Green Barmy with Gordon Sparks
IN TRACING the changes to Home Park through the ages, this page has reflected in recent weeks how the 1950s saw numerous improvements as the long project to rejuvenate Plymouth Argyle's stadium continued after the Second World War.
The new headquarters of the supporters' club opened its doors on Wednesday, November 5, 1958.
A non-match day, it was decided to open the office for an hour each Wednesday evening as it was impossible for fans not watching games from the grandstand side of the stadium to gain access inside the main gates.
Dealing not only with memberships, club memorabilia was on sale as well as the office dealing with lost property and sales of travel and tickets for away games.
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Among the first items of lost property were a real sign of the times: a car key, a plastic mac and a trilby hat.
Plymouth residents using Central Park for their leisure time became aware of one of the newest features at Home Park.
A substantial amount of money was spent by the club in a new floodlighting installation which was first put to use towards the end of 1958.
On Monday, November 24, Argyle met Scunthorpe United in a friendly against a Second Division side playing one level higher than the Pilgrims.
Soon after, on the first day of December, another evening 'friendly' match took place as Argyle played against The British Army XI, a representative side containing many players of an international standard.
For the record, Scunthorpe, managed by former Pilgrims player Tony McShane, beat Argyle 2-1 and The Army side shared six goals with their hosts.
But the original floodlight pylons had a relatively short history.
The two photographs show the stark difference in the original installations and the upgrades that were installed in a picture that has not been seen publicly seen – until now.
The first image shows the pylon at The Spion Kop corner, with nearby the rubble piled up that was excavated in the building of the new terrace in that corner of the stadium.
Look closely at the second image, and you will see something quite extraordinary that no Argyle fan has seen before.
A local architect was asked to give an impression of how upgraded floodlights would look once completed.
Compared to modern standards of enhancing photographs, it was a very basic process.
A photograph was taken near the Lyndhurst Road entrance to Central Park, showing the original pylons.
The cars parked on the driveway leading to Home Park presumably belonged to two dog walkers.
But look carefully, and you will notice that the architect simply, with a drawing pen, inked over the floodlighting in the photograph with his impression of what the new towers may look like.
His initial thoughts matched almost exactly those that were finally erected.
It was on that simple illustration, the go-ahead was given for the improvement.
As for matters on the pitch, the 1958-59 season was going extremely well, with Argyle storming towards the Third Division championship.
Home Park was simply a great place to be.
In chronicling changes at Home Park, the focus in this series is mainly on bricks and mortar.
Personnel, in terms of players and coaching staff, have always been a human carousel of change.
But there are other well-known faces that, over the years, have come and gone.
The gentleman who had the honour of operating the new public address system around the stadium was Ted Zanazzi.
But in April 1959, because of other commitments, he was no longer available and the search was on for a new announcer.
The club put on record Mr Zanazzi's "pleasing voice, and his excellent manner of approach", and handed over the running of the public address equipment to the supporters' club.
Mr AK Cooke, a renowned local sportsman who played for Plymouth Cricket Club, was given the role as announcer, but that wasn't the only change.
Plans were afoot to further upgrade the speaker system to a new stereophonic standard, and that work progressed at the start of the 1959-60 season when engineers completed on site tests on a match day to ensure the quality was of the highest specification.
The comfort of all supporters was paramount with thoughts given to everybody who enjoyed their match day experience.
On August 4, completion of a project at the south-east corner of the stadium gave a new look.
Evidence can still be seen today in front of the refreshment outlet that was to the west side of the Mayflower Stand, almost at the corner of the Devonport End.
A concrete platform was laid for the benefit of disabled ex-servicemen and other disabled persons so that access was with ease, particularly for those who used wheelchairs.
In addition, hospital patients who were considered well enough to leave hospital for a few hours were transported to the stadium so they could watch Argyle play. That scheme was also extended to residents of some local residential homes.
With the new concrete terracing in front of the Grandstand, which is soon to be demolished together with the few rows of the Mayflower Stand on the lower level, the south side of Home Park was complete.
So too, was the terracing at the Devonport End with both sides having had the necessary crush barriers installed – a far cry from the pre-war days of thousands of people being crammed into specific areas without any separation.
Previously, if supporters at the back of the terraces pushed forward, it had an effect that wasn't felt kindly by those at the front.
The next stage of the completion of Home Park was to provide the northern side of the stadium with a higher standard of terracing.
NEXT WEEK: THE POPULAR SIDE TAKES SHAPE