Sunday, 31 December 2006

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to you all.

Rammed

Derby County 1 - 0 Plymouth Argyle

I was going to call this post something along the lines of "Rammed/Out of steam/Are we bovvered?", but it sounded like an episode title from The Love Boat plus I've slept since yesterday and forgotten what I exactly wanted to say.


Yesterday's performance against Derby was from two poor teams, one whose at the top of the table and the other floating around the middle. But unfortunately for Plymouth the result of a small squad, mounting injuries (Ebanks-Blake's very early substitution adding to the list) and the Christmas/New year schedule paid its toll and we've run out of steam. After the exciting Cardiff game in Boxing Day, this match was slow and dull, I lost concentration many times and the time didn't half drag. There was a hint of 'are we bovvered?' from some players - maybe with the January transfer window on their minds, or just fed up with wading through treacle at the moment.

The fixtures list in January permits a two-week break at the end of the month (assuming we don't have a cup run), and hopefully this will allow injuried players time to recover and any new signings to settle in. After the New Year's Day game verses Southampton, the Greens supporters will wait with baited breath.

Wednesday, 27 December 2006

Stadium Review #8 - Ninian Park

Ground Information: Ninian Park (Cardiff City FC) Capacity 20,000

Appearance: An old ground adapted to the new requirements, but looking decidedly shabby; forgivable due to their new stadium plans; consisting of 2 two-tier pitch length stands, single tier ends with open corners. The away end is still terracing with a small seated section, which (unless you stand on the Mayflower) is a novelty. 4/10

View: Who had the worst view? Everyone probably; the large pilars don't help, coupled with the shallow incline of the terrace, meaning a lot of the action is obscured depending on where you stand and with whom. The seating wasn't much better apparently. 3/10

Getting there: The best directions encountered so far. The VMSs on the M4 from Newport which declared "Plymouth Fans use J33" was a welcoming touch (though you do get the feeling they're luring you into an ambush!). From junction 33, follow the A road right to the car parks, cannot have been any easier. Ninian Park is on the opposite side of the railway tracks to the city centre, so should be easy to find from Cardiff Central. 10/10

Facilities (toilets, TVs etc): Third world? Housed in the corner by the turnstiles, the bar was at least covered (but probably only to comply with the 'no drinking in view of the pitch' rule) and there was a burger-bar style outlet. The toilets were antiquated at least - only consisting of urinals for the guys - don't have a curry the night before! Nothing else to do, but the PA announcer gave us a history lesson about PAFC and a couple of quiz questions.
BTW does anyone know which league football club's name in England or Scotland doens't contain any letters from the word "football"? 4/10

Food and Drink: Poor, pie was cold, but so were the drinks (which is good!). In fact all the food was cold - even the hot stuff - maybe part of some plot to give away fans food poisioning. 4/10

Stewarding/Police: Everyone was searched on the way in, but else had no problems. 8/10

Surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Went straight to ground. The reputation Cardiff fans have for themselves make people wary of socialising near the ground, but as the city centre is near by, you probably could have gone to the sales. 5/10

Home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Home crowds are generally low on the decibels, but they are an intimidating looking lot. Don't know who was on the receiving end of the Vicky Pollard chanting but it was excellent and must have taken it in good humour. 4/10

Total score: 42/80

Stadium League Table:
Poltair Park (St Austell): 57 [non league]
Stadium of Light (Sunderland): 55
Ricoh Arena (Coventry):51
Walkers Stadium (Leicester): 50
St Andrews (Birmingham): 48
Deepdale (Preston): 43
Ninian Park (Cardiff): 42
Roots Hall (Southend): 41

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

Needless waste

Cardiff City 2 - 2 Argyle

Yet again another draw, but this time it nearly wasn't.
Argyle went 1-0 up by half time, but as usual conceeded in the second half (2 goals in 4 minutes). This is why, as I mentioned about the WBA game, that I hate when Argyle take the lead, because they nearly always give away sloppy goals.

But inspite of that and the fact that we could have won 3-2 if the goal wasn't disallowed, this was a great performance by the lads and did well to bring about the equaliser. In all, quite an enjoyable day out and as it was an early kick off, I am home in time for Challenge Anneka

Monday, 25 December 2006

Merry Christmas

Wishing you all a Merry Christmas

Saturday, 23 December 2006

No Bore Draw

Argyle 2 - 2 West Bromwich

Inspite of the dire scoreline, because of both WBA goals coming in the first half added time, today's match was one of the most entertaining this season.

