Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Kick off the Centre Spot

Argyle's new flagship city centre store was opened today in Drake Circus shopping centre. Paul Wotton official opened the shop, along with fellow team mates Bojan Djordjic, Dan Gosling, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Romain Larrieu.

The store is located on the upper mall level at the foot of the escalators to the food court, and although compact in size, sells a range of, mostly new, merchandise for the coming season and, for the first time away from Home Park, matchday tickets.

Supporters can get their hands on the new 2007/08 season merchandising - mostly featuring the yellow of the new away strip. The new home and away kits are due to be launched on Monday 6 August.

Opening Times.
Mondays - Saturdays (except Thursdays): 9am - 6pm
Thursdays: 9am - 8pm
Sundays: 10.30am - 4.30pm

Saturday, 28 July 2007

Austrian Tour: Tel Aviv

Hapoel Tel Aviv 1 - 1 Plymouth Argyle (Buszaky)

In a repeat scoreline of Tuesday's game, in almost repeat timed game, Argyle equalise with a late goal from Akos Buszaky after Tel Aviv take an early lead.

Badeer Valeed took the early lead for Tel Aviv after 10 minutes in the preseason tour friendly in a slightly different line up due to Ebanks-Blakes injury meaning Chadwick partnered Hayles up front with Norris, Summerfield and Barnes behind, and Gosling, Timar, Doumbe and Hodges at the back. However this formation proved lacklustre and following the goal Holloway switched to a 4-3-3 which changed the game as Argyle started to look sharper. A near full change of squad at half-time as follows Holloway's preseason 'tactics', saw Argyle domineering possession but still getting caught out on set-pieces and wantonness in front of the goal save for some excellent efforts from Gosling and Buszaky who eventually scored the equaliser from a short taken corner.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Austrian Tour: Genclerbirligi

Genclerbirligi 1 - 1 Plymouth Argyle (Reid)

Argyle are currently on the preseason tour of Austria with their first of two games whilst there. Although Argyle played strongly they let in an easy goal within 2 minutes and spent the remaining 88 minutes on catch-up, striking the woodwork from all angle before Reid managed to miss the crossbar and posts to find the back of the net.
The game was played in appalling conditions with a lightning storm domineering the first half, and saw some very strong performances from several players, not least Chadwick who seemed keen to impress after his prolonged injury.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Cambridge United

Cambridge United 1 - 2 Plymouth Argyle (Norris, Ebanks-Blake)

Still in the winning way, and with Ollie back in charge and Chadwick making his first start for a very long time. Holloway is still rotating the team and using different combinations but only a few players are standing out. Norris gave Argyle the lead, but wastefulness in front of the goal and the usual defensive problems meant that Cambridge were spurred on so they equalised instead of Argyle increasing the lead. The game was mostly marred by Sawyer receiving a nasty blow to his head, resulting in several sutures. Ebanks-Blake scored the winner after 78 minutes.

Friday, 20 July 2007

Dial PAFC for Murder

In another new off the pitch adventure, Argyle are hosting a Murder Mystery evening on Saturday 8 September. Over a three course meal for £35 diners will unmask the killer or killers in 'Premier League Passions' featuring the usual suspects of the jealous star player, crooked coach and double-dealing manager.

For more information and booking call Andy Budge on 01752 302207

Official Site article

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

The gloves are off - Yeovil Town

Yeovil Town 1 - 2 Plymouth Argyle (Buszaky, Ebanks-Blake)

Following the disappointment of losing to Torquay the lads came back with a 2-1 win over the other green-clad south west team, Yeovil thanks to Sylvain's penalty and Akos.

At a match governed by Breacker because Ollie was absent due to scouting, Chadwick made a return to the game following his long injury period, the team looked better than their previous two friendly matches. The same team who played at Hull City last season went 1-0 up after 7 minutes thanks to Akos Buszaky and the score remained that way until just after the second half kick off when sloppy defending caused a Yeovil equaliser. It didn't remain that way for long for the referee awarded a penalty for a foul on Norris 3 minutes later. Unlike Weston and Torquay, Breacker didn't use two separate line ups for each half, preferring to bring on subs in the closing three minutes; perhaps this 'league-like play' helped Argyle to look steadier on the field.

