Sunday, 30 September 2007

Awaydays #6 - West Ham

The club: West Ham United (The Hammers), Boleyn Ground [Upton Park]

The ground: Hi hopes for a Premier League ground and the stadium is certainly impressive looking, however is no better than any other Championship ground. Three stands are joined together all two tiered with the huge high backed Dr Martens stand, and a separate smaller East stand. The outside of the Dr Martens stand is imposing and impressionable. The Centenary stand lower level houses the away fans and is very compact, with seating close to the pitch and a shallow rake to the stand, meaning a restricted view for some supporters. There are two large video screens in opposite corners. 7/10

The facilities and food: The concourse is very small, stark and cramped for the amount of supporters,in fact the largest space to be found in the gents toilet. There was only one refreshment bar open and no organisation and resulted in a near permanent rugby scrum - however the bar remained open throughout the game. They were also very unorganised - the hot food was not ready by the time they opened, resulting in poor pies. 5/10

The stewarding/police: As befits a London club, a very large police presence around the ground with patrols, mounted police and vans every hundred yards or so, inside the ground the stewarding and police action was minimal. 8/10

The travelling: Awful - everybody decided to have an accident, meaning long tailbacks and jams, as well as the usual heavy London traffic taking nearly as long to cross London than get there. Access to the ground is limited as well as parking, which can be found several streets away but the authority specifically target football traffic parked on restrictions and will lift a vehicle sharpish. Upton Park Tube station gets very crowded and crowd restrictions can get put in place. A trip through central London is by far a nicer and quicker way to go even if they do charge! 2/10

The surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Not an away fan friendly area with supporters having to walk some distance though Green Street is full of take aways and stalls. If you arrive early you can easily jump on a Tube and get to central London. 5/10

The home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Apart from "Bubbles" which makes the hairs stand up on the back of your neck, like a lot of home fans they can be quiet, however any sound they do make does not travel well to the home end. 4/10

Total score: 31/60

Awaydays League Table:

Barnsley (Oakwell Stadium) - 42
Hull City (KC Stadium) - 38
QPR (Loftus Road) - 36

West Ham (Boleyn Ground) - 31
Stoke City (Britannia Stadium) - 28
Torquay United (Plainmoor) - 27

PAFC Ladies

Argyle's ladies team have launched their own calendar this week to raise funds. PALFC do not get any funding from Plymouth Argyle and therefore have to fund themselves. Their 2008 calendar is available in WHSmith in Plymouth, Argyle Centre Spot, St Luke's Hospice Shops and on Ebay priced £6 with £1 going to St Luke's Hospice.

Plymouth Argyle Ladies

Saturday, 29 September 2007

Still Not Good Enough

Plymouth Argyle 1 (Chadwick 61) - 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers (Elliott 41)

wolverhampton wanderers crestBack to the league with a bump, or rather a crash landing. Holloway fielded the same team as against West Ham but they did not live up to the same standards. Whether it was fatigue or big-headedness but today Wolves were by far the better team. For the whole first half Wolves controlled the game culminating in their goal 3 minutes from the break. For the first 15 minutes neither team really got a chance at goal until Wolves got into their stride and began attacking, but thankfully either them ending up shooting wide or high, or McCormick collecting the shots. Argyle had a few similar chances with the same outcomes as they poorly passes and poorly defended their way through the game, with several players making silly mistakes or just weren't in the game at all. The eventual goal came at the end of the first half with Ellott capitalising on these mistakes to beat McCormick.

Argyle continued the second half as they left the first by conceding a 15th corner kick to the Wolves and Holloway decided to make some changes, taking Ebanks-Blake and Buszaky for Fallon and Chadwick., which lead to Chadwick scoring his first goal of the season. Wolves took advantage of the huge gaps let by Argyle to continue their blitzkrieg attack on Argyle's goal, but thankfully they were forced wide or collected by Luke. To prove how poorly Argyle played - it wasn't until the 83rd minute when they took their first corner of the game but Chadwick could not direct it goalwards.

It seems that wins are just flukes of luck or caused by other teams playing poorly at the moment and it's hard to understand why it is happening. With 17 players out of contract this season, little money to spend, no completed stadium on the cards and Holloway looking more despondent by the week, things are not boding well at Home Park.

This is one game where a draw was a welcome result.