Larrieu made a return between the sticks and made of great saves in the second half but had to do a lot of back tracking due to commiting too early and missing, and of course they're goals; and Djordjic had "Hasney's Curse" upon him today and was (unneccesarily?) subbed early on due to a bleeding nose.

But a much better performance all round once we settled down, though again but for our poor finishing, hoofball and the keepers' performances, the scoreline should have been much higher.
And this is why I am extremely wary of Argyle leading in the first half.

Friday, 22 December 2006

Pie of the Year league

For those of you who are interested here is the league table of this season's pies:

1. Colchester 7.96
2. Crystal Palace 7.56
3. Birmingham 7.46
=4. Southampton 7.36
=4. Barnsley 7.36
6. Sunderland 6.8
7. Coventry 6.69
8. Southend 5.06
9. Leicester 5.03
10. Preston 4.93
11. Stoke 4.29

Pies are normally reviewed by Ruddlemoor Green and are given scores for pastry, filling, and health and safety, and are normally steak/steak and kidney flavour unless availability dictates otherwise.

Stadium Review #7 - Deepdale

Ground Information: Deepdale (Preston North End FC) Capacity 22,225

Appearance: Three redeveloped sides with the old terracing is still in limbo - not in use by the public but it houses the players' facilities and is therefore slowly decaying away until such times as a new stand is built. This could be a future echo of Home Park if nothing is decided about the grandstand and should be a warning to Argyle directors about not delaying. Elsewhere the ground is looking shabby, especially the away end concourse - walking into the toilet I thought I was in a caretaker's store. 4/10

View: The corners of the stands have been filled in using transparent walls, this allows the sun to come through at an awkward angle - just right to blind anyone in the away end. However the steepness of the seating permits a good view of the action. 6/10

Getting there: Easy - turn off the M6 ar junction 31 and apart from bearing left at the small roundabout, head straight ahead. If you do get lost, the gorund is signed from the motorway. Apparently parking is a nightmare and the train station is a 30 minute walk away though. 7/10

Facilities (toilets, TVs etc): As I said above the toilets looked very run down, with caretaker's equipment on view. However they were reasonably large and coped with the amount of fans we had, but would have been inadequate if we had more. There was 1 TV working (out of 2), showing the racing before the game and SSN at HT. 5/10

Food and Drink: Very poor pie - comes second to last on the PASOTI Pie of the Year league table so far, but the beer was on tap. 4/10

Stewarding/Police: Got frisked again on the way in - must be getting a reputation for hanging round with certain Bananabus people. A group stood all game and had the attention of a supervisor, a steward and a safety officer but they didn't succeed in getting them to sit down. One supporter was escorted out by police, but unsure what for. 6/10

Surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Deepdale has the benefit of the National Football Museum built under its stands (and a gym and learning centre too), and what's best is that entrance is free. It is easy to spend a lot of time there. Else if your more alcoholic-minded, two recommended pubs are about 5 minutes' walk away, or if you want to do some shopping, the Deepdale retail park is 10-15 minutes' away and a supermarket over the road. 7/10

Home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Poor, 3-0 and they still didn't sing (much) at least they didn't have those stupid blow up clappers like last season. 4/10

Total score: 43/80

Stadium League Table:
Poltair Park (St Austell): 57 [non league]
Stadium of Light (Sunderland): 55
Ricoh Arena (Coventry):51
Walkers Stadium (Leicester): 50
St Andrews (Birmingham): 48
Deepdale (Preston): 43
Roots Hall (Southend): 41

Jingle Balls - Have a Ball with Sparksy

"Following his enormous sucess with his balls, Plymouth Argyle BBC Radio Devon commentator, Gordon Sparks, has branched out into the music world with "Sparksy's Balls", a revised version of Bobby Vee's "Rubber Ball" with a 'B' side "Nice one Sparksy". 500 CDs have been manufactured and are available for £3 from Home Park Superstore, Argyle Store Drake Circus and Ivor Dewdney on Cornwall Street.

