Sunday, 25 February 2007


Not me, in spite of 7 bottles of ale and several pints in the pub yesterday, but Argyle.

After the elation of the previous two wins verses Derby and Colchester, Argyle came to QPR with sore heads. In a less-than-enthusiastic performance Argyle had to settle for a draw after going 1-0 up in the first half; whether their goal should have been allowed is conjecture in itself, but even so the equaliser stood and Argyle didn't rise to the challenge. It got a bit boring though the referee should take some of the blame for the lack of flowing play. And Lillian had picked up Barry Hayles's 'skipper temperament' yesterday and was yellow carded twice for dissent.

Why is it that Argyle have such a mental block about turning over teams lower down the table. It's as if we are too respectful of their relegation-battling play and give them too much freedom on the field.

Friday, 23 February 2007


Today Plymouth's The Herald, announced that Gordon Sparks has so far raised £7,000 with his 'Have a Ball with Sparksy' campaign, in aid of The Mustard Tree. By selling his ball-shaped key-rings, CD and hosting "The Gig", Gordon is over three quarters of the way to his target.

Last year Gordon and Romain Larrieu had battles with cancer last year and it is a subject that no one should ignore.

Up for the Cup

Download Gordon Sparks's new FA CUp Quarter Final poster from the BBC Website HERE and show people that Plymouth (and beyond) is really Up for The Cup.

Thursday, 22 February 2007

Fixture Changes

The scheduled game verses Burnley on Saturday 10 March will now take place on:

Tuesday 3 April, 19.45, Turf Moor

This is due to the FA Cup 6th round.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Fixture Changes

Due to the FA Cup 6th round the follow fixture changes have occured:

Watford (H) FAC 6 - Sunday 11 March, 18.00 KO [was Saturday 10 March]
Barnsley (H) CCC - Wednesday 14 March, 1945 KO [was Tuesday 13 March]
Burnley (A) CCC - TBC

How far we've come

The scenes from Len's Stade Felix-Bollaert were starting to look very familiar to many a British football fan. It has nearly been 20 years since the shocking scenes at Hillsborough in 1989 when 96 people died due to overcrowding. In an almost exact carbon copy, too many people were admitted to a section of the stadium surrounded by fencing, and when fans tried to escape the police set upon them. Luckily this time there have been no fatalities.

Since 1989 the authorities have sought that Hillsborough should never happen again on UK soil and resulting in the introduction of new safety features such as turnstyle counting, no standing areas, better CCTV and tighter stewarding control. However one change has caused most controversy - the removal of terracing. Hillsborough happened upon a terrace sub-divided into 'pens' to prevent rioting, a lack of control over access to these pens caused the two middle ones to become severely overcrowded as no one knew how many people were already accommodated. Despite Lord Justice Taylor concluding that "terracing in itself is not intrinsically unsafe", the easiest way of ensuring that a 'safe' number of fans were in the stadium was to make them all seater. One seat = One fan. Or does it?

Stade Felix-Bollaert is an all seater stadium. And yet too many people were allowed into the tier. This boils back down to a simple lack of control over supporters numbers within the stadium. So whether a stadium consists of terracing, seats or a mixture of both, if no one controls who goes in, they can both become unsafe - exactly what Taylor concluded.

Many are supporting the idea of "safe standing", that a section of supporters should be allowed to stand in front of their allocated seat. On the one hand this seems simple enough. But with the new design of all seater stadia, the stands are now significantly steeper than the terracing. This is potentially dangerous too, and so any action, if it were to come, would have to be decided on a stadium-by-stadium basis. But people must get used to the fact that all seater stadia in the top two tiers of British football are here to stay. For although they have "killed the atmosphere" according to many, they have brought a much easier life for the football fan by virtually eliminating in-stadia fights and rioting and made the football experience more pleasant. Football supporters enjoy a freer life than they did 20 years ago. Look how far we have come.