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Awaydays #5 - Stoke

The club: Stoke City (The Potters), Brittania Stadium

The ground: For one in the breed of new stadium, the ground is looking old and tired. Two stands are independent of each other whilst the other two are connected at the corner, all three structures are high and imposing. The concourse was wide and airy and the away end seating area vast with a commanding view of the action. However if ever the song 'dirty northern b-stards' was true it was here - the stadium was filthy - I ended up covered in black dirt marks. 5/10

The facilities and food: There was a large bar - one half selling food, the other selling alcohol so you had to queue twice, the toilets were adequate for the number of supporters we took with shortish queues forming. The pie was far too hot to handle let alone eat but had the best filling of the season. 6/10

The stewarding/police: Minimal supervision by police and stewards before, during and after the match,. although the away end is fenced in after full time; the stewards allowed standing throughout the game on the back rows. 7/10

The travelling: Quick and easy, the route from the M6 is direct although you can miss the turning off the Stoke bypass. Car Parking is haphazard with people perched on verges, central reservations and roundabout all round the ground. 7/10

The surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): Nothing. The only amenity near by is the leisure centre. I would recommend that you make a small detour into Newcastle-under-Lyme and visit the pubs there - it's not far out of the way and you can loop round the centre back to the bypass. 0/10

The home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Another very poor, effort. No audible noise except for a few fans nearest the away support. However the supporters in the pubs were very friendly. 3/10

Total score: 28/60

Awaydays League Table:

Barnsley (Oakwell Stadium) - 42
Hull City (KC Stadium) - 38
QPR (Loftus Road) - 36

Stoke City (Britannia Stadium) - 28
Torquay United (Plainmoor) - 27


West Ham 1 (Ashton 90+) - 0 Plymouth Argyle

west ham crestSo for the first time in ages Argyle get a run in the Carling Cup (recently we've been going out at the first round) and managed to hold out a Premier League team until second half stoppage time. Although it would have been good to take West Ham right down to penalties, the probability would have been that West Ham would have won regardless.

West ham fielded a near full strength experienced team verses Argyle's equivalent - the same team verses Stoke except for Ebanks-Blake and Hayles back in the starting line up - and for a lot of the game you could barely tell we were a league apart. At the beginning West Ham were not expecting for Argyle to come out so strong and it took time for them to settle down and play, especially in the second half when Argyle remained resolute throughout. Even when West Ham made their substitutions and sent on some 'muscle' the Greens stood firm, unfortunately a lack of concentration - maybe through tiredness - during the 3 minutes stoppage time saw Ashton score the Hammers' only goal.

By no means was this an outstanding performance, but unlike the 5-0 defeat last time the teams met, Argyle weren't outplayed or embarrassed, they created some great chances, but unfortunately as in league games we are not seizing the opportunity to put the ball away, have the same 'fear' of shooting and Luke's lack of command. However we should be proud of the achievement even if we feel gutted at the result.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Not Good Enough

Stoke City 3 (Seip (og) 9, Lawrence 65, Fuler 73) - 2 Plymouth Argyle (Seip 50, Fallon 58)

stoke city crest"The lads worked 'arrrrrd" is something that Tony Pulis would normally trot out after a defeat, however this time it was Ian Holloway who borrowed that infamous quote. Once again Argyle went up north and lost 3-2. Holloway was reported he would field the same team as that against QPR, however he made several changes, not least relegating Barry Hayles and Sylvan Ebanks-Blake to the bench. Overall Argyle probably deserved to win, but the game once again was marred by the same mistakes and weaknesses.

The first goal came about through the changes by which players should no longer take it upon themselves to stop play but let the referee deal with injured players, subsequently McCormick received the ball and cleared it up field, however the referee then awarded two successive free kicks to Stoke and on trying to defend them, Seip put the ball into his own net. The first half continued with Argyle missing chances and free kicks and went into the break with the deficit.

The second half got off to a flyer with Argyle going 2-1 up. The equaliser thanks to Seip, eager to avenge his mistake, followed by Fallon. And there it should have ended, Argyle were playing the better football and making all the moves. But it wasn't to be - the defensive problem reared its ugly head yet again, coupled with McCormick continued stupid mistakes. Stoke equalised when McCormick came for a long ball and missed, leaving Lawrence to put the ball away. This put Stoke on the up and Argyle lost control. Holloway made some later changes and eventually brought on Blake and Hayles, but the defence left large holes for Fuller to walk through and score - however it is questionable if this was an offside goal, but the officials disagreed. Argyle then lost all wind in their sails and Stoke strolled home with the 3 points.