After his cancer scare earlier this season, Gordon launched "Have a Ball with Sparksy" to raise funds for Mustard Tree Macmillan Cancer relief and a few weeks afterwards, Romain Larrieu was also involved in his own scare.

His keyring balls are still on sale for £1 from numerous outlets over Plymouth, as well as tonight's "Have a gig with Sparksy" and a forthcoming "Have a Ball with Sparksy - the Match".

So remember guys and galls not to ignore things - the earlier you discover a problem and seek help, the better the chance of sorting it.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Sold!

After months of wrangling it was confirmed today that Plymouth Argyle finally own the freehold of Home Park. This has been stalling for too long, and will now free up the board's attention to concentrate on such things as the January transfer window and getting phase II started.
Along with that some 'mystery' investors have approached the board with an offer of money; so hopefully things will start happening at Home Park on and off the pitch.

The Hearld article (Freehold)
Western Morning News article (Investment)

Monday, 18 December 2006

O Come All You Faithful

This evening saw the annual Argyle Carol Concert hosted by club chaplain Jeff Howden with guest readers Hasney Aljofree and David Norris.

Now in its 5th year, the Devonport end hosted a large crowd for traditional biblical readings and songs. In a world where Christianity is increasingly being pushed out of Christ-mas, it is a surprising change that a secular business that is Argyle is embrassing such an event, and more to their merit. And for the way that it is supported there seems to be a demand and a warm welcome for such initiatives.


And as it is that season, a recent suggestion on PASOTI for new Argyle related carols yielded the following:

Oh come all ye faithful, joyful and triumphant,
Welcome to Home Park where the Green Army sing.
Skillful, determined, ne'er to be defeated.
Oh we are Plymouth Argyle
Oh we are Plymouth Argyle
Oh we are Plymouth Argyle
Sing for the Greens.

(Oh come all ye faithful by Tim_OHare)

The Ollie and the Army,
When they are both full grown
Of all the teams that are in the league
I just wish we’d win at home.
O the rising of the sun
And the running of the deer
The playing of the merry organ
Who said Elton John was queer?
(The Holly and the Ivy by McLondonG - this has 5 more verses!)

So I thought I'd have a go and came up with:

We, the greens of Plymouth Argyle
Cherno up front, McCormick in goal
Goals, we're scoring, glory glory
Forever to Argyle

Oh, Norris, Akos, Ollie's might
Djordjic, Chadwick, Connolly, Seip
Hayles, Capaldi, Wotton, Nalis
Greens go marching through the night
(We Three Kings)

Once in South West's premier city
Stood the might theatre of greens
Holloway, the barmy leader
Demport, Lyndhurst, Mayflower sings:

"Joyful to the boys in green
Pilgrims we shall always be!"
(Once in Royal David's City)


O Championship club, Argyle
How great to see thee play.
On Tuesday nights and Saturdays
Whether we're at home or away.
We're the green and white barmy army
We cheer along our lads.
Through thick or thin, come sun or rain
We're Argyle all the way.
(O Little Town of Bethlehem)

Trouble is I cannot sing the proper lyrics without smirking.

Sunday, 17 December 2006

Depressed-ton

Have the wheels fallen off Argyle’s happy bandwagon?

Well at the moment, yes. Another 3-0 drubbing, this time at Preston, has shown our squad up for the paper that-you-can-spit-through thinness that it is.

Today’s woeful performance was a Birmingham mark II, and once again you were left wondering after 2-0 down why the heck you’ve just spent £50+ and 17 hours on a coach. It was evident again that Holloway’s tinkering with positions due to injuries (and some players he just doesn’t like) is doing nothing to allow the lads to settle down, especially as players are having to fill in out of position, and the captain’s out for the season (at least). It seems that the spark that was evident in the early games has been extinguished for good, and with 3 games before January, when there is the possibility of fresh blood (some cynics may say, judging by the last 2 transfer and loan windows, don’t hold your breath), this festive season is going to be a big struggle for the greens.

Thursday, 14 December 2006

Captainless

All though the extent of his injury is not yet fully known, it looks like Paul Wotton's knee will keep him out of the team till the end of this season at least, and this leaves us without a Captain.