There remains one more fixture before the Austrian tour - Cambridge on Saturday - and Argyle are squeezing in an extra match verses Paulton Rovers on Tuesday 31 July.

Ebanks-Blake penalty (copyright M3ZYY)

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Awaydays #1 - Torquay United

Following on from last season's ground reviews, is "Awaydays" ground reviews.

The club: Torquay United (The Gulls); Plainmoor

The ground: Basic and small. Terraced on 2 1/4 sides all stands are covered apart from a small section of the away (unterraced) standing. Away fans are divided between standing (behind the goal) and seating (main stand), the terrace is narrow but spacious and you are close to the action, where as the seated area is set farther back behind the dug outs. There is only 1 entrance/exit meaning it can take some time to get in or leave. All 5 stands (the main being two separate structures - one nicked from a former racetrack and never renovated) are in different styles. 5/10

The facilities and food: The refreshment kiosk is rudimentary and slow at serving. They had nearly run out of pasties and pies. The carbonated drinks were warm and covered in grease. The toilets were the traditional pee up a wall type. 4/10

The stewarding/police: They use the same stewards as at Argyle (under a different company) and therefore have been known to be over zealous but the pre-season nature meant the left the supporters alone. The large amount of supporters warranted a big police presence at the train stations and around town, but only a few 'spotters' in the ground. 5/10

The travelling: Plainmoor is a long way from the town centre and main transport terminals but is very close to St Marychurch and Babbacoombe which have regular bus services even if the ground doesn't. A walk from the stations or centre can take between 30-45 minutes up steep long hills. 4/10

The surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Boots and Laces is the Gull's 'clubhouse' right next to the ground, and there are a few pubs nearby. The best thing to do is take advantage of the pub crawl you can do around the Harbour, up the main street to the ground. 5/10

The home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): A local derby but little enthusiasm and Argyle virtually took over the town (and Paignton and Newton Abbot). There were very few supporters around. 4/10

Total score: 27/60

Awaydays League Table:

Torquay United - 27

Who will buy?

The official launch date for the new city centre shop Argyle Centre Spot is July 31st, this coincides with the launch of the new kit and a special "Calendar Girls" calendar (only with blokes!) featuring the staff of Argyle in aid of Sparksy's Have a Ball with Sparksy. Will we see a return of such delights as:

The store will stock the full range of Argyle merchandise currently available at Home Park, plus matchday tickets.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Farty Towels - am I bovvered?

Torquay United 1 - 0 Plymouth Argyle

"It's only a friendly, it's all about fitness, it's a testimonial." Was the attitude of many going into yesterday's match for Kevin Hill's testimonial. And being a testimonial it is not customary to rain of the parade, but on a rare glorious day, it seemed Argyle couldn't manage a light drizzle let allow a downpour. Ollie played 2 completely separate teams for either half, indicating it wasn't important at all, which led to the first defeat at Plainmoor for a long while. And that's where pride becomes a factor. Being the only league team in Devon you would have thought that Argyle could have at least got the first goal for a draw, but it rapidly became a game of disinterest with Torquay looking a sparkier* team.

What really grated was the smug look and gestures from their goalie after the goal. So in the pride stakes 'am I bovvered?' Well yes I am!

*just noticed that pun - sorry!

Friday, 13 July 2007

Follow the Green Brick Wall / Rub of the Greens

Following complains from supporters about the state of Pilgrims' Way memorial wall, Argyle have started a clean up to remove the weeds and dirt from the fan's dedicated bricks. In 2001, the bricks were sold as memorials to the Green Army. Unfortunately they had not been maintained over the years and have been a point of contention with the owners.