Tuesday, 20 February 2007


Plymouth Argyle 3 - 0 Colchester United

As at our hard-fought FA Cup battle on Saturday, Argyle played tonight's game with all guns blazing with Norris, Ebanks-Blake and Gosling getting on the scoresheet. For a full 90 minutes Argyle owned tha game, with Colchester rarely getting a shot on goal, and when they did, Luke's keeping was excellent. Norris put Argyle 1-0 up, followed by SEB's penalty resulting from a foul on himself and Gosling buring the game in the second half.

Hopefully the new-found 'flighting spirit' will continue in both the league and the cup. But it seems we running to stay still.

Monday, 19 February 2007

FA Cup Quarter Final update

Plymouth Argyle - Watford.
Saturday 10 March.

Certainly winnable, but will history repeat itself?

BBC's review of the Derby match:

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Bojan Back

In the midst of yesterday's celebrations, I probably went unnoticed that Bojan Djordjic is back. Though he was a non playing substitution, it's good to see he is now fit enough to be picked.

Saturday, 17 February 2007

Cup Fever

Que sera, sera. What ever'll be, will be. We're going to Wembley...
Argyle at Wembley!

Cup Fever has finally hit Plymouth. If the 5th rounds were bad enough, Argyle pounded Derby to get through to the Quarter Finals. In an amazing game where Argyle, who had 11 first team members out for various reasons, out played top of the league Derby for most of the match. Gallen took over suspended Aljofree's penalty take when Argyle were awarded for taking Gallen down after 14 minutes. Bywater [Derby keeper] got to the shot, but not forceful enough to keep it out of the net. It could have been 2-0 after another foul led to another penalty. But this time Bywater outpsyched him. A real head on battle from Argyle ensued for the remainder of the game that has not been seen in a long time. And though Derby had their chances, McCormick's saves and good defending denied them the goals, but they went down to 10 men for a second time at Home Park after Moore was sent off for a second yellow. Sinclair once again showed off his class, and why he is so highly thought of, by making many a fast run down the wing and once again finding the back of the net with a header and sending thereby the Greens through.

One of the best football played in a long while at Home Park had an intense 'stomach-in-mouth' feel from start to finish and kept people on the edge of their seat. Today's result was nothing but inspiring and brings a lump to the throat. All of the Green Army's eyes will be eagerly waiting the draw on Monday when ball 4 will see who and where we are to play on the 10th March.

(Due to the quarter finals, the scheduled match verses Burnley away will be rescheduled)

Thursday, 15 February 2007

No Phase 2?

It has been stated that Paul Stapleton was interviewed on Sparksy's Breakfast show on
BBC Radio Devon. During this interview he alluded to the fact that phase 2 of Home Park will NOT start this, or next season.

If this is true, the current board will have lost a lot of credibility amongst many Argyle supporters; and will cement the feeling that Argyle is a third-rate ambitionless club punching above its weight.

State of Play

The state of play for the first squad for this Saturday doesn't make happy reading:

1Romain Larrieu (gk)on loan to Gillingham
4Lilian Nallis (m)
6 Hasney Aljofree (d)suspended
7David Norris (m)
8Akos Buszaky (m)injured
9Sylvan Ebanks Blake (s)
10Barry Hayles (s)suspended / injured
11Nick Chadwick (s)long term injured
13Mathias Doumbe (d)injured
14Tony Capaldi (m)
15Paul Wotton (m)long term injured
18Gary Sawyer (d)
19Marcel Seip (d)
20Lee Hodges (m)
21Cherno Samba (s)on loan to Wrexham
22Paul Connolly (d)
23Luke McCormick (gk)
24Josh Clapham (gk)
25Ryan Dickson (m)on loan to Torquay
26Scott Sinclair (s)
27Reuban Reid (m)on loan to Rochdale
28Scott Laird (d)
29Luke Summerfield (m)
30Dan Gosling (m)
31Anthony Mason (s)
32Bojan Djordjic (m)long term injured
33Rory Fallon (s)cup tied