Historically Stoke is very bad hunting ground, however QPR proves that is immaterial. We have gone on so long with the same problems in defence and learnt nothing. Additionally Holloway's 'pledge' to replace the keeper when he makes more than 2 mistakes is worthless with Romain's loan. Where do we go from here? Nowhere probably - it's clear that we are not good enough for promotion and (hopefully) not bad enough for relegation, so yet another season of mid table obscurity if things continue. And that will prove one season too many or some.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Awaydays #4 - QPR

The club: Queens Park Rangers (QPR, The Rs/Hoops); Loftus Road

The ground: How a football ground should be - hidden away in terraced streets in people's gardens with only the main entrances of the South Africa Road side being visible. The ground is a completely enclosed rectangle shape, all four corners meet at right angels. Three tiers are two tiered with a high backed single tier on one side. The away end is two tiered with two remote entrances on either side of the ground - and a long walk if your at the wrong one. The upper tier of the School end is quite steep and cramped for the capacity. 7/10

The facilities and food: As mentioned the upper tier is very cramped if it is near capacity - there are few toilets or refreshment bars. Queues for both quickly build and obstruct the rest of the concourse and vomitaries. Last season the lower tier was 'dry' with no alcohol served, however it is available on the top tier. The legroom is cramped and the view not too good - from places the nearest few yards of the pitch can easily be obscured. The food and drink was reasonably priced but the pie was awful. 4/10

The stewarding/police: As always with the Metropolitan Police, there is usually a large presence including mounted police, however it did not seem as excessive as previously. The stewards had lots difficulty telling people (who do not normally go away and want to occupy their allotted seat, not sit anywhere) where they can sit - a large group just aimlessly stood around for 10 minutes after kickoff. 6/10

The travelling: Easy Sailing until you get into London and hit the traffic. There are several routes to get to Shepherd's Bush - each as congested as the other. Parking near the ground can be problematic, but the residents bays restrictions end at 5pm on Mondays to Fridays and don't operate at weekends. However there is the Underground network and several stations nearby, but queues after the match can get long, however White City tube station is normally quieter. 6/10

The surrounding area (what's there to do outside the ground): You can do anything in London as there's so much to do and easy to get to on the Tube.hear the ground there are several 'away fan friendly' pubs on Shepherds Bush Green, or the Sprongbok on South Africa Road. 10/10

The home fans (their contribution to the atmosphere etc): Very poor, no sustained singing, very quiet for most of the game. There were reports of some QPR fans spoiling for a fight afterwards. 3/10

Total score: 36/60

Awaydays League Table:

Barnsley (Oakwell Stadium) - 42
Hull City (KC Stadium) - 38
QPR (Loftus Road) - 36

Torquay United (Plainmoor) - 27

Larrieu Loan Out

In another successive season, keeper Romain Larrieu has been loaned out, this time to Yeovil Town for 1 month after their keeper was injured. Larrieu has not had many games under Holloway after his illness and poor performances. Is it possible that Romain will be one of the players due to leave in January?

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

58 years of Hurt

Queens Park Rangers 0 - 2 Plymouth Argyle (Halmosi 49, Norris 62)

1949 was the last year in which Argyle won at Loftus Road, so it's fair to say QPR is not happy hunting ground, but last night ended 58 years of losses and draws with Argyle netting the ball twice in the second half in front of a huge Green Army of around 1,000 supporters.

Queens Park Rangers CrestFollowing Holloway's silence after the Cardiff draw, which felt more like a loss, he must have had strong words with the squad, not least changing calling Halmosi, Timar, Buszaky and Nallis back in to the starting lineup. The game was still locked at 0-0 come half time with both sides having some chances on goal, including two missed free kicks from the edge of the penalty area, and Luke (who kept his place) having to make some smart saves. Going into the break it was everything to play for with Argyle having the advantage over poor-run QPR but nearly throwing it away again in stoppage time with Connolly miss-passing a shot back to McCormick which Ligertwood picked up. Thankfully the defence remained on the ball.

The second half restarted with Argyle pressure up until Halmosi rounded a QPR defender who slipped and could only watch as the ball nestled in the net. Rangers then woke up and Rowlands clipped the bar, luckily for McCormick who never moved from his spot on the line. QPR introduced their substitutes but could not stop Norris from getting the second. A few more slips ensued in defence but QPR could not send the ball home, leaving Argyle the victors.

No doubts a great victory for Argyle, but still at times we were shaky and could have taken advantage of QPR's weaknesses sooner. This puts us 8th in the table (up from 19th), which shows how close the league is at the moment, without the stupidness of Cardiff we would have been in the playoffs; therefore it is vital that those sorts of matches do not happen again.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

2-0 and we messed it up

Plymouth Argyle 2 (Ebanks-Blake 31, Ebanks-Blake 58) - 2 Cardiff City (Rai 71, Thompson 86)

In a reversal of last year's comeback against Cardiff, it was their turn to return from the brink.