Official Site article

The Fanzine "Rub of the Greens" has been given a reprive in order that it can reach 100 editions, with 5 special editions due to be released over the next couple of year.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Pie of the Year 2007/08

The new PAFC Pie of the Year website has launched.

For the followers of POTY, Naked Naughtiness and Topless Pies or those interested in away ground catering, check out www.pieoftheyear.blogspot.com


Weston-super-Mare 0 - 1 Plymouth Argyle (Hodges ) (pre season friendly)

The first of the pre-season friendlies kicked off last night with a win against Weston AFC with a goal by Lee Hodges, and as to be expected from the first full game after holidays, it was nothing spectacular. Players, amongst whom was new trialist Marc-Sebastian Pelzer, were still showing the same weaknesses seen throughout last season with poor shooting and passing. Even if this is a pre-season when fitness matters more, surely basic play should still be worked on?

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

My Family

For the new season Block 1 of the Devonport stand has been designated a 'family area' with special ticket prices:

2 adults & 2 under 18s - £48.00 (a 'Four-Up' ticket)
1 adult & 1 under 18 - £24.00 (a 'Tandem' ticket)
these prices do not apply to season-ticket holders and are issued on a match-by-match basis, there is no matchday surcharge, and must be purchased via the Box Office only

The recent ticketing news regarding frozen season ticket and matchday prices, and the Mayflower shows that Argyle have made a conscious decision to move forward with its offering of matchday prices - a major factor in the choice of attending according to many. Hopefully more people will take advantage of the offers.

Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Rovers Return

Ticket prices for the Bristol Rovers friendly on Saturday 4 August are:

Season ticket holders
adults: £10.00
over 65s: £4.00
under 23s: £4.00
under 16s: £4.00

Non season ticket holders
adults: £12.00
over 65s: £6.00
under 23s: £6.00
under 16s: £6.00

Monday, 9 July 2007

How much?!

Argyle have announced today that for the fourth consecutive year they are freezing the matchday ticket prices:

All areas except Mayflower Unreserved Seating:
adults: £22.00
over 65s: £15.00
under 23s: £15.00
under 16s: £6.00
a £2 surcharge is levied on all prices except under 16s if tickets are purchase on matchday

Mayflower Unreserved Seating:
adult: £18.00
over 65s: £14.00
under 23s: £14.00
under 16s: £6.00
there is no matchday surcharge on these prices

The timetable of release dates can be found here

Season ticket details can be found here

Match TicketsThere have been rumblings for sometimes that ticket prices are too expensive and are a reason for dwindling numbers. One of the debates on BBC Radio Devon's Lunchtime Phone In was regarding a caller who no longer goes to Argyle because "the ticket prices don't match the excessive hype that surrounds Argyle, they are just too expensive for such a club"

The caller was thinly disguised his disappointment at Argyle's lack of success behind his argument regarding ticket prices and in response I emailed back:

The main facts about the former supporter who left Argyle because of the ticket prices and ‘hype’ are that he is a "former supporter" and talks of "hype".
Is he only blaming prices because he is what some may term a ‘glory hunter’?

As a previous texter said, prices have been unchanged for three years – since we came into the Championship and prices are on a par (if not in some cases lower) than other Championship clubs. Argyle managed two promotions almost back to back, which had whipped up a form of hysteria amongst people as everyone wanted to be associated with the success. Now Argyle have settled into the league and they have not been constantly challenging for the Premiership – these people have slipped away. It is unrealistic for Argyle to constantly be winning all the time – that is the nature of sports.
Argyle have gone through many changes since reaching the Championship in managers and squad, each of which has brought swathes of optimism (or ‘hype’), not least with the appointment of Ian Holloway, and when they fail to deliver, we’re back to “same old Argyle”. I challenge people that they should support their team no matter what.
Blaming ticket prices is just a cop out.

But there really are two problems here: people who crave success and people who want value for money and the two-success and ticket prices-are reconcilable.

