Green Barmy: Plymouth prepare to entertain rare York guests at Home Park
TODAY'S opponents for Plymouth Argyle at Home Park are not the most frequent of visitors.
In fact it will be the 14th time York City have locked horns with the Pilgrims in Devon.
It is more than a decade since the sides last met, and it was an own-goal by left-back Graham Potter that gave Argyle a Third Division victory in March 2002.
Since then, they dropped out of the Football League in 2004 before returning after last season's Conference play-off final victory over Luton Town.
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It may be surprising to learn that, despite York City originally attaining League status in 1929, the first acquaintance between the clubs was not made until the 1971/72 season.
Both games between the clubs during that campaign provided a feast of goals, both with maximum returns for the Pilgrims.
Bootham Crescent was the venue for the first encounter as manager Ellis Stuttard was forced into one change from the side who defeated Blackburn Rovers at Home Park.
Don Hutchins, who had scored the only goal of the game, suffered an injury. That meant a call-up for Mike Bickle's first appearance of the season, with Les Latcham moving from the inside-left position to Hutchins' usual berth on the left wing.
Despite York surviving on the most limited of finances, the travelling party found a playing surface in perfect condition.
Players who excelled for City were soon moved on, providing valuable income to enable the club to stay afloat.
Ted MacDougall and Phil Boyer were two prime examples, both sold to Bournemouth, MacDougall for £10,000 and Boyer for twice that amount, a club record fee – and both were scoring goals at will.
Lining up for York was Phil Burrows, an automatic choice at left-back who, two years later, would leave the club in a transfer to Home Park.
Argyle took a lead with half-an-hour played, thanks to an error of huge proportions by York goalkeeper Ron Hillyard.
Near the half-way line, there would have seemed no danger as Ronnie Brown took a throw-in.
Steve Davey received the ball and launched the ball towards the penalty area.
Hillyard watched the flight of the ball carefully, and must have considered that the nonchalant ball forward was about to sail over the crossbar.
It was a misjudgment that caused the long-haired blond to be highly embarrassed as the ball drifted over his head – and straight into the goal.
The lead was doubled just before the interval.
Keith Allen fought for the ball and won a midfield challenge. Possession was then exchanged between Colin Sullivan and Bickle.
The sweeping move then saw Bickle play the ball for Latcham who delivered a glorious shot with the utmost accuracy to underline Argyle's dominance.
York pulled a goal back through right winger Tommy Henderson, but there was more to come from Hillyard.
As if to rub salt into the goalkeeper's wounds, he was again found guilty in providing a third goal for the Greens.
His goal-kick went straight to Brown, whose pinpoint pass to Latcham saw the veteran try his luck from 25 yards.
Again, Hillyard seemed confident that the effort was going to be off target.
He stayed rooted to his spot as the ball nestled into the corner of the net.
A late strike by Paul Aimson, the previous season's top scorer with 31 goals, came too late to pose a threat to Argyle's advantage, and a 3-2 win saw both points taken back to Devon.
Argyle: Jim Furnell, Steve Davey, Allan Harris, John Hore, Dave Provan, Colin Sullivan, Ronnie Brown, Jimmy Hinch, Keith Allen, Mike Bickle, Les Latcham. Sub: Peter Darke.
WHEN the two sides met for the reverse fixture in January, York's struggles were clear for all to see.
With only 15 points from 22 games, they were one of three clubs just two points ahead of bottom side Mansfield Town.
In contrast, although not threatening to challenge for promotion, Argyle were comfortable in eighth position.
Replacing 34 year-old Jim Furnell in the Argyle goal was a player sixteen years his junior, debutant Peta Bala'c.
With Furnell suffering from illness, the Exeter-born apprentice with a Yugoslav father was thrown into the fray, but was to have a successful afternoon.
However, it was a match that went ahead only after two inspections of the pitch.
Match referee Malcolm Sinclair of Guildford twice ventured onto the soggy Home Park surface before lunch and took the chance of declaring the game should go ahead.
Conditions of wind and rain suggested it could have been a baptism of fire for a newcomer to League football.
But Bala'c was to suffer no misdemeanors of Hillyard proportions.
In fact, City had changed their glovesman since the previous meeting.
Graeme Crawford had signed during the previous month after completing a successful loan period from Sheffield United.
With unpredictable bounces on a slippery pitch, the City forwards were duty bound to test Bala'c at every opportunity.
But, despite difficult handling conditions, the new boy did himself proud on all fronts, showing also he was not short of bravery when required to dive at the feet of opponents.
At the other end of the pitch, Argyle had a gem in the shape of Derek Rickard.
He was a striker in form having scored in the previous three games.
In their green shirts with white sleeves, the home side adapted immediately to the elements.
There were strong claims for a penalty after it appeared Hutchins was pushed over as he challenged for a ball in the ninth minute
It seemed a curious decision for the referee to award an indirect free-kick.
It was taken by Latcham, who simply rolled the ball back to Rickard for the former Devonport Dockyard worker to slam the ball past all the defenders in front of him for the first goal of the match.
Rickard started the move when he played a ball out on the right wing. Appearing like a lost cause, pint-sized Hughie Reed chased down the right flank to maintain possession almost on the goal line.
Rickard continued his own burst downfield and, as Reed hooked the ball back into the penalty area, the striker delivered a spectacular volley.
No chance for Crawford, and a rampant Argyle were looking a class apart.
It was no surprise when Rickard, now at the top of his game, secured his hat-trick.
Sullivan delivered a quality cross from the left, and this time Rickard literally used his head by glancing the ball out of the reach of Crawford.
The industry of Reed saw him rewarded with the fourth for his team.
This time it was the tallest player on the pitch, Jimmy Hinch, to turn provider with a defence-splitting pass for Reed to race on to with 15 minutes to go.
Argyle: Peta Bala'c, Allan Harris, Colin Sullivan, John Hore, Dave Provan, Neil Hague, Hughie Reed, Derek Rickard, Jimmy Hinch, Les Latcham, Don Hutchins.