Holloway has not yet decided who should take over the armband, although [Barry] Hayles has filled in 3 times this season (Cardiff, Southampton & Luton) but Hayles may not have the right temperament to take on the role permanently - he is too argumentative with the referee. Supporters have debated the problem but cannot decide on a definitive answer with suggestions ranging from Norris, Aljofree, Nalis and Doumbe. The trouble is that Wotton has always been captain, and except for a few sub-ings etc, it's hard to see just who could take over.

But no doubt, this is going to knock the stuffing out of the squad - there have already been reported [by Holloway himself] incidence in training because of the lack of a captain - and it doesn't bode too well for Saturday's match at PNE, especially with the other injuries.

Everyone hopes that Paul gets well soon and we hope too that the lads will pull together and play this and subsequent matches to their best

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Toothless Tigers and Powerless Pilgrims

Plymouth 1 - 0 Hull; but the score line hides a lot.

With a severely depleted squad due to injuries and suspensions, Holloway fielded a decidedly young team to normal, but even with the new blood, the old problems were still apparent and if only either side could finish, there would have been far more goals.

It seems obvious to all that playing the high-long ball is not workable, they just get headed back and forth, so why are we still playing that way? Get it on the deck and pass!

To add salt to the wound, our paper-thin squad is even thinner after Wotton sustained a very bad injury which will see him out for a long time (this season at least) and is a loss of a long standing, experienced member, and skipper. However he has been subbed and dropped from the team before; we coped then, can we cope again? Though it did give the chance for our newest member, Gosling, to come on and by all accounts fielded a very good impression.

And if Hayles is to take over as skipper, he is definitely got to learn some self restraint, there have been too many bookings for dissent by him this season and was riding by the seat of his pants 2nd half when he sarcastically called the referee’s judgment into question over a foul. Luckily the referee laughed back at him as a booking should have been forthcoming.

As some would say "a win is a win is a win", does it matter how we get there?

Friday, 8 December 2006

Saturday Night's Alright...for Elton

In one of the most inspired and forward thinking acts to come out of Home Park for a long time, it was announced today that in May next year, Sir Elton John will be in concert at Home Park!

On the 26th May 2007, Home Park will be transformed, with a stage (most likely on the Mayflower as phase 1 seating is on sale) and additional seating constructed on the pitch. Tickets for the cheapest blocks have sold out already.

This is indeed great news that the clubs is moving forward, and no doubt the freehold purchase has facilitated this; for once Argyle deserve a huge pat on the back.

Argyle supporters can purchase tickets here

Wednesday, 6 December 2006

Stadium Review #6 - St Andrews

Ground Information: St Andrews (Birmingham City FC) Capacity 30,016

Appearance: Like Home Park, St Andrews has a touch of the traditional, with its old stand down one side of the ground, which contrasts starkly against the two tiers next to it. The three different stand designs made for a lot for the eye to take in and the flaired sides were rather odd. Where I was sat (far top left of the Railway end), you're barely in the stadium and quite remote from the action. 7/10

View: Apart from beeing miles away and having direct line of sight over the back of the lower tier of the Kop, there were no restrictions at all, meaning you got a very good view of our poor performance. 6/10

Getting there: People have commented that this is a very well signed stadium, and as you would expect from such a large city, there are many ways to reach it from the surrounding motorways. A 20 minute walk from New Streets station wouldn't be too taxing by anyone's standards. 6/10

Facilities (toilets, TVs etc): BCFC must have seriously understimated our away support, and as we had sold out all 2,500 tickets before the day, it's not like they hadn't had any warning. The concourse was very cramped and the toilets inadequate for the 2,700 that turned up. Maybe it's because I spotted this sign posted high up on a pillar, stating that the concourse was only licenced to hold 1,260 people - oops. There were no TVs. 5/10

Food and Drink: Reasonable priced, but wofully unprepared. The usual pies were available plus some oddities like a 'pizza pasty'. The Chicken Balti pie is highly recommended, plus the bitter/lager was on tap. 6/10

Stewarding/Police: The second time I stood all match. The stewards succeeded in getting people to sit down up to three rows in front of me but then gave up. 8/10

Surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Some people say the area's too rough for away supporters and it's best to drink in the city, however I ended up in the Cricketer's Arms round the back of Morrisons - very very small, watered down lager but friendly locals. Alternatively you can go to the Woolworth superstore or Morissons caf├ęs if that's what appeals to you - and judging by some matchday photos I've seen, they were popular. 5/10