As another caller stated, that if she wanted to take her grandchildren it would cost her £55.00 a time (although where this calculation came from I'm not sure as - assuming - £15.00 senior + £6.00x4 = £39.00 bought in advance), that it seems expensive and costs do add up. But compare with a trip to the National Marine Aquarium (which recommends 1-2 hours to see everything), the same group's entrance is £31.00 but will be seen as more 'value for money' and the NMA's charitable status helps. This is where my post about the trouble with football (Small Club in Cornwall) being all about money comes in - people resent being, as they see it, "ripped off".

However if the club is to succeed (or even just stay alive) then there needs to be sources of income, and the main source outside of sponsorship, and the buying and selling of players is through tickets. Would a drop in ticket prices to attract back large gates really work if Argyle weren't in the play off positions all season? Certainly increased ticket prices with smaller crowds would never work, which is why I suspect prices have been frozen. There used to a time when there were captive audiences and companies could charge as much as they wanted because people would never have an alternative, but those days are most certainly gone for a lot of industries.

In some ways this season could be a "make or break" for Argyle - another mid-table finish may be or even a relegation may spell the end for some, where as a promotion/play off scenario would certainly blow us away. Come what may.

Sunday, 8 July 2007

Small Club in Cornwall

Plymouth Argyle is a contentious topic of discussion which can lead you anywhere - abandon hope all ye who bring it up. Depending on who you are taking to can cause anything from debates to bitching, and there is so much you could talk about.

Start with Home Park itself - you could cover topics such as "how good/bad the pasties are" then someone's bound to say that "Ivor Dewdney's from the van are better"; or "how much more expensive the food prices have got this season"; or "how long the queues are but thankfully the smoking ban means that the concourse'll be so much more bearable" but "how dare Argyle ban smoking from the non enclosed spaces of the ground and not allow you to go outside for a quick smoke and come back in again. I remember the old days on the terraces..."; "how dare the DCMS close our terracing", "why did the board wait so long? After all they knew the 3 years were ending soon", "at least they're putting seats down and not closing it completely", "this proves that phase 2 is never going to happen", "team first, ground later", "so are we settled going into the new season or has Holloway failed to strengthen by buying new players?", "why don't we compete like other teams do?", "why is there so little money", "such and such player is crap and doesn't deserve to wear green", "who chose yellow as the away colour? - Argyle are green, white and black, they ask us to vote and somehow it comes out as yellow?!", "at least they called a vote, normally we get no say", "the communication from Home Park is poor, call themselves a professional club", "look at the way the treat the fans! - the bricks are in a right state and they just ignore our letters and emails" "we've just been sold a pack of lies over the last few years", "this board's got no ambition - sack the board". And so on...

Football faces a big problems.

There are currently several generations of people who are not interested in league football because of its image in the 70s and 80s. Following mass hooliganism, riots and disasters many fans left football in disgust of being associated with it. Thatcher's children left football and football had to chance to survive. In order to do so it cleaned up its act to attract a 'better customer'. And whilst the industry was quite correct in doing so, it has led to another disease taking hold: money.

For a club to survive these days it needs money, and this has taken over from support as the raison d'etre for clubs. Clubs are now having to compete with players who demand more and more recompense for their services. The way the leagues are set up still has a very unbalanced distribution of money. Argyle who have never had a time in top flight football - have never had the benefit of parachute payments etc to provide them with a pot of gold. Football could be said to be a corrupt industry - and examples of 'bungs' and the number of clubs in debt but can still afford expensive players - back this up. Additionally the Westcountry is not a hotbed of footballing talent anyway, unlike clubs outside of the South West who have future stars bred on their doorsteps. Attracting players down to the remotest league club in the country has always been a problem, especially with the modest pay packet we can afford. So clubs have to look else where for funding.