As it seems that Argyle's play-off hopes sank with the Sunderland defeat, so the FA Cup could be a bitter battle. With a whole team out due to injuries, loans and suspensions, once again there will be a different starting line up on Saturday. This will put a heavy reliance on our new and younger members, who get tired quickly and another non-regular line up will take time to settle down, and Argyle must watch against early attacks and silly mistakes.
If Saturday ends in defeat, will it mark the end of Argyle's season? Without the play offs and the cup to play for, the last games of the season will once again become 'consolodation' games, which are never inspiring. There is a possibility that Argyle's season will limp out with a wimper in front of a shrinking attendance.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

Finishing, Determination and Suspension

Plymouth Argyle 0 - 2 Sunderland

Saturday's match verses Sunderland, was a game of finishing and determination. Two things that seemed lacking from Argyle's performance. The first half was end to end football, we Argyle unable to break through the Sunderland wall, and when they did, were unable to finish off any chances that came their way.

The team played was a result of the numerous bookings and suspensions that Argyle have picked up this season - with Hayles and Aljofree serving match bans for 10 yellows, Seip out for 5 yellows and now Doumbe out for the same reason. And not to forget those still out due to injuries.

But never the less the players looked rusty and worn out, and once Sunderland big money subs started coming off the bench and their goal came, the drive had been knocked out of Argyle. A second Sunderland goal came just 2 minutes later and that was the game dead and buried.

A very poor day at PAFC.

Friday, 9 February 2007

The Beast

It looks like Ollie's 'beast' has finally arrived at Home Park!

The Beast

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

Stadium Review #14 - Molineux

Ground Information: Molineux (Wolverhampton wanderers FC) Capacity 29,400

Appearance: A club that's resisted the urge to go 'bowl' with four distinct separate stands. The space frame looks more 'Mechano' than others using the technology. 3 stands looked highly polished off, but the away entrance had the Norwich 'car park' feel to it. The use of the club crest everywhere is imaginative in some cases. Inside, the high backed stands look intimidating as the away section is very low and shallow. The decision not to fill in the corners works to some supporters' disadvantage (see view section) and they've decided to remove the funny seats next to the South Bank that extend beyond the touch line. 6/10

View: The away stand must be unique among the clubs, as you are on the touch line and not behind the goal, this means you can position yourself right by the halfway line. But the shallowness and length means that the support is spread over a long distance, this has a negative affect on singing and chanting; the Green Army were at a distinct loss. Now those corners. I think anyone who attended should have a refund for being unable to watch the first 20 minutes of the match due to the sun. 5/10

Getting there: Random. Turn left at just before West Bromwich, and battle the ring road. Though as the ground is next to (and below the level of) the ring road - meaning you can see the distinct orange space frame - if you miss it first time, go round again! 6/10

Facilities (toilets, TVs etc): Cavenous. As the away end is a side stand, the whole of the lower concourse is given to supporters, it goes on and on with several bars and numerous toilets (which are large as well with strange looking urinals). But no TVs. 7/10

Food and Drink: A Black Country club selling another great Balti pie, but unlike Birmingham, this one did not stand up to the pastry test - the bottom fell off. Outside there were numerous chick wagons selling lots of food from burgers to hot pork rolls. 8/10

Stewarding/Police: Didn't see any West Mildlands police (except for the ASDA shop lifters!). The stewards little dance of leaping up from their stand-side seats when anything controversial happened was very funny. People stood on the back row had a hard time, being constantly told to sit down. 6/10

Surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Shop at ASDA. There's a good pub across its car park with a beer garden, and the city centre is through the underpass under the ring road (note that many pubs in the city centre don't allow in away fans). 5/10

Home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): They did a lot better than we could in raising an atmosphere, and the Wolves we met at the pub were friendly. But they are let down by the 'fans' that try to attack the away support - one of the official coaches was stoned and several Argyle supporters were threatened. 5/10

Total score: 48/80

Stadium League Table:
Pride Park (Derby): 65
Poltair Park (St Austell): 57 [non league]
Stadium of Light (Sunderland): 55
Ricoh Arena (Coventry):51
= Carrow Road (Norwich): 50
= Walkers Stadium (Leicester): 50

