoted.
1963 The Cold War is at its height but Argyle fight back for capitalism by going on a ground-breaking tour of eastern Europe which includes a 2-1 defeat by Legia Warsaw watched by over 100,000 fans.

1965 Defeat in the League Cup semi-final by Leicester City, 4-2 on aggregate.
1973 Pelé’s Santos lose 3-2 to The Pilgrims in a Home Park friendly amid stories of Santos officials making underhand 11th hour financial demands.
1974 League Cup semi-final exit again, this time to Manchester City.
1975 Not only do the Greens secure promotion from the old Third Division with the help of a young Paul Mariner, they also cut their first ­single, the opaquely named Promotion.
1984 Glorious, mad and crazy journey to the semi-finals of the FA Cup culminates in a 1-0 defeat by John Barnes-inspired Watford and a ­pre-emptive Cup final song.

1995 Relegated to the bottom division of the League for the first time. Management duo of Peter Shilton and John McGovern break up acrimoniously on the back page of the Sun with a little help from the chairman.
1996 Argyle’s first Wembley appearance sees 35,000 travelling fans witness a 1-0 play-off final win over Darlington.

 

Fondly remembered

Tommy Tynan ~ Former No 9 and darling of the Home Park crowd, his three spells as goal-poacher ­extraordinaire at the club in the 1980s (126 league goals) coincided with Argyle’s most successful ­period of recent years. One of the best strikers never to grace top flight football and I’ve never heard a bad word spoken of him.

 

Best forgotten 

Dan McCauley ~ The former chairman may have underwritten debts for a few years but he also presided over the drop from the old Second to the present Third Division, while enjoying a personal fortune allegedly greater than that of the majority of Premiership chairmen, and his own island-plaything in Plymouth Sound. Seldom hear a good word spoken of him.

 

From WSC 183 May 2002. What was happening this month

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