TV: With the advent of Sky Sports (and for a time ITV Sport), and the growing number of sports channels which provide more and more capital than BBC or ITV ever can, a football club has to first compete with the Premiership Clubs and more specifically the 'Big 4' for coverage. Argyle had 2 televised Sky games last season (and the FA Cup quarter on the BBC) and with free to view channels no longer to compete for footage rites, fans are having to pay for subscriptions to watch their team. But this can breed fickle fans - if results are poor, people can seek wins elsewhere and has also led to a generation of so called 'plastic fans' who have never set foot inside their club's stadium, having followed them through the small screen.

Merchandising: Once it was realised that people will pay good money for an Argyle branded whatever, Argyle's merchandising has grown significantly to the point where a permanent city centre shop is being opened. This is one way of getting the club under people's noses, but once again supporters are being 'ripped off' - it costs between £35.00 - £50 to purchase a replica shirt. One thing Argyle are guilt of is the increasing trend to have new kits every season, meaning purchasing two new kits every August (it is obviously not compulsory to do so, but especially amongst younger fans the need to have the latest strip is paramount).

Sponsorship. This is one reason why kits are constantly changing - a new sponsor or additional sponsors. Players and stadia have become billboards for all sorts of companies and has lead to the ludicrous situation of stadia named after the sponsor - Walker's Stadium, Ricoh Arena, JJB Stadium , Emirates Stadium to name a few. Thankfully Argyle have not yet succumbed to 'Pasty Park' or 'Ginsters Arena', and it will be a sad day if Home Park ever became anything but.

Sugar Daddies. The majority of the Premiership teams have sold out to foreign investment. This has been debated in leading press publications recently. The lure of big bucks is attractive to billionaires-the Premier League being the wealthiest in the world-and a slice of the respectability and prestige is just too much to resist.

The need for more and more money is taking football further and further away from the reach of the people it was designed to serve in the first place - the fans. Increasing ticket prices, merchandising costs, TV subscriptions, mean fewer people can afford to follow. This leads to lower and lower gates.

Argyle are strange. We secured two promotions within as many years and have established ourselves in the current league and we have improved on our position with every passing year, and this has been done under the prudent guidance of the current board. Yet crowds are falling - or are they returning to their realistic level? There is division amongst supporters about where do we go from here - should we be happy stay put, slowly improving (though of course one day that isn't going to happen) or should be pull out all the stops and get in amongst the pack by taking some risks?

Whatever your view, you will find every Argyle fan has a different, and will find yourself going in circles for years discussing it. But does it matter when to everyone else Argyle are still that "Small Club in Cornwall"?

Thursday, 5 July 2007

Home Ticketing Dates

Home ticketing release dates for 2007/08 season:

Bristol Rovers (friendly)August 4 2007July 9 2007
Wycombe Wanderers (CC1)August 14 2007July 9 2007
Ipswich TownAugust 18 2007July 9 2007
Leicester CitySeptember 9 2007July 30 2007
Cardiff CitySeptember 15 2007August 6 2007
Wolverhampton WanderersSeptember 29 2007August 20 2007
Crystal PalaceOctober 2 2007August 20 2007
Coventry CityOctober 20 2007September 10 2007
Sheffield WednesdayNovember 3 2007September 24 2007
Norwich CityNovember 10 2007October 1 2007
West Bromwich AlbionNovember 27 2007October 15 2007
Scunthorpe UnitedDecember 1 2007October 22 2007
Bristol CityDecember 8 2007October 22 2007
Queens Park RangersDecember 26 2007November 12 2007
Stoke CityDecember 29 2007November 19 2007
SouthamptonJanuary 19 2008December 10 2007
Hull CityFebruary 2 2008December 24 2007
BarnsleyFebruary 12 2008January 2008
BurnleyFebruary 3 2008January 14 2008
Colchester UnitedMarch 4 2008January 21 2008
Sheffield UnitedMarch 8 2008January 28 2008
WatfordMarch 22 2008February 11 2008
Charlton AthleticApril 5 2008February 25 2008
Preston North EndApril 19 2008March 10 2008
BlackpoolApril 26 2008March 17 2008