Home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Were good when 2-0 and 3-0 up singing "Keep right on to the end...", something which is seriously lacking at Home Park. 5/10

Total score: 48/80

Stadium League Table:
[Poltair Park (St Austell): 57]
Stadium of Light (Sunderland): 55
Ricoh Arena (Coventry):51
Walkers Stadium (Leicester): 50
St Andrews (Birmingham): 48

Roots Hall (Southend): 41

Monday, 4 December 2006

No smoke without fire


The debate over the smoking ban has come to Home Park. With public areas due to go 'smokeless' from 1st July 2007, speculation over whether Argyle will ban smoking within its stadium is rife (at least on PASOTI it is).

Under the ruling Sports Stadia are included in the criteria for 'public place':
"Does this legislation cover sports stadiums?
Many sports stadiums are already smokefree. When smokefree legislation comes into force, only those stadiums that are enclosed or substantially enclosed will need to be smokefree."

(Smokefree England)

Argyle currently ban smoking within the seating areas, leaving the Mayflower terrace, the lane behind the Grandstand and concourse areas smoking areas. This causes is a juxtaposition whereby anyone in the Devonport, Lyndhurst or Barn Park has to go into an enclosed area, instead of remaining in the open air. The result is a build up of fumes at half time causing an unpleasent atmosphere for the non smokers.

Micheal Dunford has already banned smoking by staff on Home Park property at the beginning of this season, and this would suggest that come July (or even early), Argyle will be a completely smoke free environment. However is Home Park "enclosed or substantially enclosed"? The wording suggests that as we only have 3 completed sides and a terracing area, that Home Park is neither enclosed or substantially enclosed. This could mean that smoking could legally return to the seating areas (except the grandstand, due to its age).

But it would seem that, and would indeed in the long term be easier for, Argyle to go completely smoke-free next year. Unfortunately the way that Argyle play sometimes, it will be extremely hard for some to go 2+ hours without a drag. I suggest that the superstore should start stocking Argyle branded nicitine patched and Polo mints.

Sunday, 3 December 2006

FA Cup 3rd Round

Away to Peterborough (league 2), 6th January.

There go the dreams of Manchester United or Liverpool
.

I guess that's why they call them the Blues

Birmingham City managed to show Plymouth to be the small club that everyone thinks we are; outclassed in style, power, threat, perseverance and everything else; from their second goal I knew that the game was lost and that the next 1 1/2 hours of my life were going to be wasted, 3-0 and the game was dead and buried.

Yesterday, Ollie got it wrong, the change in squad that shook up the Luton game to success was too much, and unlike when Birmingham won 0-1 earlier in the season inspite of Argyle being the better team, yesterday they never really got started. The flaws that were always there were shown up to be the cracks they've developed into: lack of height, the awful corners - why do people get excited about corners, when they're always the same? - and just the general nature of a small squad with no money. This season for some reason we are racking up the cards and the injuries so much more so than last, and though the squad is versatile enough, the players are no longer coping.

A lot of people expected a massive loss today (4+-0) and we were good enough to hold it at 3-0, thanks to Luke's saves in the second half. But again, in front of the largest away attendance (2,700), the fans were let down like they were in front of the largest home attendance (17,088 Leeds). Will Argyle do the treble this season and fail in front of the cameras against Coventry?

Today sees the draw for the FA cup 3rd round, and many supporters would have liked a cup run this season, and a few weeks back it seemed possible, but now with the squad not coping in the league, the excess of a cup run will make it unlikely that we'll make any progress.

Friday, 1 December 2006

Trip down Memory Lane

I have just spent 3 hours looking for a website that was under my nose all the time, grrr!

I came across the following site
(Plymouth Argyle FC Flickr photoset) about a month ago, which primarily documents Home Park before, during and after redevelopment of phase 1 (amongst the antics of a naked PAFC supporter at the World Cup) and is a fabulous trip down memory lane.

I particularly remember when young having an irrational fear of the Lyndhurst turnstiles (pictured), and looking at that picture it still gives me the shivers.


And I also discovered my first 'official link' to this blog thanks to Semper Viridis! Cheers mate.