Underhill (Barnet): 49
= St Andrews (Birmingham): 48
= Molineux (Wolves): 48
The Hawthorns (WBA): 46
Deepdale (Preston): 43
Ninian Park (Cardiff): 42
Roots Hall (Southend): 41
London Road (Peterbrough): 36

Sunday, 4 February 2007

The Laws Association Football

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2 - 2 Plymouth Argyle

In 1863 the FA adopted 14 rules in order to regulate the game of football. These 14 basic rules became the Laws of soccer and were*:

1. The maximum pitch length is 200yds, maximum breadth 100yds, marked with corner posts and a goal defined by posts 8 yds apart
2. The game shall commence with a placed kick from the centre at which opposing players shall not be within 10 yds. After a goal the losing side shall kick off
3. The two sides change ends after each goal
4. A goal is scored when the ball passes between the posts (without being thrown, knocked or carried over)
5. When the ball is in touch the first player to touch the ball shall throw it at right angles back onto the pitch from the point at which the ball left the field.
6. A player is out of play is he is in front of the ball
7. If the ball passes the goal line, if the first player to touch the ball is of the defending team he shall restart with a kick 10 yds from the goal line; if he is of the attacking team, 15 yds from the goal line, opposite where the ball left play
8. If a player makes a fair catch (when the ball is caught after it was last touched by an opponant), he can claim a free kick provided he makes a mark with his heel immediately.
9. A player can run toward his opponant's goal if he makes a fair catch or catches the ball after the first bounce
10. Players may defend their goal from the attacking player controlling the ball by charging, hacking, holding, tripping or wrestling but hold holding and hacking at the same time
11. Tripping or hacking are not permitted, neither is using his hands, elbows to push or hold (except for circumstances in Law 10)
12. Any player shall be allowed to charge if they are both active
13. A player can throw the ball if he makes a fair catch or catches the ball after the first bounce
14. No player shall wear protecting nails, iron plates, or latex in his boots

Today some of those rules seem bizarre. Obviously all handling of the ball has now been outlawed, changing ends now only occurs at the beginning of each half and what happens when the ball is in touch, but the foundations of today's Laws are visable.

Today's Laws, on the face of it, have only increased by 4 to 18. And I would think that most people agree with them (such as a more definitive way of who takes the throw in, and the more recent blooded players leaving and changing kits) But each Law is no longer a single small paragraph, all of them incurring several paragraphs of explaination and running to several pages. So have the FA et al gone too far?

Take the recent offside changes. The offside rule was introduced to stop 'goal mouth sitting' - as seen in schools where players wait by the keeper waiting for a pass - and most people would agree that this is good. The rule was changed recently to allow more goals, as it was felt the Offside was too strict. The trouble is that now many supporters (and some assistant referees) are no longer able to follow the players' movements on the pitch close enough to decide whether they are active or passive.

But then again, should the Laws be changed again. Would introducing things such as video replays and mic'ed referees assist the game? Certainly having referees being more accountable for their actions would help, for example the awarding of a free kick that led to the Wolves' equaliser and Sinclair's yellow for diving when he tripped. Likewise at times when both the referee and assistants are uncertain, the use of video replay would be advantageous. After all they both work in rugby and there is only a short break of play.

Never the less, the main root of these troubles is the supporters inability to conenct with what they are seeing on the pitch. With falling attendances, people need to feel more connected with what is happening - whether it be a change in Laws to make them more simple, or a change to add more communication.