Away the Lads - Travel and Tickets Update

Match TicketsPre-season ticket details:

Weston-super-Mare, Wednesday 11 July, Woodspring Stadium

Pay on the gate
£8.50 adults, £5.50 over 65s, £3.00 under 16s, FREE under 5s

Torquay United, Saturday 14 July, 15.00, Plainmoor
Pay on the gate
£10.00 adults, £5.00 under 16s

Yeovil Town, Tuesday 17 July, 19.45, Huish Park
£8.00 adults, £2.00 students and over 65s, £1.00 under 16s

League travel news:

Once again Air South West and Argyle are offering the all inclusive fly with the team package, which includes flights to the nearest airport with hotel transfer, bed and board and matchday tickets. This will be on offer for both our first two league away games to Hull and Barnsley for £299 (two sharing). For details contact Andy Budge on 01752 302204 or email andy.budge@pafc.co.uk

Comings and Goings

This year's comings (3), goings (4) and contract extensions (=) at Argyle:

4 Tony Capaldi (to Cardiff)
4 Josh Clapham
4 Kevin Gallen (to MK Dons)
4 Scott Sinclair (end of loan)
4 Hasney Aljofree (to Swindon)

3 Kristian Timar
3 Peter Halmosi

= Lee Hodges
= Lilian Nallis
= Gary Sawyer

Demise of a Fanzine

In the modern world of the internet, there seems little room for hard copies. Why print something for money when it can be reproduced on screen for virtually nothing and be seen world-wide?

This has led to the demise of the Argyle fanzine "Rub of the Greens", which folded yesterday following the dwindling number of subscribers. Having only subscribed myself this coming season, I have not had the pleasure of reading it, but several fellow supporters have enjoyed its 90 editions (plus 5 specials).

It has to be said though that Plymouth Argyle supporters enjoy what must be an unrivaled choice in access to information about their team through the plethora of quality internet sites - from the official site run by premium TV, though 5 message boards, Green on Screen (which recently amalgamated with Semper Viridis - and contains a photographic archive of each season's matches and statistics galore), to various other fan run and news pages. Add to that three regional and local newspapers.

However, as yet another fan-run aspect of Argyle dies (along with the Travel Club, Far Post Club, and PAST&D Trust), it is sad that supporters are in some way becoming disconnected from the clubs they love.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Greens on Screen & Semper Viridis

Today Steve and Trevor announced that Greens on Screen and Semper Viridis have amalgamated and one of the best unofficial club sites has now become even better.

You will find the new look site (which, understandably, is still under revelopment) at www.greensonscreen.co.uk

and at the same time, I have decided to bring forward the revamp of this blog by introducing a new layout.

Mayflower Seating

Work to install the new Mayflower unreserved seating is due to start within the next few weeks. Temporary seating specialists SGB will take between 1 and 2 weeks to install 3,500 seats onto the ex terrace.

The Herald article

Monday, 2 July 2007

Squad Reshuffle

A few changes have been made of the squad numbers this season, including:

2 - Connolly (was 22)

14 - Fallon (was 33)
17 - Hodges (was 20)
20 - Summerfield (was 29)
22 - Gosling (was 30)

A full list of the 2007/08 squad appears to the right:

Official Site article

Back to Work

Today the Argyle squad returned from their holiday to pre-season training at Marjon's College., the training pitches at Harper's Park being saved for the full season.

There has been unrest about the training facilities available at Argyle for sometime, with believing that they are not on a par with other Championship clubs. Argyle are lucky to have pitches in the vicinity of Home Park, but these do not offer their own off pitch facilities - the players use the Home dressing room at Home Park for example. Also the pitches are enclosed by tall trees, meaning that the sun rarely gets to the grass.

Ed wrote this article over 1 year ago and it still applies today. One possibility is the Civil Service club, that Argyle are bidding for (more details), or as currently, making use of someone else's facilities. As with everything, it's tre whole package that needs to be correct in order that we can attract the right business and players.