Green Barmy: Former Greens made journey from Home Park to Highbury
GREEN Barmy has been looking at connections and previous encounters between Plymouth Argyle and their opponents during this League Two season.
The Pilgrims are at Highbury Stadium for this afternoon's game against Fleetwood Town, which will be the first competitive meeting of the two clubs.
With Fleetwood's relatively short history, you may be forgiven for considering links to be virtually non-existent. But there are a couple of note.
Re-formed in 1997, Fleetwood brushed aside all competition as promotion after promotion was won, culminating in current manager Micky Mellon leading the side to the Conference championship last season and into the Football League for the first time.
BRAND NEW FORD B-MAX ZETEC 1.0 ECOBOOST FOR ONLY £7685*View details
DRIVE AWAY A BRAND NEW FORD B-MAX ZETEC FOR ONLY £7685.
1.0 100PS Manual
Electric Windows & Mirrors
Quickclear Heated Windscreen
15" Alloy Wheels
Bluetooth with Ford Sync
*Drive away from only £7685 and then pay nothing for 24 months!
Contact: 01626 240583
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
George Donnelly has represented both, turning out for Fleetwood after a relatively fruitless time at Home Park.
A youth player with Liverpool, the forward signed for Skelmersdale United, where his appetite for goals became immediately apparent in a team that included another future Pilgrim, Craig Noone. That despite the fact he was having to fit his football in around his 'day job' in a warehouse.
He joined Paul Sturrock's Argyle as a 20-year-old in March 2009 after turning down offers from Conference North clubs Southport and Fleetwood.
It was a huge step, joining a club six divisions higher in the Championship, even for a striker with a record of 36 goals in 45 games for the club in the first division of the Northern Premier League.
Donnelly's Football League debut was as a substitute for Ashley Barnes in a 3-0 home defeat by Doncaster Rovers the following month.
As the next season dawned, Donnelly joined Luton Town on loan spell, making four appearances, all as a substitute, in the Conference.
In January 2010, a similar arrangement took him to the north west to join Stockport County, initially on a one-month loan, and he finally made his first start at Football League level.
Scoring four goals in 19 appearances for Stockport, he was a target again for the Edgeley Park club, and once again rejoined for a six-month period.
Being more settled, his 27 matches saw him hit the target on eight occasions.
Donnelly made just one further senior substitute appearance for Argyle after his debut before being allowed to leave Home Park on a permanent deal.
Fleetwood Town were in the midst of re-building as they made their way through the divisions. Still with an interest in Donnelly, they finally got their man for a fee in the region of £50,000 – then a record for the Lancashire club.
On January 8 last year, two days after signing on the dotted line, he made his Fleetwood debut.
In September, he made the short trip to Macclesfield for a loan spell and, after netting five goals in 25 appearances for Fleetwood, his time at Highbury was at an end.
Macclesfield made the move permanent in January this year, with Donnelly agreeing a two-and-a-half year contract for a five-figure fee.
As proved by Adam Barrett for Gillingham last Saturday, football has a strange knack of allowing players to score against former clubs.
So it was with Donnelly.
With Macclesfield trailing to a Conor Hourihane goal at Home Park last season, Donnelly struck in the final minute to earn his side a point.
But with the ink barely dry on his new contract, he was to move again after just 15 games and three goals.
At the conclusion of last season, Donnelly signed for Rochdale, where he is currently playing after penning a two-year deal.
His first goal for Dale came in the 3-2 win over local rivals Accrington Stanley.
To date, Donnelly has scored three league goals in 17 appearances, 11 of which have been as a starter.
The ambitions of Fleetwood have seen the acquisition of players who have notable – and international – experience.
Among their current number is a former Argyle midfielder who many supporters would have wished to see more appearances from a green shirt.
Damien Johnson is now 33, and provides much experience that began as a trainee with Blackburn Rovers.
Johnson was with Portadown in his native Northern Ireland when he was picked up by Rovers in August 1997.
The following month, his senior debut came in a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Preston North End in the League Cup.
Four months later, he joined Nottingham Forest in a loan deal, for whom he made six league appearances as he adapted to life in English football.
Playing 60 league games for Rovers, Johnson was then the subject of a £100,000 transfer to Birmingham City in March 2002, eventually breaking into the first team and playing in the Premier League.
It was good business for City manager Steve Bruce. During eight seasons at St Andrews he was appointed club captain and played 191 league games.
In February 2010, Johnson signed for Argyle on a free transfer on a two-and-a-half year contract as head coach Paul Mariner made a double swoop, with USA international Kenny Cooper also joining the club.
He opened his Argyle account in his fourth appearance against Swansea City.
During the trials and tribulations of the club's recent past, the wage bill needed to be cut and Johnson joined Huddersfield Town on loan after just six months in Plymouth.
His spell in Yorkshire was cruelly interrupted when he suffered a cruciate ligament injury which kept him out for the remainder of the season.
But such was his impression with Huddersfield that he was again on loan from Argyle during last season. He played a crucial role in the Terriers winning promotion to the Championship via the play-offs, and took part in the penalty shoot-out final, beating Sheffield United 8-7 on spot-kicks after a game void of goals.
With 56 international caps, his first appearance for the Northern Ireland senior side came in May 1999, when he was called from the bench in a 1-0 away win against the Republic of Ireland.
Three more substitute appearances were made before being given his first start 15 months later when he faced Yugoslavia at Windsor Park.
After serving his country over 11 years, Johnson announced his retirement from international football in July 2010.
Domestically, as Fleetwood's meteoric rise to Football League status was complete, they looked to Johnson to add to the experience being gathered at Highbury, where his first season was temporarily halted due to a hamstring injury.
Still awaiting his first goal for his new club, he is now close to a return to fitness.
Many Argyle fans will look back with regret that such an experienced midfielder made just 20 appearances for the Greens.