Soccer Sight puts fans in the picture
ENSURING blind or partially sighted Argyle supporters share the same match-day experience as the rest of us is arguably one of the least-publicised services on offer at Home Park.
The initiative, aptly-named Soccer Sight, has been in operation at a number of Football League clubs for the past five years.
Soccer Sight was an RNIB project which aims to provide quality commentary to blind and partially sighted people at every professional football club in the UK.
The Pilgrims are one of 25 clubs, including Premier League giants Arsenal and Argyle's Devon rivals Exeter City and Torquay United, who signed up to this worthy nationwide scheme.
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The commentaries are carried out by volunteers David Wilks, Neil Tucker and Adam Sibley from the back row of the grandstand, to the left of where Herald columnist Gordon Sparks delivers his own bespoke match-day deliberations on the Home Park action.
Wilks, Tucker and Sibley all work voluntarily to be the eyes for the less fortunate of supporters whose numbers include fans of visiting teams.
That included the recent visit of League Two leaders Gillingham, who are one of the clubs signed up to the service.
So, the commentators have to bear in mind a member of the opposition is likely to be on the line and their own natural instincts toward home bias must never prevail, whatever the provocation.
Wilks, who was an Argyle season ticket holder for years until he took up the Soccer Sight role, believes the service has much to offer and feels not enough of the Green Army are aware of it.
He said: "While Soccer Sight is popular enough, I'm not sure many fans are aware of what we provide, with the blessing of Argyle, of course.
"If you have a relative or friend with a sight disability but who would love to be at the match, rather than listen on the radio, then Soccer Sight can given them the best of both worlds.
"The way it works is that we transmit from the rear of the grandstand and through the head-set provided, the fans, who could be away ones, get a fair picture of the action.
"Torquay, Exeter and Gillingham along with ourselves are the only ones in League Two who provide commentaries.
"It's a reciprocal arrangement, so away fans at say, Torquay, can ask in advance, just like Gillingham fans could for the match at Home Park.
"And yes, we have to be as impartial as possible, and Neil and Adam, are acutely aware that we're Argyle fans and will get excited when the match swings in our favour.
"But we're also aware that when away supporters come here, they're expecting an unbiased commentary.
"We aim to provide that, so we need to do homework on their players as well as Argyle's
"We enjoy commentating and helping to give fans, who wouldn't normally think it worthwhile going to a game, the chance to do so."