*these have been précised

Friday, 2 February 2007

Stadium Review #13 - The Hawthorns

Ground Information: The Hawthorns (West Bromwich Albion FC) Capacity 28.,003

Appearance: From the exterior, some sides looked much like a new block of flats, but the blank blue corner aspects were very boring and jarring - just a huge blue wall. Was very surprised at how open the Birmingham Road end was, the exit gates being just normal bared gates straight onto the road; several people were watching the Arsenal match through them. From the inside, the smaller Halford Lane stand provided the 'novelty factor' What also surprised me was the seating on the Birmingham Road stand that was around the corner! 6/10

View: Sat near the back of the Smethwick End stand near the segregation, a bit far away but a good view unless people in the two rows in front stand, then you have no chance unless you stand too. 6/10

Getting there: One of the easiest grounds ever - turn right at M5 junction 1!. The Hawthorns metro station is nearby, but miles away from a mainline station. Car parking is available in any of the dodgy looking empty warehouses next to the ground. Ironically this is 'secured parking'. The coach drops you off a 5 minute walk from the ground, which seems bizarre to start with but makes sense at the end of the game (see stewarding/police section) 9/10

Facilities (toilets, TVs etc): Another stadium with excellent toilet facilities, though the concourse was a little cramped. Only one bar/food outlet facility is available, meaning long queues. The usual TVs were dotted around. Plus if you are of a larger build, you may want to book two seats, these are the most cramped I've ever been in - no leg or shoulder room at all. And what about the adverts played at half time? It's like going to a cheap cinema! 6/10

Food and Drink: Wasn't feeling too great so only had a chocolate bar. Even if I wanted a pie, there was only one left (which I gallantly offered to my mate). Reasonable prices. 7/10

Stewarding/Police: How many stewards and police does it take to evict three people? Answer 15 coppers and 13 stewards. Most probably one of the most over zealous displays ever witnesses, especially as one of the evictees had his head rammed into the metal advertising board when his resisted arrest. Plus the bizarre post-match segregation that leads you down an alleyway to the middle of nowhere, at the bottom of the hill back up to the main road. Very poor showing. 2/10

Surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Grim northern s**thole is too nice really. Apart from a McDonalds, there's nothing else but a load of rundown warehouses and an electrical store nearby. There are very few pubs too, you need to hunt out an away-fan friendly one (or just arrive really early and claim one). 4/10

Home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Some would say they were poor, but home atmospheres are suffering all over the league this season, but at least they did sing even if many couldn't hear them. 6/10

Total score: 46/80

Stadium League Table:
Pride Park (Derby): 65
Poltair Park (St Austell): 57 [non league]
Stadium of Light (Sunderland): 55
Ricoh Arena (Coventry):51
= Carrow Road (Norwich): 50
= Walkers Stadium (Leicester): 50

Underhill (Barnet): 49
St Andrews (Birmingham): 48
The Hawthorns (WBA): 46
Deepdale (Preston): 43
Ninian Park (Cardiff): 42
Roots Hall (Southend): 41
London Road (Peterbrough): 36

Thursday, 1 February 2007

Eyes of a Thrush

West Bromwich Albion 2 - 1 Plymouth Argylle*

Many will protest that it should have been 2-3 if only the referee had the eyes of a hawk instead of the heart of a Baggie. Argyle were very pedestrian for most of the match, and playing against WBA's 12th, 13th and 14th players; the referee's and assistants' decision making left little to be desired when, from the stand (and dugout) the Laws were enforced arbitrarily. From Akos' (accidental?) handball leading to their penalty through to both of Argyle's turned down penalties, the visitors were wading through the treacle of rules the officials enforced, and so most of the time were trying to avoid any confrontation that might lead to a booking or WBA's advantage, leading to us giving Kamera too much freedom.

Again, Sinclair managed to spice up the team. I feel that it is unfair of the Green Army to pile so much pressure upon him since his Barnet goal; if he doesn't dish up the goods every game, they may turn against him. But once again Scott managed to come up trumps with his quick, weaving runs the left side. His ball control delivered it into the Baggies' box but most of the time, no one was on the receiving end except for a WBA player. It wasn't until Fallon's goal that Argyle got stuck in. An equaliser was going to come, but not in the time left to play.

Once again, this was a 'what if...' game.

*deliberate mistake. This is how WBA decided to spell Argyle on their advertising. I like to think the signwriters' meeting went something along the lines of: "How'd you spell it - Argyle? Argyll?" "Dunno, we'll cover both bases and put down both".