Cardiff crestIn front of the Sky TV cameras, Argyle played a good first half with the Championship's current top scorer netting the ball following an imprecisely cleared ball resulting from a free kick. Argyle went into the break 1-0 up and surely ended the game early in the second half when Ebanks again kicked home a rebounded save. But the dodgy defence which has plagued Argyle this season, and had wobbled through the game this far, gifted Cardiff a way back in, quickly followed by number two. Argyle did have the chance to take the lead in stoppage time, with Chadwick missing a sitter.

It is strange that a team which is very nearly the same as last season have not yet gelled well enough to work together and the poor defending conceding stupid goals is becoming a worrying theme this season. There were several great individual performances by players but if the team doesn't play together, nothing's going to happen. So in 5 games we've gone from 5th to 19th, one more draw or a defeat would put us in the relegation zone. Hopefully it's early days yet but it looks like a long hard season is ahead,

Friday, 14 September 2007

New Strip for Argyle

Plymouth Argyle have launched a new strip - by bareing all.

As part of Gordon Sparks's "Have a Ball with Sparksy" highlighting testicular cancer, members of Argyle's squad have stripped off and produced a special football season naked calendar.

Costing £5.99 they will be available from Argyle outlets in Plymouth, as well as the BBC in Seymour Road. For a sneak peak, check out
the pictures of the Herald website

Thursday, 13 September 2007

The Early Birds

Argyle's home fixture verses Bristol City on 8 December has been moved on police instruction to a 12.30 kick off

Official Site

Tuesday, 11 September 2007

'Best Wished "Ollie"'

Ian Holloway kicked off his book signing tour today in Bristol, the first Plymouth based one will be this Thursday at Argyle Centre Spot in Drake Circus between 13.00 and 14.00; followed by Waterstones (New George Street) on Friday.

Additional dates have been added to the tour and can be found at

Sunday, 9 September 2007

They've only gone and done it

England getting the treble on Saturday.
There goes my opinions for what they were worth!

Friday, 7 September 2007

On a break

International weekends break up the league timetable several times in the year, and they can be a blessing or a pain in the arse - either a team can improve on a bad run or lose momentum from a good one. Another consequence is that fixtures end up squashed together.

This England weekend means that Argyle have no game for 2 weeks, followed by 7 in 3 weeks (one being the additional cup game - and cup games add extra matches at awkward times in the year too, especially FA Cup replays). This takes its toll on players as, especially with a smaller squad in comparison with other clubs, they can become overworked. Argyle have ordered their players this week to take time off over the weekend, following an intensive training week with another one coming up. Maybe they'll use the chance to watch Argyle v Exeter in the rugby, or watch one or both of the England teams lose* in the Euro qualifiers or Rugby World Cup. But what ever they do, hopefully they will come out stronger in the first game verses Cardiff. Will we be in for a repeat of the amazing 3-3 draw of last season? Hopefully not, hopefully we'll win this time!

*this is not a professional prediction!

Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Hammering down Cup Prices

Prices for the league cup game verses West Ham have been finalised:

West Ham v Plymouth Argyle
Carling League Cup round 3
Wednesday 26 September, 1945
Bowlyn Ground, Upton Park

Adult, Argyle season-ticket holder* £12, without season-ticket £15; Senior citizen and young adult (16-21) season-ticket holder* £6, without season-ticket £7.50; Under-16 season-ticket holder* £4, without season-ticket £5.

Ticket sale dates will be announced shortly

*a season ticket holder is a GREEN MEMBER only

Sunday, 2 September 2007


Plymouth Argyle 0 - 0 Leicester City

Leicester City Crest
It was a strange week for Leicester with their manager sacked hours after fighting to save Clive Clarke's life following his heart attack at their cup game. The match was destined to be an all, either Argyle would capitalise upon the unnerving changes or Leicester would want to prove themselves, or nothing; at it happened it became a nothing.

Holloway made some changes to the starting line up with the artillery of Ebanks-Blake in place, and McCormick back between the sticks, even so it proved a dull first half. After a while it dawned on most people that the game was heading for a 0-0 draw in spite of several shots on goal that all went wide. Argyle picked up the second half with Holloway bringing on new striker Abdou who looked sparky but they couldn't carve out the 3 points. Never the less, the home clean sheet has been maintained.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Carling Cup Round 3

Away verses West Ham, Wednesday 26 September.